The word for top cars on the 2002 Hispanic Business® Buyer Satisfaction Index is "eclectic." The list includes luxury sedans, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, sports cars, and retro coupes.
When CEOs of the Hispanic Business 500® companies were asked to rate cars they currently own, their answers yielded the models on the Buyer Satisfaction Index (see table). Despite CEOs’ differing preferences in their vehicle selections, they showed consistency in the qualities they value. Responsive handling ranked as the first priority, followed by "fun to drive," dealer service, and styling.
The surprise front-runner on this year’s Buyers Satisfaction Index is the Nissan Frontier, a compact crew-cab pickup truck. Frontier’s styling can be described as "machine shop chic." Faux bolts and screws in the plastic, square lines, and an off-road stance make the Frontier look like a road bully. The two-wheel-drive version sits on the four-wheel-drive elevated suspension. Side mirrors are big, and there are nice little running boards in keeping with the overall big-truck theme.
The crew cab provides four real doors with rear windows that actually go down all the way. The truck needs a supercharged 3.3L V-6 to haul all its bulk. Acceleration to 60 mph comes in a loud 10.9 seconds. Tracking around curves demands caution and the ride feels stern on the road. Frontier’s base price is $13,199, but amenities and the supercharged engine raise it to a more realistic $23,199.
The cockpit is compact, favoring drivers of medium build. The back seat has room for briefcases. A computer-run suspension system and stability control deliver a taut, firm ride. A true sports car, the XKR carves through curves with surgical precision.
Sophisticated styling makes it look dashing, even at rest. The coupe comes with a price tag of $81,975; the convertible costs only $5,000 more. >p>The Japanese Lexus LS430 is a rear-wheel-drive sedan equipped with a 4.3L V-8 engine. The LS looks plenty luxurious, with lots of leather and wood and a premium sound system. A luxury package gilds the lily with heating and cooling for front seats, power door closers, a navigation system, and a headlamp washer. All for a base of $54,405 (plus $6,895 more for the extras).
Despite a commendable 0–60 mph time of 6.3 seconds, the LS feels more like a comfort cruiser. A "Euro tuned" suspension toughens up the ride over more demanding surfaces. The 2003 model has larger tires to help with the handling.
The Chevrolet Suburban, Toyota Sequoia, and Cadillac Escalade (third, fourth, and tied for eighth, respectively, on the Hispanic Business Buyers Satisfaction Index) are "brute utes," sport utility vehicles derived from pickup trucks. Chevrolet Suburban ranks as the originator of the big SUVs, dating back to 1935. In the past it was fitted with flanged wheels for duty as a railroad car; today it gets to 60 mph in a neat 8.5 seconds while providing a stately ride on highways. The driving position is great and the 5.3L V-8 can tow 8,600 pounds. New for 2003, the Suburban features stability control and four-wheel steering in some models. Base price is $39,726.