November 2010

New for 2011 and Notable

by The Car Family

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There are a lot of changes for , but most involve tidying up existing models and a shot of adrenaline here and there to get a tinkle from the buying public. However, there are a few that might create a rash on your credit limit with great fuel mileage, family oriented designs and speed limit challengers.. As always, with The Car Family, we disclose what we own so as not to hide any bias. In the fleet are an Oldsmobile, Saab, Lexus, and Mercedes.

Acura TSX Sport Wagon is a glamourized Honda Accord wagon with a 2.4-liter 204-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. A good choice for the family that doesn’t want the stigma of driving a mini-van.

Aston Martin Cygnet is difficult to portray. It has a very upgraded interior, trademark front and rear treatments, and a smallish engine producing just enough thrust to make it a little fun. Priced in the near luxury range. Sort of cute.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage has a gas hoggish 6.0-liter V12 engine with 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, and costs around $120,000. Aston Martin also is offering a four door sedan. The Rapide is expensive, fuel swilling, and beautiful. They won’t let family oriented writers test it so we can’t offer any opinion on its real life virtues.

Audi is on a hot streak. They have a good product and treat the family press fairly meaning that aren’t afraid of you learning the truth. That said, the Audi A7 Sportback is coming and it should redefine the segment. The stunning RS5 is already being sold elsewhere and could be an instant classic. The Audi A8 gets a new look, but for families we much prefer the Q5. We recently tested the A4 and felt it was the equal to the 3 Series BMW, but better looking. Great fuel mileage, too.

Bentley has become arrogant with their dealings with family oriented reviewers. In the past they were bargains, but lately they just added more horsepower, a few tidbits to attract conspicuous consumption crowd. The sedan is family friendly, but the gas mileage isn’t. If you can afford the, payments, insurance and fuel, the sedan is a good used vehicle to consider as they depreciated quickly. The Mulsanne is new and can be yours for $300,000. The Continental GTC Supersports Convertible has 621 horsepower and is very fast. If you have the $300,000 this might be the convertible to own and express your support of the British worker and German owner.

BMW X1 is a small SUV built on the 3-Series platform. s should be in the mid $30,000 range. How different it will be from the X3 remains to be seen, but it could be more nimble and quicker.

BMW ActiveHybrid 7 combines a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine and an electric motor for excellent performance while getting about 20 mpg in a very large car. To save on gas you must first pony up over $100,000

We always liked the Buick Regal. It was comfortable, rode well, and gave us good economy and reliability. It wasn’t fun, but it was ready when you were. Buick has brought back the Regal and gave it some European DNA from its Opel line. The power is probably going to be the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and GM’s excellent 6-speed automatic transmission. Note, fans of the lamented Grand Nationals, the the lightweight Regal might make an excellent fit for a turbocharged engine. The base model is probably going to be in the low-$20,000 range.

The CTS Coupe could be the flagship for Cadillac. It looks good and there is no reason to believe that it isn’t going to be available with engines from mild to wild. Prices should start under $40,000.

Far more practical, and if well marketed it could be a surprise hit for Chevrolet, is the Cruze with a price in the mid-teens. Chevrolet is going to plant a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine in this price leader with an optional higher output unit available. Look for gas mileage in the 30 mpg range in daily driving.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is a reinforced version of the Camaro now on sale. With pricing expected to be in the area of $30,000 this could ignite the pony car war between Ford and Chevrolet again. Power for the Camaro should be the potent 3.6-liter 304-horsepower V6 and the gas 19 mpg, 6.2-liter 426 horsepower V8.

Chevrolet Volt has oozed press for two years so it better be good or else. This extended-range hybrid is said to be capable of going 40 miles on just battery power and uses a small internal combustion engine to recharge the batteries and additional power. Look for tax incentives to help build interest for this $40,000 White Knight.

 Chrysler 200 is the new Sebring, which could be a good thing. The new look sedan would include a variety of powerplants and a sharper image. Engine choices should be fairly conservative with a four cylinder and V6 as the motivators. Prices probably be in the low $20,000 arena.

 Chrysler’s 300 is a big seller and the company has cleaned up the previous models Bentley like stance and snow plow front end with a much sleeker style. The possibility of a V6 with nearly 300 horsepower would make sense, but there is still the Hemi to consider. Look for prices in the mid-$20,000 range.


