2010 Lemon Aid 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

Toyota Avalon

Lexus IS 250

Mercedes-Benz C Class

Volvo C30

 Volvo S60

Volvo S40, V50 Volvo V70, XC70  

Luxury cars are expensive to buy and maintain, and can be less reliable than mainstream cars. Cutting-edge safety equipment like side-curtain air bags, active head restraints and electronic stability control were first seen on luxury cars before they filtered down to less exalted vehicles. Luxury cars continue advancing safety with features like radar-guided cruise control and blind spot monitoring systems. Volvo, a pioneer in safety research, has, with its revolutionary City Safety and Pedestrian Safety systems, vaulted into the lead in the commercial application of advanced safety systems. In addition to safety equipment, the careful design and weight of luxury cars enhance safety as well.   

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 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 not always possible.  

After a very busy 2009, there is little substantial activity in this market segment this year. The 2011 Volvo C30, featuring a restyled front end, is already on sale, as is a revised 2011 Toyota Avalon. BMW released lightly revised 3-Series two-doors as 2011 models in the spring of 2010, and elected to renumber the unchanged 3-series sedans and the 1-series as 2011 models at the same time. Volvo showed its second-generation S60 at the New York show in April 2010, with the car going on sale in the fall. Not returning this year is Saab, having lost its Canadian distribution channel when General Motors shut down the Saturn franchise.   

The worldwide credit crisis and recession had an impact on car sales in Canada, but one that was less severe than in other markets around the world. Sales of many cars covered in this section fell in step with the overall decline in the market last year. Sales of some cars fell precipitously, however, others, notably the BMW 1 and 3-Series, the Lincoln MKZ and Nissan Maxima, all posted modest sales gains last year.

While waning in other segments, leasing is still an important factor in the luxury car segment. Companies that offer aggressive lease incentives are doing well, while those whose leasing arrangements represent poor value, and those who no longer lease at all, had a hard go of it last year.    


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* , 6Mm

City Fuel Economy: 11.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

A six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option on the SH-AWD model.

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 some nice styling touches. The dash centre stack contains a plethora of haphazardly placed controls, especially on navigation-equipped TLs. Spacious interior. The oddly shaped trunk makes packing difficult. Very good audio system.

Reliability

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

Comments

The 3.5L V6 sends power to the front wheels, while the 3.7L V-6 is hooked up to Acura’s SH-AWD system. Both engines are linked to a five-speed automatic transmission, but the SH-AWD model offers a six-speed manual transmission as a no cost option. Built in the United States.

Pricing

At $5000, the SH-AWD 3.7L powertrain option is expensive. Compared with a base model Lexus ES350, a base TL is priced roughly $2000 less, with monthly lease (48 months, $0. down) payments about $40. less per month than they are for the Lexus. Acura incentives have been very erratic over the last few years, being uncompetitive in the fall and normalizing after the turn of the year. Acura generally offers some enticing cash rebates at the end of the model year.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The TL was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 3rd

of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


  Acura TSX

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

ACURA TSX (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD, 4SW (2011)

Engine: 2.4L-4 201 HP, 3.5L-V6 280 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 5A*

City fuel economy: 9.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

A 3.5L V6 is a new option for 2010. A station wagon body style will be added for the 2011 model year.

Performance

The 2.4L four is smooth, quiet, flexible and delivers strong performance. The TSX’s smooth clutch and precise gearchange make the manual transmission a joy to use. Careful suspension development has created a car that handles with confidence but also delivers resilient ride characteristics. Precise, nicely weighted steering and strong brakes. The small side windows restrict outward vision for lane changes. Comfortable seats front and rear, with good space in front and class average room in the rear seat. The cabin is dominated by a gigantic curving dashboard housing clear instruments as well as a prominent centre stack that suffers from button glut. Cabin materials are no better than average.

