• Feb 15th 2011 at 8:59AM
  • 71
Joey and Chandie Lawrence help you pick out a new car – Click above to watch the video after the break

Shopping for a new car (or truck, for that matter) in a crowded segment can be a bewildering task, especially when you're talking about mid-size SUVs and crossovers. There's a plethora positioned under the 30-grand mark, and most of them have comparable features and specs. So which one to choose?

Our friends over at Cars.com recently assembled a selection of nine such vehicles – the Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4 – and pitted them against each other. Now you may be thinking, Really? A Journey against a Sportage? What gives?

True, they're vastly different vehicles, but Cars.com arrived at its selections through a different kind of methodology. They checked with J.D. Power & Associates to find a median price – $29k – and then let the automakers choose which of their products to field in the test. Then they assembled a panel of testers, including members of their own editorial staff, plus Chris Woodyard of USA Today, Brian Robinson from MotorWeek and – wait for it – Joey Lawrence. Yes, he of Blossom and Melissa & Joey fame. Whoa!

So what did the B-list celeb (along with his wife Chandie and two daughters) and his auto-journo fellow jurists select? Hit the source link to find out, but we'll give you a hint: we listed them above by score from 1st to 9th. Bonus: Follow the jump for a video featuring Joey and Chandie.

[Source: Cars.com]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a ridiculous "shootout", I couldn't care less that these B-listers thought.

      There is a reason why people don't take cars.com seriously, this is a good example of why.

      Also, I've driven the Equinox MANY times with both the V6 and the four cylinder. Definitely does not deserve first place here, the transmission programming is TRASH as it goes to the highest gear immediately and refuses to kick down on the highway unless you mat the pedal when it will abruptly gear down two or three gears. It completely ruins the driving experience.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Do you think if GM added a few more ECO buttons, it could get the Equinox to get an anywhere close to those that EPA estimate of 32mpg.

        Was it MotorTrend that compared a lot of these and the the GMC version averaged like 16mpg in their test.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You need to go to the link at the end where it says "Source: Cars.com" that takes you to the full shoot out with all the scores etc.

      I rode with Joey during his test drives and the guy knows his cars. And if you look at all the scores he may have been far off on one from the other testers, but otherwise was right on the money IMHO.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like how these dumbasses keep complaining about harsh ride, and when the ride wasn't harsh, the handling wasn't good enough. Here's a quick fix for that problem...buy a wagon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a terrible bunch of auto journalism?

      Really, You compared a stripped down Rav4 to a fully equipped Chevy Equinox?

      Then, you raved about all the features in the Equinox for $28,500 and ranked it first?

      Notice that the vehicle ranking goes from least to most amount of options. So you mean to tell me average Joe prefers cars with Navi? No crap!!!

      This is not Autoblog worthy, I don't car if some reality TV B-lister is in the video or not.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Then stick to the FACTS if you want to "correct" someone! You cannot correct an opinion!
        • 4 Years Ago

        Hey Sportbike...all the fanboy enthusiasm you can muster-up isn't going to change someone else's opinion. They don't like the CR-V as much as some other vehicles in it's class.

        So take a minute and remove that Honda tailpipe from your pie hole!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not going to argue the Joey Lawrence part, it is what it is. Same with the video, which wasn't for winning over Autoblog readers who are obviously a lot more entrenched in the industry than the car shoppers who come to Cars.com.
        The other judges though were from Cars.com, USA Today and Motorweek. They weren't random.
        And all I think of the tests is that those experts with hundreds of hours of seat time in hundreds of vehicles probably have something valid to say that car shoppers might want to hear. Nothing more.
        Ah...I miss the Autoblog commenters.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I thought I addressed that error in my comments regarding more cargo room etc. I was simply saying why it did well versus the field, not the CR-V. My mistake there. It had more cargo room than some of the others, more interior space than others, and overall was a larger vehicle, well equipped (backup camera and dual rear DVDs). Plus the IIHS top safety pick.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Again, if you read the story...the manufacturers provided the vehicles to us. We gave them one rule to follow, it had to cost less than $29,000. If they sent a stripped version that was up to them. The Journey was not the second most expensive or most equipped btw. No Navi or backup camera. It had a V-6, quiet cabin and large cargo area. That's why it placed so high.

