2010 Lemon Aid Compact and Midsize


Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger

GM Buick Regal

Honda Accord

Ford Fusion

GM Chevrolet Impala

Hyundai Sonata

GM Buick LaCrosse

GM Chevrolet Malibu

Kia Magentis

Kia 2011 Magentis

Subaru Legacy/Outback

Toyota Prius

Mazda 6

Toyota Camry

Volkswagen Passat

Nissan Altima

 

 

 

The mid-size segment, once a key market sector, is diminishing in importance year by year. Some buyers have replaced their mid-size cars with compacts, while still others have bought one of the many compact CUVs that are now available.   

 

The 2010 Ford Fusion went on sale in the spring of 2009, followed by the 2010 Buick LaCrosse in the summer of 2009. Toyota introduced the third-generation Prius last summer and released an unchanged 2011 Camry in the spring of 2010.

All new entries are limited to the already on sale early release fifth-generation 2011 Hyundai Sonata, and the 2011 Buick Regal, due to be released in the summer of 2010. The third-generation Kia Magentis goes on sale in the fall of 2010.

 

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. The 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 did in the first Lexus LS400. U.S. government CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) regulations will cull the availability of V6 engines in these cars in the future, as companies try to improve fuel economy to conform with the new standard. The new Hyundai Sonata, Buick Regal and the upcoming Kia Magentis are powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines.    

 

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 most the cars in this segment. Despite multiple airbags, only six of the cars in this segment (Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy/Outback, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger) attained a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

 

The incentive wizards of the domestic makers once used cheap leases to attract buyers. With the credit crunch, the domestics are out of the leasing game, and of the Japanese companies, only Honda and Toyota offer good value leasing arrangements. The Koreans, especially Hyundai, are now offering competitive leases on selected models. 

 


 

 

 

Chrysler Sebring

 

 

 

 

Dodge Avenger

 

 

 

 

 

BELOW AVERAGE

CHRYSLER

CHRYSLER Sebring, DODGE Avenger (FWD)

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

Engines: 2.4L-4* 173 HP, 2.7L-V6 186 HP, 3.5L-V6 235 HP

Transmission:  4A*, 6A

City Fuel Economy: 9.7L/100 km

ESC Available: Yes

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

Sebring: restyled hood. Cheaper Limited model, standard rear disc brakes. 2.7L V6 is a Sebring exclusive. Avenger: standard ABS. Cheaper R/T. Both: active head are restraints standard on all models.

 

Performance

Sebring: the noisy 2.7L V6 is hooked up to an unresponsive four-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L four produces similar power but is even less refined than the small V6. 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 feature approximate assembly. Small windows in the rear doors make passengers feel hemmed in and restrict the driver’s view out for lane changes.

 

Reliability

Reliability is predicted to be average at best. 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 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. The Sebring convertible has a soft top with the Touring trim line but features a retractable hardtop if you pick the Limited model. Rear seat legroom is very tight on the convertible. These cars were expected to expire very soon, but Fiat have elected to keep them around a few more years until their successors can be launched. Made in the United States.

 

Pricing

The Sebring Limited and Avenger R/T upgrades represent exceptional value. The Sebring convertible is priced from $6670 to nearly $16,000 higher than the equivalent sedan. 

 

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Sebrings and Avengers. The Sebring and Avenger were Best Safety Picks and rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 3rd of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS on all Sebrings and Avengers. ESC is not offered on the Sebring LX but is standard on the Sebring Touring and Limited. ESC is optional on all trim levels of the Avenger.


  Ford Fusion

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

FORD Fusion (FWD/AWD)

Body Styles: 4SD

Engine: 2.5L-4 175 HP*, 3L-V6 DOHC 240 HP, 3.5L-V6 263 HP, 2.5L-4H 191 HP (156 gasoline + electric motor),

Transmissions: 6M, 6A, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in the Hybrid.

City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

The early release 2010 Fusion went on sale in the spring of 2009.