Comments

The 2.4L four can be hooked up to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic, which is the only transmission offered with the V6. 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. Acura showed a station wagon model, long offered in other markets, at the New York Auto show in April 2010. The longer roof and side windows combine to create a less awkward look than the sedan, and the cargo bay is deep and nicely finished. Made in Japan.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Predicted above average reliability with lower servicing costs than European competitors. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

The Premium package is expensive for the additional content it brings, but the ($3000) Tech package and ($2200) V6 engine upgrade are both good value. The base TSX is priced about $7500 less than a BMW 323i with similar equipment. Acura incentives have been very erratic over the last few years, being uncompetitive in the fall and normalizing after the turn of the year. Acura generally offers some enticing cash rebates at the end of the model year. TSX sales fell about 35 percent last year.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The TSX was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 4th 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, 2L-TDI (140 HP)

Transmissions: 6M, 6 S tronic (DSG Direct Shift Gearbox)

City fuel economy: 9.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

VR6 engine discontinued but a 2L turbodiesel engine is now optional.

Comments

The 2L gasoline 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. The quattro model is automatic only. 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. The 2L diesel ($1350) engine and S tronic transmission combination delivers impressive performance, refinement and fuel economy in other VW Group product. 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.

Pricing

The Premium package represents reasonable value. The quattro drive system is a $2950 option on the base 2L and costs $3300 extra on the Premium model. At $1650 the S Tronic (DSG) automatic is expensive. A Volkswagen Rabbit GTI four door  is priced roughly $2400 less than a similarly-equipped base A3, and monthly lease and finance payments are less as well.

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. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked first of the 21 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, 3L-V6S 333 hp (S4)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, Continuously variable transmission (CVT), 7 S tronic

City fuel economy: 10.1L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

V6 discontinued in mainstream A4s, but  a supercharged V6 powers the S4 niche model. L.E.D. rear lights have been added to A4s equipped with xenon headlights. Paint and cabin trim changes.

Performance

The 2L four is quick, smooth, flexible and economical. Well sorted ride and handling. The steering is over-assisted below 60 km/h and too heavy over that speed. High interior noise levels. The A4's cabin is one of the roomiest in the compact luxury segment and easily bests the room available in either the BMW 3-series or the Mercedes-Benz C-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 plot 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

Mainstream A4s are powered by a 2L turbo four, with a supercharged 3L V6 found under the hood of the S4 high performance niche model. A4 buyers can choose either front-wheel drive or Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. The front-wheel drive model employs a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to send power to the wheels. Two six-speed transmissions, a manual and an automatic, can be teamed with quattro drive. The quattro system is standard on the S4, with buyers having the option of either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed S tronic clutchless manual transmission. The Avant wagon is offered in a single 2L-quattro automatic form.  Made in Germany.

Pricing

The 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 base Avant is priced $1500 higher than the base sedan, with $2000 separating the two body styles on cars equipped with the Premium package. An Audi A4 front-wheel drive sedan is priced roughly $1500 more than a comparably equipped Acura TSX with the Premium package.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags, optional rear side airbags. The Audi A4 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 5th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


BMW 2011 1 Series

NOT RATED

BMW

2011 1-series

Body Styles: 2CP, 2CV

Engines: 3L-6* 230 HP (128i), 3.0L-6T 300 HP (135i)

Transmissions: 6M*, 6A, 7 DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission)

City fuel economy: 10.8L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

2011 1-series released in the spring of 2010. Still 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. While the 1-series hatchback is no style icon, the three-box shape, with a bubble roof and separate trunk, looks chunky and stubby. 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 front seats and plenty of legroom are enjoyed by front passengers but 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 reaches the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission regardless of which engine is chosen. The 128i can be fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission, with a seven-speed DCT optional on the 135i. Made in Germany.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. 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 $6400 higher than the coupe, and upgrading to the turbocharged engine costs $7200 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 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 coupes are priced from $8500 (128i) to $10,400 (135i) less respectively than a 3-series coupe powered by the same engine, with the convertible 128i $16,100 cheaper than a 328i, and the 135i convertible priced $20,400 lower than a 335i cabriolet. 1-series sales grew about 15 percent last year, to about 2500 units.   