Dodge Charger is slightly tidied up both outside and in with the “Pentastar” 3.6-liter engine the main force. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 will return with cylinder deactivation technology available. All wheel drive is also offered with prices in the mid-$25,000 ballpark.

 Dodge Durango is an old fashioned big, heavy SUV. Look for a price around $30,000 and a large interior with three rows of seating. Probably not good on fuel and probably not swift with the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. If you want to haul order the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine.

 Ferrari’s 599 GTO is priced at $460,000 and up. For that you get 6.0-liter V12 front mounted engine driving the rear-wheels with a top speed over 200 mph. You also get a happy car insurance sales person.

We have never liked the crude ride and problematic of the Ford Explorer and we hope this nearly $30,000 new version well erase those images from our mindset with better its fuel economy and sharper handling. Since we think highly of the newish Ford Flex and Edge we know Ford is up to the task. The Explorer is going to be powered by the same engines as the others with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder a possibility.

Ford Fiesta. This is probably the best small car Ford has ever produced. It is youth oriented with colors and interior treatments that appeal to young drivers. A 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with 120 horsepower should enable the lightweight Fiesta to earn 38 mpg credentials. Not bad for about $14,000.

Honda CR-Z Hybrid is a sporty coupe with gas mileage figures of 39 mpg. We would have loved this car with just a gas engine, but Honda has brought into this world an interesting alternative. The problem is that the extra weight takes away some of the fun. Still, this is a car for those who love to drive and are frugal. The 1.5-liter 122-horsepower gasoline engine coupled to Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist is enjoyable for $19,000

The Honda Odyssey has been recognized as a superior minivan for years, but it never had the utility of the Dodge and Chrysler vans. This all new version is sporty looking inside and out and the engine has even better gas mileage squeezed out of it. The 3.5-liter V6 engine comes with 248 horsepower and is rated at 28 mpg on the road. That is awesome, considering its size. Look for a base version with a 5-speed automatic to start around $28,000 and the shinier model, with a 6-speed automatic, to push well into the $30,000 range with any sort of options. All new look should draw customers.

The Equus is a truly big gamble from Hyundai as it moves this Korean manufacture into the luxury car segment by offering a $50,000 plus sedan with a potent 385horsepower V8 engine and features aplenty. Is this the right car at the right time remains a question, but there is no question that Hyundai is on a winning streak.

 Hyundai Elantra is a very economical vehicle that has good looks, good gas mileage, and a good warranty. It is probably the biggest sleeper in the under $15,000 segment, and if you want they are even offering a base model for less. The car’s fuel mileage rating of 38 mpg comes from its 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower. A well priced commuter car, family car, second car, and go to college car.

The Hyundai Sonata is priced under $20,000 and for that you get one of the better equipped cars in this market segment that is usually dominated by cars from Ford and Japan. The Sonata is sharp looking and its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine makes an outstanding 198 horsepower. You can also order a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine or hybrid, but the base engine is our favorite.

 Infiniti IPL G Coupe is a vehicle that frankly surprises us. Not so much its performance, which should be good with a 348 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine, a stern suspension and better brakes, but why pay more when the G Coupe is nearly as good in all ways? Anyway, Infiniti is now bringing a performance based niche vehicle to market for about $45,000 and that should appeal to early adopters eager to test the performance of Infiniti’s IPL arm.

 The Infiniti G25 is an attempt by Infiniti to expand its market to those who love the handling and interior appointments of the more expensive G37, but don’t need the extra horsepower or cost. Call it the base Infiniti as it is priced about $30,000. Gas mileage figures to average around 24 mpg on premium fuel for the 2.5-liter V6 with 218 horsepower powerplant.

Well now, Infiniti has redone its powerful M sedan and made it slicker and a bit nasty with an available 3.7-liter V6 engine creating 330 horsepower or a ground pounding 5.6-liter V8 with 420 horsepower. Even with a new 7-speed automatic transmission both versions will be hard pressed to get 20 mpg in mixed driving. Prices should be in the mid-$40,000 range. The luxury car field has never been more compelling.