 

Performance

When mated to the smooth, responsive six-speed automatic transmission, the 2.5L four delivers brisk acceleration and relaxed cruising but can sound coarse when pushed hard. The four is a bit thirsty when hooked to a manual transmission. Nicely geared and weighted steering and confident handling are allied to an impressively absorbent ride. Strong braking. Well-suppressed road and wind noise. The big 3.5L V6 performs effortlessly. The Fusion hybrid is the best mid-size vehicle of its type. The updated cabin is a big improvement in design and materials. Big, clear instruments. The audio and climate controls have too many buttons. Supportive seats and good legroom front and rear. Big trunk. 

 

Reliability

Above average reliability. The Fusion has been very reliable since its launch in 2006. No long term data. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Comments

Three conventional engines, a 2.5L four and two V6s, a 3L and 3.5L, are offered in the Fusion. A four-cylinder hybrid powertrain is also offered. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions can be hooked up to the four-cylinder engines, but the V6 is automatic only. The hybrid powertrain is linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Steering assistance on 2.5L and 3L cars is now provided electrically. Made in Mexico.      

 

Pricing

Upgrading from the S to the SE package is priced to cover its additional contents, but the SEL package is a great deal. The V6 adds $3000 to the price of a Fusion. Ford charges $2000 for the all-wheel drive system offered on the SEL V6 model. Equipped like a Honda Accord EX, the Fusion SEL is priced about $500 less, but generous incentives can lower this by several thousand dollars. Leasing is not available, and monthly finance figures (60 months, $O. down), are less for the Ford. The Driver Vision option includes a rear view camera and blind spot monitors for $1400.

 

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. The Fusion was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 11th of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 Buick LaCrosse

 

 

 

 

 

NEW

GENERAL MOTORS

2010 BUICK LaCrosse (FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engine: 2.4L-4 182 HP, 3L-V6* 255 HP, 3.6L-V6 280 HP

Transmission:  6A

City Fuel Economy: 12.7L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

A 2.4L four-cylinder base model introduced mid-year and the 3L V6 was phased out.

 

Comments

The LaCrosse, 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 is one good looking Buick. 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. Cabin space, while good, is less than expected in such a big car. Power stems from a 182 horsepower 2.4L  four, 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 a 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.

 

Pricing

All-wheel drive is a $3500 option. The CXL upgrade is priced to content but the CXS trim level is overpriced.

 

Safety

Seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags are standard. The LaCrosse was a Top Safety Pick and was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Good in the Rollover test. Ranked first of the 9 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


2011 Buick Regal

 

 

 

 

NEW

GENERAL MOTORS

2011 BUICK Regal

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 2.4L-4 182 HP, 2L-4T 220 HP

Transmissions: 6A, 6M

City fuel consumption: n/a

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

A German-built Buick-branded version of the Opel Insignia.

 

Comments

The Regal will be built in Germany until early 2011, when production starts in Oshawa. Only a super luxurious version will be available while it is produced in the Euro zone, with a mainstream version becoming available once local production has started. The car slots in under the LaCrosse in the lineup, and will be Buick’s entry level car until the proposed Cruze based Buick is launched. Compared with the LaCrosse, the Regal is built on a 99 mm (3.9 inch) shorter wheelbase, measures 69 mm (2.7 inches) less from stem to stern, is 46 mm (1.8 inches) narrower and 13 mm (half an inch) lower than its showroom mate. Two four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated direct-injected 2.4L with 182 horsepower, and a turbocharged, direct injected 2L cranking out 220 horsepower, are available. Most Regals will send power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, but a six-speed manual will be offered once the turbo is launched. Exterior styling is, except for the grille and some minor details, carried over directly from the very elegant Insignia. The dashboard, with curvilinear shapes, a prominent centre stack and large, clear gauges, fronts a chic, modern cabin assembled from attractive components. Cabin space is competitive with other front-wheel drive cars of this size. Made in Germany. 

