2009 Mazda CX-7 - Sport FWD
Pros: Drinking coffee at the dealership.
Cons: Needs check engine fix, pillars too large.
Advice: AVOID THIS LEMONI purchased this 2207 lemon a little over two years ago and don't drive it much. It only has 8500 miles and will be going into the shop for the FOURTH time for a check engine light problem that seems to be impossible to fix. If you enjoy visiting your dealership every 2000mi, this is the vehicle for you. Run, don't walk, away from your Mazda dealer.
2009 Subaru Forester - X (M5)
Pros: snow handling (AWD)
Cons: stripped version/ questionable parts quality
Advice: If you have to buy, byt premium or limited.Unhappy. The advertized price if for a manual transmission. (Have to add $1200 extra for automatic: (false advertising)). The version 2.5X is stripped down version. (removed roof racks, removed fog lights, manual A/C..) Once you start the car, have to wait for at least 3 min for the blue light (coolant temp low) to go away!!!! Had it for 2 weeks, developed a huge windshield crack (service manager needed a flashlight to find the microscopic chip..) Basically not built to be of outdoorsman quality. If you have to buy, do go with the premium/limited version. (do not recommend the stripped down model.)
2009 Toyota Venza - V6 FWD
Cons: Gave up my heated seats
Advice: Drive it!Lots of places to put 'stuff'. Engine has phenomenal power and 'feels' like a Rhino running down the road. Get the feeling that the tires are squeezing the life out of the road. A very tight ride, great suspension on 19' wheels, and people in the back seat have stated that they are as comfortable back there as they were in my 2005 Avalon. Contemplated a Honda CRV, but I felt every bump all the way up my spine. Wanted an AWD because of the hilly terrain and the problems that were happening with the Avalon in the snow. I got an Avalon with AWD with this vehicle.
2008 Hyundai Veracruz - Limited AWD
Pros: Smoothness and the incredible stereo
Cons: Want brighter headlights, but that is minor
Advice: Test drive it last and always compareThis is the second Hyundai I own and after having my Santa Fe for a few years, I am not surprised. The SUV rides so smooth, the road noise is non-existent, the interior is awesome, features inside and out are fabulous, and the price was thousands lower than anything else. All of this with a great warranty. I must say that dealerships do make the buying experience good or bad also, so consider this with the purchase. Do your homework and test drive this vehicle last that way you will appreciate what it has to offer just a little more.
2008 Mazda CX-7 - Sport FWD
Cons: Not practical
Advice: Not advisable for famliesAs I read my fellow CX-7 owner's reviews I get the feeling that many of us purchased this car more due to looks and the ability to boast about having a turbo charged vehicle than anything else. Yes, the styling and presence of this vehicle cannot be denied. Nor can I say that it isn't fun to drive. However, if you are considering this car think about these few things: MPG - it gets at best 20 for me on highway and 17 combined on top of the fact that it needs premium fuel. If you think you are going to get away with less, the dealer will tell you that you can but you lose the whole point of having a turbo charged engine and might as well buy a 6 cylinder something else. Size - the RAV 4 has more cargo space and the CR-V more passenger space. Family use - it is much higher than similar CUV's making it almost impossible for my 3yr old to get in and out of. It suffers from an odd placement, operation or complete absence of buttons - the master window control panel is an all or nothing deal, if the windows are locked, even the driver can't manually open a window. And it also locks out the passenger. There is no master lamp control and no vanity mirror lights. Doors are intended for adults, they are heavy and do not stay open with the force a typical young child would apply. Standard Features - For a vehicle produced in 2008 and not 1998 I would expect it to have MP3 disk playing capabilities (that is $600.00 more for an mp3 changer), an axillary jack and more than one charging outlet. (Hard to decide whether to charge your cell phone or your GPS unit sometimes). Many of these issues are minor but do you really want to deal with them daily for 3-6 years?
2008 Saturn VUE Green Line - Base
Pros: Fuel economy, Versatility, XM
Cons: acceleration, availability
Advice: Understand the hybrid technology.Our Mercury Mariner was about to run out of warranty, and the gas mileage slipped to 14 in town, and 18 highway, with the dealer no help. (See my review for when it was new). Got interested in the Saturn Vue Hybrid because it is an American car. I called various SAturn dealers, and nobody in the midwest had one-seems most are being shipped to the coastal big cities, the market is better. Finally, I was on a call list and I got the call, traded in my Mercury, and drove home the new Vue hybrid. We negotiated a bit on the trade, but I was happy. This car has heated front seats, all leather, XM, everything but GPS mapping. Dark blue, no sun roof, good looking, and the color we wanted. Performance- When I drive, I get 25mpg in town, 32mpg highway. Wife drives in town, 21mpg, 30mpg hiway. Book is 26/32. The ECO light tells you when you are most efficient, and wife can't drive and look for green light. It's a woman thing. Acceleration is weak, with the super efficient four cylinder. Once you get used to it, it's not bad. This is a single stage hybrid. Car shuts off when stopped. Put it in park and the car starts. Take your foot off the brake, the car starts. READ THE MANUAL AS TO HOW ALL THE HYBRID COMPONENTS INTERACT AND OPERATE. Otherwise you won't understand what the car is doing. There is a 36 volt battery under the read seat, (8 yr warrantee for all hybrid components) that powers everything when the car is off and while driving, minimizing the pull on the engine. There is a standard 12 volt under the hood for starting. A/C is great, as is heat. Set the thermostate at 73 and forget it. Cruise control is great. Stereo is very nice, with XM built-in. Rear hatch window does not open. Missed that at first since we had one on the Mariner. Don't miss it now. Took a 1000 mile trip, and I thought I might be uncomfortable because the seats looked a little small. I'm 6'4', and found myself to be very comfortable the entire journey. (Got 34mpg that trip). Not as efficient as a two stage hybrid. BUT, the cheapest $25,000 hybrid smaller SUV you'll find. Made in America, too. The Ford Escape hybrid was quoted to me at $33,700, when I inquired at a Ford dealer. Ugh. We have 6700 miles on the car right now. No mechanical issues, except the passenger visor wouldn't stay up awhile back. Dealer replaced it no problem. Good gas mileage, very good ride, reasonably priced. But, hard to find.
2009 Toyota Matrix - AWD
Pros: The 'gangsta-chic' front grill with underbody spoilers. Excellent handling and responsive acceleration without a large fuel cost.
Cons: The over the right shoulder blind spot and rear backing up visibility (I got a back-up camera installed as part of my deal, which solved this).
Advice: Know that in the current market, they can't let you leave without buying, so be prepared to deal for 4 hours or so. Make the back-up camera part of the last thing to seal the deal. Have the cash to command their attention.I'm not quite understanding the one other review. I am very happy with my matrix. It is a blend of all my previous favorite cars. It has the edgy appearance and handling of the 2001 celica, the surprisingly roomy interior of the 2004 chevy hhr, and the winter traction of the 2007 rav4. Plus upto 32 mpg if you drive conservatively. 0-60 in 9 seconds, perfect headroom and easy to get in and out of. I took advantage of the current buyers market and paid approx. $18,000 cash.