2010 Lemon aid SUVs

 

A to M

 

N to Z

Acura MDX

Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX

Hyundai Santa Fe

Acura RDX

Ford Escape/ Mazda Tribute

Hyundai Tucson

Audi Q5

Ford Explorer

Hyundai Veracruz

Chrysler Dodge Nitro

GM Buick Enclave / Chevrolet Traverse

Kia Borrego

Chrysler Jeep Commander

GM GMC Acadia

Kia Sorento

Chrysler Jeep Compass

GM Chevrolet Equinox / GMC Terrain

Lexus RX350 2010 / RX400h

Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee

Honda CRV

Mazda CX-7

Chrysler Jeep Liberty

Honda Element

Mazda CX-9

Chrysler Jeep Wrangler

Honda Pilot

Mitsubishi Outlander


Volume sales of Sport Utility Vehicles in Canada are increasingly clustered around so-called Sport Cute models based on compact car platforms. These so-called Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs), possess a high seating position, good cargo capacity and can carry four or five people comfortably.

The CUV format is moving into bigger and bigger vehicles. The Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota Highlander all have three rows of seats, and ample cargo space, if not necessarily at the same time. GM’s massive Acadia-Enclave-Traverse trio can seat up to eight and still haul some cargo as well.

Truck-based SUVs like the Ford Explorer, once at the core of the market, have been pushed to the extreme margins of the segment. Impressive towing capacity, about the only advantage the truck-based units have over CUVs, is not enough to sustain these old-tech models.

There are a number of new and renewed models this year. The second-generation Hyundai Tuscon went on sale early in 2010, quickly followed by the second-generation Kia Sorento, now a unibody mainstream tall wagon. The 2011 Kia Sportage, the Tucson’s across the hall rival, goes on sale by the summer of 2010. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain (replacing the Pontiac Torrent) went on sale in the fall of 2009.

SUVs are usually taller and heavier than passenger cars, and weight will counts in a crash with a lighter vehicle. The separate ladder frame on truck-based SUVs provides a stiff protection perimeter for an SUV’s occupants in a collision with a lighter vehicle, but will inflict a disproportionate amount of damage to any car it hits. Some CUVs, like the Acura MDX, contain clever engineering that brings the point of contact at the front of the vehicle down to passenger car height.

SUVs are registering better scores in crash tests than they did even a few years ago. Six vehicles in this category have attained Top Safety Pick

status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Rollover protection, which keeps side-curtain airbags inflated longer in the event of a rollover accident, is common in this segement. Electronic stability control, which can reduce single vehicle accidents by correcting a skid, often before the driver knows the vehicle is losing control, is standard on all the vehicles covered in this section this year.

There has been some price volatility in the vehicle market this year. Some makers have increased prices significantly, while others have pared back prices to increase buyer interest. Manufacturer incentives on vehicles have experienced some instability as well, disturbing the payment relationships between competing vehicles. The monthly payment comparisons given in the individual vehicle reviews were accurate when compiled, but it would be prudent to check monthly payment disparities between vehicles at the time a purchase is going to be made.


Acura MDX

ABOVE AVERAGE
HONDA
ACURA MDX
(AWD)
Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.7L-V6 300 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 13.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

Mid-cycle remake includes Acura’s mailbox grille, upgraded cabin materials, a six-speed automatic transmission and a power tailgate. Bluetooth, an audio hard disc drive, blind spot monitors and adaptive cruise control are optional. Price reduced by $510 (Elite) to $910 (base and Tech).

Performance

Tested with the previous five-speed automatic transmission, the large V6 provides strong response at all times, and while generally smooth and quiet, it does take on a distinct howl when accelerating hard. The suspension on the Elite model tested served up impressive stability and crisp handling for such a behemoth. The MDX’s ride is on the firm side, and large bumps can send a jolt and a sonic boom through the vehicle. While nimble enough in town, the MDX is built for the open road, where it excels. The MDX has elegant, easy-to-scan gauges, and logical steering-wheel-mounted control stalks. However, the plethora of buttons crammed into the dash centre stack to control climate, navigation, audio and video functions, is an ergonomic puzzle that takes a long time to decipher. Except for some overly-faux alloy accents, the cabin reflects quality components and careful assembly. Comfortable and supportive seats front and rear. Third-row occasional seats are for the nimble. Good cargo space. Superb audio and video equipment. Though the navigation system made a few choices local drivers wouldn’t, and was a bit slow to re-calculate a course if its own wasn’t followed, it was fairly accurate.  

Reliability

Above average reliability. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on powertrain.

Comments

Power from the 3.7L V6 reaches the wheels via the Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system. The system varies torque between front and rear, with a 90/10 percent front/rear split being the default condition. Torque delivered to the rear wheels can be sent 100 percent to one side or the other, or shared equally. During cornering, one rear wheel is “over-driven” 1.7 percent to improve handling and stability. The optional Elite package adds Active Damper Sport Suspension, which employs magnetically-charged particles contained in the shock absorber fluid to firm up the suspension as needed. To partially address the mismatch in height between the MDX and passenger cars in head-on crashes, the MDX has a bar located in the lower front bumper to prevent it from overriding car bumpers. Properly equipped, the MDX can tow 2268 kg (5000 lbs.). Made in Canada.

Pricing

The Tech package is good value but the Elite package is overpriced. Often there are big rebates for cash buyers at the end of the model year. A base MDX has a $4500 higher MSRP than a Mazda CX-9 GT but leases (48 months, $0. down) for about $50 less than the Mazda. If financing (60 months, $0. down), payments for the Mazda are roughly $240 less.   

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags, side-curtain airbags and front seat knee-bolster airbags. The MDX was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impacts, rear impact not evaluated. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 13th of the 15 vehicles in its class, but this rating may change once all categories have been tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

Acura RDX

ABOVE AVERAGE
HONDA
ACURA RDX
(AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.3L-4T 240 HP
Transmission: 5A
City fuel consumption: 11.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What’s new

Mid-cycle remake includes the Acura “mailbox lid” grille, a restyled hood, revised fascias and new taillights. Reverse camera, compass, Bluetooth and USB jack have been added. MSRPs reduced from $1410 (base) to $2110 (Tech).  

Performance

Honda’s 2.3L turbo four is a paragon of flexibility and “right now” urge. It delivers V6 response but also consumes as much fuel as a V6 with similar power. The engine mates well with its five-speed automatic. The thumb-paddle-equipped manumatic shift feature works well, but seems out of place on a family bus. If the engine has a fault it is its prosaic engine note. Nicely-weighted steering responds quickly to orders from the helm, and cornering is flat and stable. The ride is acceptably firm on good pavement, but gets rocky over rough tarmac. Good control of wind noise, but road noise suppression is lacking at this price point. While the dashboard is crammed with a multitude of features and looks impressive, there are too many buttons and it takes a long time to learn how to use them. The RDX’s cabin is solidly constructed from attractive materials. Good exterior paint and panel fit. Seating comfort is good front and rear, and the car is spacious for its size. Cargo space is ample and versatile. Extreme weather changes caused the Tire Pressure Monitoring System on the RDX tested by the APA to signal a fault when none existed.  

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data on the turbocharged engine. Acuras are generally reliable. Four year bumper to bumper warranty, with five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments

Though spun off the Honda CR-V, the RDX is longer, wider, lower, heavier, is built on a longer wheelbase, and shares no exterior body panels with the Honda. The Super Handling All-Wheel drive (SH-AWD) system uses all-wheel drive to improve performance and stability. It can also transfer torque both front-to-back, and from side-to-side. Properly equipped, the RDX can tow up to 680 kg (1500 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

The Tech package is a bit expensive for its additional content. Take a look at the Mazda CX-7. A fully equipped CX-7 GT has an MSRP about $2400 less than an RDX equipped with the Tech Package. The Acura is about $30 cheaper to lease (48 months, $0. down) but if financing (60 months, $0. down), the Mazda will save you about $50 per month.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The RDX was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not rated. Ranked 3rd of the 15 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.  


Audi Q5

150

 

NOT RATED

AUDI Q5 (AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.2L-V6 270 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel consumption: 11.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

20 inch wheel option, Revised colour selection.