 

Reliability

New model, not rated. Other GM  of Europe cars have not been trouble free. Parts shortages may develop for these early German produced versions of the Regal. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Pricing

Pricing starts just under $33,000 for the 2.4L version, and $3000 higher for the 2L turbo. Only a single luxurious CXL model will be available at launch, with more mainstream versions available early in 2011 when local production begins.

 

Safety

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


Chevrolet Impala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
CHEVROLET Impala* (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 3.5L-V6* 207 HP, 3.9L-V6 230 HP

Transmission: 4A

City Fuel Economy: 10.8L/100 km

ESC available: Yes

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

Team Canada package. V8-powered SS discontinued. Revised colour selection. Though the Impala’s current body debuted as a 2006 model, parts of its platform date back to 1990. 

 

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 choose either front bucket seats or a bench seat. Massive trunk. GM’s 3.5L overhead valve V6 with variable valve timing produces 207 horsepower on the LS and LT. The LTZ is powered by a 3.9L version of the same engine with Active Fuel Management that idles one bank of the V6 during light duty situations. Reports in the automotive press indicate that the Impala is smooth, quiet and comfortable. Built in Canada.     

 

Reliability

Average reliability. Predicted trouble areas include the computer sensors, electrical system, steering rack and brakes. The 3.9L V6 is 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. Some body parts shortages have been reported by those seeking collision repairs. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty and a 5 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty.

 

Pricing

The LS trim version is good value for the money. The LT upgrade includes a lot of features for the money and the LTZ trim level is priced to cover the cost of the additional content it contains. Rapid depreciation. Buy this car only if you plan to keep it a long time. GM no longer offers leasing. This Impala no longer makes any sense for a private buyer when the chic, modern Malibu is available for similar money.

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. The Impala was rated Acceptable in the IIHS frontal crash test, with no other tests conducted. Ranked last of the 9 cars tested in its class, but this ranking may change once all test categories have been completed. ABS and ESC are standard on all Impalas.


Chevrolet Malibu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ABOVE AVERAGE

GENERAL MOTORS

CHEVROLET Malibu (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 2.4L-4 169 HP*, 3.6L-V6 252 HP  

Transmission: 4A*, 6A

City Fuel Economy: 9.5L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

The 2.4L four is now E85 compatible. The lumbar support is now power operated. New colours. The sole survivor of the Malibu, G6 and Aura trio. The Hybrid model is fleet only for 2010.

 

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. 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 a 2852 mm (112 inch) wheelbase. Good fit and finish inside and out. Reasonable trunk space. Engine 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. Made in the United States.

 

Reliability

Average reliability is predicted. Possible problems include the V6, 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 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty. 

 

Pricing

The ILT and LTZ upgrades lack content for the money asked. The Malibu 2.4L 2LT is the best value of the lineup. Expensive V6 option. No leasing is available.

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags. The Malibu was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 2nd of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

 

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

EX models gain dual climate control and an exterior temperature gauge. New exterior colours. The EX and EX-L sedans are no longer offered with manual transmission. Prices reduced $400-$500 on 2.4L Accords and $1000 on V6 models.

 

Performance

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. 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. Honda’s lease and finance incentives made monthly payments extremely uncompetitive in the fall of 2009, but incentives normalized early in 2010. The coupes cost about $500 more than the equivalent sedan. Compared with a Toyota Camry XLE, monthly payments for the Accord EX-L sedan are $20 less per month if you lease ($0. down, 48 months) and about the same if you finance (60 months $0. down).

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags on all models. The Accord sedan was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 12th of the 21 cars tested in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Hyundai Sonata

 

 

 

 

 

  NEW

HYUNDAI

2011 Sonata (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 2.4L-4* 198 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 6A

City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

The bigger fifth-generation Sonata is now on sale.  

