LUXURY CARS

 


Acura TL

Audi A4

GM Cadillac CTS

Acura TSX

BMW 1 series

Hyundai Genesis

Audi A3

BMW 3 series

Infiniti G37

Lincoln MKZ

Nissan Maxima

Lexus ES 350

Mercedes-Benz B Class

Saab 9-3

Lexus IS 250

Mercedes-Benz C Class

Volvo C30

Volvo S60 

Volvo S40, V50 Volvo V70, XC70  

There are a number of changes to luxury segment stalwarts this year. Acura’s key models, the TSX and TL, are new for 2009, as are the Audi A4 and the Nissan Maxima. The biggest news for 2009 is the introduction of Hyundai’s big luxury car, the Genesis. Like Lexus in 1990, Hyundai is offering a conservative, impeccably finished luxury sedan at a fiercely competitive price. The Audi A3, BMW 3-Series and Lincoln MKZ (2010) all undergo mid-cycle remakes this year. Infiniti’s G morphs from G35 to G37 due to a new drivetrain, and the G series range grows with the addition of a hard top convertible. Not to be outdone, Lexus adds a two-door hard top convertible version of its IS series this year. Rounding off the changes for 2009 is Volvo’s XC70 wagon, which gains an optional turbocharged inline six cylinder engine. 

Cutting-edge safety equipment, like side-curtain air bags, active head restraints and electronic stability control, were introduced on luxury cars before filtering down to mainstream vehicles. With advanced features like radar-guided cruise control and blind spot monitoring systems, luxury cars continue to push the boundaries of safety technology. In addition to safety equipment, careful design and in some cases, sheer girth, improve the crash performance of vehicles in this segment. Nine of the 20 cars discussed in this segment are Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks, with five more registering Good scores in at least two of the three IIHS test categories.  

A trend in the luxury car market is the greater availability of all-wheel drive. Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo offer all-wheel drive variants of their key models this year. An unwelcome fad in this segment, as it is in others, is the move to bigger and bigger wheels, with 17 inch, 18 inch, and even bigger rims becoming the norm. The large tires are often hard-riding, wear quickly and are be costly to replace. Winter tires for the larger wheels can be very expensive when you can find them, which is sometimes difficult.  

 


 

 

Acura TL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
ACURA TL (FWD*, AWD),
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3.5L-V6 280 HP*, 3.7L-V6 305 HP (SH-AWD)
Transmission: 5A*
City Fuel Economy: 11.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
All new model for 2009

Performance
The SH-AWD’s big V6 pulls strongly and makes stirring sounds at higher revs. Smooth and responsive five-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive system aids traction but doesn’t eliminate torque steer under strong acceleration. The SH-AWD model rides very firmly in town but becomes suppler as speeds rise. Road noise suppression is disappointing. Spacious interior. Most APA drivers found the TL’s big front seats comfortable, but a transverse bar that rests under the upholstery part way up the seatback irritated two very tall individuals. The cabin has clear gauges and a few nice styling touches, but some interior materials betray evidence of thrifting. The dash centre stack contains a plethora of haphazardly placed controls, especially on navigation-equipped TLs. Spacious interior. Very good audio system.

Reliability
Not rated, new model. Predicted above average reliability. Four years/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments
The Accord-based North America specific TL is all new for 2009. Built on a 35 mm (1.37 inch) longer wheelbase, the 2009 TL is 48 mm (1.89 inches) longer, 45 mm (1.77 inches) wider and marginally taller than last year. With a helmet/mailbox lid grille, shallow windows and blobby sides, the TL looks ungainly. The front-wheel drive TL is powered by the 3.5L V6 featured in the 2008 TL Type S. New for 2009 is a 3.7L V6 hooked up to the SH-AWD system seen in other Acuras. Built in the United States.

Pricing
At $4500, the SH-AWD-3.7L powertrain option is expensive. Compared with a base model Lexus ES350, a base TL will cost about the same per month to lease (48 months $0. down), but will cost roughly $175 more per month to finance (60 months $0. down) than the Lexus.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The TL was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 2nd of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

Acura TSX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
ACURA TSX (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 2.4L-4 201 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 5A*
City fuel economy: 9.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
The second-generation TSX is based on the Accord sold in Europe and Japan. An optional V6 is scheduled for the 2010 model year.

Comments
The new TSX, built on a 35 mm (1.4 inch) longer wheelbase, is 66 mm (2.6 inches) longer and 78 mm (3 inches) wider than the old one. The trim, elegant look of the first TSX has been jettisoned in favour of a clean, yet blocky design. Acura’s new corporate grille, a chromed mailbox lid/helmet creation, is flanked by tapering angular headlamps. The TSX’s side profile is interrupted by an awkward character line that rises and falls over the front wheel well, and then parallels the beltline to the back of the car. The cabin is dominated by a gigantic curving dashboard housing clear instruments as well as a prominent centre stack that suffers from button glut. After the lavish interior materials used inside the old car, the mainstream cabin fittings on the new car are disappointing. Despite a longer wheelbase and greater width, interior space is little changed. The powertrain is largely carried over from the last car. Horsepower drops from 205 to 201, but torque increase by 8 lb.-ft. Power is transmitted to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. Three trim levels, a cloth upholstered base model, a comprehensively equipped Premium variant, and a Tech version of the Premium trim level, are offered this year. Made in Japan.

