My wife just LOVES the Kia Soul – she thinks it was made just for her… I like it a lot, and every time I drive one I come away impressed – reluctantly so. For me the Soul is one of those vehicles that I have a love/hate relationship with. I don’t want to love it, but I kinda do. It’s enjoyable to drive, fun and quirky enough to be different from all the other blah cars driving up and down the road in boring silver or snore gold. The TV commercials tell us it is fun to drive and to be seen in… and damn-it – they’re right!!
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.
The Toyota Venza appears at a time when we’re inundated by CUV’s (Crossover Utility Vehicles) of all shapes and sizes. So it begs the question: Do we need another CUV in an already crowded market? After a week with it.. I’d say…. Yes – there is definitely a place for the Venza, and yes this is one that you should definitely put on your shopping list!
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.