BOSTON — My wife, a builder's daughter, grew up thinking of pickup trucks as rough riders that came with spare table-saw blades on the right seat.
Yet when she stopped by the photo shoot that yielded the illustration at right, she began admiring the short-bed, four-door Nissan we had on hand. "Does it come with a cap?" she asked.
Now that's a consumer shift. Maybe it's twilight for that suburban icon, the minivan.
You won't hear me crying.
My wife and I resisted the things until Honda came out with the friendly-looking Odyssey.
It handles like a car and offers great visibility. It's been trouble-free, a Honda hallmark.
For a family of four (plus dog), it does the job. But load in the half-dozen people our model is built to accommodate, and carry-on luggage gets limited to a couple of lacrosse sticks and a duffel bag.
Honda's newer version solves the space problem. But it's too boxy for us. A sporty four-door truck? An intriguing alternative.
That's what manufacturers are banking on these days.
Cars represent a colossus on the consumer landscape. We sink big money into them. They suit particular needs - and, for some, project a lifestyle image.
Staff car-expert Eric Evarts sifts through the year-2000 offerings for this issue. It's an assignment he relishes, and it shows.
Knowing my affinity for agile ragtops - my other car is an old FIAT Spider - Eric called me from the test track to rev the engine of the new Honda roadster, the high-r.p.m. S2000, over his cell phone.
A seller of reliability producing a "screamer"? Minivan drivers turning truckers? Seems like a revolution per minute. Read on.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society