Measuring new car models with its predecesors

March 3, 2011 6:28:56 PM PST
Car companies spend millions of dollars to redesign a vehicle. But recent tests by Consumer Reports have turned up a half dozen redesigns that come up short.

At Consumer Reports Auto Test, the engineers assess every aspect of the vehicles they test; everything from how well the car handles to how well the interior is laid out. When a redesigned vehicle is tested, you expect to see significant improvements. But tests show the Toyota 4runner, along with five others, doesn't deliver.

"The 4Runner doesn't handle very well. It basically bobs down the road. We'd also like a nicer interior for over $37,000. Plus, when you're driving, it's pretty loud inside," Tom Mutchler from Consumer Reports said.

Turns out, the redesigned BMW X5 has poorer visibility. But of the six, the Volkswagen Jetta is the biggest disappointment.

"The Jetta used to be really fun to drive and had a very nice interior. But this car has lost its agility, and the inferior looks downright cheap," Mutchler said.

Consumer Reports' tests show the Toyota Sienna, the Mercedes E350, and the Honda Odyssey, while still very good performers, are not quite as good as the vehicles they replaced. Consumer Reports says overall, this is a troubling trend.

"Two areas where we often see a decline are in vehicle handling and controls. Now both of these can affect safety, so you want them to get better, not worse," Mutchler said.

If you're interested in one of these vehicles, look for an earlier model. An added bonus is that the price will be lower too.

Consumer Reports says not all redesigns are a disappointment. Several new ones tested are significantly improved, including the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Kia Sportage.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)


Load Comments