Reliability
Not rated, new model. Predicted above average reliability. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing
Pricing for the 2009 TSX starts at $32,900, $3300 less than last year. However, this is not a price cut, but the result of a new decontented base model. The Premium model is equipped and priced the same as the single trim variant was last year. The 2009 TSX with the Tech package costs the same as a 2008 TSX equipped with the Navigation package. The base TSX is priced $4000 less than a similarly equipped BMW 323i, but monthly payments for the BMW are less, whether you lease or finance.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The TSX was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked first of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Audi A3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
AUDI A3 (FWD*, quattro)
Body Style: 4HB
Engine: 2L-4T*, 200 HP, 3.2L-VR6 250 HP
Transmissions: 6M (2L only), 6 S Tronic (dual clutch manual)
City fuel economy: 9.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake with a very mild facelift. A mainstream 2L quattro variant is finally available. GM-derived Audi Magnetic Ride system is a new option. Cabriolet not planned for Canada. A TDI has been announced but won’t be available until early 2010.

Comments
The 2L four can send power to front wheels, or optionally, to all wheels. Transmission choices for front-wheel drive models are a six-speed manual transmission or Audi’s S tronic clutchless manual gearbox. All quattro models (2L and VR6) use the S tronic transmission. The interior is elegant, practical, and constructed from attractive materials. The A3’s capacious cargo area can be increased by folding the split back rear seats. Reports in the automotive press praise the smooth, flexible 2L four, and the S tronic’s slick operation. Precise, nicely-weighted steering, and compliant suspension round out the on-the-road experience. Made in Germany.

Reliability
Average reliability. Expect high maintenance costs and expensive parts prices. Audi’s $750.00 optional service plan that covers scheduled maintenance up to 70,000 km, is recommended. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty. Twelve year warranty against perforation corrosion. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Pricing
Only the base version is reasonably priced. The Premium package and the VR6 option are poor value. The quattro drive system is a $3450 option on the base 2L and commands a $3300 supplement on the Premium model. At $1650, the S Tronic automatic is expensive. A Volkswagen Rabbit GTI four door the A3 is based on is priced $1700 cheaper than a similarly-equipped base A3. However, the A3 can cost little more to lease than its less prestigious platform mate

Safety
Standard front seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Audi A3 was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 4th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


  

Audi A4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
AUDI A4 (FWD, AWD*)
Body Styles: 4SD, 4SW
Engines: 2L-4T* 211 HP, 3.2L-V6 265 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
City fuel economy: 10.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
All new third-generation A4

Performance
VW's 2L four returns, but with 11 more horsepower and 51 lb.-ft. of more torque due to variable exhaust camshaft phasing. The 2L is quick, smooth, flexible and economical. Well sorted ride and handling. The steering is over-assisted below 60 km/h and too heavy above that speed. High interior noise levels. The 3.2L V6 is smooth but totally unnecessary. Greater wheelbase and width improve the A4's cabin space from cramped to one of the roomiest in its class. The cabin design, usually the highlight of an Audi, reflects design confusion and cost cutting. Avoid the navigation system as too many basic controls are forced to maneuver the confusing, distracting and graphically-impaired display screen. Good cargo space on the wagon. Great audio system.

Reliability
Average reliability until the four year mark, after which problems and service costs escalate. Expect high maintenance costs and expensive parts prices. Audi’s $750.00 optional service plan that covers scheduled maintenance up to 70,000 km, is recommended. An Audi bumper to bumper extended warranty is recommended if you are not leasing. Twelve year warranty against perforation corrosion. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comments
Built on a 166 mm (6.54 inch) longer wheelbase, the 2009 Audi A4 is 117 mm (4.60 inches) longer and 54 mm (2.12 inches) wider than before. The new A4's design follows recent Audi practice. Two engines, a 2L turbo four, and a 3.2L twin cam V6, are offered on the A4 sedan. Quattro drive and automatic transmission was the sole powertrain offered initially, but the sedan range was broadened very late in the model year by the addition of a front-wheel drive-CVT variant, as well as a six-speed manual version of the 2L quattro model. The Avant wagon is offered in a single 2L-quattro automatic form. The A4 cabriolet soldiers along on the previous platform, and will be replaced by a convertible version of the limited production A5. Made in Germany.

Pricing
The late-entry front-wheel drive CVT sedan is priced $2900 less than a base 2L quattro with automatic transmission. The 2L Premium package is reasonable value. The V6 is overpriced. The 2L quattro Premium, the sole Avant, costs $2000 more than the 2L Premium sedan. Comparable BMW and Mercedes-Benz models generate lower monthly lease and finance payments than the A4.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags, optional rear side airbags. The Audi A4 was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 3rd of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

BMW 1 Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT RATED
BMW 1-Series
Body Styles: 2CP, 2CV
Engines: 3L-6* 230 HP (128i), 3.0L-6T 300 HP (135i)
Transmissions: 6M*, 6A
City fuel economy: 11.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

Range-topping big-engined coupe and convertible versions of the long-established 1-Series. No four-cylinder versions, no hatchbacks and no diesels.

Comments
On sale in Europe in hatchback form since 2004, coupe and convertible versions of the 1-Series went on sale in Canada in spring of 2008. Compared with the 3-Series on which it is based, the three-box 1-Series is built on a 100 mm (3.94 inch) shorter wheelbase, is 220 mm (8.7 inches) shorter, 34 mm (1.4 inches) narrower, 28 mm (1.1 inches taller), but only about 40 kg (88 lbs) lighter. Much ink has been spilled comparing this car to the iconic 1602-2002 Series, the car that set BMW on the path to what it is today. However, other than the high shoulder line, the new car shares few styling elements with its lithe and chic ancestor. The 1-Series cabin design is similar to that of the 3-Series. It has crisp, clear instrumentation, as well as some overly-complex minor controls. Cabin fit and finish are very good. Comfortable seats and plenty of legroom are enjoyed by front passengers. Rear seat legroom is very tight. Reasonable trunk space. Engine choice in Canada is restricted to two versions of BMW’s 3-litre six, the normally aspirated 128i and the turbocharged 135i. Power is sent to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. Made in Germany.