And there is the Jaguar XJ with its slick exterior and interior and two potent engines to tempt your driver’s license points. The 5.0-liter V8 engine has 385 horsepower and the supercharged version produces about 510 horsepower if you go with the Supersport option. Why not. Priced just south of $70,000.

Jeep Grand Cherokee is a big gamble for Chrysler. This is a core product in its line-up and one that must be good to keep the company from doing Yugo. The interior is sharp, the drivetrain includes a strong 3 .6-liter V6 engine making 290 horsepower, a goodly amount of cargo room, and much improve ergonomics. Everything has been improved including a “Selec-Terrain” feature that allows drivers to choose from five pre-programmed settings depending on road conditions. The optional 5.7-liter V8 ups the towing capacity to 7,400 pounds. Easily the best Grand Cherokee ever and priced around $30,000.

For ten grand less you can order the new Jeep Wrangler with a much improved interior and ride. Everything is better, but the design is still unique so not to disappoint the clientele.

The Kia Optima is a looker, no kidding. This sub-$20,000 sedan is loaded with standard features and comes with two new and interesting powerplants this year. A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and a hybrid option could make Civic owners a little shy.

Kia has also upgraded its Forte by offering a 5-Door. You can order this sharp looking, well under $20,000 bargain with a a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 156 horsepower or a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower and more motor choices are possible.

 Kia’s Compact SUV is the Sportage and this year it sharper all around. The
2.4-liter 176-horsepower 4-cylinder engine is economical and frisky and its priced just over $18,000.

For a couple of grant more you can order the new Kia Sorento with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine or the 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6.

We loved the Toyota Supra, but the Lexus LFA is no Supra, especially priced at $375,000. Of course, the LFA is other worldly when in comes to Toyota as the car has carbon-fiber bodywork, a V10 engine with 552 horsepower, and you can only lease them.

 Lexus CT 200h is an interesting consideration. The hybrid hatchback uses a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder hybrid engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. Look at it as a sporty Prius. Priced under $30,000.

The Lincoln MKX is a crossover that uses a potent 3.7-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and improved suspension and a plethora of luxury items to entice SUV buyers. Priced just under $40.000.

Lincoln’s MKZ Hybrid is really worthwhile with a staggering fuel mileage estimate of over 40 mpg in town and 36 on the road. The engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid and is combined with an electric motor to create 191 horsepower. This could easily be the car of the year for about $34,000.

Lotus Elise is the ultimate niche vehicle trying to emerge from that niche. They are offering a wider range of engines, including a supercharged version and there are hints the company might be experimenting with more environmentally friendly versions of this lightweight flyer which would be a good idea because these are not high mpg vehicles despite their size. The SC is the fastest version with 0 to 60 times under five seconds. Of course, handling well be outstanding and a new ABS promises superior braking.

Lotus Evora is new with a 2+2 passenger cabin that offers more room without sacrifising zip. Lotus is planning on bringing out five models this year all great handling, sleek, and fast.

What, an even smaller Mazda? Yep, the Mazda2 is a basic economy car with a 1.5-liter 100-horsepower 4-cylinder engine with fuel economy in the 32 mpg range. Priced under $14,000.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet is a four-seat convertible with a well insulated power soft-top and either a 5.5-liter V8 engine with 382 horsepower or a 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower. Priced under $60,000. Not much completion in this price range for a topless touring car.

Gullwing doors are back and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG has them as well as our favorite bad boy engine, the 6.3-liter V8 with its 563 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. If you can afford
$185,000 or so, this might even be looked at as an investment.

 A Big MINI, the Countryman is a sort of cute utility vehicle with all wheel drive and room for five, sort of. Could be a good value, but at $30,000 it might be a rare sight on the road. Engine choices probably the same as the MINI.

Another all electric vehicle is coming in the form of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. This car has been for sale elsewhere and so should be well proven. It can go 80 mph but that will probably cut down on its expected range between charging of 80 to 100 miles. A long charging time may slow sales of this $30,000 sedan.

 Mitsubishi’s Outlander Sport comes with front-wheel drive or all wheel drive and can be ordered with a continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters. The upscale SE comes with automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated front seats, cruise control, upgrade stereo, and a keyless entry system. The base engine is a four cylinder making 148 horsepower for about $19,000.

