2009 Lemon Aid People Carriers

PEOPLE CARRIERS

 


Dodge Journey Kia Rondo  
Ford Flex Mazda 5  
     

The People Carrier vehicle category is a new one for Lemon-Aid magazine this year. Vehicles in this grouping have car-like ground clearance but are also capable of carrying more than five people. None of these vehicles fit neatly into the Minivan or SUV/CUV groupings they are often pigeon-holed into, so a new classification was created.  

 

While new to our market, Europeans overwhelmingly pick People Carriers when seeking a large family car. Most makers offer People Carriers in other markets, but only the Ford Flex, Dodge Journey, Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are available in Canada. If trends elsewhere find root in the Canadian market, sales of People Carriers could grow strongly over the next few years.


 

 

 

Dodge Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
CHRYSLER
DODGE Journey
(FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4PC
Engines: 2.4L-4 173 HP, 3.5L-V6* 235 HP
Transmissions: 4A/6A*
City fuel economy: 13.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
New people carrier based on the Sebring/Avenger.

Performance
Smooth and responsive V6/six-speed automatic transmission combination delivers effortless, flexible power. The 2.4L four has enough power to move the Journey at a reasonable clip, but except when cruising, the engine sounds harsh and wheezy. Good ride. Handling is predictable but the underdamped front suspension floats over larger bumps. The cabin, despite a centre-stack suffering from button-glut and some cheesy materials, is also quite chic. Cabin space is ample in the first two rows, but the third row is meant for the small and agile. The second and third row seats fold to reveal a long, regularly-shaped cargo bed that is deep below the window line. Cargo space is tight when the third seat is up. In a recent APA road test with the Dodge Journey, Kia Rondo and the Mazda 5, the four-cylinder Journey was rated last of the three cars. Though smaller outside, the Kia Rondo had no less usable space inside, and its eager, refined four-cylinder powertrain is infinitely nicer than the Journey’s shrill four.

Reliability
Predicted average reliability. The Journey’s mechanical units have exhibited average reliability in other Chrysler products they are used in. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments
Built on a 125 mm (4.92 inch) longer wheelbase, and 40 mm (1.57 inches) longer, marginally wider and 205 mm (8.07 inches) taller than the Avenger on which it is based, the Journey shows just how far the Chrysler/Mitsubishi flexible platform can be stretched. With clean lines and good proportions, the Dodge Journey is the best looking car to emerge from Chrysler for years. Powertrain choices are a 2.4L four, and a 3.5L V6. A four-speed automatic transmission is fitted to four, but a six-speed automatic transmits the power to the wheels on V6 cars. An “on-demand” all-wheel drive system is optional with the 3.5L V6. The Journey has hit the ground running and it is now the best selling vehicle in this segment. Built in Mexico

Pricing
Good value options and option packages.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested by the IIHS. The Journey was rated very good in the NHTSA’s frontal test for the driver and front passenger, as well as side impacts for both the driver and an outboard rear passenger. Standard ABS and ESC.


 Ford Flex

 

 

  

NEW
FORD Flex (FWD*, AWD)
Body Style: 4PC
Engine: 3.5L-V6 262 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel Economy: 12.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new
All new large people carrier.

Performance
The strong V6 is twinned with a smooth and responsive six-speed automatic transmission. Compliant suspension, stable handling and nicely weighted steering make the Flex a pretty agile bus that excels on long highway runs. The dashboard has clear gauges and is, except for a button-festooned dash centre stack, visually restrained. The rest of the cabin is very chic and nicely finished. The Flex features comfortable seats, and the legroom varies between reasonable for the third row to spectacular for the second. All who travelled in the Flex were charmed by it, with middle row passengers feeling especially pampered. Unlike many three row people carriers, cargo space is quite good with the third-row seat up, and expansive when the second and third-row seats are folded.


Reliability
Not rated, new vehicle. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments
With straight sides and a so-called “floating roof” created by blacked out roof pillars, the Flex looks like a low-slung Range Rover or a MINI Maxi. The Flex is powered by a 262 horsepower 3.5L V6 that sends power to the front wheels, or optionally, to all wheels, via a six-speed automatic transmission. Built in Canada.

Pricing
The AWD system priced at $2000 on either trim level. The Limited package is priced $1000 beyond its contents.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. The Flex was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 6th of the 26 vehicles in its class.