Reliability
Not rated, new model. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, free scheduled maintenance for the first 4 years/80,000 km. A BMW extended bumper to bumper warranty recommended if you are not leasing.

Pricing
1-Series pricing begins at $33,900 for a base 128i coupe. The convertible body style is priced $5500 to $6000 higher than the coupe, and upgrading to the turbocharged engine costs $7800 on the coupe and $7300 on the convertible. Options are many and expensive. There is an $800 charge for metallic paint, leather upholstery is priced at $1900, a sunroof will set you back $1500, and be prepared to pay $1600 if you want to go shiftless. Where the 1-Series looks like a bargain is when it is compared with the BMW 3-Series. The 128i and 135i coupes are priced $8700 and $8900 less respectively than a 328i or 335i coupe. The convertible 128i is $15,700 cheaper than a 328i, and the 135i convertible is priced $19,400 lower than a 335i cabriolet. 

Safety
Seat-mounted side and head airbags are standard on the coupe, with seat-mounted thorax and head airbags standard on the convertible. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

BMW  3 Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
BMW 3-Series (RWD, AWD*)              
Body Styles: 4SD*, 4SW
Engines: 2.5L-6 200 HP (323i), 3L-6* 230 HP (328i), 3.0L-6T 300 HP (335i), 3L-6TD 265 HP (335d), 4L-V8 414 HP (M3)
Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, 7 DCT (automated clutchless manual)
City fuel economy: 11.9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new
Mid-cycle remake on the sedans including a new hood, revised taillamps and rear fascia. Minor cabin changes. Active headrests. Diesel-engined 335d finally on sale. More equipment at lower prices.

Performance
BMW’s sophisticated inline six engines impress with their flexibility and low rotational inertia that bestows a delicious effervescence to their operation. The inline six makes a glorious noise, but makes it more quietly than previous BMW engines. The turbocharged 335i combines stirring performance with impressive refinement. The manual gearchange is light, precise, and is allied to a smooth and docile clutch. With quick, precise steering, tenacious grip, and strong, easily modulated brakes, the 3-Series is a car with tremendous sense of balance. Despite low-profile tires and sports suspension, the ride is firm but never harsh. The small diameter steering wheel and quick steering ratio imparts a heightened agility that seduced and irritated equal numbers of drivers. Very good exterior paintwork and panel fit. The cabin uses shapes more than applied ornament to express a clean, spare, almost avant-garde interior ambience. Cabin materials and assembly are, for the most part, top notch. Instrumentation will be familiar to BMW owners, as will the red gauge lighting at night. Don’t look for a temperature gauge, as it has been banished to a read out on the trip computer. The climate controls are confusing and the air conditioning has trouble cooling the cabin on hot days. The stellar sonic qualities of the audio system are let down by diabolical controls. BMW replaced conventional one-step key starting with a two-stage protocol that requires inserting the keyless remote fob into the dash, and then pushing a starter button. Tedious. Some minor controls are hard to find. Front seating comfort, even with the optional ultra-bolstered sports seats, is good for all sizes of drivers. The rear seat is comfortable, but legroom is just adequate and headroom is tight for the tall.

Reliability

Average to above average reliability. Durable mechanical units. Expensive parts and service, with some electrical problems predicted as the car ages. Avoid the Active-Steer option as it requires more time to be perfected. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, free scheduled maintenance for the first 4 years/80,000 km. A BMW extended bumper to bumper warranty is recommended if you are not leasing. Expensive, fast-wearing run-flat tires. 

Comments
The 2.5L 200 horsepower 323i, 3L 230 horsepower 328i, 300 horsepower turbocharged 3L 335i and the 265 horsepower 335d diesel are all available with rear-wheel drive in the sedans, with the 328i and 335i powertrains available on rear-wheel drive coupes and convertibles. The all-wheel drive 328ix is offered in sedan, coupe, and wagon formats, with the 335ix available in sedan and coupe body styles. Power can flow to the rear wheels, or all wheels, via manual or automatic transmissions with six speeds. The automatic transmission only 335d is not offered with all-wheel drive. Power from the M3’s V8 is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual. Made in Germany.

Pricing
The all-wheel drive system is priced at $2500 on the coupe and $2600 on the sedan. The wagon body style (328xi only) bears an MSRP $1600 higher than the equivalent sedan. BMW charges $1600 to $2700 more for a coupe than a sedan powered by the same engine. The convertible (no 323i offered) body style commands a $13,000 to $15,000 supplement over the coupe. Very expensive options. Leasing for 48 months generates the lowest monthly lease payment on a 3-Series. The monthly lease payment for a BMW 328ix (36 months $0. down) is nearly $40 higher than it is for a Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, but the payment for the BMW on a 48 month lease is roughly $70 less than it is for the Mercedes. Roughly $20 separates the finance payments (60 months $0. down) on the two cars. 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The 3 Series was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 6th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Cadillac CTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT RATED
CADILLAC CTS (RWD, AWD*)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3.6L-V6* 263 HP, 3.6L-V6 (direct injection) 300 HP, 6.2L-V8S 556 HP (CTS-V)
Transmission: 6M, 6A*
City fuel economy: 12.3L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

Standard Bluetooth. The V8-engined CTS-V is now on sale. The CTS wagon goes be on sale in the fall of 2009.

Comments
The exterior design of the CTS reflects an aesthetic polish not seen from GM since the 1960s. With modern shapes, traditional wood and alloy accents, attractive materials and careful assembly, the cabin is an exemplar of contemporary luxury. Good space upfront, but rear legroom is light. Two mainstream V6 engines, both displacing 3.6L V6 litres, are offered in the CTS. The base engine produces 263 horsepower, with the direct-injection version rated at 304 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission can be linked to either drive system, with a six-speed manual offered only on rear-wheel drive CTSs. The CTS handles very well but has a less agile feel than something like the BMW 3-Series. The limited production rear-wheel drive only CTS-V is powered by a supercharged 6.2L V8 with 556 horsepower. Made in the United States.