Comments

The Q5 is Audi’s answer to the Mercedes-Benz GLK and Volvo XC60. Like the others, the Q5 is a tall wagon based on a unibody car platform (in this case the A4). Outside, the Q5 is an elegant, well proportioned and carefully finished vehicle. The cabin, while nicer than that in the A4, is not up to Audi’s previous stellar standards. Good space utilization and comfortable seats are cabin highlights. The cargo bay is large, regularly shaped and well finished. The Q5 is as roomy for five people as the massive Q7. The sole power unit is a 270 horsepower 3.2L V6. Power reaches all wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the Q5 can tow up to 2000 kg (4400 lbs.). Made in Germany.

Reliability

Not rated. Previous Audis have been rated below average for reliability. Four year/80,000 km warranty.

Pricing

The Premium package trim upgrade is a bit short of content given the money asked for it. Some options are very expensive. Similarly equipped, the Q5 is marginally more expensive than either a Mercedes-Benz GLK or a Volvo XC60. Monthly payments (lease or finance) for the Audi can’t compete with those offered by Mercedes-Benz.

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. The Q5 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not rated. Ranked 4th of the 15 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC. 


Dodge Nitro

BELOW AVERAGE

CHRYSLER
DODGE Nitro
(4WD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 3.7L-V6* 210 HP, 4L-V6 260 HP
Transmission: 4A*, 5A
City fuel consumption: 14L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

The Nitro model range has been reduced to a single well-equipped SXT variant. Active headrests, an alarm system and fuel shutoff on deceleration are all standard for 2010.

Performance

The Nitro’s high-torque 3.7L V6 delivers good power from low revs. The engine is noisy in town and under hard acceleration, however, much of the noise might be down to deliberate exhaust tuning. Heavy fuel consumption. The Nitro’s basic four-speed automatic is all the truck needs. With a firm ride, tippy handling, and light, lifeless steering, the Nitro is not a dynamic paragon. The spongy, long-travel pedal makes braking hard to modulate. The Nitro’s four-wheel drive system is less practical than the automatic “on-demand” systems used in most rivals. Rear-wheel drive, the Nitro’s default drive mode, makes the truck a handful to drive on snow and ice. The Nitro’s vehicle stability system intervenes very late in the game. The Nitro has clear gauges, and simple, logical controls. It is a long way up to the Nitro’s cabin, and once installed, comfort is not ideal due to cramped footwells and seats that, while substantial and supportive, do little to retain occupants during cornering. Rear legroom is good, however, the rear seat has firm, flat cushions, and ingress-egress is poor due to the height off the ground as well as a narrow lower door aperture. The Nitro’s door mirror placement and the slope of the windshield pillars combine to reduce vision to the front of the vehicle.

Reliability

Average reliability predicted, like most current Chrysler products. Three-year/60,000 bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments

The Dodge Nitro is a platform mate of the Jeep Liberty. Power stems from the 3.7L V6 seen in various Chrysler group vehicles, and a 4L V6 seen in various big Chryslers. With the 3.7L engine, power goes to the rear wheels, or all wheels, via or a four-speed automatic (3.7L) or a five-speed automatic (4L). Four-wheel drive is standard. There is no two-speed transfer case available. Properly equipped, the Nitro can tow up to 2268 kg (5000 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

Option package prices are in balance with the additional content they contain. Chrysler’s withdrawal from leasing, its bankruptcy and buyer disinterest in “old school” body-on-frame SUVs hit the Nitro hard last year, with sales plummeting 60 percent.

Safety

Standard side-curtain airbags. The Nitro was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, Marginal in the side impact test and Poor in the rear impact test. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 21st of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Jeep Commander

AVERAGE

CHRYSLER

JEEP Commander (AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 3.7L-V6 210 HP, 5.7L-V8 MDS 357 HP
Transmission: 5A
City fuel economy: 15.7L/100 km
ESC:Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

The 4.7L V8 has been discontinued. A rear climate package, satellite radio and roof rails are standard on the Sport variant this year. The Sun and Sound option package available on the Sport model has been enhanced. The Limited package now includes a power rear tailgate.

Comments

The Jeep Commander is a seven-passenger Jeep spun off the Grand Cherokee platform. The truck is built on the same wheelbase, but is 46.5 mm (1.9 inches) longer, 27.7 mm (1.5 inches) wider, and 106.1 mm (4.2 inches) taller than the Grand Cherokee. The extra height combines with the longer tail to c reate enough space to wedge a third seat into what would usually be a cargo area. The Commander bears a striking resemblance to the 1984 Cherokee. The exterior has a slightly military appearance, and with blocky shapes, Allen Key accents and a big gnarly shift knob, so does the cabin. The big gauges are easy-to-read, and the temperature and audio controls are straightforward. The front seats are roomy and comfortable, the middle seat is supportive and has adequate legroom, but the third seat is really meant for kids. Cargo space is virtually non-existent in seven-seater mode, but is respectable, especially in height, when the last two rows of seats are folded. The Commander is powered by two familiar Chrysler engines, a 3.7L V6, and a 5.7L V8. Power is sent to the ground via a five-speed automatic in both cases, but three different drive systems are used. Quadra-Trac I, a full-time one-speed all-wheel drive system with no low range, is standard on V6-powered Commanders. Quadra-Trac II adds an electronically-triggered two-speed transfer case with a low range, and a neutral mode for towing. Quadra-Drive II, standard on the Limited model, adds electronically-controlled limited slip differentials to the transfer case and both axles. The Quadra-Trac systems are permanently split 48/52 front/rear, but theoretically, Quadra-Drive can send all available power to one wheel if that is the only one with traction. Reports in the automotive press indicate the Commander is pleasant to drive, with a good ride and predictable handling. Acceleration is adequate with the V6 and very good with the Hemi. The Commander is very capable off-road as well. Properly equipped, towing capacities are 1590 kg (3500 lbs.) with the V6 and 3363 kg (7400 lbs.) with the Hemi. Made in the United States.

Reliability

Few complaints have been received about the Commander since it was launched in 2005. Three-year/60,000 bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain. Though it is very expensive, a Chrysler extended warranty is recommended if you plan to keep the truck longer than three years. APA members can get a discount on the warranty when buying their vehicle from a dealer recommended by the association.

Pricing

The Sport model retails for about $5000 less than a Limited with similar equipment. With just over 600 Commanders sold in 2009, sales d ropped by 45 percent.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags are not available, but three-row side-curtain airbags are standard. Not tested by the IIHS. Standard ABS and ESC.


Jeep Compass

BELOW AVERAGE

CHRYSLER
JEEP Compass, JEEP Patriot
(FWD, AWD*)

Body Styles: 4SW
Engine: 2L-4 158 HP, 2.4L-4* 172 HP
Transmissions: 5M, CVT* (Continuously variable transmission)
City fuel economy: 9.9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

Active headrests are now standard. The 2L engine is now available with manual transmission. Vehicles equipped with manual transmissions are now fitted with a hill-holder feature.

Performance

The Compass and Patriot are built on the same platform as the Dodge Caliber. The 2.4L furnishes adequate urge and is reasonably refined unless it is pushed really hard. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) works well as does its manual transmission mode. The 2L four, the base engine on front-wheel driver versions of this platform, develops less power but is little more frugal than the 2.4L. Absorbent ride. The steering lacks feel. Prominent road noise. Roomy cabin and cargo area. The 2009 cabin u pdates improved the cabin from mediocre to class average. Comfortable seats. 

Reliability

Below average reliability. Unproven mechanical units. Complaints have been received regarding suspension noise, oil pans and sway-bar links. Three-year/60,000 bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain. A Chrysler extended warranty is expensive but is recommended if you plan to keep the truck longer than three years. APA members can get a discount on the warranty when buying their vehicle from a dealer recommended by the Association.

