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Aug 24, 2010
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Hi, Botchi!

I’ve been wavering about which sport-utility vehicle to choose for the past year and I’m hoping you could help me decide. I don’t go off-roading but I’d like to have a lot of speed and comfort. I’ve narrowed the list down to the following cars:

Audi Q5
BMW X3 or X5
Lexus RX350
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

I’ve been getting advice from a few of my friends and family, but your professional opinion would really help a great deal. Thanks!

Alexa

Hi, Alexa!

Thanks for taking the time to send us an email! You've got a nice line-up there! Makes me green with envy you've got the dosh to spend on something so posh! Here's my opinion on the following SUVs you picked:

Audi Q5 – This is very modern-looking and classy inside and out. Its turbocharged engine, though modest on paper, is really all you need unless you're the most ferocious of speed-freaks on the road. With Audi's focus on efficiency, expect this mini SUV to be fast enough yet still very fuel efficient. It’s probably the most stylish, most outspoken and most brave choice. Fits fashionistas to a T.

BMW X3 – This is a great-handling SUV but it doesn’t present a very good value for money unless you spend extra and option out all the goodies. The interior is quite cramped and spartan compared to the Audi Q5.

BMW X5 – This sport-ute is rather well outside of the market you’re looking at. It’s very much like the X3. It’s really well-sorted, dynamic, drives like a sports car on stilts but it doesn’t offer that much value for money unless you option it out, spend a whole lot of extras and get the good stuff.

Lexus RX 350 - Surprisingly the best performer in your list of options, the Lexus RX350 is the easiest to drive in and out of traffic and tight parking spaces. It’s probably the most reliable as well. Do not believe rumors on Lexus and Toyota’s reliability issues. This Lexus is solid. I’d probably pick this one. It will make you look too much like an American soccer parent with this baby but some people love that image anyway. Here’s another winning point: the price of Lexus vehicles just dropped, thanks to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado – I haven’t driven this one yet but it seems like a promising solid performer. I'd go the whole hog and opt for the full-size Land Cruiser LC200 in V8 CRDi though. This is a macho choice but it lacks sophistication and panache compared with the other SUVs, but it’s a solid, solid workhorse. It’s the perfect SUV to take on a rampage.

Aside from the sport-utes listed above, you might also want to check out the Mini Countryman SUV coming out within the next few months. Details are still quite sketchy but some foreign magazines have already tested pre-production versions of it and the reviews are great!

You might also want to check out the Mitsubishi Pajero, which offers is also a great-riding and well-handling SUV. It is my personal value-for-money luxury SUV. Both diesel and gasoline versions are fast and fun although the diesel, in my opinion, offers better value.

Good luck and let us know what you decided to get. God bless and more horsepower!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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