        In our sedan shootout the Hyundai Sonata won partly because of all the tech it packed at one of the lowest price points.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL, Dave misses the Autoblog posters.
        And Dave admits that the typical reader at Cars.com will fall for his argument that the Equinox has more cargo room than the CR-V.

        Welcome back to Autoblog where we correct your stats.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude keeps coming at you with the RAV4. The heck is his problem?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Do you think your readers are interested in the OPINIONS of Joey Lawrence, or anyone else for that matter.

        They are interested in MPG, cargo space, utility.

        I doubt many care about bling bling tail lights. I turned off the video at that point. Total garbage.

        Defend all you want Dave, it is a worthless ranking of vehicles based on the OPINIONS of some random people. If you think these OPINIONS have much baring on the purchase decisions of others, you think way more of yourself than you probably should.
        • 4 Years Ago
        where did I say ANYTHING about the RAV4?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @sportsbike: If the Toyota RAV-4 doesn't suck in the real world, then you might have a point. The RAV is an old, crappy car that hasn't kept pace.

        Don't blame the test, or the testers, blame Toyota.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Also, I don't want to defend the test all day here (I'm a senior editor at Cars.com, and was the original editor of Autoblog too) but if you read the story the tests were judged on a number of factors that families would consider.

      So something like a side-opening tailgate for RAV4 drastically impacted the results. Also it was really unimpressive next to the Tucson which cost $300 more and had Bluetooth, USB and lots of other bells and whistles along with a modern cabin.

      Besides the celbrity help -- done in part to tie in to a charity donation of the winning SUV by Cars.com -- Cars.com has a staunch editorial policy and we take these shootouts very seriously.

      I'd say check out Joey's scores and mine and everyone elses, they vary greatly on some vehicles and line-up on others. Just as I'd imagine the commenters here would. In the end I think the math would prove the same or very similar results even without Joey taking part.

      Also, no doubt in my mind the Forester outhandled every competitor in the mountains, bar none. And overall I think the CR-V was the most well-rounded. But the winners were very impressive too and deserved their spots.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @sportbike: Maybe, instead of complaining to Dave about the shootout, you should complain to Toyota about making such a crappy car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The CR-V was the most well rounded but placed sixth? That makes no sense to me, and it probably doesn't to others as well.

        Any reason why Hyundai chose to provide a GLS instead of a top trim, Limited Tucson?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree the OnStar NAV doesn't count for much. But even if you ignore it completely and say the Equinox has no NAV, it's still a good deal. You can get a NAV from elsewhere or if you have a smartphone, use that. Meanwhile, you have all the other features it's bringing, that you can't get on a smartphone like a power liftgate or backup camera (you can replace the rear DVD system with a pair of iPads).

        You should lay off the caps a bit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mallard and jsmeagle5,
        Thanks so much for the support.

        As for the Kia/Hyundai issue. Yes, they ride on the same platform but the two companies operate independently here in the U.S. Overall you could tell a difference between the two, especially in the transmission department. Sportage also had larger wheels leading it to be a little harsher in the ride department.

        Three Cars.com staffers actually own the new Subaru Outback 2010/2011 and none of us spent close to $29,000 on it. We thought the added size of that vehicle may have helped Subaru in this competition versus the smaller Forester. Otherwise we thought it was a very good mix of vehicles that matched our cutoff of sales and search parameters. Hence no Mitsubishi, Mazda, VW etc. And we needed time to eat and sleep too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry, I was simply voicing my opinion on the shootout. There were five others weighing in and a lot of it had to do with personal preference (from other experts) on the looks and interior of the CR-V. Plus it certainly isn't as large as the two winners. I would personally be happy buying the Forester, CR-V, Journey or Equinox in that order since I live in Chicago.

        I won't speak for Hyundai but I think they wanted something equipped well at a very low price since price factored into the judging on our end. The fact that their Tucson was so far and above the RAV4 at a nearly identical price might've hurt the RAV4 more than it helped the Tucson.

        Both the Tucson and the Sportage were just ridiculously rough riding compared to the rest of the class, except maybe the RAV4. And I think that helped the Journey and Equinox. It's very enlightening to test 9 of these vehicles back to back.