Comments

Car-based sport-cutes dominate the tall wagon market in Canada and the Dodge Caliber-based Compass and Patriot have been well received by Canadians. Though they look different outside, these vehicles are identical under the skin. The Compass is all soft enveloping forms, whereas the Patriot displays traditional square-rigged Jeep styling cues. Power comes from either a 2L or a 2.4L fours also seen in the Caliber and Sebring. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power goes to the front wheels, or optionally, to a part-time on-demand all-wheel drive system. All-wheel drive is optional on both models, the Patriot being “Trail Rated” in Jeep’s parlance. Properly equipped, the Compass can tow 909 kg (2000 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

All-wheel drive is a $2200 option on cars powered by the 2.4L engine. The Patriot's base MSRP is $400 to $1000 less than an equivalent Compass. The North Editions are priced to reflect the value or their additional contents. Upgrading to the Limited trim package represents very good value. A fully loaded Limited is priced about $4000 less than a Honda CR-V EX-L with navigation, but will be worth a lot less after five years. Combined Compass/Patriot sales d ropped about 45 percent in 2009, victims of Chrysler’s withdrawal from leasing, its bankruptcy, and vehicle shortages due to extended plant closures.

Safety

Standard side-curtain airbags, optional seat-mounted side airbags. Tested with optional seat-mounted side airbags, the Patriot was a Top Safety Pick, rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 2nd of the 14 vehicles in its class. Tested without the optional seat-mounted side airbags, the Patriot was rated Good for frontal and rear impact tests and Marginal in the side impact test. Rated Good for Rollover. Ranked 10th of the 14 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Jeep Grand Cherokee

ABOVE AVERAGE
CHRYSLER
JEEP Grand Cherokee
(AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 3.7L-V6 210 HP, 5.7L-V8*
MDS 357 HP, 6.1L MDS 420 HP (SRT8)
Transmission: 5A
City fuel economy: 15.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What’s new

Last year in its current form.

Performance

This Jeep feels agile and wieldy for such a serious truck. The ride is on the resilient side of firm. Low windshield header. Comfortable seating front and rear, but cabin space, especially in the rear, is unimpressive for such a big vehicle. Good cargo capacity. The dashboard has clear gauges and logical controls.

Comments

A 3.7L SOHC V6 and a 5.7L “Hemi” OHV V8 with a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) that idles four cylinders during low-load situations are the two mainstream power units offered for 2010.  a 3L diesel are available on mainstream Grand Cherokees. The SRT-8 is powered by a 6.1L version of the “Hemi”. Three all-wheel drive systems are offered on the Grand Cherokee. Quadra-Trac I, standard on the V6 Laredo, has a single-speed transfer case, a permanent 48/52 front/rear torque split, and an ABS-based limited slip system. Quadra-Trac II, which adds a dual-range transfer case to the mix, is standard on all V8-engined Grand Cherokees. Quadra-Drive II, optional on the Limited, adds electronically-controlled front, centre and rear differentials, which can go from fully open to fully closed, theoretically sending all available torque to one wheel if it is the only one with traction. All models use a five-speed automatic transmission.

Properly equipped, towing capacities are 1590 kg (3500 lbs.) with the V6 and 3363 kg (7400 lbs.) with the Hemi. Made in the United States.

Reliability

Few complaints have been received about the current model. Average reliability is predicted. A Chrysler extended warranty is expensive but is recommended if you plan to keep the truck longer than three years. APA members can get a discount on the warranty when buying their vehicle from an APA recommended dealer. Three-year/60,000km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

The North edition is well-equipped and aggressively priced. The V8 engine is a $1750 option on the North Edition, with the sophisticated Quadra-Drive II system available for an extra $750 on V8 powered Grand Cherokees equipped with the North package. The Limited package is priced roughly twice what the additional features are worth. SRT8: has the performance for a Porsche Cayenne at about half the price. Grand Cherokee sales d ropped about 30 percent in 2009.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags are not available but side-curtain airbags are standard. The Grand Cherokee was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, Marginal in the side impact test and Good in the rear impact test. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 20th of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.   

Jeep Liberty

AVERAGE

CHRYSLER
JEEP Liberty
(4WD)           

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.7L V6 210 HP
Transmission: 6M, 4A*
City fuel economy: 14L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Standard active headrests. Air filtration, stain resistant fabric, fold float front passenger seat and heated door mirrors are all standard on the Sport this year. A hands-free phone link is standard on the Limited for 2010. Fuel shut-off on deceleration has been added to Liberties equipped with automatic transmission.

Performance

The V6 feels quick, is smooth and quiet when driven normally, but sounds coarse when pushed. The steering lacks feel but is nicely geared and weighted. The Liberty has a steady ride and feels firmly planted on the road. Comfortable seats and good cabin room front and rear. The dashboard features legible instrumentation and logical controls. Attractive cabin materials (two-tone leather on the Limited) and careful assembly. The massive cloth sunroof is quiet whether it is open or closed. Cargo space goes from adequate with the rear seat up to good when it is folded down.

Reliability

Average reliability. A Chrysler extended warranty is expensive but is recommended if you plan to keep the truck longer than three years. APA members can get a discount on the warranty when buying their vehicle from an APA recommended dealer. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments

The 3.7L V6 is the sole engine available. Command Trac II, a part-time four-wheel drive system suited to off-road work and sloppy surfaces, is standard. Selec Trac II, which can be left engaged on all surfaces, is optional. Heavy real-world fuel consumption. Properly equipped, the Liberty can tow up to 2268 kg (5000 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

The North package is very good value and upgrading to the Limited model represents reasonable value. The Sky's the Limit package is a real bargain. The Selec Trac II all-wheel drive system is a $475 option. Rapid depreciation, with a four year old Liberty worth about $5000 less than a Honda CR-V of the same vintage. Chrysler's withdrawal from leasing, its bankruptcy and extended plant closures conspired to reduce Liberty sales by about 45 percent in 2009.

Safety

Standard side-curtain airbags. Seat-mounted side airbags are not offered. The Liberty was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, Marginal in the side impact test and Acceptable in the rear impact test. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 21st of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Jeep Wrangler

NOT RATED

CHRYSLER
JEEP Wrangler
(4WD)

Body Style: 2CV
Engines: 3.8L V6 202 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 4A*
City fuel economy: 14.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Fuel shut-off on deceleration is standard this year. Enhanced standard equipment. Wrangler X renamed the Sport. Leather upholstery is now offered as a standalone option. The Sunrider top has been improved.

Performance

Driven briefly by the APA, the short-wheelbase Wrangler Rubicon is not for the timid. The V6 provides sufficient urge but sounds harsh and breathless at all times. The manual transmission has a smooth clutch and precise gearchange. Sloppy, vague steering. The Wrangler's ride is so turbulent that it is difficult to tune the radio on all but the smoothest pavement. If on-road handling is the opposite of off-road prowess, this truck must be fantastic in the dirt. The longer-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited is reputed to ride less harshly than its shorter stablemate. Very noisy. The removable roof panels come off easily enough but putting them back in place and securing them properly are awkward. You can either carry rear seat passengers or the roof panels in the short-wheelbase Wrangler, as there isn't room for both. Comfortable seats and reasonable space upfront. Access to the rear seat is difficult and there is very little space available once you get there. Limited cargo space. Decent fit and finish, with a much more engineered feel than previous versions of this truck.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. Purchase of an extended warranty from Chrysler is expensive but is recommended if you plan to keep the Wrangler past the three year bumper to bumper warranty. APA members can purchase it for less from a dealer recommended by the Association.