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 by the IIHS. Standard ABS and ESC.


BMW 2011 3 Series

ABOVE AVERAGE

BMW

2011 3-series (RWD, AWD*)              

Body Styles: 4SD, 4SW*, 2CP, 2CV

Engines: 2.5L-6 200 HP (323i), 3L-6 230* HP (328i), 3L-6T 300 HP (335i), 3L-6T  320 HP (335is two-doors only), 3L-6TD 265 HP (335d), 4L-V8 414 HP (M3)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*, 7 DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission: 335is only)

City fuel economy: 11.9L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

Mid-cycle remake for the two door versions featuring minor styling and equipment revisions. A new 335is version (offered only in two-door form) of the turbocharged gasoline six develops 30 more horsepower than the 335i. Early release 2011 3 Series four doors went on sale in the spring of 2010.

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 a 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 top notch for the most part. 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. Some minor controls, like the exterior mirror controls, are initially 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. 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. 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 new 335is, available only in coupe and cabriolet body styles, puts out 320 horsepower. 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 from $700 on the 335 to $2600 on the 328 sedan. The wagon body style (328xi only) bears an MSRP $1600 higher than the equivalent sedan. BMW charges $2000 to $2800 more for a coupe than a sedan powered by the same engine. The convertible body style commands a $13,000 to $15,500 supplement over the coupe. It will cost you $270 per horsepower for each of the 20 extra horsepower ($5400 all in) provided by the new engine in the 335is. Very expensive options. The 3-series is the undisputed king of this segment, outselling the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (admittedly BMW offers body styles) by about  70 percent, and the Audi A4 by 300 percent.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The 3-series was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 6th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Cadillac CTS

NOT RATED

CADILLAC CTS (RWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SD, 4SW, 2CP (early 2011)

Engine: 3L-V6 270 HP, 3.6L-V6 304 HP*, 6.2L-V8S 556 HP (CTS-V)

Transmission: 6M, 6A*

City fuel economy: 11.7L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

New 3L direct injection V6 base engine. Station wagon body style added for 2010, with a coupe to be introduced for 2011. Standard Bluetooth.

Comments

The 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., some interesting shadow lighting and careful assembly, the cabin is an exemplar of contemporary luxury. Tight rear legroom. The base 3L V6 produces 270 horsepower, with the 3.6L 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 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 on 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 3.6L engine costs roughly $6000 more than the base 3L V6.  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. An all-wheel drive CTS sedan powered by the base 3L V6 is priced about $1000 less than a Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic and roughly $5000 less than a BMW 328xi. Heavy depreciation predicted. The recession, GM’s bankruptcy in the U.S. and GM’s withdrawal from leasing hit the CTS hard last year, with sales tumbling about 40 percent.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The CTS was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 5th of the 13 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Hyundai Genesis

ABOVE AVERAGE

HYUNDAI Genesis (RWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 3.8L-V6 290 HP, 4.6L-V8 368 HP (375 with premium fuel)

Transmissions: 6A

City fuel economy: 11.4L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

Bluetooth and a sunroof are now standard equipment.

Comments

The V6 is smooth, quiet and responsive. Impressive performance and serenity from the V8 engine, which is nevertheless superfluous for North American driving conditions. The Genesis handles with confidence and feels well planted on the road, but at the expense of ride, which is disappointingly choppy for this type of car. Precise steering and strong brakes. 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. The Genesis has a fantastic audio system and logical navigation controls. 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 4.6L V8, are offered. Power reaches the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission in both cases. 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. The base Genesis V6 sells for about $30,000 less than a Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic sedan, and little higher than a fully-equipped mid-size car powered by a V6 engine. Hyundai stopped leasing the Genesis part way through the model year but continued with enticing finance incentives.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags front and rear, and side-curtain airbags are all standard. The Genesis sedan was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 6th of the 13 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 HP (Convertible)

Transmission: 6M, 7A*

City fuel economy: 11.2L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: LEV2

What’s new

The G37 convertible was introduced in the spring of 2010. Sedan: mid-cycle remake including a revised grille, front fascia and headlights. All: the navigation system has been revised, as has the cabin trim.

