For small business owners, choosing which vehicles you will drive or which cars to add to your commercial fleet can be tricky. On the one hand, you want cars that are comfortable and can accomadate the long hours your sales staff may spend in them, for example. On the other hand, you may wish to have a car that has the latest technology and will allow you and your staff to stay plugged in. On top of these considerations, you may also choose a car based on MPG, a reasonable pricetag, or luxury features such as rear heat control and adaptive cruise control (a safety features that slows the car automatically to adjust for the car ahead). So which cars would we suggest? To find out, we tested sesveral new business-friendly models and found that these four offer some unique features.
2011 Volvo S60
Some might say the Volvo S60 is a niche vehicle—after all, the bean counter in every small business owner might balk at the higher price tag (base models start at about $30,975). Yet, the S60 is an impressive sedan that does double-duty: in our tests, the 250-horsepower engine provided a spirited drive and sharp cornering was a blast, but the vehicle also has an elegant, business-friendly design. The transmission is butter smooth, there is no jerking motion as you blast off from a standing position. We also liked the easy-to-use dash controls for music and climate, and the 30MPG highway fuel economy rating. Rear seating on this model is a little tight if you drive the whole team to lunch. The truly amazing feature: the S60 will stop automatically if someone walks expectantly in front of the car.
2011 Audi A4
Like the Volvo S60, the Audi A4 ($32,300) is a sleek and stylish sedan that drives with extra pizzazz. It's smaller than a full-size sedan, at about 15.4 feet long, but that means more agility on the road. The 211-horsepower engine is a bit less peppy than the Volvo S60, but Audi uses some gee-whiz tech to make sure the ride is always smooth, including gas-charged rear springs that adjust to the road in a heartbeat. One interesting tech feature: Audi uses a new 3D mapping technology (Google Earth) and links to a server using a T-Mobile connection in the car. This means you can explore your surroundings and even see a rendering of what the office building across town looks like before you get there. Better-than-expected fuel economy of 30 MPG on the highway makes it a bit more economical to drive.
2012 Ford Focus
This smaller, more affordable sedan is not going to impress clients as much as a Volvo or Audi. It will probably impress your accountant, though. At $18,790, it's the cheapest of the bunch. And, the 40 MPG rating for highway driving is also a penny-pincher's dream. We drove the Focus in Los Angeles in rush-hour traffic and on a winding road heading toward San Francisco. With good fuel economy comes some challenges—namely, that you won't be winning any races when the light turns green. Amazingly, the Focus is outfitted with some advanced tech, including a self-park mode. We used it on a crowded street. The car zipped quickly into a parallel parking spot, turning the wheel automatically.
2011 Infiniti M37x
At a $49,200 base price, the M37x is the most expensive sedan we tested but also the most advanced. The car nudges you back into your lane if you creep over a dividing line. The adaptive cruise control, which slows you down automatically when you get too close to the vehicle ahead, is so smooth we barely even noticed it was working. The bulbous design of the M37x is quite striking—it's one of the most stylish looking vehicles on the road. The 24MPG rating for the highway is just average. (Infiniti also just launched a hybrid version of this vehicle that is much cheaper to drive, at 32MPG.) The interior of this vehicle is like the cockpit of a jet, wrapping you in leather and wood accents.