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Toyota RAV 4 – Mazda 6

By Kelly Foss; MyCarData.com

TOYOTA RAV 4| Starting price: about $23,300

Being one of the originators of the compact SUV market, the RAV4 has proved to be a reliable companion over the years. With the introduction of the fourth generation, the vehicle has received several desirable and much appreciated upgrades.

Compact SUV’s or CUV’s are car-derived vehicles. They are wildly popular because they possess a car-like driving experience and comfort, plus a flexible interior that you can actually carry the stuff of life in. The fact that they get pretty good fuel economy and have an elevated seating position is icing on the cake.

Dimensionally, the new RAV4 is about the same as the previous generation. The interior has been reconfigured to harvest more usable space. The side-opening rear cargo door has been replaced with an overhead hatch. Many liked the side door because you didn’t have to make a high reach to pull the door shut and there were no hydraulic pistons holding the door up to wear out.  The upside to the change however is that the spare tire is no longer hanging outside the car on the back door. It is now neatly tucked under the rear cargo area. That makes for a more elegant appearance and lower repair bills in rear collisions.

Though the previous RAV4 had optional third row seating for very small agile people, not many buyers opted for it so the spare tire claimed that space. In all the interior cargo room in the new RAV4 has been increased in the new model. The second row of seats is 60/40 split and the seat backs recline for added passenger comfort.

Another significant change is in the drive train. The previous model had either a 4 cylinder or the optional V6 engine. Both are now replaced by a totally modern 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine. The previous model was equipped with a 4 speed automatic and the new one has a 6 speed transmission. The new 4 cylinder and 6 speed automatic combination is a quieter, more efficient package that provides more than enough power for the vehicle and delivers better fuel economy too. The front- or all-wheel drive options have been retained.

Though the exterior styling will seem like a modernized version of a familiar shape, the interior has been radically upgraded. The timid utilitarian trappings have been replaced with contrasting colors, surface stitching and soft touch panels. The seating is comfortable and the visibility from the passenger’s viewpoint is rewarding.

Technology offerings include Toyota’s new Entune technology system which provides smartphone connection, online apps and voice command. Additionally, you’ll find a backup camera, blind spot and cross traffic alert systems, navigation and keyless entry technology.

Toyota buyers are loyal and keep coming back largely because of the quality and reliability of their vehicles. The new RAV4 retains those attributes and is now offered in a more modern and appealing package.

Visit MyCarData.com for more information on these models.


MAZDA 6| Starting price: about $20,800

The third generation Mazda 6 has just hit the streets. Though the 6 is in the same market class as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, it’s been able to differentiate itself with its Zoom Zoom approach.

The 2014 model is not just a refresh of the previous generation. Rather, it’s something truly different. The fact that it won first place honors in midsize sedan comparison tests in both Motor Trend and Car and Driver speaks volumes.

When designing the new and exciting 6, Mazda wanted to deliver on four basic attributes:

1. Must have fall in love at first sight styling.

2. Must have exceptional drivability thanks to new SKYACTIV technology.

3. Must have class leading environmental performance without sacrificing driving enjoyment.

4. Must employ the latest technology including radar, laser and camera as part of its active safety features.

Concerning the “love at first sight” styling, Mazda can confidently check that box. This sedan is very shapely and gorgeous. The car looks much more expensive than it is and consumers just love it. It makes even the best-looking competitors timid and even pedestrian by comparison.

Drivability in the 6 is one of its strong suits. It is designed from the ground up to be responsive and fun to drive largely due to SKYACTIV. This unique technology matches all of the major automotive systems to function optimally together.

Often in automotive design, when a new vehicle is produced it joins a legacy 8-year-old transmission with a 5-year-old engine, neither of which was ever intended to work together in the first place. Then it adds 7-year-old suspension components and the “new” car is really a new body with many mismatched aged components.

SKYACTIV starts with a clean slate and designs all major components together specifically to work efficiently with each other. The success of this approach is evident in the way the Mazda 6 and the new SKYACTIV Mazda CX5 compact CUV, feels and functions. The 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine and matched transmission make the car very lively and responsive. The car has both excellent ride and excellent handling and is very rewarding to drive.

The environmental performance of the vehicle is also outstanding. The efficient drive train would have passengers  think the car is powered by a larger V6 engine, not a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine. This sedan has low emissions and class leading fuel economy.

The new 6 uses radar cruise control, Smart City Brake Support, lane departure warning, Forward Obstruction warning system, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring system plus a rear- backup camera, all to enhance the active safety of the vehicle.

The new Mazda 6 is a roomy comfortable sedan that performs like we wish all cars would, looks great and is affordably priced.

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