Comments

The sole engine is a 202 horsepower overhead valve 3.8L V6. Power reaches all the wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. X and Sahara models are equipped the Jeep's Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive unit. The Rock-Trac part-time four-wheel drive system, standard on, and exclusive to, the Rubicon, is designed especially for rugged terrain. The Rubicon can electronically detach its sway bars to permit maximum axle articulation in rough terrain. Neither the Command-Trac nor Rock-Trac systems are all-wheel drive units; both are meant only for loose or slippery surfaces. The Wrangler is offered in hardtop, soft top, cut-down and full-door guises. The hardtop has removable roof panels like the T-Roofs from the 1970s. Properly equipped, the Wrangler two-door can tow up to 909 kg (2000 lbs.) and the four-door can tow up to 1591 kg (3500 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

Option packages are not particularly good value. The Rubicon is a one-step option containing a wide array of off-road components. The S option package and upgrading to the Sahara trim line are expensive for what the packages contain. That said, the Sahara, which has the hardtop fitted as standard equipment, is the best value of the range. A Sahara two-door is better value than a loaded base vehicle with the S package. The long-wheelbase Unlimited model is priced $2000 higher than the short-wheelbase Wrangler Sport. Wrangler sales plummeted about 40 percent in 2009.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags are optional. The Wrangler Unlimited was rated Good in the IIHS frontal impact test and Marginal in the side and rear impact tests. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 22nd of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Lincoln MKX

ABOVE AVERAGE

FORD
FORD Edge
(FWD, AWD*), LINCOLN MKX (AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 3.5L-V6 265 HP
Transmissions:  6A
City fuel consumption: 13.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

Edge: New Limited Appearance, Leather Comfort and Canadian Comfort packages. MKX: Comedy oversized 22 inch wheel package. New Midnight Blue and Sight and Sound packages. Both: New colours. Heavily revised 2011 models go on sale by the fall of 2010.

Comments

The Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX are spun off the platform supporting the Ford Fusion. With comfortable seats and lots of space, the cabin is comfortable, and the cargo area is good with rear seat up, and ample with the rear seat folded. The cabin of the Edge looks appealing, but the main instruments are small, there are a lot of buttons where only a few knobs would do, and the surfaces are hard and unyielding when touched. The MKX's interior style, with lots of faux alloy trim and available wood trim, is quite chic. However, the multiplicity of buttons for the climate and audio controls is annoying. Power is derived from Ford's 3.5L twin cam V6 that sends power to the front wheels, or optionally to all wheels (standard on the Lincoln), via a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the default setting on all-wheel drive models, with the rear wheels getting torque when slip is detected. Maximum tow capacity of 1588 kg (3501 lbs.) if properly equipped. Made in Canada.   

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. The Ford has a three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, with five years/100,000 km on the powertrain. The Lincoln has a four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty with free scheduled maintenance, and six years/110,000 km on the powertrain. Buy an extended warranty from Ford. APA members can purchase an extended warranty for less from a dealer recommended by the Association.

Pricing

All-wheel drive is a $2000 option on the Ford and is standard on the Lincoln. The Ford Edge all-wheel drive Limited is priced roughly $5000 less than the base Lincoln MKX. Avoid the 22 inch wheel package as replacement tires will cost about $300 each.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. The Ford Edge was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 4th out of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mazda Tribute

Ford Escape Hybrid

AVERAGE

FORD Escape, MAZDA Tribute* (FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engines: 2.3L-4* 170 HP, 3L-V6 240 HP, 2.3L-4 153 HP + AC Motor 94 HP/Nominal rating 177 HP (Ford Hybrid)
Transmissions:  5M, 6A*, CVT (Ford Hybrid)
City fuel consumption: 10.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Ford: A convex element has been added to the door mirrors. A rear view camera, Active parking and MyKey, which limits top speed and limits audio volume, are new options. Limited trim package now available on the hybrid. Tribute: An exterior temperature gauge and self-locking are now standard.

Performance

Though gruff, the 2.5L-automatic combo delivers eager acceleration and low-rev cruising. A quieter exhaust system might improve refinement. The revised V6 and six-speed automatic transmission combination should be quicker, more refined and an even more relaxed cruising than the previous V6 powertrain. The nicely weighted and geared steering feels numb. Except for some rear suspension hop over big bumps, the ride-handling compromise reconciles comfort and stability very well. The hybrid system available in the Ford works very well. Under gentle acceleration and gentle cruising conditions, the vehicle will run in full electric, and the transitions from electric to gas and electric and back to full electric again, are seamless. Good real-world fuel economy, especially in urban environments. Small gauges with unattractive faces. Most controls are logical except for the multi-buttoned climate controls. More attractive fabrics and colour schemes and chic piano black accents in the Tribute, with more prosaic finishes in the Escape. Comfortable seats and good legroom, front and rear. Adequate luggage space with the rear seat up, with good cargo capacity with it folded. Generally good fit and finish inside and out. The cabin door trims are undersized, leaving large amounts of painted steel visible between the trim and the door apertures.  

Reliability

Average reliability. Engine, electrical and transmission complaints received. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty (three years/80,000 km on the Tribute), five years/100,000 km on the powertrain on both. Ford covers the hybrid components on the Escape hybrid until either eight years or 160,000 km.

Comments

Escape

Except for a big, chrome-clad, trucky front end, the body is very clean, looking like a smaller version of the Explorer. The interior is very domestic Ford, with pleasant shapes, but a lot of hard plastic surfaces. The Escape is roomy, comfortable and has good cargo-carrying versatility. Two mainstream engines, a 170 horsepower 2.5L four and a 3L 240 horsepower V6, are available. Power can be sent to the front, or optionally, to all wheels, via a six-speed automatic transmission, or in the case of the front-wheel drive 2.5L car, a five-speed manual. The Hybrid gasoline engine churns out 153 horsepower with the electric motor providing 94 additional horsepower (for a combined nominal rating of 177 horsepower). Front-wheel drive is standard, with the on-demand all-wheel drive system optional. Properly equipped, maximum tow capacities are 682 kg (1500 lbs.) for the 2.5L and 1591 kg (3500 lbs) for the V6. Towing is not recommended for the Hybrid. Made in the United States.

Comments

Tribute

The Tribute, Mazda's spin on the Ford Escape has a more attractive grille, dash centre stack, fabrics and cabin colour combinations than the Ford Escape. Mazda markets GX, GS and GT trim levels. All-wheel drive is optional on the four-cylinder GX model with automatic transmission. There is no Hybrid version of the Tribute. Made in the United States.

Pricing

The Tribute is priced slightly under the Escape. Moving up a trim level on the Tribute represents very good value. All-wheel drive and the V6 are $2400 and $1600 options respectively on either version of this platform. The self-parking option is, at $450, a bargain. The Escape Hybrid Limited is price from $7700 to $11,000 higher than a conventional Escape with all-wheel drive. It is roughly $11,000 cheaper than the admittedly bigger, roomier, more sophisticated all-wheel drive Toyota Highlander Hybrid.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Escape was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Marginal for Rollover. Ranked 8th of the 14 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Ford Explorer

AVERAGE

FORD Explorer (AWD)

Body Styles: 4SW
Engines: 4L-V6 210 HP, 4.6L-V8* 292 HP  
Transmissions: 5A (V6), 6A* (V8)
City Fuel consumption: 16.6L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 4 (V6), Tier 2 Bin 5 (V8)

What's new

The Explorer goes for one more round as Ford readies its unibody successor.

Performance

The Explorer's five-speed automatic transmission and 4L OHC V6 combine to provide seamless performance and serene cruising, and it sounds nicer than the available V8. The V8 and six-speed automatic transmission work well together. The Explorer's ride is unsettled and handling is ponderous, no doubt exacerbated by the truck's great weight and height. The suspension's on-road performance doesn't live up to the promise of its sophisticated specifications. The Explorer's third row seat provides adequate space for children and small adults.

Reliability

Average reliability. Few complaints have been received about the current model but there have been insufficient sales to get a true picture of the Explorer's reliability. Purchase of an extended warranty from Ford is recommended if you plan to keep the truck past the warranty period. APA members can obtain a discount on the warranty if they buy a vehicle from a dealer recommended by the Association. Three year 60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.  

Comments

Except for the giant tin grille, the Explorer looks good for a mobile brick. Chic shapes, pleasing colour combinations, tasteful chrome trim and believable fake wood meld together to create an attractive cabin. While pleasing to look at, the cabin features too many hard plastic surfaces at this price level. Two engines, a 4L V6 and a 4.6L V8, continue for 2010. The V6 hooks up to a five-speed automatic transmission and the V8 is linked to an autobox with six speeds. Four-wheel drive is standard on the XLT and Eddie Bauer trim levels, with all-wheel drive optional on the XLT and standard on the Limited. Unless you need to tow a big load, Ford's sleek Flex is as roomy, is way nicer to drive and makes more sense in day-to-day driving than the Explorer. Properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 3234 kg (7115 lbs.). Made in the United States.  