Reliability
Insufficient data, not rated. Few complaints were received about the previous model, but the current mechanical units are unproven. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty including free maintenance, and a 5 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty. A bumper to bumper extended warranty from GM is recommended if you are not leasing. APA members can get a discount on the warranty from a dealer recommended by the association. 

Pricing
The stronger 304 horsepower engine is a $2695 option.  The optional all-wheel drive system ($2625) is only available on cars equipped with automatic transmission, itself a $1700 option. Option packages are expensive for what they contain. The  CTS 1SB all-wheel drive is priced about $5700 less than a BMW 335xi, and $4600 cheaper than a Mercedes-Benz C350 4Matic with similar equipment. Heavy depreciation predicted.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The CTS was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked first of the 14 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

Hyundai Genesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW
HYUNDAI Genesis (RWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 3.8L-V6 290 HP, 4.6L-V8 368 HP
Transmissions: 6A
City fuel economy: 11.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
All new rear-wheel drive luxury sedan.

Comments
Hyundai’s new super-luxury car went on sale in the fall of 2008 as a 2009 model. The Genesis is longer, slightly lower and 200 mm (7.9 inches) narrower than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Other than an awkward grille that bears no Hyundai iconography, the Genesis sedan design, while hardly original, is a paragon of clean, conservative good taste. The cabin, with clear instruments, smoothly-integrated controls and luxurious materials, is very elegant. Seat comfort is good, front and rear, and rear legroom is ample considering the rear-wheel drive layout of the car. Width for those in back seat is less generous than in the wider Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Two engines, a 3.8L V6 and a 4.8L V8, are offered. Power reaches the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission in both cases. The lack of an all-wheel drive version of the Genesis may hurt sales in Canada. Made in South Korea.

Reliability
New car, not rated. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper to bumper warranty.

Pricing
Though the Genesis has similar specifications and features as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-series, it is priced against cars like the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima. With the optional Premium package, the Genesis 3.8L sells for about $35,000 less than a Mercedes-Benz E350 Avantgarde.

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags front and rear, and side-curtain airbags are all standard. The Genesis sedan was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 6th of the 14 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.



 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Infiniti G37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
INFINITI G37 (RWD, AWD*)
Body Style: 4SD, 2CP, 2CV
Engine: 3.7L-V6* 328 HP (330 HP/Coupe, 325 Convertible)
Transmission: 6M, 7A*
City fuel economy: 11.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: LEV 2

What’s new
Sedan: 328 HP 3.7L V6 replaces the old 3.5L engine. Coupe: new all-wheel drive option. Both: Rear-wheel steering is optional on rear-wheel drive Gs. Self-sealing clear coat paint. Cabriolet: now on sale.

Sedan
Performance
The stiff throttle of the G35 sedan driven by the APA in 2007 defeated efforts to drive smoothly, leading to excessive revs, lurching, and a confused automatic transmission that delayed upshifts. Prominent road noise and intrusive exhaust rumble spoil refinement. It is unknown whether the new 3.7L/seven-speed automatic transmission powertrain improves refinement or driveability. Well-judged ride and handling compromise for a sporty sedan. Pleasantly weighted and geared steering. Strong brakes. Comfortable seats and a good driving position. Clear instrumentation, but there are too many buttons for the minor controls. Elegant cabin except for the ugly scratched alloy trim, which can be replaced with wood accents on Premium package-equipped cars. The tiny trunk aperture is the portal to a barely adequate trunk.

Reliability
Average to above average reliability. Expensive brake servicing. The G37 is cheaper to maintain than European competitors. Four year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 6 years/110,000 km on the powertrain.

Sedan
Comments
Except for the rear-wheel drive G35M model equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, all G35s are fitted with a with a seven-speed automatic. The Attesa ET-S all-wheel drive system has an active centre clutch that distributes torque to the axles depending on requirements on snowy surfaces, but maintains a rear wheel bias under normal conditions. Made in Japan.

Pricing
Leather upholstery is standard, but a sunroof, power passenger seat, a six-CD changer and upgraded audio system are part of the $3450 (on the all-wheel drive sedan) Premium package. The all-wheel drive system commands a supplements of $3310 compared with a rear-wheel drive G37 with similar equipment. A Premium package equipped all-wheel drive G37 is priced $3200 lower than a base model Acura TL SH-AWD. The two cars generate very similar monthly lease payments (48 months $0 down) but finance payments (60 months $0. down) for the Infiniti are roughly $100 less per month than they are for the Acura.

Coupe/Convertible
Comments
Rear legroom on the coupe is adequate, but headroom is tight. Small trunk. All-wheel drive is now available on the coupe. Very tight rear legroom and trunk space in the new rear-wheel drive hard top convertible. Made in Japan.

Pricing
The G37 coupe is priced anywhere from $2110 (M6) to $2860 (G37/G37x) more than the equivalent sedan. The features contained in the Touring and Premium option packages on the sedan are standard on the coupe. The all-wheel drive system is priced $2500 higher than a similarly-equipped rear-wheel drive coupe. A G37 M6 coupe is priced roughly $8000 less than a similarly equipped BMW 335i coupe. 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The G37 sedan was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 6th of the 13 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

Lexus ES 350

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
LEXUS ES350 (FWD)        
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3.5L-V6 272 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 10.9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
New standalone navigation package.

