the Sandman said:
Nice post. Could you give us a rundown of the products you tried and eliminated from your "best" list?
Chances are if it's heavily advertised and/or also available at Kroger or Walgreen's, don't buy it. Not that it's bad stuff, it's just not that durable and it's probably over priced.
Meguiar's makes good stuff, but that polish/cleaner stuff of theirs is a major pain--too much work.
Do NOT use any of the pigmented polishes or waxes. In theory it's a great idea. In practice, I can tell you it doesn't work.
Also, it is impossible to put teflon on your car for $19.95. What you're really getting are teflon particles mixed with a wax or polymer, which do not protect you against anything.
Other products I've used and like:
Kit "Scratch Out" (comes in a yellow plastic bottle)
Meguiar's car shampoo (pinkish bottle)
Finish First's "Finish Fast" detailing spray
When I run out of the 3m wax, I'm going to try Griot's next.
In case you haven't figured it out, I'm a natural wax man, not a synthetic polymer man. If I had a silver, grey, bronze, or gold metallic paint job, (maybe even white) I'd go the synthetic route.
But for dark colors, or basic colors like red, green, or blue I'd recommend carnauba wax. You get a much richer, deeper looking finish.