Pricing

The XLT is the best value of the lineup. A fully equipped all-wheel drive XLT has most of the features contained in the Limited package, for about $6000 less. Rapid depreciation. Explorer sales fell 50 percent last year, to just over 1000 units.   

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain air bags are standard on all models. The Explorer was rated Good in the IIHS frontal test and Acceptable in the side and rear impact tests. Not rated for Rollover. Ranked 19th of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Buick Enclave

AVERAGE

GENERAL MOTORS

BUICK Enclave, CHEVROLET Traverse, GMC Acadia* (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.6L-V6 281 HP (Traverse), 288 HP* (Enclave, Acadia, optional on the Traverse)
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

All: A USB port has been added to all premium radios. Traverse: Bluetooth standard on all but the LS.

Acadia: Xenon lights and satellite radio are now standard. The Saturn Outlook expired with Saturn.

Performance

The V6 is responsive, but a transmission that is reluctant to downshift diminishes its spirit. Seamless all-wheel drive system. Comfortable ride but handling is hampered by excessive weight. High body sides and small windows restrict vision, especially to the rear. Clear instrumentation. Initial fright at being confronted with the vast array of control buttons needed to operate a plethora of features fades with familiarity. Comfortable front seats. The middle-seats fold compactly to permit access to the third row, but are mounted too close to the floor and are uncomfortable. The third row seat is a bit narrow for three people, and legroom in the last two rows is less than expected for such a massive vehicle. Interior materials and fit and finish are much better than GM did just a few years ago. Good cargo space.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. An extended warranty is recommended to cover any troubles that occur after the three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty has expired. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty on the Chevrolet and GMC, four years/80,000 km bumper to bumper on the Buick, 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain for all three vehicles. Installing smaller winter wheels prevents the tire pressure monitors from working. 

Comments

The GMC Acadia has a tailored but utilitarian look. The Traverse bears Chevrolet's horizontally split grille as well as a large third side window. With some very swoopy lines, the Buick Enclave is more obviously designed than its other platform mates, and takes some styling cues from the Buick Velite concept car shown a few years ago. The Enclave was in the vanguard of tall wagons created for customers who want to carry a full load of passengers and gear but don't want to drive something that looks like a garden shed. The cabins are all the same size, with seven and eight seat versions available. The GMC Acadia's cabin has clear displays, logical controls and attractive materials, but it is styled to look more industrial than the Traverse or the Enclave. The Enclave's opulent cabin demonstrates how much GM wants to recreate Buick as a domestic rival for Lexus. The Traverse cabin displays some of the styling themes first explored on the current Malibu. The sole engine will be GM's 3.6L V6 that produces 288 horsepower in the Enclave and Acadia, but 281 horsepower in the Traverse. Power is sent through the front wheels, or optionally to all wheels, via a six-speed automatic transmission. The optional all-wheel drive system operates in front-wheel drive most of the time, sending power to the rear wheels when slip is detected. Properly equipped, the Enclave can tow up to 2041 kg (4500 lbs.). Made in the United States.   

Pricing

GM charges about $3000 for all-wheel drive on any of these vehicles. Fully equipped, the Enclave and Acadia bear similar MSRPs, with the Traverse being about $3000 cheaper. The Buick's four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty gives it an edge over the Acadia.  

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. GM's big wagons were  rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 2nd of the 3 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Chevrolet Equinox

NEW

GENERAL MOTORS

CHEVROLET Equinox, GMC Terrain (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.4L-4* 182 HP, 3L-V6 264 HP
Transmission: 6A*
City fuel economy: 10.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

New second-generation Equinox. Terrain replaces the Pontiac Torrent.

Comments

The new Equinox reflects the au courant bulky lines and small side window styling trends. Restricted ¾ vision. The Terrain sports a squared off, bulked up look outside. Except for minor trim and instrument surrounds (square in the Chevrolet, round on the GMC), the two cars share the same cabin. The minor controls consist of too many buttons where just a few knobs would suffice. Hard, but matte-finished plastics are used throughout the cabin. Good passenger space, but the cargo space is narrow and shallow below the windows. Two engines, a 182 horsepower four and an optional ($2050) 3L V6 with 264 horsepower, can be teamed with a six-speed automatic. Driven briefly by the APA, the new Equinox 2.4L was fully competitive in terms of performance, ride, handling, comfort and refinement with the best vehicles in this segment. Properly equipped, the 2.4L Equinox can tow up to 680 kg (1500 lbs.), with the maximum being 1588 kg (3500 lbs) for the 3L V6. Made in Canada.

Pricing

All-wheel drive is a $1610 option ($1355 on GMC SLTs) on most trim levels. GMC's right angles come at a premium of anywhere from about $700 to around $2500 over the price of the equivalent Equinox. An Equinox 1LT AWD is priced $1405 higher than a Honda CR-V LX AWD, with an AWD Equinox 2LT bearing about a $400 higher MSRP than an AWD CR-V EX.

Reliability

Not rated, new model. Predicted weak points are the electrical system and the brakes. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/160,000 km on the powertrain. APA members can get a discount on an extended bumper to bumper warranty when buying it from a dealer recommended by the Association.

Safety

Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Equinox and Terrain models. The Equinox was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impacts. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 3rd of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC. 

Honda CR-V

ABOVE AVERAGE

HONDA CR-V (4WD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.4L-4 180 HP
Transmissions: 5A
City fuel consumption: 10.7L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

Mid-cycle remake features a more integrated frontal appearance. Horsepower increases from 166 to 180 horsepower. Enhanced equipment on all models. Prices reduced from $1200 to $1700 depending on the trim level.

Performance

The CR-V's 2.4L four is smooth, willing and delivers good performance. City Fuel mileage, while acceptable, is about the same as it is for a V6-powered Toyota RAV4. The transmission shifts decisively but it can be reluctant to downshift more than one gear at a time. The CR-V drives like a front-wheel drive car under most circumstances. The CR-V understeers during emergency maneuvers as well as on snow, a reaction most drivers are familiar with. The vehicle stability system is a bit slow to react once things get interesting. The CR-V's tight turning circle makes it maneuverable in town. The CR-V rides firmly, especially at the rear. Brake performance is good despite spongy pedal feel. The CR-V was ranked behind the Toyota RAV4 in an APA comparison road test

Reliability

Above average. Very reliable for the first five years; some drivetrain glitches can pop up after that. If you want to use steel wheels for winter tires, genuine Honda wheels are necessary because of the tire-pressure monitoring system which must be reprogrammed by a dealer (at $40 per time) whenever the tires are swapped. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments

Big, clear, conventional instrumentation. Cabin and cargo space are very good on the CR-V. Only one powertrain combination, a 2.4L four hooked to a five-speed automatic transmission, is offered. Front-wheel drive is standard on the LX and EX models. An on-demand all-wheel drive unit is standard on the EX-L and optional on other models. Properly equipped, the CR-V can tow up to 680 kg (1496 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

The all-wheel drive system is a $2000 option on the LX and EX models. Upgrading from the LX trim level to the EX represents very good value, as is the EX-L package. Leasing (48 months, $0. down) and finance (60 months, $0. down) are virtually the same for a base front-wheel drive CR-V LX as they are for a base front-wheel drive Toyota RAV4.   

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The CR-V was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rated Marginal for Rollover. Ranked 9th of the 14 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Honda Element

ABOVE AVERAGE

HONDA Element (FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.4L-4 166 HP
Transmission: 5A*
City fuel economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

No changes

Performance

The Element's 2.4L four reconciles the conflicting demands of performance, refinement, and economy. The engine is smooth, willing, and quick. The steering is precise, pleasantly weighted, and its inputs are taken up by a chassis that is surprisingly responsive for such a voluminous box. Front passengers find the ride clunky in town, and rear occupants, sitting on seats located right over the wheel wells, are reminded of how uncomfortable sitting in the back of a school bus really was. The driving position is good, and forward vision is panoramic, but there are plenty of blindspots to the sides, and the upright windshield suffers from reflections at night. The pillarless doors creak over large bumps and wind noise is a constant companion on the highway. The interior looks like an industrial design exercise. It has clear instrumentation and smooth-acting logical controls. The front seats are comfortable, but Honda gives rear seat versatility a priority over comfort, and rear passengers find the seat oddly-shaped and unsupportive. The pillarless doors seem like a good idea until you try to get into the back seat, which is well back from the rear door aperture. Getting a child into a car seat in the back of the Element is a real struggle. The rear seats can be laid flat, and are hinged to fold flat against the body sides, leaving a very large open space. Honda should have provided mop and bucket holders for this truck as the plastic covering on the floor gets dirty quickly and needs to be mopped clean. The Element is a qualified failure as a four-seat passenger vehicle, but as a compact fun-to-drive van with lots of space for gear, it is a success.

