www.honda.com or (800)334-6632
Fun Factor: 7
Fuel Factor: 8
Fashion Factor: 7
Honda's Civic line has always flown the economical and environmental banner, ever since its American introduction in 1973. But fun to drive? Like tofu is fun to eat.
Not so with the '01 EX Coupe, which features a torquey,127-horsepower VTEC engine; stiffer, sportier suspension; and grin-inducing accoutrements like a power moonroof and six-speaker CD stereo system. Despite the jaunty face-lift, the Civic hasn't forsaken its miserly roots: With a five-speed manual transmission, the Coupe returns 37 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg around town. Choose the four-speed automatic, and you'll actually gain one mpg on the open road (though you'll give one up in the city).
TOYOTA MR2 SPYDER
www.toyota.com or (800)468-6968
Fun Factor: 11
Fuel Factor: 6
Fashion Factor: 10
OK, so the Spyder's only worth 30 mpg on a good day. And with just two seats, and minimal trunk space, it's about as practical as a piano on a submarine. But look at the thing, will you? Better yet, drop the top on a sunny summer day, pin the throttle to the mat, and head for the twisties. You'll find its gpg (grin per gallon) factor unrivaled in the automotive industry. Besides, 30 mpg ain't nothing to sneeze at.
The Spyder's 138-horse, 16-valve engine is mid-mounted, which helps the car stick to pavement like roadkill on a hot August afternoon. Pretty rapid roadkill, at that: The Spyder will hit 60 in a mere seven seconds, and tops out at 131 mph.