2009 Lemon Aid Compact and Midsize

 


GM Buick Allure 2010

GM Chevrolet Impala

Honda Accord

Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger

GM Chevrolet Malibu

Hyundai Sonata

Ford Fusion 2010

GM Pontiac G6

Kia Magentis

Mazda 6

Nissan Altima

Toyota Camry 2010

Mitsubishi Galant

Saturn Aura

Toyota Prius 2010

Subaru Legacy/Outback

Volkswagen Passat

 

2009 is a slow year for new entries in this segment, with only the second-generation Mazda 6 qualifying for all-new status this year. However, a number of cars in this category, the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Magentis and Mitsubishi Galant undergo mid-cycle remakes for the 2009 model year. Subaru has chosen 2009, the last year of the current body style, to offer some new engines, including a tweaked normally-aspirated flat four that qualifies for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) rating.  

The 2010 Ford Fusion, with a mid-cycle facelift, updated interior, revised powertrains and a new hybrid version, went on sale in the late winter of 2009. With its mildly massaged 2010 Camry introduced in the spring of 2009, Toyota jumped the calendar as well. The third-generation Toyota Prius debuted as a 2010 model in the spring of 2009. The 2010 Buick Allure, introduced at the Montreal Auto Show in January, goes on sale in the summer of 2009. 

The four-cylinder cars in this class deliver a pleasing blend of performance, refinement and fuel economy. They are as quick and quiet as many six-cylinder cars in this class were a decade ago. Optional six-cylinder engines in this segment, originally for those who wanted a bit of extra power and refinement, have grown so powerful that most V6 cars in this class produce more horsepower than the 4L V8 in the first Lexus LS400.

Safety equipment like side-curtain airbags and ABS are fitted to all the cars in this segment. Electronic stability control (ESC), a proven life saver that can correct a vehicle skid even before a driver knows that the car is about to lose control, is standard equipment on several of the cars in this segment, and is optional on all but one car in this category. Despite multiple airbags, only three cars in this segment (Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy/Outback and the Volkswagen Passat) attained a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The former marketing wizards of the domestic makers once used all sorts of gimmicks, including cheap leases, to attract buyers. With the credit crunch, the domestics are out of the leasing game, but the Japanese brands, and to a lesser extent the South Koreans, are still pursuing lease customers. The domestics are trying to entice buyers with substantial rebates for cash buyers, and with longer term finance contracts which can lower monthly payments, but can end up costing a lot of money in the end. Have a look at the New car advertising: open season on consumers editorial by APA President George Iny, located on the home page of APA.ca for more details.

 


 2010 Buick Allure

 

 

 

 

 

NEW
GENERAL MOTORS
2010 BUICK Allure (FWD, AWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3L-V6 255 HP, 3.6L-V6 280 HP
Transmission:  6A
City Fuel Economy: n/a
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a 

Comments
The new Allure, built on the Epsilon 2 platform that underpins the Opel Insignia, with styling input from the U.S. and China, and U.S. powertrains, benefits from the input of GM's operations on three continents. With clean lines and artfully subdued detailing, this new Buick actually is alluring. Containing cool blue instruments and a prominent centre stack, the Allure's dashboard borders on the avant-garde. The rest of the cabin is an example of how visual restraint can be luxurious. Top-notch cabin materials and assembly were evident on the pre-production car examined. Cabin space, while good, is less than expected in such a big car. Power stems from a 3L direct injection V6 with 255 HP, or in the CXS, a 280 HP 3.6L version of the same engine. Power reaches the front wheels (or optional all-wheel drive in the CXL) via a six-speed automatic transmission. Active xenon lights and Blind Zone Alert monitor are optional. The Allure is another "no excuses" car from GM. Made in the United States.  

Reliability

New car, not rated. Four year 80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain. An extended warranty from GM is recommended if you plan to keep the car longer than four years.

 

Safety

Seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags are standard. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

Chrysler Sebring

   

 

Dodge Avenger

 

 

 

  

 

 

BELOW AVERAGE

CHRYSLER

CHRYSLER Sebring, DODGE Avenger (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD, 2CV (Chrysler only)

Engine: 2.4L-4* 173 HP, 2.7L-V6 186 HP (190 in the convertible), 3.5L-V6 235 HP

Transmissions:  4A*, 6A
City Fuel Economy: 9.7L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
ESC is standard on the Sebring Touring and Limited models. Improved soundproofing. All-wheel drive discontinued.

Performance
Sebring: the noisy 2.7L V6 is hooked up to a unresponsive four-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5L mates well with its six-speed automatic transmission to deliver strong acceleration, flexibility and relaxed cruising. Well-judged ride-handling compromise on 3.5L cars. Slow heater. Good paint and panel fit. Attractive and carefully assembled interior. Good legroom and head room front and rear. Cabin width seems more compact than mid-size. Uncomfortable, oddly-shaped front seatbacks. Avenger: scrappy-looking cabin fittings, and fit and finish issues inside and out. Small windows in the rear doors make passengers feel hemmed in and restrict the driver’s view out for lane changes.