Sedan

Performance

The powerful V6 is flexible and delivers strong acceleration, but may be too noisy for some drivers. Prominent road noise and intrusive exhaust rumble spoil refinement. Well-judged ride and handling compromise for a sporty sedan. Pleasantly weighted and geared steering. Strong brakes. Among Japanese-branded luxury cars, the G37 best replicates the driving experience of the German cars it competes with. Comfortable seats and a good driving position. Clear instrumentation and logical controls. The tiny trunk aperture is the portal to a barely adequate trunk.

Reliability

Above average reliability. Expensive brake servicing predicted. 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 G37M model equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, all G37s 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 Premium package ($3350 for the all-wheel drive model and $4700 for the rear-wheel drive sedan). The all-wheel drive system commands a premium of $2000 to $3860 compared with a rear-wheel drive G37 sedan with similar equipment. A Premium package-equipped all-wheel drive G37x is priced $810 higher than a base model Acura TL SH-AWD, and generates an $80 higher monthly lease (48 months, $0. down) payment than the Acura.   

Coupe/Convertible

Comments

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

Pricing

The G37 coupe is priced anywhere from $2610 to $3160 (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 a $2500 option on the coupe. A G37 M6 coupe is priced roughly $15,000 less than a similarly equipped BMW 335is coupe. The G37 cabriolet bears an MSRP $12,000 higher than the 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 and Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 9th of the 12 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

Restyled front bumper, grille and headlights. Revised rear lights. Standard active head restraints, Bluetooth, rear seat side airbags and satellite radio.

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

Four trim levels are offered on the ES350 this year. Most packages represent reasonable value, but the Ultra Premium is a bargain. The base ES350 is priced roughly $2000 higher than a base Acura TL, and the ES with Navigation bears an MSRP about $2300 more than a Tech package equipped Acura TL. Compared with a base model TL, the ES350 will cost about $40 more per month to lease (48 months $0. down), with the monthly lease payment for the ES350 with Navigation running about $60 more than that for the Acura TL equipped with the Tech package. Lexus ES350 sales fell about 20 percent last year.    

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. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 10th 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

Bluetooth, windshield wiper de-icer, USB port and satellite radio are now standard. Revised packages, colours and cabin finishes.

Performance

Despite a modest 204 horsepower, the 2.5L V6 under the hood of the IS250 never feels underpowered, and is smooth and quiet in the Lexus tradition. The transmission is responsive and shifts smoothly. Where the IS stumbles is its ride, which is choppier than expected in a car of this class and can’t match the unflappable composure of its German competitors. Confident handling is undermined by electric power steering that is too light and devoid of feel. The cabin is very attractive, especially in premium versions of the IS. The front passenger compartment is snug, especially on all-wheel drive models, as the propshaft to the front wheels intrudes into the space the driver would prefer to use for their right leg. Rear seat legroom is at the tight end of vehicles in the luxury compact segment. 

Reliability

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

Comments

The second-generation IS series enters its fifth year on the market with few substantive changes. 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 mainstream 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. 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 $2000 less than a similarly-equipped BMW 323i. All-wheel drive commands a supplement of between $2950 and $3100 over a comparable rear-wheel drive IS. Comparably equipped, the Lexus IS250 all-wheel drive (with automatic transmission, metallic paint, sunroof and leather seating) has an MSRP roughly $5000 less than the equivalent BMW 328xi. The supplement for the convertible body style ranges from $13,900 for the IS250 to $14,500 for the IS350. Lexus IS sales dropped about 25 percent last year.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The IS250/350 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Acceptable in the IIHS rear impact test. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 8th of the 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Lincoln MKZ

ABOVE AVERAGE

LINCOLN, MKZ (FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engine: 3.5L-V6 263 HP

Transmission: 6A

City fuel economy: 11.7L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

Mid-cycle remake of the MKZ. Hybrid model announced for 2011.