Comments
The design of the Camry-based ES350 is not too far distant from its donor vehicle. The interior is yet another manifestation of the Lexus “restrained opulence” school of design. Front legroom is good, but rear seat legroom is more adequate than generous. Power comes from Toyota’s ubiquitous 3.5L twin cam V6. Performance is strong, and in Lexus tradition, quiet. Smooth paint and good panel fit outside, with pleasant materials and rigorous assembly inside. Four trim levels, base, Navigation, Premium with Navigation and Ultra Premium with navigation, are available. The top model includes a higher grade of leather and a large “Panorama” sunroof. Made in Japan.

Reliability
Predicted reliability is above average. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 6 years/110,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing
Lexus is much more competitive on price in 2009, with the base ES priced within a few dollars of the base Acura TL, and the ES with Navigation bears an MSRP about $900 higher than a Tech package equipped Acura TL. Compared with a base model TL, the ES350 will cost about the same per month to lease (48 months $0. down), but the Lexus will cost roughly $175 less per month to finance (60 months $0. down) than the Acura. The Hyundai Azera is roomier than the Lexus and is nearly $3000 cheaper, but the Lexus will have better resale value.  

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment. The ES350 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 8th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Lexus IS 250

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
LEXUS IS250 (RWD, AWD*), IS 350, IS-F (RWD)
Body Style: 4SD. 2CV
Engines: 2.5L-V6* 204 HP (IS250), 3.5L-V6 306 HP, 5L-V8 416 HP
Transmission: 6A*, 6M (IS250 RWD only), 8A (IS-F)
City fuel economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management is standard on all IS models. A hard top convertible version of the IS goes on sale in the spring of 2009.

Comments
The second-generation IS series enters its fourth year on the market with few changes other than a hard top convertible variant. While not a style paragon outside, the IS has excellent panel fit and a lustrous paint job. Where the IS shines is inside. Design, material choices, colour combinations and fit and finish are all excellent. The appearance of the cabin fittings easily outclass those of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. The front compartment is snug, and those in the rear are at the mercy of those in front for their comfort. Lexus offers two engines, two transmissions and two drive systems on mainstream IS models. The IS250 is powered by a 204 horsepower 2.5L twin cam V6, with a 3.5L version of the same engine producing 306 horsepower in the IS350. Except for a six-speed manual transmission offered on the rear-wheel drive IS250, all IS models send power to the road via a six-speed automatic. The IS350 is exclusively rear-wheel drive, but IS250 buyers can select an all-wheel drive system that employs a 30/70 front/rear torque split under most conditions, shifting to a 50/50 split on slippery roads. The all-wheel drive system has been warmly received, and about half of all IS250s sold are so equipped. Reports in the automotive press note that the IS series is Lexus smooth and quiet, with good acceleration on the IS250, and blistering performance on the IS350. While handling and braking are very good, the ride is unsettled, and the electric steering is too light and is devoid of feel. The special order IS-F, powered by a 416 horsepower 5L V8 sending power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, is also available. Made in Japan.  

Reliability
Predicted reliability is above average. Four year/80,000 bumper to bumper warranty, 6 years/110,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing
Except for the IS 350 Sport package, all IS option packages are overpriced. The base IS250 (with automatic) is priced roughly $1700 less than a similarly-equipped BMW 323i. Both cars cost about the same to lease ($0. down) for 36 or 48 months, but the monthly payment for the Lexus is (60 months $0. down) about $40 higher than it is for the BMW. Comparing a BMW 328ix and a Lexus IS 250 AWD reveals that the BMW is about $20 cheaper to lease ($0. down) than the Lexus on a 36 month lease, but the monthly payment is the same on a 48 month lease. Finance payments (60 months $0. down) for the Lexus are roughly $30 more for the Lexus than for the BMW. This is despite the BMW’s $4000 higher MSRP when the two cars are equipped the same.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The IS was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Acceptable in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 7th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Lincoln MKZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
LINCOLN
2010 MKZ (FWD, AWD*)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3.5L-V6 263 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 12.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

The mid-cycle early-release 2010 MKZ is already on sale.

Comments
With a grille reminiscent of the landmark 1940 and 1941 Lincoln Continentals, the exterior of the 2010 MKZ, is, except for the doors, virtually all new. With a restyled dashboard, seats and door panels, the roomy cabin is fundamentally renewed as well. The 3.5L V6 is unchanged, but the six-speed automatic transmission gains a manumatic function for 2010. Standard equipment now includes rain-sensing windshield wipers, capless fuel filling and a Post Crash Alert system. The Post Crash Alert system unlocks the doors, sounds the horn and activates the hazard flashers if the car in involved is an accident in which the airbags deploy. New options include a Sports Appearance package and a Vision package that contains a navigation system, back up camera and a Blind Spot information system. Made in Mexico.

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. The Fusion on which the MKZ is based has been very reliable. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty including scheduled maintenance, and a six year/110,000 km powertrain warranty. A Lincoln bumper to bumper extended warranty is recommended if you are not leasing. APA members can get a discount on the warranty from a dealer recommended by the association. 

Pricing
Priced at $3900, all-wheel drive is a very expensive option on the MKZ. The base MKZ is priced about $2200 less than the base Lexus ES350, but the Lexus will have infinitely better resale value than the Lincoln, which depreciates rapidly.

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. The MKZ was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and rear impact tests, the side impact test was not conducted. Ranked last of 12 cars in its class, but this ranking may change once the side impact test has been completed. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Mercedes B Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT RATED
MERCEDES-BENZ B-Class (FWD)
Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 2L-4* 134 HP, 2L-4T 193 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 6M (Turbo), CVT*
City fuel economy: 9.2L/100km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
Restyled hood, grille, bumpers, and taillights. Redesigned rear seat cushion, new fabrics, standard Bluetooth phone integration, an MP3 reader, rain sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Revised option packages.