Reliability
Predicted reliability is no better than average. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. The purchase of an extended warranty from Chrysler is expensive, but strongly recommended if you plan to keep the car beyond the warranty. A discount is available on the extended warranty if the car is purchased at an APA recommended dealer.

Comments
The new Sebring and Avenger are based on the same platform that underpins the Dodge Caliber, Jeeps Compass and Patriot, as well as the Mitsubishi Lancer and Outlander. Sebring convertible buyers can choose from a soft top (in vinyl or cloth) or a retractable hardtop. Rear seat legroom is very tight on the convertible. About 18,000 of these cars were sold in Canada in 2008. The future for these models is uncertain regardless of whatever the future holds for Chrysler. Made in the United States.  

Pricing
Moving up a trim level is very good value. The convertible body style is priced from $6700 to $11,600 more than a sedan of the same trim level.  

Safety
Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Sebrings and Avengers. The Sebring was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Acceptable in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 7th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS on all Sebrings. ABS is not offered on the Avenger SE but is standard on the SXT and R/T. ESC is not offered on the Sebring LX but is standard on the Sebring Touring and Limited. ESC is not offered on the Avenger SE, but is optional on the Avenger SXT and R/T.  

 


  Ford Fusion 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT RATED
FORD
2010 Fusion (FWD/AWD)
Body Styles: 4SD
Engine: 2.5L-4 175 HP*, 3L-V6 DOHC 221 HP, 2.5L-4H 191 HP (155 gasoline + electric motor),
Transmissions: 6M, 6A, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in the Hybrid.
City Fuel Economy: n/a
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
The early release 2010 Fusion went on sale in the spring of 2009. The four-cylinder engine grows from 2.3L to 2.5L, with horsepower increasing from 160 to 175. The 3L V6 remains, but enjoys a power boost from 221 to 240. New engine options include a 3.5L (Sport model only) previously reserved for the Lincoln MKZ version of this platform, as well as the four-cylinder hybrid power package from the Escape. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions replace the five-speed units used on four-cylinder cars last year. Steering assistance on 2.5L and 3L cars is now provided electrically. The Fusion is treated to a facelifted exterior and an updated cabin. An acoustic insulator in the windshield, thicker door glass, enhanced sound-proofing and improved door seals quell noise inside the Fusion’s cabin for 2010.

Comments
The facelifted Fusion has a bigger grille, new headlights, front fenders and hood, as well as new taillights and trunk lid. The interior is all new for 2010. The dashboard contains crisp, clear instruments, but the dash centre stack is awash in similar-sized buttons that make adjusting the climate and audio controls tedious. The new cabin is made up of more soft-touch surfaces than before, and the seats, very comfortable pre-facelift, are, according to Ford, even more supportive. The pre-facelift Fusion was a pleasant machine overall, but suffered from unrefined powertrains. New engines and extra sound-proofing may quieten the cabin for 2010. The hybrid model uses regenerative braking and idle-stop to reduce fuel consumption. Ford says the hybrid system in the Fusion is designed to run in full electric mode as much as possible, and has a “Smart Gauge” to tutor the driver on how to drive more economically. Made in Mexico.  

Reliability
Not rated, new powertrains. The pre-facelift Fusion was very reliable. Body specialists have noted the drain holes in the doors are too high to permit water to drain from the doors completely. An aftermarket grease or oil-based anti-corrosion product is recommended if you plan to keep the car beyond the warranty period. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Pricing
Upgrading from one trim level to the next is good value. Resale value won’t as good as it is for an equivalent Japanese-branded car.

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


Chevrolet Impala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
CHEVROLET Impala* (FWD
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 3.5L-V6* 211 HP, 3.9L-V6 233 HP, 5.3L-V8 303 HP
Transmission: 4A
City Fuel Economy: 10.8L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
Seat-mounted side airbags and illuminated vanity mirrors are standard on all models this year.

Comments
The Impala has a bland, cohesive exterior design, and a tastefully conservative cabin. Instrumentation is clear, and controls are easy to fathom. Comfortable seating front and rear. Buyers can chose either front bucket seats or a bench seat. Massive trunk. GM’s 3.5L overhead valve V6 with variable valve timing produces 211 horsepower on the LS and LT, a 3.9L version of the same engine with Active Fuel Management that idles one bank of the V6 during light duty situations, puts out 233 horsepower in the LTZ, and a 303 horsepower all-aluminum 5.3L V8, with variable valve timing, and Displacement-on-Demand (DOD) cylinder shut off,  sits under the hood of the SS. Reports in the automotive press indicate that the mainstream Impalas are smooth, quiet and comfortable. The V8 adds traditional V8 rumble, speedy acceleration and strong torque steer. Built in Canada.     