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. Driven briefly by the APA, an MKZ equipped with the Sport package was quick, quiet and nimble. The cabin is elegant, carefully constructed, roomy and comfortable. The MKZ is a nicer car overall than the more expensive MKS. Made in Mexico.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. The Fusion on which the MKZ is base 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

An MSRP for an all-wheel drive MKZ is $3800 higher than for the front-wheel drive variant, but the drive system itself only costs $2400 extra, as xenon lights ($625) and the THX audio system ($1000), options on the front-wheel drive car, are standard on the all-wheel drive variant. At $1600, the optional navigation system is a bargain, but at $1600, the sunroof if very expensive, especially considering Ford charges $1200 for the same part in the Fusion. 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. MKZ sales increased about 10 percent last year in a down market.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. The MKZ was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 2nd of 12 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mercedes B Class

.

ABOVE AVERAGE

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

Revised option packages. The turbo model is $2000 cheaper for 2010.

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. The B-Class has 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 up front and in the rear, and 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 on offer 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 is priced $2500 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 as the B is not sold in the United States. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mercedes C Class

ABOVE AVERAGE

MERCEDES-BENZ C-Class (RWD, AWD*)

Body Styles: 4SD

Engines: 2.5L-V6 201 HP (C250), 3L-V6* 228 HP (C300), 3.5L-V6 268 HP (C350), 6.2L-V8 451 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 7A*

City fuel economy: 11.8L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s New

The C230 is renamed the C250. A driver’s side knee airbag has been added as standard equipment. The door mirrors have been restyled.

Performance

The throttle permits a smooth flow of power to the slick shifting and responsive seven-speed automatic transmission. The V6 engine installed in the C350 accelerates strongly but uses a lot of revs to do so, and has a rumbly exhaust system. 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 on the lower doors begins to looks 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 a 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 C250, it is chosen by the majority of 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 C250 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 C300s and C350s. The rear-wheel drive C63 AMG is powered by a 6.2L V8. Made in Germany.

Pricing

The C250 and C350 Premium packages are reasonable value. Individual options are expensive. All-wheel drive is a $2200 option on all C-Class models. Huge price jumps (around $5500) for just a few more horsepower. C-Class monthly lease payments are cheapest if you pick the 48 month term. Equipped the same, a Mercedes-Benz C250 is priced about $1200 lower than a BMW 323i, with a C300 4Matic bearing an MSRP roughly $1400 lower than that of a BMW 328xi.

Safety

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


Nissan Maxima

ABOVE AVERAGE

NISSAN Maxima (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engine: 3.5L-V6 290 HP

Transmission: CVT (continuously variable transmission)

City fuel economy: 10.9L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

The warranty on the CVT transmission has been extended to 10 years/200,000 km. The audio system now includes a seven inch monitor and an iPod jack.

Comments

Based on the Altima, the Maxima presents a bulkier face to the world. 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. Rear passengers sit upon a supportive seat and enjoy plenty of legroom. The 3.5L V6 musters 290 horsepower in this application. Power reaches the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The rear seatbacks are fixed on cars equipped with the Sport and Premium packages. Avoid the noisy dual panel sunroof as is spoils refinement. Made in the United States.

Reliability

Reliability not rated. Above average reliability predicted. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain and 10 years/200,000 km on the CVT.

Pricing

All option packages except for the Premium are exceptional value. Take a look at the more attractive Altima SR that is equipped roughly the same as a base Maxima, and is nearly $4000 cheaper. A Maxima with navigation bears an MSRP roughly $3500 more than a 2011 Toyota Avalon XLS. Lease payments (48 months, $0. down) are about $35 lower if you pick the Maxima but finance payments (60 months, $0. down) are $60 lower for the Avalon. Maxima sales increased about 10 percent last year in a down market.