Performance
The base engine and CVT combine to deliver adequate acceleration from a stop, relaxed cruising and good fuel economy. While generally quiet, the high sustained revs permitted by the CVT lets the engine get quite raucous when maximum thrust is demanded. The sophisticated CVT has regular, sport and manumatic settings. The turbo engine is powerful, and progress is more serene than with the base engine as the engine doesn’t have to work as hard. Precise steering, an absorbent ride and confident handling. The air conditioning works well during hot weather, but the system emits some bizarre noises as it functions. The B-Class is a paragon of space-efficiency. Legroom is very good in front and in the rear. The trunk is big with the rear seats up and impressive with the seats folded. The seats are both supportive and comfortable. Big, easily-scanned gauges and, except for the European-type parking lights that confused some APA staffers, the controls are logical and straightforward. Fit and finish are quite good, but the pale yellow and pale grey interior hues soil too easily. Good exterior panel fit and paint, and the car feels very robust.   

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. Previous Mercedes cars have had average reliability at least during the warranty period. Expect typical electrical glitches common in European cars. This car is not offered in the United States, so a breakdown there could be a real adventure. If you travel to the U.S. often, another car may be a better choice. A Mercedes-Benz bumper to bumper extended warranty recommended if you are not leasing. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comment
The B-Class is powered by two versions of the same 2L single overhead camshaft two-valve-per-cylinder four. The normally-aspirated unit produces 134 horsepower, with the turbocharged version rated at 193 horsepower. Both engines require premium fuel despite their low-tech specs. Power goes to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission on normally-aspirated models and a six-speed manual on turbocharged Bs. A CVT (continuously variable transmission) is optional with either engine. B-Class sales increased about 10 percent in Canada in 2008. Made in Germany.

Pricing
For its interior volume and the Mercedes name cachet, a basic B-Class is reasonably priced. The turbo priced $4500 higher than the normally-aspirated model. The CVT transmission is a $1500 option with either engine. Option package prices cover the value of the contents provided. Individual options are very expensive.

Safety

Seat-mounted front seat airbags, rear side impact airbags and side-curtain air bags are standard. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Mercedes C Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
MERCEDES-BENZ C-Class (RWD, AWD*)
Body Styles: 4SD
Engines: 2.5L-V6 201 HP (C230), 3L-V6 228 HP (C300), 3.5L-V6* 268 HP (C350), 6.2L-V8
451 HP (C63 AMG)

Transmissions: 6M, 7A*
City fuel economy: 12.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
A new Dynamic Handling package is introduced on rear-wheel drive C-Class models. The Sport package is standard on all but the C230, where it is optional. Wood cabin trim is standard. The AMG C63 is now available.

Performance
The smooth throttle of the C-Class controls power flow to a carefully matched engine and transmission. The C350’s V6 engine accelerates strongly and emits a prominent bass rumble while doing so. Noisy at speed. Precise, linear steering bestows a sense of great agility. Stable handling and a compliant ride, though not as absorbent as on the last C. The ABS displaces the car laterally on loose surfaces. Front seat comfort, driving position and outward vision are all superb. Tight rear seat legroom. Chic cabin style and generally attractive cabin materials, but the knit fabric covering the lower doors begins to look shabby quickly. Excellent audio system sound quality. Avoid the navigation system as the controls for the “Command” system are overly complex. The cruise control can be engaged inadvertently as its poorly placed stalk is mistaken for the turn signal, which itself is hidden behind the steering wheel. Smallish trunk. The C-Class was judged the best car in an APA three car test that also included the Audi A4 and the Acura TL SH-AWD.

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. Dealer service is expensive and indifferent. Hard-to-diagnose electrical problems. A Mercedes-Benz bumper to bumper extended warranty is recommended if you are not leasing. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comments
The SL-style Sport package is standard on the C300 and C350 variants, and though optional on the C230, it is chosen by 80 percent of C230 buyers. Three V6 engines, a 2.5L, a 3L and a 3.5L, can send power to the rear wheels or, optionally, to all wheels, via a seven-speed automatic transmission. The rear-wheel drive versions of the C230 and C300 can be linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Power seats are standard on all models, with a sunroof and xenon lighting fitted to all but the C230. The rear-wheel drive C63 AMG is powered by a 6.2L V8. Made in Germany.

Pricing
The C230 and C350 Premium packages are good value. Individual options are expensive. All-wheel drive is a $2200 option. Huge price jumps (around $5500) for more horsepower. C-Class monthly lease payments are cheapest if you pick the 36 month term. Similarly equipped, a C300 4Matic is priced about $2400 higher than a BMW 328xi. The monthly lease payment for a BMW 328ix (36 months $0. down) is nearly $40 higher than it is for a Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, but the payment for the BMW on a 48 month lease is roughly $70 less than it is for the Mercedes. Roughly $20 separates the finance payments (60 months $0. down) on the two cars. 

Safety
Standard side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The C-Class was Top Safety Pick,  rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 5th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 

 

Nissan Maxima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW
NISSAN Maxima (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engine: 3.5L-V6 290 HP
Transmission: CVT (continuously variable transmission)
City fuel economy: 10.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
Seventh-generation Maxima built on the Renault-Nissan "D" platform.

Comments
Built on a 49 mm (1.93 inch) shorter wheelbase, the new Maxima is 38 mm (1.50 inches) wider, and about the same length and height as before. Styling is bulkier and chunkier than its clean-lined predecessor. The Maxima has big, clear instruments and an uncluttered dash centre stack. Cabin materials look great. Front passengers enjoy comfortable seats and lots of space. The rear seat is shaped for two. Rear legroom is good despite the shorter wheelbase. Engine revisions boost horsepower from 255 to 290 for 2009. Power reaches the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The single SV trim level has four option packages with the rear seatbacks fixed on cars equipped with the Sport and Premium packages. Avoid the noisy dual panel sunroof. Made in the United States.

