Buy/Drive/Burn: Economical All-purpose Hatchbacks From 2010
Three hatchbacks from 2010 (we might call them crossovers today), all of them about to disappear for various reasons. All three promise utility for their owners, and all provide four driven wheels. Thinking with your 2010 hat, which one do you take home?
Subaru’s third-generation Impreza went on sale for the 2008 model year sporting a revised design that was longer and wider, paired with a longer wheelbase than before. Impreza loyalists lost their wagon love in 2008, as the new cargo-carrying option was a truncated five-door hatchback design. Standard non-WRX versions utilized the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter flat four engine distributing 170 horsepower through all four wheels. Because we’re at TTAC, the selected transmission is the five-speed manual. A new generation of Impreza debuted for the 2012 model year after the styling on this third generation grew long in the tooth.
The original version of Pontiac’s practical Vibe debuted in 2003, built alongside the Toyota Matrix. Though the Pontiac brand was not long for the world by the time of its release, a brand new Vibe came to market for 2009. Coinciding with a new generation of Matrix, the Vibe was powered by either a 1.8- or 2.4-liter Toyota engine. Today’s trim is determined by our all-wheel drive requirement. The 2.4-liter inline-four produced 158 horsepower, married via all-wheel drive to the five-speed automatic. Production at the NUMMI plant ended in 2009, with 2010 Vibes on dealer lots representing Pontiac’s only offering that year.
Suzuki partnered with Fiat to develop its SX4 hatchback and sedan, pairing the two companies’ engineering know-how with a shape penned by Italdesign Giugiaro. Though Suzuki intended the SX4 as a European offering, the company saw sales potential and instead offered it in most international markets. Available for the 2007 model year in North America, all American SX4 hatchbacks had all-wheel drive. Thrifty Canadians could opt for two driven wheels instead. Though labeled as all-wheel drive, the SX4 had an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system. Selectable modes included two-wheel drive, automatic all-wheel drive, and a 50:50 power distribution “Lock” mode for speeds up to 40 miles an hour. Visual updates to the front and rear ends freshened the appearance for 2010. In six-speed manual AWD trim, a 2.0-liter engine motivated the SX4 with 150 horsepower. The Suzuki brand was not long for the North American market, and sales of all models wrapped up in 2013. The SX4 lives on in other markets today, where its success has granted it a second generation.
Three utility hatchbacks, all on their last legs. Which one’s a Buy?
[Images: Subaru, Pontiac, Suzuki]
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- Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
- Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
- Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
- William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
- Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
Definitely buy the Vibe; I like how they look and they're a cockroach-reliable Toyota Matrix. Toss-up between the other two, but I think I'd drive the Suzuki since it's different. Burn the Subaru and save yourself from all the weird problems they develop.
Buy: Suzuki, just because its weird and rare. Drive: Subaru, see below. Burn: Vibe, the trashy cousin of the Matrix. Full disclosure: I own a 2011 Impreza 2.5i hatch with a 5 speed that I bought new. No idea what the reliability complaints are about - mine hasn't needed anything other than routine maintenance (fluids, filters, etc.). The ride is a little soft and the carpet is cheap and the dash squeaks in cold weather but its 8 years old. Lots of utility with the seats down, excellent visibility, boxer growl with plenty of torque, handles well. I read somewhere that the 2010-11 Impreza got the quicker steering rack from the WRX unlike the 2008-09 models.