Pricing
The LS trim version is good value for the money. The LT and LTZ upgrades are priced to cover the cost of the additional content they provide. The SS is overpriced by at least $1000, even if you allow a supplement of $3000 for the V8 engine compared with the 3.9L V6 standard in the LTZ. Rapid depreciation. Buy this car if you plan to keep it a long time, or lease it if GM returns to aggressive leasing. This car makes no sense for a private buyer when the chic, modern Malibu is available for similar money.

Reliability
Average reliability. Predicted trouble areas include the computer sensors, electrical system, steering rack and brakes. The variable valve timing V6 engines are unproven. APA members can obtain a discount on a GM extended warranty when buying a car through a dealer recommended by the Association. These cars are well put together and are generally reliable for the first three years. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty and a 5 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty.    

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. The Impala was rated Acceptable in the IIHS frontal crash test, Good in the IIHS side impact test and Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 6th of the 9 cars tested in its class. ABS is standard on all Impalas. ESC is standard on the LTZ and SS trim levels, but is not offered on lesser Impalas.


Chevrolet Malibu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
CHEVROLET Malibu (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.4L-4 169 HP*, 3.6L-V6 252 HP, 2.4L-4H 164 HP (Hybrid)
Transmissions: 4A, 6A*
City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new
A six-speed automatic transmission can now be teamed with the 2.4L four. ESC is standard. The Bluetooth wireless system is a new option for 2009.  

Comments
The strong and smooth V6 is hampered by a six-speed automatic transmission that is reluctant to downshift. The Malibu handles predictably and generally rides well, however the LTZ wheel-tire combination copes poorly with scarred urban tarmac.  The steering is nicely weighted and geared, but suffers from lurid torque steer on the V6 model. The Malibu’s solidity and refinement are impressive, with none of the rough edges evident when driving the related Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura. Small side windows and a high trunk line restrict vision for lane changes and reversing. Elegant, modern, no excuses exterior styling. Clean, contemporary cabin design with clear instrumentation and straightforward controls. Comfortable front seats. The rear seat cushion is flat and placed too low for comfort, and legroom is disappointing for a car with 2852 mm (112 inch) wheelbase. Good fit and finish inside and out. Reasonable trunk space. Mainstream power choices include a 2.4L Ecotec four and a 3.6L twin cam V6. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V6 and  2LT 2.4L models, and is optional on the 1LT trim level. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on the LS and 1LT versions of the Malibu. GM’s strap-on hybrid unit is available on the Malibu. The combined output of the 2.4L four and the electric motor/generator is 164 horsepower. A conventional four-speed automatic transmission is the sole transmission available on the hybrid. Nearly 20,000 Malibus were sold in 2008, a big number for a mid-size car in Canada. Made in the United States.

Reliability
Average reliability is predicted. Possible problems include the V6, brakes, steering and electronic components. Expensive GM replacement parts. The hybrid powertrain is unproven. An extended warranty from GM is recommended. APA members can get a discount on an extended warranty when buying from an APA recommended dealer. Three year/60,000 km warranty, 5 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty. The hybrid model also has as an 8 year/160,000 km warranty on the battery pack and key hybrid components.  

Pricing

The Malibu 2.4L 2LT is the best value of the lineup. Expensive V6.

 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags. The Malibu was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 10th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Pontiac G6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
PONTIAC G6 (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD, 2CP, 2CV
Engines: 2.4L-4 169 HP*, 3.6L-V6 252 HP
Transmissions: 4A, 6A*
City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
The 2.4L four can now be teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. Bluetooth is a now optional. A Podium Edition package is available for 2009. New colours. 

Comments
The G6 is built on the long-wheelbase Epsilon architecture that underpins the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura. It is a good looking car outside, but the shiny plasti-chrome instrument bezels and some other cabin details look cheesy. The driving position is low; and while vision to the front is good, the rising window line and high trunk restrict the view to the sides and rear, leaving rear occupants feeling buried. The G6’s 3.5L V6 and four-speed automatic endow it with smooth torquey acceleration and quiet cruising. The 164 horsepower 2.4L Ecotec four gives the G6 a direct competitor to the mainstream four cylinder Camry and Accord. The GTP features the twin cam 3.6L V6 now seen in many GM products. All G6s send power to the front wheels via an automatic transmission. A four-speed is standard on 2.4L, 3.5L and 3.9L equipped cars, and a six-speed automatic is optional with the 2.4L and standard on 3.6L cars. Made in the United States.

Reliability
Average reliability. Possible problems include the V6 engines, brakes, steering and electronic components. Expensive GM replacement parts. An extended warranty from GM is recommended. APA members can get a discount on an extended warranty when buying from an APA recommended dealer. Three year/60,000 km warranty, 5 years/160,000 km powertrain warranty.  