Kia Rondo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
HYUNDAI
KIA Rondo (FWD)
Body Style: 4PC
Engines: 2.4L-4* 175 HP, 2.7L-V6 192 HP
Transmission: 4A, 5A
City Fuel Economy: 10.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new
Variable valve timing increases horsepower from 162 to 175 on the 2.4L four and from 182 to 192 on the V6. Air conditioning is now available as a standalone option on the base LX model.

Performance
The Kia Rondo’s 2.4L engine and four-speed automatic transmission combine to provide smooth and flexible power. Performance is little better with the 2.7L V6 than it is with the four, but refinement is even better. V6 fuel consumption is not much higher than it is with the four, especially on the highway. The Rondo is graced by an absorbent ride, confident non-sporting handling, abundant space (even the third row is habitable by small adults) in a cabin with supportive seats, clear gauges, simple, logical controls and excellent fit and finish. The Rondo’s smooth fuss-free performance impressed APA test drivers, and it handily won an APA three car test between it, the Dodge Journey and the Mazda 5. The Rondo is just as roomy as the much larger Journey, five passengers and a mountain of luggage can be carried in the Rondo at the same time, unlike the Mazda 5, which lacks a third seating position in the second row of seats, and the Rondo’s ride-handling balance and general refinement are superior to the other two cars.

Reliability
Predicted average to above reliability, like newer Hyundai group vehicles. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comments
The Rondo is built on the same platform, and uses the same power units as the Kia Magentis. Built in South Korea.

Pricing
The new air conditioning option for the LX makes the base model a viable proposition this year. The V6 engine is priced only $1000 higher the base engine. Boosting the  seat count from five to seven costs about $1000. Upgrading to the next trim level represents very good value. The seven-passenger Rondo EX 2.4L is priced about $500 more than a Mazda 5 GS with automatic transmission and air conditioning, but is better equipped.

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Rondo was rated very good for the driver and front passenger in the NHTSA’s frontal crash test, very good for the driver in the side-impact test and good for an outboard rear passenger in a side impact. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

Mazda 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
MAZDA 5 (FWD)
Body Styles: 4PC
Engine: 2.3L DOHC 153 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 5A*                 
City Fuel Economy: 9.9L/100 km
ESC available: No
Emission rating: n/a

What’s new
The Leather package has been renamed the Luxury package.

Performance
The 5’s sporty handling and good body control come at the expense of ride, which verges on being too firm for some buyers. Quick, precise steering and strong brakes. The 2.3L four is smooth, quiet, pulls strongly through the gears, and is a relaxed cruiser when hooked to the optional five-speed automatic transmission. Some wheelspin on slick surfaces. Comfortable seats in all three rows, but legroom is tight for adults in the third row. The driver’s seat doesn’t slide back far enough for really tall drivers. In most markets, he 5 is offered with a retractable third seating position in the second row, but not in Canada. This hurts utility as you can’t carry five people and a lot of luggage at the same time. Cargo capacity is virtually nil with the third seat up, but ample with it folded down. The 5 was ranked second in an APA multi-car test that also included the Dodge Journey and the Kia Rondo While the 5 is sportier to drive as the Kia, the smoother and more refined Rondo, which can seat five people and carry a lot of luggage at the same time, is a better all-rounder than the 5.

Reliability
Predicted reliability is average, like the previous-generation Mazda 3 it is based on. Some premature rust complaints. The application of an oil or grease-based anti-rust compound is recommended. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments
The 5 enters its fourth year on the market with no changes of note. One engine, a 2.3L four, can be hooked to either a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. Sales of the 5 increased about two percent in 2008, to about 12,000 units. Made in Japan.

Pricing
The GS lacks cruise control, even as an option, which may force buyers into a GT or another car altogether. The GT upgrade is overpriced, but the Luxury package available on the GT is excellent value. With automatic transmission and air conditioning, the 5 GS is priced about $500 less than a seven-passenger Rondo EX 2.4L, but the Kia is better equipped than the Mazda. 

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Not tested by the IIHS. The 5 was rated very good for the driver and front passenger in the NHTSA’s frontal crash test, very good for the driver in the side impact test and good for an outboard rear passenger in the side impact test. Standard ABS. ESC is not offered, a disappointment in this segment.