Toyota Avalon / Ford Taurus:
While the truth of the matter might be that most Avalon buyers really, deep down, just want to buy a Lexus (at least that’s what we’ve always thought), there is a major price gap between the full-size models of parent and premium offspring. No matter. Ford’s new Taurus is competitively priced, the right size, and arguably even nicer to live in than that forbidden Lex.
Toyota RAV4 / Nissan Cube:
Remember one hundred years ago when first RAV4 debuted? Back then, your great-grandparents thought the perfectly sized little crossover was about the coolest vehicle they’d ever seen, plus it was good at lugging lots of different kinds of stuff around. Yesterday’s RAV is today’s Cube (and Nissan has made this one pretty fun to drive as well). Don’t like the way it looks? Go back to 1994, Grandpa!
Toyota Camry / Suzuki Kizashi:
Yeah, okay. We all know that Honda’s Accord is really going to be the car that sops up any lost sales from the Camry gravy train. But if we ran the world, all of those recall-locked-out Camry buyers would have their eyes open to real driving fun by Suzuki’s awesome Kizashi. Great to drive, great looking, great price, best name ever.
Toyota Sequoia / Toyota Sienna:
Toyota’s own, all-new, and as-yet-still-unrecalled Sienna has got a lot going for it. Seating for seven or eight, available all-wheel drive, optional V-6 power, and one of the more kick-ass rear seating environments this side of a Maybach. That means, unless you simply must have big, V-8 power, or you tow a 7000-pound rig where ever you go, the Sienna will work better (for less money). Quit worrying about your image, you already drive a Toyota.
Toyota Prius / Volkswagen Golf TDI:
Bad brakes or no, there isn’t a hybrid in the business that gets the job done like Toyota’s latest Prius. Certainly, Honda’s Insight isn’t nearly as good, and Ford’s excellent Fusion Hybrid can’t compete on hatchback functionality, or fuel economy. Volkswagen’s five-door Golf TDI is a real challenger though. Inexpensive, versatile, and lots of fun to drive (not simply more fun than the Prius, which isn’t hard to do), the derv-burning Golf puts together a mighty formula for hybrid-slaying.
Toyota Corolla / Mazda3:
More people should drive Mazdas; plain and simple. The company almost can’t help but build enthusiastic and intuitive driver’s cars, but the major league sales numbers have never seemed to follow (Miata/MX-5 excluded). If a few more buyers try out the new 3 because of the standard-bearing Corolla’s recent woes, we think they’ll be thrilled.
Toyota Matrix / Honda Fit:
We know a couple of Matrix owners out there, and they all really love the model. The problem is they also seem to think that Matrix was the first useful hatchback ever invented. Given the chance, and despite the difference in exterior dimensions, we think they’d prefer Honda’s Fit in every way. The tiny Fit is space wonder on the inside, is cheaper than the Matrix, and offers Honda’s still-sterling reputation for quality (that last one is hard to beat).
Toyota Highlander / GMC Terrain:
The biggest thing the Terrain has working against it (aside from the seriously popular Highlander, till now) is that it’s a bit on the ugly side. With that said, the Toyota Highlander is no real looker either, and doesn’t have quite so nice an interior as the new GMC offering does. Score one for square wheel wells.
Toyota Tundra / Ford F-150:
Biggest no-brainer of the lot, here. The F-150 is already our favorite full-size pickup on sale today. The Tundra has always been a solid truck, but we doubt the unintended switchers won’t be overly put out.