August 15, 2013 | by Joe Phillips
Not your father’s sedan
Honda Accord, autos, gay news, Washington Blade

Honda Accord

Sure, Tesla’s high-end electric vehicles and Google’s self-driving car are hogging the automotive limelight these days. But other automakers are rolling out some modish midsize sedans, with daring designs, high-tech features and attractive price tags.

HONDA ACCORD

$22,000
MPG: 27 city/36 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Cargo space: 15.8 cubic feet

At first glance, the fully redesigned Accord looks like a Lexus from the front and a BMW 3 Series from the rear. That’s a big leap from the days when this sedan was simply a steadfast but sexless performer. Honda turned things up a notch in the cabin, too, with simple yet elegant styling, eight-inch video display and a rearview camera (available in all models). Two engine choices continue the Lexus/BMW theme: a V6 in the pricier Accords comes with a luxe-like suspension, while the four-cylinder and its quick-shifting manual gearbox are more akin to a taut Bimmer. Racing aficionados will especially like the Sport trim (which costs just $3,000 more than the base model), with more horsepower, 18-inch wheels and rear spoiler. Safety options include blind-spot, forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems. And while this new Accord is slightly smaller than before, there’s actually more trunk space.

KIA OPTIMA SX LIMITED

$33,000
MPG: 24 city/35 highway
0-to-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
Cargo space: 15.4 cubic feet

Kis Optima SX Limited, autos, gay news, Washington Blade

Kia Optima SX Limited

As the song says, “Dance 10, Looks 3.” But what happens when a car is so talented and beautiful it’s an 11? That’s the question with the Optima, which stands out in a vehicle segment where every other car looks like a chorus-line understudy. Yet the shapely sheet-metal is gorgeous, from the snarling grille and wraparound headlights to the raised rear end. This head-turner is stunning on the inside, too, with high-quality materials and Audi-like flair. Yet Kia wanted to raise the bar, so this year it’s adding a top-of-the-line Limited trim, with 18-inch chrome wheels, LED running lights and bright red paint on the brake calipers. There’s even a first aid kit. It’s not like the SX was lacking — it already comes with a 274-hp turbo, steering-wheel paddle shifters, sport-tuned suspension and auto-leveling HID headlights. And while this is not a tuner car, it’s quick and gets great gas mileage. Bonus: the huge panoramic sunroof. All in all, the Optima SX Limited may be a bit pricey, but it’s also — as they say on Broadway — one singular sensation.

VW PASSAT TDI

$27,000
MPG: 31city/43highway
0-to-60 mph: 8.9 seconds
Cargo space: 15.9 cubic feet

VW Passat TDI, autos, gay news, Washington Blade

VW Passat TDI

Other automakers may try to emulate Euro styling and handling, but the VW Passat is the real deal. This is the TDI diesel, which means it gets stellar mileage and provides you with plenty of eco cred. Everything about the Passat is solid, from the practical styling to the cabin’s large, easy-to-read gauges and high-quality switchgear. Available in either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, the manual is much more fun and comes with hill-hold control (which came in handy recently on some steep streets during a thunderstorm). If there’s a crash, the car will automatically cut off the fuel supply, unlock the doors and turn on hazard flashers. And crash-test scores are excellent, though braking distance is a bit longer than average. Options, which add up fast, include foglights, 18-inch wheels, remote ignition, nav system and nine-speaker Fender stereo. Another plus: the uber-large trunk that can carry plenty of beer and bratwurst to any local Oktoberfest.

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