New Car Search: The Contenders

Date February 4, 2008

Infiniti EX35My current vehicle is a black 2000 Oldsmobile Alero coupe. Great car, I still love it, but it’s getting old and my needs are changing. For example, I need four doors. Friends and family are getting tired of folding themselves into the rear seat. Also, having a bit more room for carrying the odd large piece of cargo would be handy. All practicality aside, I’d also like more luxury and technology.

It’s time I look for something new, and I’m going to post the progress and highlights here on The RobLog. Perhaps you’ll have some feedback or comments to help me in my quest.

But first, how do I decide? Read on to find out…

Car? SUV? Crossover?

The most basic question I need to answer first is the type of vehicle I need/want. Part of me really wants a luxury sedan, but that might limit me in terms of cargo. An SUV would be nice, but they are quite large and not exactly friendly on the environment. Operating costs would be high due to excess fuel consumption too.

Crossovers have been emerging in all brands lately and they appear to be a viable option for me. Styling and performance like a sport sedan, all wheel drive and cargo capacity like an SUV. This could work.

Narrowing the Choices

Now, I rent a lot of vehicles for work and so I have a pretty good idea of what the North American market has to offer. Sadly, I’m not impressed. I think North American vehicles have taken a pretty steep dive in terms of quality since I bought my car in 2000. The exception may be Ford, but their history of bad styling has been permanently ingrained in my brain, and I’m having a hard time getting over that.

Toyota and Honda have always been good great in terms of quality, but their cars have typically been cramped for someone like me (I’m 6’2″). The later models have been better and I do like the styling of the new Camry (looks very similar to the Lexus ES350). Nissan is also appealing to me. I’ve been a fan of their Altima and Murano vehicles for a few years. Mazda offers some sporty options that I’ve been looking at too. Their CX7 crossover and CX9 SUV (it’s too big to be a crossover IMO) are pretty stylish and have good performance and cargo numbers.

I don’t have much to say about the other imports from across the Pacific such as Kia, Hyundai, etc. mostly because I’ve never driven them. They have decent pricing and their quality seems to be quite good, but their styling doesn’t do much for me.

Premium Brands

I’ve had my eye on the Infinity G35 and their new EX crossover for a while now. I’d also consider the Acura RDX or BMW X3. My budget might rule these options out, but for now, I’ll keep them on the list as option packages on cheaper vehicles can really raise the final price.

The Contenders

Without getting into any more detail about my needs or reasoning, here are the contenders as I currently see them (check back for updates):

Infiniti G35
Nissan Altima
Toyota Camry

Ford Edge
Honda CRV
Infiniti EX35
Mazda CX7
Nissan Murano
Toyota RAV 4

Mazda CX9

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