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. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. The side impact test has not been conducted. The Maxima was ranked 16th of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


ABOVE AVERAGE

TOYOTA Avalon (FWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 3.5L-V6 DOHC 268 HP

Transmission: 6A

City Fuel Economy: 10.7L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

The short 2010 model run replaced by a revised 2011 model in March of 2010. New lights, grille, bumpers and rocker panels. Cabin updates include a new dashboard, some new cabin trim, standard Bluetooth, navigation, a USB port and an iPod jack. The Avalon is offered in only one comprehensively equipped trim level for 2011.  

Comments

The Avalon occupies a micro-niche in Toyota’s lineup between the top Camry and the Camry-based Lexus ES350. The Avalon’s cabin is enormous, with total comfort for four, and reasonable accommodations for five. The previous “unibrow” dashboard has been replaced by one that separates the instrument cluster and dash centre stack into two distinct styling elements. The prominent gauges are easy to scan, and while the centre stack looks fine, it contains a lot of buttons in a small space. The Avalon has a massive trunk. Power stems from a 268 horsepower 3.5L V6 that sends power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Reports in the automotive press note that the Avalon is very fast, smooth, quiet and very comfortable. Made in the United States.

Reliability    

Above average. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

The base Avalon is priced about $3000 more than a fully-equipped Camry V6, and roughly $5000 less than a Lexus ES350 equipped with a Navigation system. The Avalon trumps the ES350 for cabin space, but if you don’t need the extra room, the Lexus (with a longer warranty), is $40 cheaper per month to lease (48 months, $0. down). Those financing (60 months, $0. down) the two cars will save about $50 per month by picking the Avalon. A Nissan Maxima with navigation bears an MSRP roughly $3500 more than a 2011 Toyota Avalon XLS. Lease payments (48 months, $0. down) are about $35 lower if you pick the Maxima but finance payments (60 months, $0. down) are $60 lower for the Avalon. With fewer than 300 Avalons sold in Canada last year, it’s surprising it is still offered here.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Avalon was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 3rd of the 9 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Volvo C30

ABOVE AVERAGE

VOLVO

2011 C30 (FWD)

Body Style: 2HB

Engines: 2.5L-5T 227 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 5A*

City fuel economy: 10.2L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: ULEV

What’s new

The 2010 C30 appeared only briefly, replaced by a facelifted early release 2011 C30 in February 2010. The revised car features a busier, bulkier front end, and comes only with turbo power this year.  

Comments

The sporty S40-based hatchback “lifestyle” tourer is reminiscent of Volvo’s P1800ES from the seventies. The S30 shares the S40’s platform, but is 22 cm (8.7 inches) shorter, with a lower roof than the sedan. Like the 1800 ES, the car has a large glass hatchback door for cargo, but unlike the sports car-based 1800 ES, the C30 is pretty 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 Giulietta, 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 will stick with Volvo as they age and prosper, but seems to have attracted a 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 too plain. 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

The C30 shares its platform and mechanical components with the S40 and V50 and should have 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

Other than the reasonably-priced Weather package, C30 option packages are overpriced, especially the R-Design group. However, if you don’t mind your hatchback mainstream and boxy, the base Volkswagen Golf GTI three-door is priced about $3000 less than the base C30 T5 Level 1. Volvo occasionally extends some amazing incentive offers, it is best to wait until one of these turns up before buying one of these cars. C30 sales tumbled about 20 percent last year.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. The C30 was Top Safety Pick,  rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 9th of the 21 cars in its class. 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)

City fuel economy: 10.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: ULEV

What’s new

Simplified model ranges. All-wheel drive is now packaged with the turbocharged engine.

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

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, with power flowing to all four wheels. Built in Belgium.

