a window shop viewer sent us this week's challenge: it's often said that miata is always the answer, but what if miata isn't the answer? what would we buy instead? contributor john pearley huffman had the exact same idea and deputy editor, host of this recorded zoom call, and author of this sentence, tony quiroga decided that perhaps he could put the window shoppers to work to find him a replacement for his beloved 1995 mazda miata.
to tailor the task to himself, quiroga set a $10,000 budget, requested cars that offer an interesting driving experience, low mileage, and miata-like reliability (as if such a thing is possible). he also suggested that a manual gearbox and rear-drive would be preferred, but not mandatory, and opened the possibilities to cars and suvs.
huffman didn't pick a rear-drive car, but his second-gen honda crx nailed the fun-to-drive and reliability aspects. unfortunately, his crx suffered from some aggressively applied tire sheen and he also ran over the $10,000 budget. contributor jonathon ramsey also picked a two seater, a high-revving honda s2000 with nearly 200,000 miles, but the listing left too much to the imagination. deputy testing director k.c. colwell and senior editor joey capparella went outside the two-seater box entirely. colwell went with an e39 bmw 528i manual and capparella cleverly chose a 2002 toyota tacoma, which somehow meets all of this week's requirements.
if you make it to the end, you'll notice that we miscounted the votes and mistakenly thought there was a tie. there wasn't a tie. one vehicle emerges above the rest, but it really doesn't matter, because quiroga was only interested in buying his choice.