        They had many more differences than the sedans in our last shootout.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dave T,

        Don't listen to sportsbike, he is a known Japanese car troll and couldn't stand that domestics occupied the top two spots on your shootout, you can't reason with him, he's unreasonable.

        That being said, I am an admitted Ford lover, having owned many of them as well as a few other makes, I've always liked my Ford vehicles better. I do find it odd that you guys got a $28k Escape and it was an XLT opted like it was. On Ford's site $26k will get you a better equipped XLT and $27K gets you a much better equipped Limited. Maybe it was Ford's fault for providing some weird vehicle. I'm also able to admit that benig the oldest of the bunch, Escape didn't stand much chance in this shootout.

        I have to also agree with you that I think Equinox is the winner of the group. Of the ones in this group I've driven, Equinox was by far the best, for the ones I haven't, they are either too gastly or too bland to consider.
        • 4 Years Ago
        where did I say anything about Toyota?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Subbie Avy dude is a known hater. He's actually a secret GM fan.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sprotbike90- Quit your whining. The automakers CHOSE to send those cars to represent them in this test, they were not chosen by cars.com. If anything, that's a failure on the automakers marketing department. Secondly, the Equinox (2010+) and Journey (2011) have both been getting very good reviews, so the results are not a shocker. The Equinox can be optioned with a full navigation screen (in addition of OnStar), but it appears that the GM press office decided to send a vehicle optioned with the rear seat DVD entertainment system instead. Imagine that novel idea. Family's liked the idea of twin DVD screens to keep their kids quiet in the back. Does your CRV have a DVD system for backseat passangers? What about the RAV?

        Dave T. - I am satisfied with this 'shootout' and could car less about Joey Lawrence, but I won't make a fuss over him like other, whiney commenters. When shopping for a family car I care about safety, comfort, mileage, and space. I don't care about it being a body-on-frame vs. unibody (not towing a boat here) or how fast it gets to 60 mph. I've driven most of the competitors and I came to the same conclusion. The Equinox was the best bang-for-the-buck. I am curious to see if you optioned a Journey up to the $29k limit if it would overtake the Equinox. The 2011's have made a huge leap forward and now they're a true competitor in this class.

        My only gripe with this comparo is you limited each automaker to only one model (so there's no GMC/Chevy overlap), but you allowed BOTH a Hyundai and a Kia. In fact, don't the Tucsan and Sportage ride on the SAME chassis, just like the Terrain and Equinox?
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL, what idiotic criteria for comparing vehicles.

        On one hand we have lots of praise for the CR-V, yet it gets blasted for it's actual Navigation unit.

        Then the Equinox gets praised and praised, yet it was slow, didn't get anywhere near it's EPA estimated, and the Nav unit is a pay for service where you get VOICE only commands and no actual map or display.

        PUFF PIECE full of OPINIONS. Garbage review. Worthless stats and metrics.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I didn't care about Joey Lawrence, actor and whatever. As far as I'm concerned, he's just some guy with a wife and kids! He's just some guy, like me! And that is someone I do like to hear from in a review. As far as this being some "puff piece full of opinions", that is what a review is, OPINIONS!
      • 4 Years Ago
      You would have said something different if Toyota had not come in dead last.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dang, reading DAVE T's defense of their choice for the winner leads me to believe that:
      1. Dave was not actually present at this comparison.
      2. A preselected winner before the comparison was determined.
      3. The actual vehicles tested don't match what they list on their review.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like the domestic CUV's are quite competitive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It wasn't a "competition", it was a few people getting together and rating these vehicles on their "looks" like which one has the blingest tail lights. And which one has the best LED eyeliner.

        You know, the important things to people in Hollywood.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Where was the Tiguan?
      • 4 Years Ago
      The headline was more exciting than the video. Not a single "woah!" from Joey and zero information about why one SUV was better than another. Just some practical, "make sure your stuff fits inside" advice and Mr. Lawrence's opinion that bluetooth is a must-have.

      I was also left with a deep sense of shame from knowing that we Americans rejected wagons in favor of small, crossover SUVs. Either that or the music just made me feel depressed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I saw this on Motorweek awhile ago. What I didn't get was, who cares what Joey Lawrence thinks?
      • 4 Years Ago
      How would anyone consider these to be B-list? At best they are E-listers. Whoa!
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