Pricing
This car is the oldest and least worthy member of the Malibu, Aura and G6 trio. The Malibu is a much more impressive, better developed car for pretty similar money.    

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags are standard on the convertible but not offered on other models. Standard side-curtain airbags equip all models except for the convertible. ABS is standard on all G6s. ESC is standard on the GXP and GT convertible models, optional on the SE model, but is not offered on the GT.


Honda Accord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
HONDA Accord (FWD)
Body Styles: 4SD, 2CP
Engines: 2.4L-4 177 HP (LX), 190 HP* (EX, EXL), 3.5L-V6 271 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 6M, 5A*
City Fuel Economy: 9.9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5 (2.4L and 3.5L) 

What’s new
V6 gains 3 HP.  

Performance
Linked to a five-speed manual transmission, the 190 horsepower 2.4L four delivers a serene performance when driven gently, but emits an enticing wail once the rev-counter passes 4000 rpm. The spirited engine is allied to a smooth clutch and precise gearchange. Secure handling, an absorbent ride without a trace of wallow, strong brakes, and nicely geared and weighted steering combine to make the Accord a surprisingly agile big sedan. Road noise, long a Honda failing, is excessive, and general refinement is unimpressive for this class. The V6 delivers astonishing acceleration along with a discreetly delicious soundtrack. Under light load, the engine morphs from six-cylinder operation to three or four cylinders to save fuel. Active engine mounts that rotate to absorb vibration when the engine is running on fewer than six cylinders and a noise cancellation system that sends white noise through the audio system to counter sonic imbalances from the engine are part of the package. Despite all the high-tech touches meant to mask the changes from six to four to three cylinder operation, some drivers find all the switching around to be annoying. Big, comfortable and supportive seats front and rear. Good legroom for all riders. Big, clear instrument are housed in a gigantic curvilinear dashboard that groans under the multiplicity of tiny buttons controlling audio and climate functions, especially in cars equipped with a navigation system. The trunk is large, but very odd shaping makes packing awkward. Good exterior paint and panel fit. Excellent sound system on the EX-L model tested.

Reliability
Predicted above average reliability Some complaints about oil consumption with the 2.4L engine. Over the last few years, the Accord has generated fewer consumer complaints than the Toyota Camry. Three year 60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Comments
The Accord coupe, built on a 60 mm (2.4 inch) shorter wheelbase, is 81 mm (3.2 inches) shorter, 44 mm (1.6 inches) lower, and marginally wider than the Accord sedan. The 2.4L four can be linked to either a five-speed manual transmission or a five speed automatic. The V6 mates to a five-speed automatic in all cases except for the EX-L V6 6MT coupe, which features a six-speed manual transmission.

Pricing
Upgrading from the LX to the EX is excellent value. The jump from the EX to the EX-L trim level precisely balances price and content. The coupes cost about $500 more than the equivalent sedan. Compared with a Toyota Camry Touring, monthly payments for the Accord EX sedan are $20 more per month if you lease ($0. down, 48 months) and nearly $30 greater (60 months $0. down) if you finance.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags on all models. The Accord sedan was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 2nd of the 18 cars tested in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Hyundai Sonata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
HYUNDAI Sonata (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.4L-4* 175 HP, 3.3L-V6 249 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 5A
City Fuel Economy: 9.5L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
Introduced in the spring of 2008. No further changes.  

Performance
Hooked to a five-speed automatic transmission, the Sonata’s big four provides strong acceleration and relaxed cruising. The excellent V6 is very quick and rivals Honda’s V6 for smoothness and sonority. The automatic transmission gets confused when throttle is applied after slowing briefly. The steering is nicely weighted and geared, but lacks feel. Predictable handling. The 2.4L Limited model exhibits brittle reactions to small bumps and there is a great deal of clunking from the suspension. Solidity, quietness and bump absorption are much better on the V6 Sport. The cabin design is a study in conservative good taste. Big, clear instruments and generally logical controls, except for the confusing climate controls on the Limited. Comfortable seats and plenty of room upfront and in the rear. Good driving position. Top-notch cabin materials and assembly. Excellent standard radio; disappointing name-brand upgrade. Slow seat heaters and rear defrost. Big trunk.

Reliability
Predicted reliability is average to above average. The Sonata has Japanese-brand reliability at South Korean prices. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.  

Comments
The four cylinder engine can be teamed with a manual transmission on the GL model, but most Sonatas are equipped with a five-speed automatic. Made in the United States. 

Pricing
The Sport and Limited packages are good value. With only about $40 per month separating lease (48 months $0. down) and finance (60 months, $0. down) payments, buying the Sonata is the best option this year. The V6 Limited is priced $3500 cheaper than an Accord EX-L V6, and monthly payments are significantly less whether you lease or finance.  