 

Comments

Built on a 66 mm (2.6 inch) longer wheelbase, the new Sonata is 74 mm (2.9 inches) longer, 28 mm (1.1 inches) wider and about the same height as last year. With a Toyota-esque front end, prominent side character lines reminiscent of the last Toyota Celica and a quasi–fastback roofline, the new Sonata is a dramatic piece of road sculpture. The Sonata’s design looks like what Chrysler were aiming for before the Sebring went so horribly wrong. The cabin in generally attractive, but the interior door panels, vast expanses of plain hard plastic, are a huge disappointment. Large, clear gauges and logical controls. Big comfortable seats up front, with lots of space front and rear, but the rear seatback is oddly shaped.  With a nod to upcoming U.S. fuel economy regulations and acknowledging the low “take rate” of the V6 engine in the last Sonata, this new car is powered exclusively by a 2.4L four with 198 horsepower, but a turbo four and a hybrid have been announced for the fall of 2010. In most Sonatas, power reaches the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, but Hyundai does offer a six-speed manual transmission on the base model. Reports in the automotive press indicate that the Sonata is quick enough, but that the car is geared in such a way to feel sluggish, and that the ride, like so many recent Hyundais, lacks the absorbency expected in this class. Shallow windows and tall body sides combine to restrict visibility for lane changes and reversing. Made in the United States.

 

Reliability

Not rated, new model. The previous Sonata was rated above average. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

 

Pricing

The GLS upgrade is good value and the Limited package is a bargain. That said, a Limited is priced the same as a Honda Accord EX-L, and monthly payments for leasing (48 months, $0. down) or financing (60 months, $0. down) are the same as they are for the Accord. The era of the cheap Hyundai is over. 

 

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. The Sonata was a Top Safety Pick and is rated Good in the IIHS frontal, rear and side impact tests. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 4th of the 21 vehicles in its class. ABS and ESC are standard on all Sonata models.  


Hyundai Magentis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

HYUNDAI

KIA Magentis (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 2.4L-4* 175 HP, 2.7L-V6 194 HP

Transmission: 5M, 5A

City Fuel Economy: 9.4L/100 km

ESC available: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

No changes of note in the last year for this model.

 

Comments

The Magentis, related to the previous-generation Hyundai Sonata, can be powered by either a 2.4L four or a 2.7L V6 that powered many older Hyundai models. Driven briefly by the APA, the Magentis is a pleasant, solid and refined car on the road. However, the car has never gained a foothold in Canada, with sales barely topping 1000 units here last year. Built in South Korea

 

Reliability

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 upgrade is priced to reflect the value of its contents. All other upgrade packages are excellent value.  

 

Safety

Seat-mount side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. The Magentis was rated Good in the IIHS frontal test, Acceptable for side impacts and Good for rear impacts. Rated Marginal for Rollover. Ranked 18th of the 21 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.

 

Kia 2011 Magentis

 

 

NEW

KIA

2011 MAGENTIS

Body Style: 4SD

Engine: 2.4L-4 200 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 6A

City Fuel Economy: n/a

ESC available: n/a

Emissions rating: n/a

 

Comments

Based on the recently introduced Sonata, the new Magentis has a totally bespoke exterior and cabin. The car has great presence in the metal and should look great on the street. It is visually clean and looks really expensive. The cabin of the top model at the New York auto show in April of 2010 was very luxurious with a strong Teutonic accent. The cabin is graced with clear instruments and an elegant cabin constructed from high quality materials. The cabin has interesting little design flourishes like the small contrasting cloth accents inset into the leather upholstery of the fanciest model.  

 

The car will be launched with a 2.4L four with 200 horsepower, with a 2L turbo and a hybrid to follow. Six speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic, will be offered, depending on the model. 

 

Reliability

Not rated, new model. Most recent Kias have exhibited average to above average reliability. Five year/100,000 km warranty.

 

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment. Not crash tested. ESC and ABS are expected to be standard.


Mazda 6

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

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

Revised features and option packages on V6 models.

