I liked most of the cars I sat in, though there were some that were simply laughable. The Fiat 500 looks like it stepped right out of a cartoon. The Mazda 2 is way too uncomfortable to be enjoyable. The Mini Cooper has very minimal trunk space but otherwise isn't entirely terrible.
I loved sitting in the Mazda 3. If not for gas mileage, it would be at the top of my list for cars to purchase. I very much love the hatch on that car (I'm not really big on hatches). Of course, the cheese eating grin on the front of the car doesn't hurt it. It's a happy little car and makes me smile whenever I see one.
The biggest surprise of the day was my experience in the Ford section. All my life I've been against Ford, mostly because that's how I was raised. My paternal grandfather worked for GM and my maternal grandfather for Chrysler. Ford was an unspeakable word in my house. When I was old enough to make my own decisions about cars, Ford went through this period where every car they made was hideous. They're finally starting to break away from that. The new Taurus is a beautiful car, though I don't recall seeing one at the show. The Flex is a bit of a joke, but they've restyled that and it doesn't look quite as bad now. The two cars that impressed me most were the Edge, which would certainly be on the list of cars I would like to test if I was looking for a smaller SUV, and the Fiesta, which surprised all of us. I loved the way it felt inside, even though it is a bit smallish. The thing that impressed me most was the side mirror feature Ford has been adding to their vehicles. There's a little cutout in the upper outer corner of the side mirrors that allows you to view more area, virtually eliminating all blind spots. How clever is that? I intend to test drive one of these little cars to get a better feel.
The biggest impression left on me at the show was from GM. They offered test drives on various cars from their Buick, Chevy, and GMC lines. I drove three cars and am in love with all three, which is actually a bit depressing, since it makes buying a car in the future a lot more difficult. The first car I drove was the Chevy Cruze. I'm not sure which one it was, but I do know it had turbo. I put my foot in it at one point and the car went, but not as fast as I expected (more like my current Saturn). Two or three seconds later, it REALLY went, and I was nearly in the back seat. It was almost as if the car was asking if I was certain I wanted to experience what it had to offer by giving me time to let off the gas. It was a fun little car, very smooth, and not terribly small.
The last car I drove was the Buick Regal. This was another surprise to me, to be honest. Buick is not your grandma's car anymore. I was extremely pleased with the ride. Everything about this car just felt right. I don't have one complaint... outside of the Buick badge. Even though I know it's not my grandma's car, it still has the badge of my grandma's car, and that's a pretty powerful thing. I saw the car with the Opel badge on it and told B I would be happy to buy one. When he showed me the same car with a Buick badge on it, I told him there was no chance of me buying one.
The car I drove between these two is most likely my favorite car of all time. It's also the car I used to tease B for liking. However, it is the car that most appealed to my inner geek as well as to my dislike of rising gas prices. I have fallen in love with the Chevy Volt. It was quite zippy on the electric engine, not slow at all. It was so quiet! I don't think there's anything I don't like about this car other than the wait time and the actual cost. However, looking at this car, I think the cost is actually worth it. MSRP is $41,000 but it costs GM $40,000 to make it, so I'm impressed with the low markup. Of course, because of availability, many dealers are adding in their own markups, which is entirely too lame.
Anyhow, with my obvious lack of car knowledge, I should stop here before I get all rambly talking bout horsepower and torque when those really mean nothing to me. I want a comfortable car that has the ability to maneuver quickly and smartly in the horrid DFW traffic and that isn't going to break the bank when I go to fill it with gas. I think I have a pretty good list going here.