Safety
Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. The Sonata was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and rear impact tests, and Acceptable in the side impact test. Ranked 15th of the 18 vehicles in its class. ABS is standard. ESC is not offered on 2.4L Sonatas but is standard on V6-powered models.


Hyundai Magentis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
HYUNDAI
KIA Magentis (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.4L-4* 175 HP, 2.7L-V6 194 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 5A
City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake of the Magentis includes a new hood, front fascia and grille, and a revised rear end as well. The cabin has new dials with red markings and a USB port for the audio system. The 2.4L four, now with variable valve timing on the exhaust and intake, gains 13 horsepower. The 2.7L V6 gains variable valve timing as well, with a nine horsepower boost. 

Comments
While related to the Hyundai Sonata, the Magentis is not simply a badge-engineered spin-off to keep Kia dealers busy. The clean and sober exterior is unique to the Magentis, with no panels shared with the Sonata. The cabin is also sufficiently different from the Sonata that owners won't confuse the two. On the mechanical side, Kia eschews the Sonata's double wishbone front end for MacPherson struts. The Sonata's 2.4L engine resides under the hood of the Magentis, but Kia's optional V6 is the previous generation Hyundai 2.7L V6 that develops 194 horsepower, 55 fewer ponies less than the 3.3L powering the Sonata. Built in South Korea 

Reliability
Average to above average reliability predicted, like most recent Hyundai designed products. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty. Limited sales could lead to parts shortages for components not shared with the Rondo built on the same platform.  

Pricing
The Magentis LX Premium model is priced about $400 lower than a better equipped Sonata GL Sport. The Sonata is available from more dealers and will likely have better resale value.

Safety
Seat-mount side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. The Magentis was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and rear impact tests, and Acceptable in the side impact test. Ranked 14th of the 18 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mazda 6

 

 

 

 

 

NEW
MAZDA 6 (FWD)
Body Styles: 4SD*, 4HB
Engine: 2.5L-4* 170 HP, 3.7L-V6 272 HP,
Transmissions: 5M, 5A*, 6A,
City Fuel Economy: 9.7L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
Second-generation 6. The four-cylinder grow from 2.3L to 2.5L and gains 14 horsepower. V6 engine displacement increases from 3L to 3.7L, with a concomitant horsepower boost from 212 to 272.   

Comments
Our second-generation Mazda 6 is a standalone model built just for North America. Built on a 115 mm (4.5 inch) longer wheelbase, the new car is 195 mm (7.7 inches) longer and 60 mm (2.4 inches) wider than last year. The 6 features a massive grille flanked by retro-moderne separate fenders and rear fender blisters. The lines from the windshield to the tail curve in a way to resemble the side view of a duck, minus the neck. The big, clear gauges can be blocked by the steering wheel. With straightforward controls and mostly attractive materials, the cabin is elegant. The seats feel insubstantial but prove comfortable. Good legroom front and rear, but the front footwells are tight. The quick and smooth 2.5L four mates well with the five-speed automatic. The manual transmission works well with the 2.5L four. The best efforts of the smooth, quiet and powerful V6 are dulled by the six-speed automatic transmission it is hooked to. Secure handling, a firmly resilient ride, nicely geared and weighted steering and firm brakes meld together to create a well balanced sedan. Big trunk. The 6 was judged to be a better all-round car than the Honda Accord in an APA vehicle road test of the two cars.  

Reliability
New car, not rated. Average reliability predicted. Recent new Mazdas have experienced teething troubles in their first year of production. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Pricing
Great value Comfort package. Good value GT 2.5L upgrade. 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The 6 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal test, side impact was not evaluated, rear impact rated Marginal. Ranked 17th of the 18 cars tested in its class. Its ranking may change once all test categories have been tested. Standard ABS. ESC is optional on the GS 2.5L, but is standard on all other models.


Mitsubishi Galant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
MITSUBISHI Galant (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 2.4L-4 160 HP, 3.8L-V6* 230 HP (258 HP in Ralliart)
Transmissions:  4A, 5A
City Fuel Economy: 12.6L/100 km
ESC available: No
Emissions rating: n/a 

What’s new
Facelift including a new grille, revised front bumper, restyled rear lights, bumpers and a new trunk lid. Revised cabin including new door panels.  

Performance
The Galant V6’s combination of large displacement and sophisticated specifications delivers abundant torque off-the-line, and enthusiastic performance at high revs. The car will amble around town with great refinement, but will pull lustily when you require it. The Galant’s suspension combines an absorbent ride with firm body control in an exemplary way for a large family car with no sporting pretensions. The Galant’s steering is quick, beautifully weighted, and provides the driver with good road feel. Braking is adequate, but APA testers noted some fade in continuous mountain use. Visibility to the rear is hampered by large roof pillars and a high trunk lid. The Galant’s cabin is both spacious and comfortable, with ample room and very comfortable seating. The driving position is very good, the instrumentation is legible, and the controls are logical and easy-to-use. The fixed rear seatback limits cargo-carrying versatility. Excellent audio system.