 

Performance

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

Insufficient data. Average reliability predicted. Mazda’s generally have more reliability problems than the equivalent Honda or Toyota. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Comments

Only a four-door sedan is available. Engine choices include Mazda’s own 2.5L four and a 3.7L V6 brought in from Ford. The 2.5L can be linked to either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is linked exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission.

 

Pricing

Great value Comfort package. Good value GT 2.5L upgrade. The V6 engine is a very expensive option. The base 6 GS is priced the same as the Honda Accord LX. Finance payments (60 months, $0. down) for the Mazda are about $30 less per month than they are for the Honda. Mazda doesn’t want anyone to lease the 6 as the it costs more to lease (48 months, $0. down) than it does to finance. Leasing the Mazda will cost about $80 more per month than it does for the Honda.

 

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The 6 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Marginal for rear impacts. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 14th of the 21 cars tested in its class. Standard ABS. ESC is optional on the GS 2.5L, but is standard on all other models.


 

 

 

 

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: 8.7L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: ULEV (all)

 

What’s new

New grille, front fascia and updated fabrics. Standard ESC. SR replaces the SE. Upgraded audio and navigation systems. Ten year/200,000 km warranty on the CVT.   

 

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 above average. Three year 60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. Ten year/200,000 km warranty on the CVT.

 

Comments

Two body styles, a sedan and a coupe, are 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 is one of the best mid-size sedans available in Canada. Made in the United States.

 

Pricing

The base 2.5S Luxury and SL sedans are good value. Overpriced Tech package. The coupe is priced from $200 to $600 more than the equivalent sedan. The Altima 2.5S Luxury variant is priced $1000 less than a Honda Accord EX. Monthly payments for the Nissan are roughly $20 less per month if you finance (60 months, $0. down) but payments for the Accord are about $40 less if you lease (48 months, $0. down).

 

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. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 13th of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.    


Subaru Legacy & Outback

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW

SUBARU

Legacy*, Outback (AWD)

Body Styles: 4SD*, 4SW        

Engines: 2.5L-4 (flat)*170 HP, 3.6L-6 (flat) 256 HP, 2.5L-4T (flat) 265 HP

Transmissions: 6M, CVT*, 5A

City Fuel Economy: 9.2L/100 km

ESC available: Standard

Emissions ratings: PZEV (PZEV), LEV2 (others)

 

What’s new

All new Legacy sedan and Outback wagon.

 

Performance

The abundant low-speed torque produced by the flat four permits the Outback to easily keep up with traffic despite its high weight. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) makes good use of the available power and reacts quickly to throttle inputs from the driver. When maximum power is required, like when accelerating strongly or passing, the high sustained revs the CVT will maintain combines with the throaty 2.5L four to spoil refinement. The CVT worked very well in one test car but hunted and clunked annoyingly in heavy traffic on an early production model. The 3.6L six is much quicker and more refined than the flat four, but uses a lot more fuel. The conventional five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly but is reluctant to downshift. Like most recent Subarus, the Outback’s suspension is  biased toward ride comfort, which is very absorbent. Only large potholes or big bumps intrude into the cabin. This suppleness has reduced the feeling of immense stability and delightfully precise handling exhibited by the previous generation Outback. The Outback’s handling is sound and predictable, but the car leans noticeable in curves. The steering is light and lacks both feedback and a distinct “on-centre” feel. The brakes lack precision. The turbocharged four in the Legacy 2.5 GT furnished vivid, flexible acceleration. While not the smoothest engine, it makes an enthusiastic, joyful noise. The six-speed manual transmission it is hooked to has a precise gearchange, a docile clutch and a well-chosen set of gear ratios. Handling is more precise and athletic than it is in other versions of this platform, and the GT’s ride, while firmer than in the Outback, is still quite resilient. The steering is weightier than in other versions of this body, but there is still a lack of precision and “on-centre” feel. Exterior vision is excellent to the front and sides, but the high rear deck on the sedan restricts the view to the rear when backing up.