Reliability

Above average. If you want to use steel wheels for winter tires, genuine Honda wheels are necessary because of the tire-pressure monitoring system, which must be reprogrammed by a dealer (at $40 per time) twice a year when the wheels and tires are swapped seasonally. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Comments

Front wheel drive is standard on all models, with all-wheel drive optional on the EX model only. Honda's 2.4L four is linked to a five-speed automatic regardless of model or drive system. Properly equipped, the Element can tow 680 kg (1496 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Pricing

The EX all-wheel drive upgrade is priced to reflect its additional content. The SC model is overpriced. The Honda Element LX is priced $700 higher than a front-wheel drive CR-V LX. Monthly payments for an Element LX are about $100 more per month than those for a front-wheel drive CR-V LX, whether you finance (60 months, $0. down) or lease (48 months, $0. down). Element sales declined 50 percent last year, to under 1000 units.  

Safety

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


Honda Pilot

ABOVE AVERAGE

HONDA Pilot (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.5L-V6 250 HP
Transmission: 5A
City fuel economy: 13.1L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

No changes of note

Comments

The Pilot offers a roomy and versatile cabin. Legroom is plentiful in the first two rows, and acceptable for kids in the third row. Cargo space is tight with the third seat up, but ample otherwise. The cabin design is very trucky with many matte finished hard plastic surfaces. Big, clear gauges, but the centre stack has a lot of buttons to get used to. A gear selector with no position indicator bothered some drivers. An enormous centre console leaves little room for front seats, which are narrower than expected in such a massive vehicle. Rearward seat travel may be insufficient for really tall drivers. The rear tailgate window clangs when the door is closed. Smooth eager acceleration, a responsive transmission, compliant ride and confident handling describe the Pilot's on-road demeanor. That said, the more elegant Toyota Highlander is a nicer vehicle overall than the Pilot. The Pilot is powered by a 3.5L V6 with Variable Cylinder Management that shuts off two or three cylinders to save fuel when the no acceleration is required. Power reaches the front wheels, or optionally, all wheels, via a five-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the Pilot can tow up to 2045 kg (4500 lbs.). Made in Canada.

Reliability

Above average. The cylinder deactivation system doesn't appear to have developed any problems in long-term service. If you want to use steel wheels for winter tires, genuine Honda wheels are necessary because of the tire-pressure monitoring system must be reprogrammed by a dealer (at $40 per time) twice a year when the wheels and tires are swapped seasonally. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

Good value EX and EX-L trim upgrades. The Touring package is a bargain. Monthly payments for a Pilot LX all-wheel drive are $15 higher if you lease (48 months, $0 down) and $70 more if you finance (60 months $0. down) than they are for a base Toyota Highlander V6 all-wheel drive. Pilot sales declined 20 percent last year, despite being a new model.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain air bags. The Pilot was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 6th of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.  


Hyundai Santa Fe

ABOVE AVERAGE

HYUNDAI Santa Fe (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 2.4L-4 175 HP, 3.5L-V6* 268 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 6A*
City fuel economy: 10.5L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Mid-cycle Santa Fe remake includes a restyled grille, front and rear fascias and taillights. A 2.4L four replaces the previous 2.7L V6 base engine, with a 3.5L V6 bumping the old 3.3L V6 out of the engine bay on fancier Santa Fes. Two six-speed transmissions, a manual (2.4L front-wheel drive only) and an automatic, are new this year. A navigation system is now optional.

Performance

The 2.4L four is responsive in town but gets raucous and feels breathless when passing at highway speeds. The 3.5L V6 rivals Honda's best V6s in strength, smoothness, and stirring sounds. The six-speed automatic is well matched to the engine, shifts smoothly, downshifts eagerly and has enough gears to furnish sprightly acceleration and serene high-speed cruising. Steering, braking and handling are all at or near the top of the class in this segment. The ride is a bit too jiggly, especially on V6 models. Allowing more ride absorbency would not seriously detract from the Santa Fe's handling. Legroom is good front and rear, but the driving position but tall drivers found the driving position too high up and that the driver's seat had insufficient rearward travel. With a short bottom cushion and a bulging backrest, the front seats met with less than universal approval. The rear seat is well-placed and supportive. The cabin has clear instrumentation, logical controls, and good fit and finish. Exterior paint and panel fit are very well done. Cargo space is long, wide and very deep with the rear seat up, and generous with it folded. The Santa Fe is one of the best compact tall wagons available.

Reliability

Predicted reliability is average to above average. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.  

Comments

The revised Santa Fe offers a variety of powertrain options. The entry-level model is powered by a 2.4L four that produces only 10 fewer horsepower than the 2.7L V6 that was the base powerplant in 2009. The four can be hooked up to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic that is optional with the four and standard with the V6. The 2.4L engine sends power exclusively to the front wheels, with an "on-demand" all-wheel drive being available on V6 variants. Properly equipped, towing capacities for the Santa Fe are 907 kg (1995 lbs.) for the 2.7L V6 and 1591 kg (3491 lbs.) for the larger 3.5L. Made in the United States.

Pricing

Moving up a trim grade is very good value. Upgrading from the 2.4L to the 3.5L only costs only $1500 extra. Monthly finance payments (60 months $0. down) for a Limited are about $90 more than they are for leasing (48 months $0. down), making the Santa Fe one of the few Hyundais where leasing makes sense. Compared with a Toyota RAV4 V6 all-wheel drive Limited, a Santa Fe Limited costs about $50 more per month to lease (48 months, $0. down), but generates a $40 lower payment if financing (60 months, $0. down). Santa Fe sales increased by an astounding 80 percent in 2009.

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Santa Fes. The Santa Fe was rated Good and in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests. Not evaluated for rear impacts or Rollover. Ranked 17th of the 24 vehicles tested in its class, but this ranking may change once all test categories are complete. Standard ABS and ESC.


Hyundai Tucson

NEW

HYUNDAI Tucson (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 2.4L-4 176 HP
Transmissions: 6M, 6A*
City fuel economy: 9.8L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The second-generation Tucson is already on sale

Comments

Built on a 10 mm (.4 of an inch) longer wheelbase, the new Tucson is 75 mm (2.95 inches) longer, 25 mm (1 inch) wider and 45 mm (1.77 inches) lower than its predecessor. The new shape, with a rising beltline, a smaller window-to-body ratio and a bulked up look with plenty of character creases, follows current styling trends. The result is a design that is a cross between a Nissan Rogue and a Buick Enclave. The cabin, with clear gauges, logical controls, pleasing shapes and attractive materials, is quite chic. Cabin space is roughly the same as before, but cargo space is slightly reduced due to a less vertical tailgate. The sole engine when launched was a 2.4L four, but a 2L four may join the lineup eventually. Power reaches the front wheels (all-wheel drive is an option) via a six-speed automatic transmission in most cases, with a six-speed manual available on the front-wheel drive Tucson. Driven briefly by the APA, the Tucson was thought to be a worthy competitor for the Honda CR-V, one on the highest rated vehicles in the compact SUV class. Properly equipped, the towing capacity for the Tucson is 907 kg (1995 lbs.). Made in South Korea.   

Reliability

New vehicle. Not rated. Predicted above average reliability. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty on both vehicles.