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. Mitsubishi’s warranty, with a five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty and ten years/160,000 km on the powertrain, is the most comprehensive in Canada. Poor sales could limit service and parts availability in the long term.  

Comments
Two engines, a 160 horsepower 2.4L four and a 230 horsepower 3.8 V6 are offered on mainstream Galants, with a 258 horsepower version of the V6 exclusive to the Ralliart variant. Power reaches the front wheels via two automatic transmissions, a four-speed with the 2.4L and a five-speed on V6 cars. Made in the United States. 

Pricing
Moving up a trim grade represents very good value in the Galant. The Ralliart model is very well equipped for the money. The Galant ES and GT bear MSRPs $2300 and $4000 less respectively than the Honda Accord LX and EX-V6. Monthly lease payments ($0. down 48 months) for the Galant are higher than they are for the Accord, but finance payments ($0. down 60 months) are about $100 cheaper for the Galant. Expect heavy depreciation as this car has not gained a following in Canada.  

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags on all models. The Galant was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Poor in the rear impact test. Ranked 12th or the 18 cars in its class. ABS standard on all models. ESC is not available.  


 

Nissan Altima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
NISSAN Altima (FWD)                   
Body Styles: 4SD, 2CP
Engines: 2.5L-4* 175 HP, 3.5L-V6 270 HP, 2.5L-4H 198 HP (combined)
Transmissions: 6M, CVT
City Fuel Economy: 8.9L/100 km
ESC available: YesEmissions rating: ULEV (2.5L and 3.5L), AT-PZEV (Hybrid)  

What’s new
A sunroof is standard on the 3.5SE. Automatic locks are featured on all models.

Performance
Hooked up to the CVT, the 2.5L Altima oozes serenely around town. Strong urge is combined with relaxed cruising, but the high revs the CVT summons during hard acceleration can spoil refinement. Well-chosen ride-handling compromise on the 2.5L car. Good fuel economy. The V6-CVT combination delivers quick acceleration, refined operation and relaxed cruising. The ride on the V6 Altima is on the resilient side of firm. The cabin is attractive, comfortable and constructed from quality components. Large trunk, but the rear seat release pulls are hard to reach.

Reliability
Predicted reliability is average to above average. Three year 60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Comments
The fourth-generation Altima is built on Renault-Nissan’s new Global D platform that is also used under the Renault Laguna and the Murano and Maxima from Nissan. An elegant coupe, 101 mm (4 inches) shorter in the wheelbase, is also available. Power for both body styles stems from either a 2.5L four or a 3.5L V6. Regardless of which engine is installed under the hood, power reaches the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). On the Altima Hybrid, Nissan’s 2.5L four and Toyota’s hybrid system combine to produce 198 horsepower that reaches the front wheels through a CVT. The Altima was judged the best car in an APA four car road test in 2007, and is one of the best mid-size sedans available in Canada. Made in the United States.

Pricing
The base 2.5S with the Convenience package is nicely equipped for the price. The 2.5L SL and 3.5L SE Leather packages are priced to cover the content they contain. The coupe costs anywhere from $400 to $1300 more than the equivalent sedan.  

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Acceptable in the rear impact test. Ranked 8th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS. ESC is standard on the Hybrid, optional with the V6, and not offered with the four-cylinder engine.


 

Saturn Aura

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
SATURN Aura (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.4L-4 169 HP, 3.6L* 252 HP, 2.4L-4 Hybrid 164 HP
Transmissions: 6A*, 4A (Hybrid only)
City Fuel Economy: 12.2L/100 km
ESC available: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
A six-speed automatic transmission is standard (non hybrids). ESC is now standard. 3.5L V6 discontinued.  

Performance
The strong 3.6L V6 produces pronounced torque steer under hard acceleration. The six-speed automatic transmission packaged with the 3.6L engine is too eager to grab a higher gear and too reluctant to supply a lower one. Quiet and economical highway cruising. Predictable handling. The 18 inch wheel and tire package makes an already firm ride that much harsher. The shocks and suspension bushings seemed already worn out on 7000 kilometer example we drove. Firm, hard to modulate brake pedal. Communicative steering, but some drivers thought the steering was heavy at low speeds. Chic, solidly constructed cabin. Comfortable seats front and rear, but the rear bench is narrow for three passengers, and legroom is disappointing for a car this big. Small trunk aperture.

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain. Saturn’s uncertain future within GM could disrupt parts supply for items not shared with other GM vehicles, and could make service hard to find.   

