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2012 Audi Q5 (Audi)
2012 Audi Q5 (Audi)

Best of the Lot

Retired road trippers looking for a comfortable utility Add to ...

Gentlemen: Should we step up or stay the course? As retired folks, we drive more than 50,000 kilometres a year, mainly highway. We prefer the convenience of a utility vehicle. There is a dog and suitcases for extended stays. We need AWD/4WD as we deal with snow and hills even in our hometown. We are looking at the Audi Q5, M-B GLK 250 BlueTec (coming next year) and the Ford Edge. Comfort and ride are the primary criteria followed by economy and safety. We presently drive a 2009 Honda CRV EX-L, which has been good value. We think the other vehicles may offer the improved ride we are looking. We often put in 800-900 km in a day. We are prepared to wait for a long look at the M-B diesel. Thank you for any light you can shed on the dilemma. – Dave and Viv in Muskoka, Ont.

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Vaughan: Cato, take a look at that. They’re retired and do 50K a year on the highway and they start from Muskoka, which ain’t too shabby. I’m not sure how the dog likes driving 50,000 kilometres, but they’re probably headed to Palm Beach or some such place. Retired? With what I’m paid, I’d be lucky to afford a Metropass for the TTC if I pack it in.

Cato: I’d never argue you’re overpaid. Not me. Not ever. You deserve a fistful. But to Dave and Viv: I love to see them moving up in their golden years. You could learn something, Vaughan – spend your last loonie in the five minutes before you head to your reward.

Vaughan: Couldn’t. They’d tax it.

However, let’s start with the Honda CR-V. I know they sell millions of these things – like the Toyota RAV4 – and they never break down. But if you're talking about comfort, I’d rather be strapped to a refrigerator dolly and dragged across railway ties. These things are tough, but comfortable they are not.

Cato: Don’t agree. Not on ride comfort. But the CR-V’s seat comfort is another matter. They’re like bar stools with back rests.

Vaughan: So we do agree about comfort.

Cato: Well, if our pensioners want good seats, it’s the Audi Q5 ($41,200-$49,900 in AWD). Great seats in a cabin that looks up-market but not over the top.

But here’s what I don’t understand: Why haven’t Dave and Viv put the Lexus RX350 crossover on the shortlist ($44,950)? Talk about built-to-last. They’d drive this Lexus through their retirement years – and their kids’, and their grandkids’. I know RX owners who after 10 years, well, they’ve toyed with driving their Lexus into a ditch – to justify dumping the unbreakable RX.

2012 Lexus RX350

Vaughan: The Lexus is the default choice. However, given your greater financial resources, Cato, I notice that you first mentioned the German option. For people with deep pockets, the coming Mercedes GLK diesel must be considered.

The GLK’s ride quality is light years beyond the RAV4 and the CR-V. The cabin comfort and driving dynamics are something the crafty Germans have resolved nicely. Of course, when the euro blows up and the Germans lose their cheap currency, even Dave and Viv won’t be able to afford a German-manufactured car. So test drive now.

Cato: Oh, the euro will muddle along. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will keep wagging her finger at the Greeks, scolding them for using loans from German banks to buy Mercedes’ SUVs. She’s a politician. But the European Union and the euro will survive.

Vaughan: Cato, the economic swami, has spoken.

Cato: In any case, I am intrigued by the GLK diesel. This is a smart move by Mercedes Canada. The GLK will sell like tickets to a Bill Clinton sermon stem-winder. And I like the fact that, of the three big German premium car companies – Audi and BMW included – Merc is the only one to rank above average for quality in J.D. Power’s long-term Vehicle Dependability Study.

2012 Lincoln MKX

Vaughan: While you pause to take a breath, let me break in with the Lincoln MKX crossover ($47,100), the upscale sibling of the Ford Edge – both made in Canada. The MKX is a deal right now and it’s a leader in the Vehicle Dependability Survey. Lincoln’s Employee Pricing promotion is only the start of the deals here.

D and V should also bargain for thousands more in factory-to-dealer discounts.

I like the seats and the MyLincoln Touch infotainment system is not as tricky to use as Consumer Reports says.

Cato: The MKX is not a bad idea. It’s one of the more spacious five-seat crossovers and that means there’s room for the dog. Also, it’s very fuel-efficient for a mid-size SUV. And you’re right about the MyLincoln Touch. The voice-activated controls actually work occasionally.

Plus, I like the cool interior and the excellent ride quality.

Vaughan: D and V should go for the German SUV before the Euro crisis completely torpedoes the Germans’ euro advantage.



2012 Lincoln MKX AWD

2012 Lexus RX350

2012 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium Plus

Wheelbase (mm)




Length (mm)




Width (mm)




Track, front (mm)





3.7-litre V-6

3.5-litre V-6

2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

Output (horsepower/torque)

305/280 lb-ft

270/248 lb-ft

211/258 lb-ft

Drive system

all-wheel drive

all-wheel driveall-wheel drive


six-speed automatic

six-speed automatic

eight-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

12.2 city/8.8 highway

11.8 city/8.3 highway

10.6 city/7.7 highway

Base price (MSRP)




Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

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