Great topic, because I'm in the "looking for a new car" mood these days. Of course, my wife would say that I'm always looking for another vehicle to buy!
If we buy new, I'm most seriously looking at a Saab 9-5 or an Audi A6 quattro. I prefer a manual transmission, and that makes the list of possible cars much narrower. I think the new Volvo S70 is also offered with a manual transmission, so we'll check that out. A BMW 3 or 5 series would be nice, and the new C class Benz will certainly be on the list (six speed manual, yeah!), however, winter driving here in North Dakota makes front/all wheel drive a more reasonable choice. The Saab with the 2.3 turbo four and five speed gets 21/29 mpg, which is the highest in this class, and also a consideration these days. Of course, a diesel would be even better, but only VW offers one, and the VW diesels are a little small. I came close to buying a new Jetta TDI last year, but made the mistake of also test driving a 9-5 at the same dealer, and decided to wait until we could the Saab or a car of similar size and quality.
John R. Boyce
1983 280SL, Euro, 5 speed
1995 Ford Club Wagon
1998 Ford F-150