Pricing

The price supplement to move from the GL to the GLS trim level reflects the value of the features added. The Limited package is slightly too pricey for the content it brings. All wheel drive will set you back $2200 on the GLS and $2400 on the GL, but is the sole drive system offered on the Limited. The Tucson Limited is priced about $900 less than a Honda CR-V EX-L. Monthly payments are about the same if leasing (48 months, $0. down), with finance payments (60 months, $0. down) for the Hyundai being roughly $25 less per month than they are for the Honda. Unlike most Hyundais, the monthly payment spread between leasing and financing a Tucson makes leasing an attractive proposition.    

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Tucsons this year. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


Hyundai Veracruz

ABOVE AVERAGE

HYUNDAI Veracruz (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 3.8L-V6 260 HP
Transmissions: 6A
City fuel economy: 13.9L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Revised colour selection

Performance

The 3.8L V6 delivers strong acceleration and flexibility allied to astonishing refinement. Noise from the wind and road are very well suppressed. The suspension copes poorly with big bumps or long undulations, but handles predictably. Good highway stability. Luxurious, fully-equipped cabin in the Limited model driven by the APA. Big, clear instrumentation and slick-acting controls. However, like many luxury vehicles with a plethora of features, the controls are on the verge of overwhelming and require a period of acclimatization. Comfortable seats and good room in the first and second rows, with the third row habitable for smaller adults for short hops and longer trips for children. The cargo space evaporates when the third seat is arrayed to accept passengers.

Reliability

Predicted reliability is above average. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

Comments

This model is spun off the variable-size platform than under pins various Hyundai products. The Veracruz is built on a 105 mm (4.12 inch) longer wheelbase, and is 165 mm (6.5 inches) longer, 55 mm (2.2 inches) wider and marginally taller than the Santa Fe. Power, derived from Hyundai's 3.8L V6, is sent to the front wheels or an electronic torque-on-demand all-wheel drive system via a six-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive unit operates in front-wheel drive most of the time, but sends power to the rear wheels when slip is detected, and can be locked on a 50/50 front-rear torque split. According to Hyundai, the Veracruz is being pitched against the Highlander and Pilot, but for style, finish and features, it competes with the Lexus RX 350 or the Acura MDX. Properly equipped, the Veracruz can tow up to 1588 kg (3500 lbs.). Made in South Korea.

Pricing

The Limited package overpriced by about $1100. The Veracruz Limited is more luxurious than a Honda Pilot EX-L RES, but is about $800 cheaper. The monthly lease payment (48 months, $0. down) for the Hyundai is $25 higher than for the Honda, but the finance payment (60 months, $0. down) for the Veracruz is roughly $150 lower than is would be for the Pilot. The Veracruz is a poor value lease.    

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The Veracruz was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 7th of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC. 


Kia Borrego

NOT RATED

HYUNDAI

KIA Borrego (4WD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 3.8L-V6 267 HP, 4.6L-V8 337 HP

Transmissions: 5A* (V6), 6A (V8)

City fuel economy: 13L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Standard Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, keyless go, trip computer and a rearview camera on all models. A navigation system is now optional.

Comments

Kia's new three-row Borrego replaces the Sorento as Kia's traditional heavy tow vehicle since the Sorento is now a conventional unibody soft-roader. Fronted by a Chrysler-like grille, the Borrego's design breaks no new design envelopes but is a neat and clean job. The cabin, with big clear gauges, reasonably coherent controls and good fit and finish, follows current Hyundai group practice. Power stems from either a 3.8L V6 or a 4.6L V8. LX models are rear-wheel drive with a part-time four-wheel drive system. EX models have a fully-automatic all-wheel drive mechanism. The Borrego's V6 pulls well but is noisy at a 100 km/h. Turbulent ride, sloppy handling and numb steering. Good visibility. Tall drivers feel cramped. Ill chosen seat heater settings. The Borrego is a curious entry into a declining market segment that other car companies are abandoning. Properly equipped, towing capacities for the Borrego are 2268 kg (5000 lbs.) for the V6 and 3402 kg (7500 lbs.) for the V8. Made in South Korea.

Reliability

New model, not rated. Five year/100,000 km warranty.

Pricing

Upgrading to the EX trim level is conspicuous value. The V8 is a $2500 option regardless of trim level. With only about 600 Borregos sold in Canada last year, it is hard to make a case for the truck. 

Safety

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

Kia Sorento

NEW

2011 KIA Sorento (FWD, AWD)

Body Style: 4SW

Engines: 2.4L-4 175 HP, 3.5L-V6* 276 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*

City fuel economy: 11.1L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The second-generation unibody Sorento joins the mainstream tall wagon segment.

Comments

The early release 20100 Sorento, built on a 10 mm (.4 of an inch) longer wheelbase, is 81 mm (3.2 inches) longer, the same width and 66 mm (2.6 inches) lower than its predecessor. While setting no new styling trends, the Sorento displays Kia's current frontal iconography and is a neat, contemporary styling job. The space efficiencies gained by moving to a unibody structure has enabled Kia to wedge a third row of seats into a vehicle little bigger than the first Sorento. Fronted by a dashboard stocked with big, clear gauges and straightforward controls, the cabin is a paragon of conservative, tasteful design. Two engines, a 2.4L four with 175 horsepower and a 276 horsepower 3.5L V6, are available. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the four, but most Sorentos will send power to the wheels (front or all) via a six-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the Sorento V6 can tow up to 1588 kg (3493 lbs.). Made in the United States.

Reliability

New car, not rated. Recent Kias have had average to above averge reliability. Five year 100,000 km warranty.

Pricing

Moving up a trim level represents excellent value on most Kias. However, the price gaps between trim levels on the Sorento are excessive for the content they contain.

Safety

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


Lexus RX350, RX400h

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

TOYOTA
LEXUS RX350 (AWD), RX450h (AWD)
Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.5L-V6 275 HP, 3.5L-V6 Hybrid 295 net HP (245 from the V6, the rest is from the electric motors).  
Transmission: 6A, CVT (450h)
City Fuel Economy: 11.6L/100 km (RX350), 6.6L/100 km (RX 450 H)
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5 (RX350), Tier 2 Bin 3 (RX450h)

What's new

No changes of note.   


Hybrid
Comments
Toyota's Hybrid Energy Drive system used in the RX450h can run the vehicle in full electric or a mixed gasoline-electric mode. This hybrid system uses technology to deliver a combination of strong performance, astonishing fuel economy (claimed 6.6L/100 km in the city), and low emissions. The 450h sends power to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission. Electric motors drive the rear wheels under acceleration or in poor traction conditions. Toyota claims that peak power of the combined gasoline-electric powertrain is 295 horsepower.

Regular model

Comments
The design of the new RX is easily identifiable as an RX but, conforming with au courant design trends, is visually bulkier, with smaller windows than before. Good paint and panel fit. The cabin has clear displays and logical controls. The dashboard is an elegant piece of sculpture, and while the interior styling is quite chic, it is a bit stark. A strip of wood or alloy trim where the door cappings and main door trims meet would do a lot to lift the visual austerity inside the RX. That said, materials quality and fit and finish are top notch. Comfortable seats and good legroom upfront, and adequate in the rear. The cargo bay is commodious with the rear seat up and roomy with it folded down. Properly equipped, the maximum towing capacity is 1587 kg (3491 lbs.). Made in Canada.

Reliability
New model, not rated. The previous model was very reliable. Four year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 6 years/110,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Pricing

Good value option packages.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The RX was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear crash tested. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 9th of the 15 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mazda CX-7

ABOVE AVERAGE

MAZDA CX-7 (FWD*, AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.5L-4* 161 HP, 2.3L-4T 244 HP
Transmission: 5A (2.5L), 6A (2.3L)
City fuel economy: 10.4L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Mid-cycle remake including a restyled front end, cabin updates and a new 2.5L front-wheel drive base model. All-wheel drive is now standard on the turbocharged CX-7.

Performance

The base 2.5L four delivers good performance in town and only feels winded when passing at highway speeds. The CX-7's 2.3L four exhibits some turbo lag but most owners will only notice the swift, sure response the engine delivers at suburban and highway speeds. The engine works well in conjunction with the six-speed automatic. If the engine has a failing, it is that it sounds very pedestrian. While some buyers expect a V6 at this price, the CX-7's turbo four provides ample performance, reasonable fuel economy, and avoids the "anchor-in-the-nose" feeling some V6 tall wagons exhibit. Ride, handling, steering and brakes are all very good. The CX-7 is a splendid open-road touring car. The front seats are substantial and supportive, and while the rear seat cushion looks a bit low, adults find the rear seat comfortable over large distances. Good air conditioning. Substantial, versatile cargo area.   

