For the last year or so Hyundai has been on a bit of a tear with new models coming out every few months – each one significantly better looking than the model it replaces. The Santa Fe was the first model to get the new treatment followed by a completely new model line-up in the case of the Genesis Coupe and Sedan, followed by the all-new Sonata that has earned numerous awards around the world. More new vehicles are coming in the next few months, but this week’s Road Test is the highly anticipated small CUV, the Tucson.
It’s been a couple of years since I last drove a RAV4, but to be honest I don’t remember a thing about it… Toyota gave it a redesign with numerous upgrades for the 2009 model year, so I thought I’d give it another go. Other than the re-design, there were two other situations that made it a perfect time to take the RAV4 out for a spin…
The second generation of Suzuki’s largest SUV – the XL7 – is a considerable departure for the company. Following the lead of other manufacturers, Suzuki has moved the XL7 up-market in both quality and size, putting it into the intermediate SUV category. Using a unibody design, it more resembles a luxury CUV (Cross-over Utility Vehicle), than a true SUV (the previous XL-7 was a rear-wheel-drive SUV on a truck chassis). The all-new XL7 is a front-wheel-drive vehicle that offers all-wheel drive, and a Suzuki-built 3.6-litre, 24-valve DOHC V-6 engine with variable valve timing (up from a 2.7 litre V-6 in the previous model).
Honda’s 3rd generation of the very popular CR-V is by far the best looking one yet. As has become the norm in the automotive kingdom, each succeeding generation of vehicles brings with it improved safety, luxuries and dimensions. Honda hasn’t diverged from the norm in their design of the CR-V. One thing that stands out in this re-design is that this just isn’t a Honda CR-V, but an Acura CR-V. This is a baby Acura SUV in every way imaginable – including the price. From the intoxicating smell of the leather interior to the quality feel throughout, Honda has really kicked it up a notch with the 2007 Acura – I mean Honda CR-V.
Honda’s 3rd generation of the very popular CR-V is by far the best looking one yet. As has become the norm in the automotive kingdom, each succeeding generation of vehicles brings with it improved safety, luxuries and dimensions. Honda hasn’t diverged from the norm in their design of the CR-V. One thing that stands out in this re-design is that this just isn’t a Honda CR-V, but an Acura CR-V. This is a baby Acura SUV in every way imaginable – including the price. From the intoxicating smell of the leather interior to the quality feel throughout, Honda have really kicked it up a notch with the 2008 Acura – I mean Honda CR-V.
When I first saw the MX-Crossport Concept Vehicle (now known as the Mazda CX-7) at the Toronto International Auto Show 18 months ago, I thought it was a nice looking, but impractical SUV/Concept vehicle. I was somewhat surprised when I saw the actual pre-production version at this past February’s Auto Show. It doesn’t look like any other SUV on the road today. It’s not boxy and generic-looking, it’s actually more Sport than Utility looking. From the front, it looks a lot like the Mazda RX-8 sports car – especially if you’re looking at it through your rear-view mirror. It certainly looks like its got zoom – but does it have Zoom-Zoom? Oh yeah, it goes like stink!
Hyundai’s smallest SUV, the Tucson was released just last year. Although smaller than the Santa Fe, its pricing is very closely matched to its big brother. That will probably change when the all-new, bigger 2007 Santa Fe comes out later this year. First Impressions Hyundai has come a long way since they came to North America back in the mid-80’s. Mimicking the Japanese manufacturers, Hyundai have always offered quality at a low cost, and just like the Japanese, as the quality of the vehicles and materials improved over the years – so the cost of purchasing the vehicle has moved in-step. Having said that, the cost of a Hyundai SUV is still less than comparable vehicles from Honda, Nissan and Toyota. So they’re cheaper to purchase – but are they any good?
Attention Auto Manufacturers: If you cannot build an SUV that as a bare minimum beats the quality, fit and finish – and with the same safety and standard features of the Suzuki Grand Vitara – then you’re not doing it right! THIS is the new benchmark all other small and midsize SUV’s have to be judged against. I’ve driven quite a few SUV’s over the past couple of years, but the Grand Vitara really does stand out like no other.