Reliability
Above average reliability predicted. The CVT could develop problems after 100,000 km. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing
All option packages except for the Sport, are exceptional value. Take a look at the more attractive and $3000 cheaper Altima built on the same platform.

Safety
Standard front seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Maxima was rated Good in the IIHS frontal impact test and Marginal in the rear impact test. The side impact test has not been conducted. Ranked last of 18 cars in its class, but this may change once all test categories have been completed. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

  Saab 9-3

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELOW AVERAGE
SAAB 9-3 (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD*, 4SW, 2CV
Engines: 2L-4T* 210 HP, 2.8L-V6T 280 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 5A*, 6A
City fuel economy: 11.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
All-wheel drive (called XWD) is now available with the 2L four. A limited slip rear differential is added as standard equipment on all V6-powered AWD models. V6 horsepower increases from 255 to 280.

Comments
The 9-3 can be powered by either a 2L turbo four or a 2.8L turbo V6. Both engines can be hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission. Automatic transmissions, a five-speed on the 2L and a six-speed on the 2.8L, are optional. Front-wheel drive is standard, with the “X” all-wheel drive system available with either engine. The 9-3 is offered in sedan, wagon and convertible body styles. The interior of the 9-3 is very Saab, right down to the console-mounted ignition key. The 9-3’s cabin is tight on space, especially in the back seat. The SportCombi wagon offers good cargo space for a “lifestyle” wagon. Reports in the automotive press indicate that the 2L 9-3 balances ride, handling, acceleration and economy pretty well. However, the V6 Aero model has a crashy, unsettled ride, numb steering, an imprecise shifter and a  peaky engine. Made in Sweden and Austria.

Reliability
Saab reliability is generally below average. Indifferent servicing, high parts prices and parts shortages. Purchase of a GM bumper to bumper extended warranty recommended if you are not leasing. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain. With Saab’s bankruptcy in Sweden and GM backing away from Saab, parts and service could become even more scarce than they have been up to now.

Pricing
The Aero V6 is priced from $8040 to $8640 (including about $4000 worth of extra equipment) than a similarly-equipped 2L 9-3. The wagon is priced from $1600 to $1740 higher than the sedan. The supplement for the convertible body style is $15,000 (2L) to $18,000 (V6) more than a sedan with the same equipment. Audio and Premium packages are good value on the 2L. The 2L 9-3 sedan is priced roughly $3000 less than a Volvo S40 T5 with the same equipment. The purchase of a 9-3 is not recommended. Rapid depreciation, always a factor in Saab ownership, will accelerate as GM divests itself of Saab.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags (except the convertible). The 9-3 sedan was rated a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 4th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.



 


 

 

 

 

Volvo C30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
VOLVO C30 (FWD)
Body Style: 2HB
Engines: 2.4L-5* DOHC 168 HP, 2.5L-5T 227 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 6M, 5A*
City fuel economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: ULEV 2 (2.4L), ULEV (2.5T)

What’s new
Heated seats are standard on all models. Fog lights have been added to the 2.4i, All T5s are now equipped with a Bluetooth hands free phone hookup. New R-Design option packages. 

Comments
The sporty C30 hatchback “lifestyle” tourer is reminiscent of Volvo’s 1800ES from the seventies. The C30 shares the S40’s platform, but is 22 cm (8.7 inches) shorter, with a lower roof than the sedan. Like the 1800ES, the car has a large glass hatchback door for cargo, but unlike the sports car-based 1800ES, the C30 is roomy for rear seat passengers. With the “control tongue” centre stack from the S40, the C30’s cabin design is very Volvo. Powertrain choices are the same as for the S40, although no all-wheel drive variant is available. In Europe, the C30 competes in the premium hatchback market along with the Alfa-Romeo 147, Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Volkswagen Scirocco, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the MINI Cooper. Except for the MINI, which might interest some Volvo intenders, the C30 has the market to itself in Canada. Volvo’s steady march upmarket has left many former owners unable to replace their Volvos. The C30 was designed to attract well-heeled younger customers who would stick with Volvo as they age and prosper, however, the C30 is attracting a distinctly middle-aged clientele. Driven briefly by the APA, the C30 T5 delivers strong, linear acceleration with an appealing five-cylinder hum. The smooth clutch connects to a gearchange, which, while not the last word in precision, is completely foolproof. The steering is nicely geared but is too light and quite numb. The ride is absorbent without wallow, and though the car leans a bit in corners, handling is confident. Large, legible instruments and simple, straightforward controls. The interior is generally attractive, but the upper door panels look cheap. Comfortable seats, front and rear. Reasonable cargo space with the rear seat up, very good when the rear seatbacks are folded. However, the deep rear window does cause some cargo security concerns. Made in Belgium.  

Reliability
Average reliability. Electrical problems can be expected. Expensive rear brake service. A Volvo extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Pricing
The turbo T5 is priced $4500 higher than the normally-aspirated model. The Premium package lacks content for the price. The R-Design packages are conspicuously overpriced With no other high-style three-door European sport hatchbacks available, Volvo has the market virtually to itself. However, if you don’t mind your hatchback mainstream and boxy, the base Volkswagen Rabbit GTI three-door is priced about $5000 less than the base C30 T5.  Volvo incentives can require big hidden dealer participation, which the dealer will try to make back with a higher transaction price on the car. 

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


 

Volvo V50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
VOLVO S40, V50 (FWD*, AWD)       
Body Styles: 4SD* (S40), 4SW (V50)
Engines: 2.4L-5 168 HP, 2.5L-5T* 227 HP
Transmissions:  5M (2.4i), 5A*(2.4i), 6M (5T/5T AWD)
City fuel economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: ULEV

What’s new
Alloy wheels are now standard on all models. Heated seats, fog lights and Bluetooth are standard on turbocharged versions. New R trim option packages.

