Hot CUV segment boasts 22 models

If you want to trade in that minivan or sport-utility for a vehicle that can haul six or seven, and look good while getting the job done, now may be a good time.

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If you want to trade in that minivan or sport-utility for a vehicle that can haul six or seven, and look good while getting the job done, now may be a good time.

Crossovers are the hottest ride on the road. Currently, 22 different CUVs – ranging in price, make, model, passenger space and towing capabilities – are available in Canada, and the choices are continuing to grow.

This year’s Canadian International AutoShow features crossovers from nearly every automaker. Here are the latest offerings, debuting in Toronto this week.


Hot off the seat of a test drive of Dodge’s new Journey, there’s one way to sum up this family hauler: Value.

Starting a family and looking for the conveniences of a minivan, yet can’t bear the thought of getting behind the wheel of a “Soccer Parent” ‘mobile? Space for five is good, but room for seven is better?

Looking for a crossover that fits your lifestyle and your bank account?

The Journey is all about frills: the base model SE (starting at $19,995) comes standard with a slew of safety features including four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability control with traction control, brake assist, electronic roll mitigation, multi-stage front airbags, front seat side airbags and all-row side-curtain airbags.

And there’s no sacrificing comfort and convenience; the base SE also comes with a tilt/telescoping steering column, power windows, door locks and mirrors, an AM/FM six-disc DVD/MP3/WMA radio with six speakers, and hidden storage zones in the front passenger’s seat, in the second-row floor and chilled beverage storage in the glovebox.

While the SE and SE Plus (starting at $20,995 with keyless entry, speed control, roof rack, security alarm and reading lamps) are both fitted with a 2.4 L 173 hp four-cylinder paired to a four-speed automatic transmission, the SXT (starting at $24,995) and the R/T ($27,995 to start) get an upgraded 3.5 L 235 hp V6 and six-speed auto tranny.

The SXT and R/T models are both available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Journey goes on sale later this month.


Based on the Ford Fairlane concept vehicle unveiled at the Detroit show in 2005, the Flex, built at Ford’s Oakville plant, is also one of the examples of retro chic on the floor of this year’s Toronto auto show.

The seven-passenger hauler’s boxy design is accented with grooved door panels and hatch, and a two-tone roof (think Mini Cooper: coloured body and white top). Spanning that ceiling is an available Multi-Panel Vista Roof with a skylight for each passenger.

Need a chilled soda – or perhaps a Yop – on the fly? Reach over to the “refrigerator” mounted like a console between the second-row seats. A nav system with voice recognition and a 23,000-song personal “juke box” are also available.

The Flex is driven by Ford’s well-known 3.5 L V6 and six-speed transmission. All-wheel drive is also available. The 2009 model goes on sale this summer.


While most automakers are trying to distance their crossovers from the traditional sport-utility look, the Kia Borrego looks a lot like older SUVs on the road.

Inside, seven passengers can fit across three rows, making the Borrego Kia’s largest utility vehicle.

It’s also the Korean automaker’s most powerful: the 4.6 L 300 hp engine powering the Borrego is Kia’s first V8. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V8 can tow up to 3,750 kilograms. A 3.6 L V6 is also available, and gets a 2,500 kg towing capacity.

During its world debut at the Detroit auto show last month, Kia announced that a clean diesel engine would be on offer in the first-generation Borrego, though the automaker would not confirm when it would come to market.

Inside there is a 600-watt Infinity audio system with USB/iPod capabilities and Sirius satellite radio. The Borrego also offers power-adjustable pedals and Kia’s first DVD navigation systems as options.

The mid-size Borrego takes its design cues from the Mesa concept that Kia showed off in Detroit three years ago.

Kia’s Borrego is set to go on sale this summer as a 2009 model.


It’s not an understatement to say that Subaru was ahead of its time, creating a niche called “crossover” before the term even unravelled in the auto industry.

So it was fitting that among a sea of crossovers – newly debuted, and those that have been around a few years – that Subaru uncloaked its completely redesigned third-generation Forester at last month’s auto show in Detroit.

The new Sube gets “bolder SUV” styling, enhanced safety technology (all 2009 models feature standard side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor and Vehicle Dynamics Control stability and traction control as standard equipment) and refinement.

In the makeover process, the Forester grew taller (by 114 mm), longer (by 76 mm) and bigger (the wheelbase grows by almost 90 mm). The increased wheelbase makes for improved rear-seat space, and the cargo area is wider and higher.

Though the Forester grows in size, it’s tighter on the road with a turning radius that shrinks by 10 centimetres.

Powering the new Forester is one of two engines: a 2.5 L boxer four with 170 hp or a turbocharged version with 224 hp. All-wheel drive is standard.

The redesigned model is scheduled to arrive later this year.

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