Comments
The Aura is built on the long-wheelbase Epsilon platform shared with the Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. The Saturn can be powered by either a 2.4L four or a 3.6L V6. Power reaches the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission on the conventional Auras, and a four-speed automatic on the hybrid. The better-developed Chevrolet Malibu is a better choice than the Saturn Aura.    

Pricing
Overpriced XR trim upgrade and V6 option. The Hybrid is priced $650 higher than an XR 2.4L.  

Safety
Seat-mounted front side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Auras. Rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Marginal in the rear impact test. Ranked 11th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


  Subaru Legacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
SUBARU
Legacy*, Outback (AWD)
Body Styles: 4SD*, 4SW        
Engines: 2.5L-4 (flat)*170 HP, 3L-6 (flat) 245 HP, 2.5L-4T (flat) 243 HP (spec. B)
Transmissions: 5M, 4A*, 5A, 6M (spec.B only)
City Fuel Economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC available: Yes
Emissions ratings: PZEV (PZEV), LEV2 (others) 

What’s new
The super clean PZEV engine is now available. 3L-6 replaces the turbo four on all but the spec B. Satellite radio is standard. Last year for the current Legacy and Outback.  

Performance
The flat six is powerful at higher revs. The PZEV four is a willing, flexible and impressively smooth performer. While a four-speed automatic transmission is a basic design in this market segment, it works superbly. Observed mixed use fuel economy of 9.6L/100 km is impressive for an all-wheel drive car. With stable handling, an absorbent ride and precise steering, the PZEV is a beautifully balanced car to drive. The Outback exhibits a bit more roll in corners than the Legacy. Excellent all-wheel drive system. The SI Drive system sharpens the response times of the automatic transmission and the throttle. With padded surfaces, matte finishes, convincing fake alloy, luxurious fabrics, clear instrumentation and logical controls, the cabin is attractive and elegant. Comfortable seats. The front seats are positioned very close to the floor, leaving little space for toes under them, further restricting rear seat legroom in an already tight cabin. Good air conditioning and effective heating, but the rear defroster performance is poor. Good sound quality from the base audio system.

Reliability
Average to above average reliability. It remains to see whether the new cylinder-head design adopted for 2006 models will cure head gasket leaks experienced with the previous cylinder head design. Expensive replacement parts from Subaru, with few aftermarket suppliers. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.   

Comments

Legacy

The Legacy is available in sedan and wagon forms, and with either the normally-aspirated four or six-cylinder engines. A limited-edition spec.B is powered by a turbocharged four. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with the normally-aspirated four, a five-speed automatic with the flat six, and a six-speed manual with the spec.B. Poor space-efficiency and small size compared with rivals like the Camry and Accord keep the Legacy out of the running for mainstream mid-size buyers. Made in the United States.

Comments

Outback

The Outback, derived from the Legacy, has a greater ride height, larger fog lights, wheel well extensions and some lower door cladding to differentiate it from the Legacy. Other than different instrument faces, slightly different fabrics, the Outback’s interior is little-changed from the Legacy. Made in the United States.

 

Pricing
Legacy: the Touring package is good value, but other models lack value. The Legacy wagon costs $1000 more than the sedan. Outback: The Outback sells from $3000 to $3650 more than a similarly equipped Legacy wagon. The PZEV Plus variant represents great value.

 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side air bags and side-curtain airbags on all models. The Legacy was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side, and rear impact tests. Ranked 3rd of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS. ESC is optional with the normally-aspirated four, but is standard with the flat six and turbo four.

 

Toyota Camry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
TOYOTA
2010 Camry (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.5L-4 169 HP* (179 HP for the SE), 3.5L-V6 268 HP, 2.4L-4 187 HP (Hybrid Total/147 gas, 40 electric)
Transmissions: 6M (2.4L SE only), 6A*
City Fuel Economy: 9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions ratings: Tier 2 Bin 5 (2.5L and 3.5L), Tier 2 Bin 3 (Hybrid) 

What’s new
Early release 2010 Camry. The base engine grows from 2.4L to 2.5L and gains 11 horsepower (21 in the SE model). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all 2010 Camrys except for the 2.5L SE. ESC and traction control are standard on all models. Revised grille, front fascia and new taillamps. Bluetooth is optional. A back-up camera is added to the navigation system. 

 

Performance
The new 2.5L four and six-speed automatic powertrain should accelerate quicker and cruise even more quietly than before. The smooth and powerful 3.5L V6 consumes barely more gas than the 2.5L engine. The six-speed automatic transmission is reluctant to downshift. The steering is very light and is devoid of feel. Tight turning circle. The Camry soaks up bumps ably, but, except for the SE, handling is sloppy. Clear instrumentation and fantastically straightforward controls. Some cheap looking cabin fittings and ultra prosaic fabrics on the LE models. Despite the short seat cushions and soft padding, the front seats are comfortable. The rear bench seat lacks support. The rear seats don't fold down on SE models, compromising cargo versatility.

