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Looking for an SUV my husband will enjoy driving too Add to ...

Hi Jeremy and Michael: I love your weekly column. I'm in the market for a mid-size SUV and I'd really appreciate your advice. I’m looking at the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK and Lexus RX. My husband and I have a young daughter. It’ll be my car, but we want a car that my husband (who mostly drives an old Porsche Carrera S) will enjoy driving, too. I've owned an RX in the past and liked it, but I'm thinking it may be time for something different. What car would you get? -Faith in Toronto

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Cato: I have a number for you, Faith, a big, big number: $4,000. That’s the factory-to-dealer cash incentive in play if you pay cash for an RX350 listed at $47,050. Bullet-proof quality, too, and superb crash-test scores. The problem is, you’ve already run your course with the RX.

The X3 is the sportiest and most recently updated of the remaining three. The Q5 has the coolest cabin and the GLK the most distinctive design. Not a fan of it, myself; looks too much like a Subaru Forester. But the GLK sure sells.

Vaughan: It’s the part about the hubby that worries me. If he’s slamming around in an old Porsche, then I can’t imagine he’d “enjoy” driving any of these big boxes.

I know they all do a much better job in making these things less tippy and more roadworthy than in the past, but they’re still kiddie-haulers.

Anyway, you’re laid out your thumbnail sketches, so let’s get started with some details, starting with the X3 ($41,900). It’s all new this year, although I think it looks exactly like the old one.

Cato: Are you kidding me? What planet have you living on? The 2011 X3 looks exactly like the 2010? You’re nuts. The reinvented X3 is bigger, better-looking, more fuel-efficient, quicker, more dynamic and a smoother overall ride than the old X3 – and arguably the best of its kind, period.

Faith, the Porsche-man in your life will be able to live with driving this one, too. And have you thought about something else not on your list – the Infiniti EX35 ($42,200)? When I last checked, the very handsome compact luxury SUV had a $3,500 incentive in play.

Vaughan: As usual, you insist on muddying the waters, Cato. EX35? What about the vehicles on her list, stating with the Q5 ($41,200)?

It has been around for a while, but there’s a lot to like about it, especially that interior. It’s excellent. I think they stole it from a Volkswagen – one that’s not called New Jetta.

Cato: New Jetta? Lost me there.

The Q5 has the prettiest cabin of the bunch, short of the EX35 which I just threw into the ring. Great crash scores, so it’s safe. Handing dynamics are good, so it’s reasonable to drive. Audi and its dealers here in Canada don’t really do much deal-making, though; expect to pay something close to full pop.

Vaughan: Now to the Merc. I like the GLK350 ($43,500) because it doesn’t look like the others on the list. It’s got that rugged, squared-off, G-Wagen styling. Drives very well, too.

Just to be a little different, would you suggest looking for a used one, Cato? Do you remember the residuals on those? One coming off-lease would have to be a real bargain.



2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

Cato: Ah, ha! Very astute of you.

Mercedes-Benz Canada has leased thousands of GLKs, helped by strong residual values. Faith, this is one to look for if you want a Certified Pre-Owned Mercedes. Let the original owner pay the depreciation, Faith.

Remember, this is big business for Mercedes Canada. Last month, it sold 2,300 new vehicles and a whopping 1,313 Pre-Owned. GLKs were among them.

Vaughan: I know Cato the mind reader says you’ve dismissed the RX, Faith, but it was the original and not to be dismissed so cavalierly.

Toyota came up with the idea for a premium SUV this size and it has been rock solid and a best seller since day one. Faith has had one and liked it and maybe she should go back to one.

Toyota has been through a rough patch to say the least with all those hysterics claiming the brakes wouldn’t work (now disproved) and of course the earthquake and tsunami. As Cato said, Faith, Lexus is throwing some serious money at the RX and maybe you should take some of it.

Cato: If hubby is going to drive this car, it’s got to be the X3.

Vaughan: The Lexus. I’m not much of a Lexus fan, but I’ve always liked the RX. Faith, bargain hard and then sit back and enjoy the quiet comfort of it for the next 10 years or so. But don’t sell the old Porsche.

Cato: As usual, know-it-all Vaughan is ignoring your RX hesitation. The X3, Faith. Think of hubby.

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

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HOW THEY COMPARE



2011 BMW X3 xDrive 28i

2011 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium

2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC

Wheelbase (mm)

2810

2807

2755

Length (mm)

4648

4629

4525

Width (mm)

1881

1880

1840

Height (mm)

1661

1653

1698

Engine

3.0-litre six-cylinder

2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

3.5-litre V-6

Output (horsepower/torque)

240/221 lb-ft

211/258 lb-ft

268/258 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel drive

All-wheel drive

All-wheel drive

Transmission

Six-speed automatic

Eight-speed automatic

Seven-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)

1865

1923

1850

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

11.0 city/7.8 highway

10.6 city/7.7 highway

13.0 city/9.3 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$41,900

$41,200

$43,500

2011 Audi Q5

Source: car manufacturers

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