With college back in session, we consider what the frat boys should be driving — from the popular jocks to the cute nerds, there’s wheels for everyone
Fraternity life was my favorite part of college. I was a car-crazed business student encamped with 40 engineering undergrads. If you’ve seen Big Bang Theory, you know my story. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything, but sometimes I dreamt of hot cars for fast frat boys like these.
Techie Engineers: Honda Insight
Honda’s Insight hybrid is the type of car my Lambda Chi brothers would have driven. I witnessed them making an air-powered egg shooter and gas-powered remote control car rolling on plumbing gaskets. Those geek-nerds could have interned at Honda.
Insight’s styling follows hybrid tradition with a wedge five-door profile for low drag and big interior space. LED taillamps and projector beams look futuristic while illuminating midnight pranks.
The hybrid system encompasses a 1.3-liter four-banger and 10-kilowatt electric motor that assists the engine during acceleration and charges the batteries during deceleration. Fuel economy rates 40/43-MPG city/hwy. To make hybriding fun, Insight has an instrument cluster that keeps track of your driving habits and either "grows" or "kills" leaves on the multi-function display; up to five leaves can be earned for good deeds.
Insight will definitely press an engineer’s geek button, but you don’t have to theorize the Big Bang to appreciate one. Futuristic styling, frugal efficiency, and enough space to move a dorm room make the Insight a college guy or gal’s dream. Its $19,800 base price makes it a reality for most.
Athletic Preppies: Ford Mustang
A Ford Mustang is like a Lacoste shirt and khakis that offer timeless fit and style. Or, as I remember, a little like the handsome alumni who used to come, tanned and neat, with beer money. He looked elegant and refined, but couldn’t wait to get rowdy.
Ford’s pony underwent a major facelift for 2010 that brought a more streamlined profile with lights and fenders inspired by the ’70 model. Rear turn signals light up in series, dynamically indicating direction. Up to 19" wheels communicate the car’s physical acumen.
If you have doubts, watch this prep cover ground like a fully scooted rugby player when the 315 horsepower 4.6-liter V8 kicks its rears into goo. Before things get too undignified, electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, and anti-lock brakes step in and brace the fun.
An available glass roof, genuine aluminum, soft-touch vinyls, and 125-color customizable instrument panel make their own statement inside. Ford’s SYNC system summons voice-activated navigation, audio, and real time weather maps.
More than 9 million Mustang owners have gotten rowdy over the past 45 years. With timeless beauty and athletic prowess, this collegiate force may have what it takes to keep the new Camaro from getting all its tail. Prices start at a graduate-ready $20,995.
Nearly Ivy League: Kia Forte
Kia’s new Forte is brilliant enough for the Ivy League, but is priced for State U. You could sit at a coffee shop at Yale, as I am tonight, and watch countless co-eds tool around in their German high school graduation presents. They could also flaunt a Kia Forte, look beautiful and skip the pretentious price.
When Kia lured acclaimed designer Peter Schreyer from Audi recently, great things came. Kia’s pinched grille design is accented by wide headlamps that curve into the bodysides. While the hood rakes at a steep angle, flat fender tops give a look of stability.
High achieving Fortes come with a 2.4-liter engine that produces 173 HP — more than either the top Corolla or Mazda3. Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions are available. Fuel economy is rated 26/36-MPG city/highway.
I wish my parents had handed me the keys to a mint Audi upon graduation, but I would have been thrilled to get a Kia Forte. With prices starting at $13,695, college babies could even buy their own.
Hot Rich Boys: Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
Rich boys in club parlors may debate the merits of Lamborghini vs. Ferrari, but the Gallardo’s 560 horsepower 5.2-liter V-10 engine, grabbing the road with permanent AWD, is to be worshiped. Read this rap sheet: 0-62 mph in 3.7s, top speed of 202 mph, and 12/20-MPG city/hwy. I’m wet.
Since the Countach, which every Gen-X boy had plastered on his wall, Lamborghini’s defined exotic. Gallardo’s razor sharp fenders, mid-engine profile, and LED running lamps burn white hot. Leather seats are worthy of a Milan boutique, but much of the switchgear comes from parent, Audi.
On any campus, the Lamborghini Gallardo would conjure up an orgy of desire for its hot flanks, muscled chassis, and inexhaustible fast-paced stamina. Put one of the Lamborghini Boys behind the wheel and I’d almost worship in Hell for just one ride. Go ask your sugar daddy for $198,000 to start.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 06, 2009.