HOUSTON What are the best five cars to buy? We asked car expert Jerry Reynolds, host of The Car Guy Radio Show. Here s what he said:


Mercedes S-550

Cost: $99,000

What You Get: A ton of technology under the hood along with a booming sound system, the highest grade leather and wood trim. The car is so sophisticated it can cruise based on the pace of the car in front of you. If that car slows down, yours will too. If it speeds up, yours will too. If you zone out and do not begin to brake for something in front of you, the car will automatically brake.

Reynolds said a few years back when Mercedes was taken over by Chrysler, the quality of Mercedes cars suffered. But now they re back to the high quality standards upon which the company was founded. Oh! One more thing, on the S-550 you can change the suspension from luxury to sporty and back again.


Hyundai Sonata

Cost: $23,000 plus job loss assurance protection, in addition to100,000 mile/ 10 year warranty

What You Get: Great gas mileage = 35 miles per gallon on the road. Reynolds also likes the fact the car is roomy and looks good. He said it is very dependable as well.


Chevy Equinox

Cost: $29,000

What You Get: It s really an SUV that sits on a car chassis but Reynolds said that results in better gas mileage and it suits those who want more of a car feel. One drawback: there is no third row of seats but there is a nifty cargo area in the back, perfect for hauling groceries and/or little league equipment. It gets 32 miles per gallon on the road and has real leather, not pleather (plastic passed off as leather), Reynolds said.


Ford F-150

Cost: $46,000

What You Get: Not only is this The Car Guy s pick for best truck, it is also America s number one selling vehicle across the board and it has been for over 30 years, Reynolds said. The truck should easily run for 500,000 miles. Ford is offering good rebates to shave some cost off that $46,000 price tag. Reynolds also loves the way the rear seats in the cab fold down to create cargo space big enough for a very large TV. And he liked the pull-out step and pop-up pole at the rear of the truck bed that made it a snap to get into and out of the bed easily. A smart screen on the dash will show you the latest sports scores, movie listings, nearby gas stations and prices there. The truck gets 14 mpg in the city and 18 on the open road.


Ford Focus

Cost: $15,000

What You Get: On top of the low, low sticker price, Reynolds said Ford is also offering $3,500 rebates. Plus the car has good safety features like, steel beams running through the doors of this car, said Reynolds. That s one of the things I love because a side collision is much more likely than a frontal collision.

He said this is especially important for a car a young person may drive because they are highly likely to be involved in a collision. He said a small, safe car is better for an inexperienced driver than a big truck or SUV because when confronted with a problem on the road, the inexperienced driver almost always over-corrects. He said an SUV or pickup is more likely to swerve out of control or roll over in such situations.


Hyundai Sonata

That Sonata, for the money and what you get with the car is just an unbelievable value, Reynolds said.

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