 

Reliability
Predicted above average reliability. Problems that cropped up after this generation Camry was launched appear fixed. The new 2.5L engine is unproven. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Comments

Toyota has jumped the calendar once again with the 2010 Camry that went on sale in the spring of 2009. The main change is a bigger four cylinder engine and a more sophisticated automatic transmission. The hybrid retains the older 2.4L engine design. Made in the United States except for the 2.4 SE, which is built in Japan.

 

Pricing
Upgrading to the next trim level and the various option packages are good value for the money. Compared with a Honda Accord EX sedan, payments for the Toyota Touring are $20 less per month if you lease ($0. down, 48 months) and nearly $30 less (60 months $0. down) if you finance.

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


Toyota Prius 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW

TOYOTA

2010 Prius (FWD)

Body Style: 4HB

Engine: 1.8L-4 134 HP net (Combined gas and electric)

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

City Fuel Economy: n/a

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 3

 

What’s new

The third-generation Prius went on sale in the spring of 2009.

 

Comments

The third-generation Prius is built on the same wheelbase as its predecessor, but is 10 mm longer and 56 mm wider. Pulling the roofline further back increases cabin length and creates more room for rear seat passengers. The new car, with a pronounced wedge shape and some expertly drawn character lines, is a real looker. With a coefficient of drag of .26, the new Prius slips through the air with nary a ripple. The cabin of the new car is roomy for passengers and, with the hatchback, versatile for hauling as well. The cabin, with smooth shapes and a spare, yet not stark look, is another triumph from Toyota. The digital instrumentation, wedged into a narrow brow at the top centre of the dashboard, and bland upholstery fabrics, disappoint. Toyota notes that some plant-based plastics are used inside the new Prius.   

 

The gasoline engine increases in size from 1.5L to 1.8L. The combined net horsepower for the gasoline engine and the electric motor is 134 horsepower, 24 more horsepower than last year. Power reaches the front wheels via a CVT. Toyota claims fuel efficiency has increased seven percent when compared with the 2009 Prius. Both the water pump and the power steering pump are electric, eliminating all belts from the new Prius.  

 

Reliability
New car, not rated. Previous Prius hybrids have been very reliable. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain, 8 years/160,000 km on hybrid related components. Complex technology and limited sales means dealer-only service. 

Price
The Premium package is worth about $2500, and the Touring package contains roughly $1000 more in content than the Premium.  

Safety        
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


Volkswagen Passat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
VOLKSWAGEN Passat (FWD, AWD)
Body Styles: 4SD*, 4SW, 4CP
Engines: 2L-4T* 200 HP, 3.6L-V6 280 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 6A*
City Fuel Economy: 10.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
VR6-AWD combination discontinued on the sedan. New Tech Package. CC short window four-door coupe introduced. 

Performance
Based on the same platform as the Jetta and Rabbit. Other than a gruff idle, the 2L is strong, smooth, flexible and economical. A firm yet resilient ride is allied to secure handling. Nicely weighted and geared steering. The VR6 is quick and sounds great, but a stiff throttle pedal makes it hard to drive smoothly. The VR6 4Motion model feels very heavy upfront but does have exceptional directional stability. Vision to the front is good, but shallow side windows restrict vision to the sides. Good audio system The roomy cabin is carefully assembled but some trim bits look cheesy. Clear main dials, but the temperature and gas gauges are small and hard to read. Generally straightforward controls. The electrically released parking brake and the vehicle starting procedure are both tedious. The front seat bases are big, and have a plethora of adjustments, but the bottom cushion is narrow and flat, with larger drivers finding little support under their left legs. The sedan has a big trunk and the cargo area of the wagon is deep, long and easily accessed.

Reliability
Average reliability. The front-wheel drive 2L Passat should be more reliable than the all-wheel drive VR6 model. Like all Volkswagens, the Passat will be expensive to service. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, with 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Comments
Passat: two engines, a turbocharged 2L four and a 3.6L VR6, are offered on the Passat in Canada. The four sends power to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. The 3.6L VR6 is packaged exclusively with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system. CC: striking, if not pretty styling on the CC. The CC’s cabin features more elegant design and higher quality materials than the sedan. The four seat cabin has good rear legroom, but headroom is marginal and ingress-egress is hampered by the low roof. Made in Germany.

Pricing
Passat: the Comfortline and Highline packages are overpriced. The wagon is priced $1500 higher than the equivalent sedan. The VR6-4Motion combination is priced at about $10,000 on the Highline wagon. Passat CC: good value Highline package. The supplement for the VR6-AWD powertrain is $7000 on the CC Highline 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. Optional rear side torso airbags. The Passat was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked first of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.