 Nissan Leaf is electric, in case you haven’t heard. The 80 kilowatt electric motor can push this sedan to 90 mph, although the expected range of 100 miles well be diminished. As with all electric passenger vehicles, look for a federal tax credit to help defray the cost and that could be worth $7,500 on the $33,000 early adapter.

Its no Juke, Nissan is bringing to market yet another SUV. This one is smaller and unique in its styling. It rides high, has five doors, and should be rambunctious with a 180-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. Priced under $20,000.

 The Quest minivan from Nissan is going to challenge the Honda Odyssey for looks, attitude, and performance. Look for a sharp exterior, the potent 3.7 V6 engine and power everything. It will probably handle better, but not have as many family friendly features as the Chrysler.

Saab is back, thankfully. This is a great name in the industry and deserves a fresh look. The
9-5 has a chopped like top, and looks very modern. Engines should continue to be the same with a fuel sipping and plenty fast turbocharged four cylinder with 180 horsepower and a 2.8-liter V6 with 300 horsepower. Pricing is just under $50,000. This could be another cult car just as the older 9-3 hatchback and the 2006 anniversary edition convertible.

Scion iQ is a small car that Toyota is bringing to market to do battle with those interested in fuel mileage and basic transportation with a flair. The 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine is attached to a continuously variable transmission. Look for fuel mileage in the 40 mpg plus range and prices to start well under $14,000.

smart fortwo is adding to its offerings with an all-electric model and a fortwo+2 with a rear seat and four doors. Prices should be under $15,000 and that’s a lot of cute for the money.

 Suzuki Kizashi Sport has a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and a sport-tuned suspension and it is sharp handling. With 185 horsepower and a manual transmission this could be fun for under $24,000

 As always, the Toyota Avalon is simply a Lexus in disguise. It looks sharper now and is more streamlined. The 3.5-liter V6 engine with 268 horsepower is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission tuned for obedience and not free spirits. Should be priced under $33,000 so not to step on the toes of the Lexus ES 350.

 All new, sort of, the Toyota Sienna looks like the previous version that has gone through a frugal modernization. We like the look and the many trim levels that enables a family to select the model that suits their needs. There is still an all wheel drive option. The base engine is fine if you don’t load it up and head for the mountains as its 2.7-liter 187-horsepower 4-cylinder is stout. The 3.5-liter 266-horsepower V6 is an option. Prices start around $25,000.

 Volkswagen’s Jetta is a bargain at under $17,000. A bit larger, but with the some of the same engine selections as the current Jetta, this model seems aimed at the family on a budget. The more you pay for the Jetta the larger the engine. Expect the fuel-economy to be in the mid-26 mpg range for most powerplants.

Volkswagen Beetle is new. In fact so new that we can only surmise it well be larger, quicker, and hopefully, quirkier. It should be priced well under $20,000 unless you want a hotter version. Worth the wait if this is your meat.

 Volkswagen Touareg is a real off road SUV. This model can be ordered with a hybrid drivetrain that can create 375 horsepower while still delivering over 23 mpg in mixed driving. In reality, this is a superior vehicle to the Porsche Cayenne and costs less.

 Volvo is now owned by a Chinese company, but they would be foolish to change the safety image that this marque has nurtured over the years. The S60 is a good looker and can be ordered with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6 making 300 horsepower. Pricing should be well below $40,000, but the safety features make it well worth it for a family. Volvo is a class leader when it comes to pedestrian safety as well and some models actually stop the car when a person is detected in front of the vehicle.

Toyota will reveal its new electric vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week, the RAV4 EV Concept.The concept marks further progress towards RAV4 EV being brought to market in the USA in 2012. The new concept combines the current RAV4 compact SUV with an electric powertrain from Tesla Motors. In May, Toyota announced it would co-operate with the American company in the development of electric vehicles and parts, and in EV production systems and engineering. By working together, Toyota states that it aims to learn from Tesla’s EV technology capabilities. RAV4 EV is an effort by Toyota  to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut CO2 emissions by developing more efficient and alternative powertrain technologies, they said.

