Second-hand: Our $12,000-tops budget 

More and more, consumers are embracing status automobiles as their galvanized-steel calling cards, eschewing designer clothes, jewelry and most other trappings of wealth.

Ford Focus ZX3

Ford is on to something. An aftermarket-modified Focus ZX3 hatchback I drove last week made me feel like an Agincourt teenager or his dad.

2000 Honda Prelude SH

In first, third and fifth gear, the button to switch off the radio in the Honda Prelude SH is a finger stretch away from the gear lever.

Second-Hand: Subaru Legacy

Subaru, long considered a source of cult cars in the same vein as VW and Porsche (coincidentally, also builders of horizontally opposed four and six-cylinder engines)

Magicwagons turn 15 with grace and style

Fifteen years. It's been fifteen years since Chrysler introduced the first magic-wagon. Today, almost every major automaker has a small van in its fleet and there are 11 brands of mini sold in Canada.

Second-Hand: Chevrolet Cavalier

In 1976, General Motors began planning a car that would drive the imports back into the sea. Five years and $5 billion later, it unveiled the Chevrolet Cavalier

Second-Hand: Mazda 626

There's the Mazda 626, a competitive front-wheel drive model that enjoys a long history in North America and in Europe, where it was the best-selling import in Germany for a time.

Second-Hand: Ford Windstar

Welcome to Second-hand, a monthly column on used cars and trucks. Mark Toljagic has been a Wheels contributor since December, 1997.

Previewing new vehicles

So here I am at my first press launch after a year and a half of writing about cars, and I have to admit I'm overwhelmed.

Family planning in a minivan

In a land where ice arenas, lawnmowers and 2.5 kids dominate the suburban landscape, minivans are the vehicles of choice.

Second-Hand: Nissan Altima

After trying so hard to make inroads into the family sedan market for several years, Nissan finally succeeded with the Tennessee-built Altima in 1993.

Second-Hand: Saturn

You can guess that Saturns aren't unique in withstanding 500,000 km without falling apart, but it's great to see the manufacturer taking an interest in the long-term ownership experience.