Reliability

Average reliability. Complaints have been received regarding the air conditioner and electronic engine controls. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, five years/100,000 km on the powertrain. If you use steel wheels for winter tires, the tire-pressure monitors will have to be reprogrammed twice a year at $40 a visit if you want to retain the monitor function. 

Comments

The new front-wheel drive 2.5L CX-7 base model hooks up exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission. The turbo four sends its power to all wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the CX-7 2.5L can tow up to 680 kg (1496 lbs.), while the 2.3L turbo can tow up to 907 kg (1995 lbs.). Made in Japan.

Pricing

The GX and GS Luxury packages are excellent value, as is upgrading to the GT trim level. All-wheel drive is standard on the turbocharged GS and GT models. Lease payments (48 months, $0. down) are nearly as high as finance payments (60 months, $0. down), so leasing a CX-7 is not an option this year. The GX with the Luxury package is priced $2500 less than a Honda CR-V EX-L. The Honda beats the Mazda on monthly lease payments (48 months, $0. down) by about $100, but finance payments (60 months, $0. down) are about $75 less per month for the Mazda than for the Honda. Comparing a CX-7 GT with Navigation with an Acura RDX Tech, the Mazda is roughly $1700 cheaper, with monthly finance (60 months, $0. down) payments of about $150 less than they are for the Acura. Leasing, however is a different story, with the Acura lease monthly (48 months, $0. down) coming in around $75 less per month than the payment for the Mazda. CX-7 sales dropped about 25 percent last year, but the new GX base model may interest a wider group of buyers this year.

Safety

Side curtain airbags are standard. The CX-7 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Marginal in the rear impact test. Rollover not evaluated. Ranked 13th of the 24 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mazda CX-9

ABOVE AVERAGE

MAZDA CX-9 (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.7L-V6 DOHC 273 HP
Transmission: 6A
City fuel economy: 14L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

Mild facelift outside and an updated cabin inside. Standard active headrests, heated seats and tire pressure monitors. Blind spot monitoring, rearview camera, satellite radio and Bluetooth standard on the GT.

Performance

The CX-9 is a longer spin-off of the Ford Edge which itself derives from the old Mazda 6. The strong, smooth Ford-designed 3.7L V6 is well-matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The drivetrain is very quiet except during strong acceleration, when it emits a mechanically refined bark. Impressive combination of an absorbent ride and confident handling. Clear instrumentation and logical controls are housed in an elegant dash that fronts a chic and avant-garde cabin. Though there are a lot of hard plastic parts in the cabin, and the windshield pillar trim looks cheap, the shapes, accents and finishes of the CX-9's cabin are refreshingly contemporary. The huge centre console was liked and loathed by equal numbers of people. Some liked its sporty appearance but others felt hemmed in by its bulk. Comfortable seating in the first and second rows. Middle row legroom becomes tight if the seat is moved forward to increase third-row legroom. Third row room is reasonable for children and smaller adults. Ingress is not too bad, but egress is tough for adults. Cargo space is limited when the third seat is arrayed to accept passengers. Good audio system and an easy-to-use navigation system.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. If you use steel wheels for winter tires, you will need to have your tire-pressure monitors re-programmed twice per year, at about $40 per visit.

Comments

Properly equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 1588 kg (3501 lbs.). Made in Japan.

Pricing

The GS Luxury (the best value of the lineup) and the GT are worth the supplements asked for them. A DVD player is not available independent of the Navigation and Luxury packages. Consult an aftermarket specialist who can supply a DVD player at a reasonable cost. A loaded CX-9 GT has an MSRP more than $10,000 less than that of an Acura MDX Elite. The Acura is cheaper to lease (48 months, $0. down), by about $60, but payments (60 months, $0. down) for the Mazda are nearly $400 less per month. CX-9 sales dropped 40 percent last year, to around 1000 units.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The CX-9 was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact test. Rear and Rollover impacts not evaluated. Ranked 18th of the 24 vehicles in its class, but this rating may change once all test categories have been completed. Standard ABS and ESC.


 

NOT RATED

MERCEDES-BENZ GLK (AWD)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 3.5L-V6 268 HP
Transmission: 7A
City fuel economy: 13.3L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

Comments

Based on the Mercedes C-Class sedan, the GLK competes with the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60. With odd proportions and an extreme angularity, the GLK's exterior styling is controversial, as is its blocky, 80s style cabin design. That said, the car is carefully constructed outside and in, and is further proof of the return to quality Mercedes began with the 2005 C-Class facelift. Clear instruments and mostly logical controls unless the vehicle is equipped with the Command option. Poorly located turn signal and cruise control levers continue a long-term Mercedes tradition. Comfortable seats front and rear, but rear legroom is very tight. The GLK shines on the road. Its smooth, flexible V6 is joined to a slick –shifting, responsive seven-speed automatic transmission. The ride-handling compromise is particularly well judged. Strong brakes. Twenty inch winter tires can cost up to $600 each, but you can downsize to 17 inch rims on 235-60-17 tires. Properly equipped, the GLK can tow up to 1588 kg (3484 lbs.). Made in Germany.

Reliability

Not rated. Expensive servicing. Below average reliability is expected in the long term. Four year/80,000 km warranty.

Pricing

Pricing is aggressive; with a loaded GLK priced about $2500 less than a similarly equipped Volvo XC60 T6. Lease and finance monthly payments for the GLK are less than they are for the Volvo or for the Audi Q5.

Safety

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


Mitsubishi Outlander

ABOVE AVERAGE

MITSUBISHI Outlander (FWD, AWD*)

Body Style: 4SW
Engine: 2.4L-4 DOHC 168 HP, 3L-V6 SOHC* 230 HP
Transmission: CVT*, 6A
City fuel economy: 11.2L/100 km
ESC: Standard
Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's New

Mid-cycle remake with a new front end and a revised rear fascia. The V6 engine gains 10 horsepower but now requires premium fuel. Super All Wheel control with an active front differential is new to the XLS V6 this year.

Performance

While the V6 delivers strong acceleration and relaxed cruising, it sounds breathless when extended. Smooth transmission. Ride and handling are well-judged for this type of vehicle. High noise levels spoil refinement. Modern cabin styling. The dashboard layout is generally straightforward and logical. However, some found the main instruments, resting at the bottom of deep tubes, hard to read. The three-dial climate controls feel cheap. The headliner and sun visors look downmarket at this price point. The large front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seat cushions are a bit on the flat side, but the seats are generally supportive, and can be adjusted fore and aft to favour rear seat legroom or cargo capacity. Good legroom, front and rear. The available third-row seat is reminiscent of a rumble seat from the 1930s, but without the legroom. Good cargo capacity, with a very low cargo bed thanks to the rear bumper that folds down like an old-time tailgate. Very good audio equipment. The overall good performance of the Outlander puts it just behind the best vehicles in its segment.

Reliability

Above average with few complaints received thus far. Very expensive replacement parts. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 10 years/160,000 km on the powertrain, and 5 years unlimited mileage roadside assistance.  

Comments

Two engines, a 2.4L four and a 3L V6 are available in the Outlander. All-wheel drive is optional with the four and standard on V6 Outlanders. The four is hooked up to a CVT, with the V6 linked to a six-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, towing capacities are 680 kg (1496 lbs.) for the 2.4L and 1588 kg (3494 lbs.) for the V6. Made in Japan.

Pricing

AWD, a $2500 option on four-cylinder Outlanders, is standard on V6-powered models. Most option packages and trim upgrades are good value. An Outlander ES with all-wheel drive is priced roughly $900 less than a Honda CR-V EX all-wheel drive. The Outlander XLS is priced about $1700 less than a RAV4 Limited V6. Outlander sales increased by a robust 30 percent in 2009.  

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. The Outlander was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests and Acceptable in the rear impact test. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 7th of the 14 vehicles in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.