Lexus IS 350: Little Car with a Big Heart

by The Car Family

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Lexus has produced its IS line to cater to those who wanted something trim, quick, and easy on fuel. They succeeded. The problem is that the competition also succeeded. Lets call it a push. The Infiniti G37 and BMW 3 Series have similar pricing and are more playful, if less plush.

The rear-wheel-drive 2010 Lexus IS 350 has a big heart in the form of a 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower that pushes energy through a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. It can get to 60 mph in under six seconds while still achieving fuel mileage in the range of 21 mpg in mixed driving on premium gas. On paper all of this looks good, but when driven on a daily basis the 350 isn’t all that enthusiastic about being driven over rough roads and its playful nature sometimes can be trying when in traffic because it reacts quickly to anything but a light touch on the accelerator.

The engine noise inside the car is excessive, but it does make you feel fast and that’s what counts to many potential buyers who like the idea of a frisky compact with luxury trappings and the safety of the Lexus quality ratings.

Lexus has also added some unique features that will challenge those still reading their VCR programming manuals. The Safety Connect telematics service reports collisions, gives a signal to police if the Lexus is stolen and offers the reassurance of emergency on-call service.

Perhaps what is best about this vehicle is that it is a Lexus and, dare we say it, an entry level Lexus with a potent engine, stern suspension, and an attractive, if not overly luxurious interior. It is certainly a consideration for the young at heart and those with well endowed parents.

Mom’s view: Too small, with a cramped back seat, limited trunk space, and an exhaust that growls at the slightest whisper of go pedal pressure. Safety wise there is a plethora of good things such as antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, a tire pressure monitor, side curtain airbags and an optional Pre-Collision System with adaptive cruise control that stiffens the suspension, tightens the front seatbelts and initializes brake assist if a collision is eminent. Great brakes and test scores have been good.

The interior is claustrophobic for large bodies. The wood and aluminum trim are nice, but, as the engine, it is a compromise. Lexus indicates that you can get five in this sedan, but those in the back seat better be short. The usual great electroluminescent instruments lights make reading the gauges easy day or night and the interior lighting is okay, too. We didn’t test one, but Lexus has indicated that an all-wheel-drive version of the IS 350 is onsale for those who live in the mountains or want to challenge the Cajon Pass in winter.

Dad’s view: The 350 wants to go right now, but when pressed it isn’t as inspiring as it sounds. Sometimes the automatic transmission dims the fun, but basically it is the fact that this 3500 pound Lexus appears to be an effort to be a compromise. It is quick, no doubt, but the steering, suspension, and handling are all just a bit tender for the enthusiast and a bit harsh for the tenderfoot. A very tight turning circle makes it a joy to park even in compact spaces while the air conditioning and heating units worked rapidly and well. I liked the IS 350, I just didn’t love it.

Young working male’s view: Good stereo, but not great. Go with the optional 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system. There is a six-CD changer and satellite radio to go with Bluetooth and a USB audio port. A global position system works with real-time traffic and weather. The voice recognition is fairly good. The interfaces are okay, but they aren’t the best. I enjoyed this vehicle and liked urging it on when the road was to its liking. Since I haul a lot of junk in my daily job at it wouldn’t suit my needs. Besides, I like the better ride of the ES Lexus better, and for less money.

Young working woman’s view: There is a lot to like inside this sedan. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, foglamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, eight-way power front seats, and leather surfaces. Two option packages can add luxury to the 350 or make it sportier. As a final blow to your credit limit, the Lexus can be equipped with everything from the Lexus Pre-Collision System to go fast pieces. You can drive the price of this little devil into the $40,000 range without any problem so be warned. I liked it as the IS 350 seemed to bridge the divide between the BMW crowd and the Acura owners. It has a touch more dignity, but can be a playful. Not a bad car for a young professional, but the less powerful IS 250 is more practical and looks the same. Nah, for four grand more you can harvest 100 more horsepower with the 350 IS. Can you say higher resale?

Family conference: What bothered us the most is why for a few thousand dollars less you wouldn’t buy the larger ES 350 with a similar engine and a lot more interior room? It doesn’t handle quite as well as the smaller IS, but it is so much more family friendly. We would recommend the IS 350 to those who like the sporty feel of this Lexus and enjoy the cache of knowing they own a quality product capable of some pleasurable private moments.

