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2011 Kia Sorento (Kia)
2011 Kia Sorento (Kia)

Modern Minivans

Hot crossovers Add to ...

The four-cylinder is powerful enough for commuting and the tow rating is 454 kg. The V-6, while not entirely smooth but certainly gutsy, raises towing capacity to 1,588 kg. I'd recommend the four-banger unless you pull a trailer. (In all cases the trailer tow preparation package costs $175.)

Meanwhile, the cabin has hideaways galore: a double-decker glove box (the upper berth is cooled), a covered dashboard bin, and hidden storage under the front-passenger seat, not to mention a fantastic array of cup holders and smaller cargo holds.

Add in lots of standard features and generous discounting on already low pricing, and the Journey is an interesting package.

2010 Hyundai Santa Fe

Price range: $25,999-$35,799

Average transaction price: $31,040

The hot deal: Up to $3,500 in rebates, plus a dealer discount

Turn rate: 29 days

Hyundai has freshened the Santa Fe and what was a good vehicle is now something much better. Sure, the back seat doesn't slide forward and back as some rivals do to let you tailor space to cargo or passengers. And the brakes could feel a bit more solid.

On the other hand, reliability is excellent and crash test scores very good. As is usual in this segment, Hyundai sells the Santa Fe with front- or all-wheel drive. The base engine is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder (175 hp) and the new V-6 is a 3.5-litre (276 hp), up from 3.3. The V-6 gets a standard six-speed automatic transmission, while the four-banger has a six-speed manual as standard, with the six-speed automatic another $1,500.

The Santa Fe is well priced and stylish. The seats are comfortable, the cabin large and there is room for loads of cargo. The materials inside look richer than the pricing would suggest.

No wonder this Hyundai is selling so well.

GLOWING RED

2010 Mitsubishi Outlander

Price range: $25,498-$34,498

Average transaction price: $33,185

The hot deal: Up to $500 available, plus 0.0 per cent financing and a dealer discount.

Turn rate: 32 days

Just look at the Outlander's new nose. It's all Evo and here, surprisingly, it works. I say surprisingly because even though a crossover is a car-based utility vehicle, it's still … well, it's still a utility vehicle.

Inside, well, the doors and the dash get new parts, but this is where the Evo connection goes the Outlander goes away entirely. There is less hard plastic now, but not a lot less. The shapes, though, are less sharp-edged, more smooth and with a bit of flow to them. And that helps.

Meanwhile, the controls inside make sense, including the centrally located rotary knob that manages Mitsu's Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) full-time all-wheel-drive. This device allows drivers to dial in traction assist based on road conditions.

For power, the 3.0-litre V-6 has been boosted 10 horsepower, to a healthy 230. The six-speed automatic can be shifted manually and is a solid unit. To save fuel in the Outlander, Mitsu has added something called the Idle Neutral function. It puts the autobox in neutral when the vehicle is stopped with the brakes applied. This is to save a little fuel.

As for the 2.4-litre four-cylinder, it spins up 168 hp, which is just fine, and a continuously variable transmission helps save fuel. The least expensive ES ($25,498) is sold as a front-driver and it's really quite a useful city wagon.

The Outlander is a combination of aggressive looks, smart technology and family utility. The package is attractive enough to sell well without huge, huge discounts.

Globe Drive's senior writes explains the auto industry, and what it means to you

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