 

The longer wheelbase and greater cabin depth of the new car have reaped huge rewards inside, morphing the Legacy/Outback from a marginal four/five seater last year to a generous one in 2010. Trunk space in the sedan and cargo space in the wagon are also enhanced with this new model. Most drivers found the front seats very comfortable but others found them too squishy to provide adequate support. Unlike the Forester and Impreza, where Subaru drastically reduced the quality of cabin fittings, the materials used in the cabins of the Legacy and Outback pretty well match the appearance of those used in the previous generation models. The dashboard is stocked with big, clear gauges, though not a temperature gauge, which has been bizarrely displaced by a fuel consumption gauge. The climate control system uses a combination of buttons and dials when three knobs would suffice. The prominent location of the Bluetooth interface in the centre of the dash seems both an afterthought and an 80s affectation. The base Outback was fitted with a mediocre audio system, but the premium sound systems in the fancier models produced rich, crisp sound.    

 

Reliability

New model, above average reliability predicted, like its predecessor. The CVT transmission is unproven. 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

The much roomier Legacy and Outback are now in the mainstream mid-size category. Styling is uninspired but contemporary. Power stems from either a revised 2.5L four or a 3.6L six. Transmission choices include a CVT (2.5L) or a five-speed automatic (3.6L). A six-speed manual is offered with the base four and the turbocharged Legacy. Subaru has split this model down body lines, with the sedan called the Legacy and the wagon marketed as the Outback.

 

Pricing

The Legacy Sport and PZEV upgrades are good value. The Outback is priced $4000 higher than the Legacy, and its option packages are overpriced. Monthly payments, a real problem for Subaru in the past, seem more competitive this year.

 

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. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 5th of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Toyota Camry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

TOYOTA

2011 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 2011 Camry. Minor trim and equipment changes in what should be the last year for the current model.

 

Performance

The new 2.5L four and six-speed automatic powertrain delivers a good balance of speed and economy. 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 the SE and XLE 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 2011 Camry that went on sale in the spring of 2010. 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. The 2010 Camry was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Marginal for rear impacts. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 10th of the 21 cars in its segment. Standard ABS and ESC.


  Toyota Prius 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

TOYOTA Prius (FWD)

Body Style: 4HB

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

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

City Fuel Economy: 3.7L/100 km

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 (.4 of an inch) longer and 56 mm (2.2 inches) 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 design is avant-garde , which is great for looks but bad for the controls, especially those for the transmission, which are needlessly confusing. The parking brake is also very poorly placed, disappearing from view when deployed. The digital instrumentation works acceptably well. Comfortable seats. Good fit and finish. Small, shallow trunk compromised by the elaborate under floor storage box that consumes crucial trunk depth. Smooth ride, light, inert steering and stable but unenthusiastic handling. The Prius feels incredibly heavy on the road. The Prius will operate in full electric mode in stop and go traffic, allowing for effortless, smooth progress. The transitions from electric power to the combined gas and electric mode are seamless. The Prius accelerates well enough and is acceptably refined except when accelerating hard, when the CVT allows sustained high revs until the desired speed is reached. Restricted rear visibility. The Sunroof mounted solar cells power the ventilation fan to cool the cabin when the car is parked in the sum. Toyota notes that some plant-based plastics are used inside the new Prius. Made in Japan.  

 

Reliability

Above average. 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. The Prius is an infinitely better resolved concept and a much better car than the Honda Insight, and well worth the extra money Toyota charges for it.

 

Safety        

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Prius was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact test. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 13th of the 27 cars in ist class, but this ranking may change once all test categories have been completed. 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, 6 DSG*

City Fuel Economy: 9.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new

The DSG automated manual transmission replaces the previous conventional six-speed automatic on 2L models. Rear side airbags are now standard. All Highline models feature sport suspension. Audio and navigation system updates. 

 

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 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. 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. Style sells, as the CC outsold the conventional Passat in 2009. 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. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 8th of the 18 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.