Chevrolet Equinox

by The Car Family

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As part of a growing trend of trimmer SUVs, Chevrolet’s new Equinox moves closer to the front of the class with this noble effort that reflects the growing trend that Americans seem to prefer in their SUVs; height and fuel economy. Chevrolet has hit this mark dead on and can now go head to head with smaller SUVs from Asia and America.

Clearly, this is one of Chevrolet’s finest SUVs especially considering the price, efficiency, and nearly 64 cubic feet of cargo space. The styling and interior treatments are also near the top of the class as well. Although it is lacking the third seat option, there is little that the Equinox does not do well for the money.

We liked the base LS model with the lower priced trim level called the 1LT. You get a goodly amount of safety features from airbags nearly everywhere to stability control for under $23,000. You can get options such as a rear-seat entertainment system, but the price can easily top $30,000 if you’re not careful.

The base engine, although sorely tested when driving in mountains, does well overall with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and its 182 horsepower. The optional 3.0-liter V6 with its 264 hp is fairly frisky, but more thirsty.

Mom’s view: Looks big and drives big, but this Chevrolet’s best feature is its excellent range which can be over 500 miles in favorable conditions. The vision to the front, sides, and rear take a while to get used to and I would look for a rear view back-up camera for sure. The hood falls away sharply making it difficult to judge where the front bumper is when parking. The B pillar also blocks vision to the side.

The interior has a clean design that has a modern appearance and the GPS and the stereo were excellent The back seat was very creature comfortable and the reclining split rear seat also folds down without much effort and leaves a flat floor. You must order the $495 power rear liftgate as reaching up to close the rear hatch is a reach, no pun intended, for those who are 5”2”or closer to the ground.

Dad’s view: The plus for buying an Equinox is simply the extraordinary gas mileage. In mixed driving we easily got 26 mpg, and the government claims over 30 mpg on the highway. Both the standard engine and the optional 264-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 have direct injection and a six-speed automatic transmission. Freeway entry ramps didn’t pose a problem, but don’t challenge any 18-wheelers.

Young working woman’s view: Skip the Equinox and get its twin sister the GMC Terrain. For almost the same cost you get a much better-equipped SUV. However, the Terrain isn’t as sharp looking. The ride is very relaxed even when challenged by highway corners. Rough roads can prove to be tiresome as it does ride a tad stiff legged. Again, I like the Terrain better in terms of ride comfort and there are more family options with the GMC.

Analyzing computer data makes you a bit more objective when driving a car as new to the world as the Equinox. I found, as its name implies, this Chevrolet to be a happy medium type of vehicle. It is a SUV for those who really don’t need a three ton SUV and the expense that comes with them, but still enjoy the high seating position and ability to haul trailers.

Young working male’s view: Making open sourced computers and servers two things are apparent. First, you need the ability to expand, secondly, you need it in a smaller package. The Equinox does just the opposite. It offers a larger size, but no extra interior room. It just looks like you are getting more for your money. The reliability data has shown this Chevrolet to be average and the three year, limited mileage warranty may be an area to be discussed when ordering this vehicle. My experience has been that most problems occur within the first year.

EPA estimates are startling. The two wheel drive, four cylinder model is reporting a 22/32 mile per gallon range and that beats every other competitor. Even with all wheel drive the Equinox is superior. Although this rig is too large for me, it has an appeal that far outstrips its price. I would certainly order the optional backup camera as there isn’t much vision rearward. The screen for this unit is in the mirror, which really makes sense, although it could be larger, but for under $350 it is a bargain. The two small rear monitors for the entertainment system work fine, but the cost is nearly $1300. The GPS is sophisticated with a a 40GB hard drive to store your personal music selections, but these two add over $2000 to the bottom line. A must have for those of us who need to stay linked is the $500 Vehicle Interface Package. This package provides a USB port for connecting a your iPod or whatever to the stereo and also adds remote start and Bluetooth compatibility.

Family conference: The bottom line is whether or not you are daring enough to leave the arms of the competition in favor of this new Chevrolet? We think that if you are used to driving a SUV this one could well win you over and clearly moves the Equinox to the top of the four-cylinder class.