Pricing

The station wagon is priced $1500 higher than the sedan. The 2.4i Premium package is severely overpriced. Upgrading to the all-wheel drive turbocharged model represents reasonable value compared with the price charged for the 2.4i Premium. An R-Package equipped V50 all-wheel drive turbo is priced virtually the same as the BMW 328xi wagon with similar equipment. The S-V series is poorly positioned in the market in relation to first-tier prestige car brands, and consumer disinterest and slow sales are the results. Volvo occasionally extends some amazing incentive offers, it is best to wait until one of these turns up before buying one of these cars. Rapid depreciation.

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. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 17th of the 21 cars in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Volvo 2011 S60

NEW

VOLVO

2011 S60 (AWD)

Body Style: 4SD

Engines: 3L-6T 300 HP

Transmission: 6A

City fuel economy: n/a

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating. n/a

What’s new

All new 2011 S60. Only a premium turbocharged all-wheel drive model will be available at launch, with normal engines and trim levels to follow.  

Comments

Volvo showed the second-generation S60 at the New York show, with the car going on sale in the fall of 2010. Styled again by Peter Horbury, the new S60 is an even more (for a Volvo) radical re-interpretation of the four-door coupe theme he explored with the first S60. The design of the new car is very curvilinear, with an almost fastback roofline. The tall body sides and small windows, makes the car look a bit tank-like, with the undulating side character line that rises over the wheels and drops in the passenger compartment being either a visual distraction or high art, depending on your taste. Like the front ends of other recent Volvos, the front end of the new S60 is a bit bulbous.

The cabin is where the S60 excels. It’s design crystallizes the concept of Scandinavian minimalist luxury. Clear instrumentation, logical controls, quality materials and careful assembly distinguish the interior. The 66 mm (2.4 inch) longer wheelbase improves rear seat legroom, a deficiency in the first S60, to the point where adults will now be quite comfortable in the rear seat. The seats are very comfortable.

Following the same launch strategy it used for the XC60, the first S60 to go on sale will be a turbocharged all-wheel drive variant that will eventually become the range topper of the S60 lineup. Normally aspirated front-wheel drive mainstream S60s should follow fairly quickly after the premium model goes on sale. The S60 uses the same 3L turbocharged inline six found in the S80 and XC60, sending power to all wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Volvo claim that stouter suspension pieces, more direct suspension component mounting, firmer springs and shocks and quicker steering impart a more dynamic driving experience to the new S60 than found in its predecessor. The S60 sees the debut of Volvo’s new Advanced Stability Control system that contains a sophisticated roll-angle sensor that can detect a skid and take corrective action long before a driver is aware of the situation. The new S60 is also graced with Corner Traction Control that applies the brakes on the car’s inner driven wheels and transmits extra power the outer driven wheels to compensate for understeer and permit higher cornering speeds.

The new S60 will feature Volvo’s City Safety system that can help prevent low speed rear-end type accidents, but adds the revolutionary Pedestrian Safety system that can detect a pedestrian, alert the driver, and if no, or insufficient action is taken, apply the brakes at full force to prevent contacting the pedestrian. Volvo claims that even reducing the speed of impact from 30 km/h to 25 km/h can reduce the potential for the impact to be fatal by 20 percent.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested. 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 II

What’s new

Simplified model range. New R-Design package. 2010 is the last year for the V70 in Canada.

Comments

The V70 and XC 70 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 normally-aspirated six is smooth and flexible. The 281 horsepower turbocharged six, optional on the XC70, 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 necessary. 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 $1500 separates the base versions of the V70 and XC70, which makes it an AWD bargain. The Premium option packages are a bit overpriced. The Luxury and Tech packages are reasonable value. The bigger 2010 Subaru Outback is a much cheaper and no less spacious alternative to the XC70. Volvo occasionally extends some amazing incentive offers, it is best to wait until one of these turns up before buying one of these cars. Volvo incentives can require big under the table dealer participation, which the dealer will try to make back with a higher transaction price on the car. Rapid depreciation. V70 sales fell about 65 percent last year and 2010 will be its last year in this market.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested by the IIHS. Standard ABS and ESC.