Performance
With similar torque figures, the normally-aspirated 2.4L and 2.5L turbo move off the line with equal verve, but the turbo moves ahead once underway. Turbo lag is minimal. The automatic works well with either engine. The manual transmission has a light, foolproof gearchange. The suspension provides a well-developed blend of secure handling and an absorbent ride that swallows all but the biggest bumps without complaint. The car feels reassuringly solid on the road, but there were a few squeaks and rattles on the cars tested. The interior is stylish and carefully constructed from high quality materials. The “tongue” that connects the dashboard to the centre console injects a touch of whimsy to the cabin. Very comfortable seating, with good space up front and sufficient space in the back seat. The vertically-challenged trunk on the sedan limits cargo capacity, consider the station wagon.

Reliability
Average reliability. Frequent electrical problems can be expected. Expensive rear brake service. A Volvo extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comments
The 40/50 is the product of collaboration between three Ford companies, Ford, Mazda, and Volvo. The European-market Focus, the Mazda 3, and the Volvo S40/V50 and C30 share the same chassis, to which each company adds its own styling and powertrains. Both the S40 sedan and V50 wagon look handsome, nicely-proportioned, and very Volvo. Volvo’s modular engines are found under the hood, with Canada getting two versions of the inline five, with outputs of 168 and 227 horsepower respectively for the normally-aspirated and turbo engines. The normally-aspirated 2.4i engine sends power to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic. The turbocharged engine is linked to a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic, regardless of whether it sends power to the front wheels, or optionally, to all wheels. High prices and poor incentives have limited the appeal of these cars, and sales are dismal. Built in Belgium.

Pricing
The station wagon is priced $1500 higher than the sedan. The turbocharged engine is a $2500 option. The T5 Premium package is great value, other packages balance price and content. The S40 T5 AWD bears an MSRP about $8500 higher than that of a Subaru Legacy 3.0R Limited. A gap greater than $5000 exists between the V50 2.4i wagon and the Subaru Legacy PZEV. Volvo's S60 is now cheaper than the S40 T5. Rapid depreciation. Volvo incentives can require big hidden dealer participation, which the dealer will try to make back with a higher transaction price on the car. 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted front side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The S40 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal impact test, Acceptable in the IIHS side impact test and Good in the IIHS rear impact test, ranked 13th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 Volvo S60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
VOLVO S60 (FWD*, AWD)
Body Style: 4SD
Engines: 2.5L-5T DOHC 208 HP
Transmission: 5A
City fuel economy:10.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating. ULEV

What’s new
Leather upholstery and fog lights are now standard on all S60s. The MSRP was reduced by $4600. 2009 is the last year for the current S60.

Comments
The low-pressure turbo 2.5T five cylinder engine is standard equipment on all S60s this year. Power can be sent to the front wheels, or optionally, to all wheels, via a five-speed automatic transmission. The S60 is very comfortable inside but is no roomier than the smaller S40. The cabin is stylish and luxurious in a restrained Scandinavian way, and very durable. The controls and displays are the fruits of much logical thought. The roomy trunk has conveniently-located, easily-seen release toggles for the rear seat back rests. Reports in the automotive press indicate that the car is not quite as sporty as it looks. Like Subaru, Volvo offers a discreet all-wheel drive sedan that does without SUV-like body-cladding and increased ride height. Built in Belgium.    

Reliability
Average reliability. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty. Higher than average prices for factory replacement parts. Expensive brake service and some electrical problems have been reported. Premature wear of front end components including ball joints, tie rod ends and sway bar links. The engine and turbocharger are reliable. A Volvo extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period.

Pricing
At just over $36,000 (all-wheel drive is a pricey $5000 extra), the S60 is much better value this year, and is cheaper than the smaller S40 T5. The S60 is priced too closely to prestige brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW to be of much interest to non-Volvophiles. The Subaru 3.0L Limited is more powerful than the Volvo, and is priced $12,000 cheaper than a Volvo S60 AWD with similar equipment. Volvo incentives can require big hidden dealer participation, which the dealer will try to make back with a higher transaction price on the car. 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The S60 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal crash test, Acceptable in the IIHS side impact test and Good in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 10th of the 12 cars tested in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

 Volvo V70

 

 

 

Volvo XC70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
VOLVO V70 (FWD), XC70* (AWD)       
Body Styles: 4SW
Engines: 3.2L-6 235 HP, 3L-6T 281 HP
Transmissions: 6A
City fuel economy: 13.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: ULEV 2
 


What’s new
Lower MSRPs on both models this year. Fog lights are now standard on the V70. Bluetooth is now fitted to all V70s and XC70s. The T6 3L turbo engine is a new XC70 option this year.

Comments

The V70 and XC70 are built on a platform shared with numerous European Ford products. Smooth, clean and modern styling on the V70. The XC70 shares the V70’s body but has greater ground clearance and bears add-on cladding. The cabin design is chic, modern and luxurious in a discreet Scandinavian way. A normally aspirated 235 HP straight six is the sole engine for the V70 and the base powerplant for the XC70. The XC offers an optional 281 HP turbocharged 3L six. The normally-aspirated six is smooth and flexible. The turbocharged six is a strong performer. Good ride-handling compromise in a solid, safe and quiet car. The XC70 package includes Hill Descent control that limits speeds to 10 km/h when engaged. Made in Sweden.

Reliability
Not rated, new vehicle. Electrical glitches possible, especially as the car ages. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty. A Volvo extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the car past the warranty period.

Pricing
Only $1600 separates the base versions of the V70 and XC70, which makes it an AWD bargain. Option packages overpriced. Volvo incentives can require big hidden table dealer participation, which the dealer will try to make back with a higher transaction price on the car. 

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