Rating 87/100 Background Making a great thing even better is a wonderful thing indeed — like adding Al Pacino to the Ocean’s 11 cast or plugging Alex Rodriguez into the Yankees lineup. After only one year in production, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 can now be included on that “great things made better” list along with …

Rating 60/100 Background The 2008 Jeep Wrangler is not so much an SUV as an experience. It’s slow and loud, handles poorly, gets bad gas mileage, has crummy interior materials and features doors that provide virtually no crash protection. Oh, and breaking into the trunk requires nothing more than undoing a zipper.Under normal methods of …

Rating 77/100 Background The compact SUV display has gotten pretty crowded at your local Jeep store, with the traditional Patriot and stylized Compass car-based crossovers joining the larger and pricier second-generation Liberty. Similar to the old Cherokee in appearance, the 2008 Jeep Patriot is a familiar-looking four-door Jeep wagon meant to be the tougher and …

Rating 73/100 Background When trying to make a grand entrance into a party, it’s best to show up a little late and be magnificent. Just think of Scarlett O’Hara, descending a curved staircase in a miraculously elegant dress made of green curtains. The Lincoln MKX also showed up late to a party: one filled with …

Rating 75/100 Background Before CR-V and RAV4, there was Sportage. Yep, believe it or not, the Kia Sportage was one of the first small import SUVs sold in the United States. However, being first doesn’t always lead to sales success. While Honda and Toyota’s models have gone on to become incredibly popular, the first Sportage …

Rating 53/100 Background Lately, crossovers have been cropping up in the midsize SUV segment like dandelions on a freshly cut lawn. And for most folks, a crossover — which combines the high seating position, foul-weather capability and generous cargo space of a traditional SUV with handling and drive qualities of a auto — is just …

Rating 63/100 Background The Jeep Liberty first debuted six years ago as the slightly larger successor to Jeep’s original Cherokee compact sport-utility vehicle. With an ample greenhouse, high roof line and flared wheel arches, it was an evolutionary departure from that earlier SUV’s boxy design, which also paid tribute to the original Jeep Willys off-roader. …

Rating 82/100 Background Jeep’s big people mover is back for its third year of production. It’s the only seven-passenger SUV in Jeep’s lineup, and it carries the burden of providing rugged off-road abilities with luxury and convenience features for the whole family.Though its blocky exterior styling is obviously influenced by the beloved Cherokee of the …

Rating 73/100 Background If “chrome-y” were a word, it would certainly apply to the 2008 Infiniti QX56. In the full-size luxury SUV segment, tradition holds that bigger is better and, by extension, the more chrome, the better. As such, if the sheer size of the QX56 doesn’t stun your neighbors into silence, the blinding sheen …

Rating 92/100 Background Despite what its tallish SUV profile and cozy backseat might imply, the Infiniti FX45 is a sport sedan in SUV clothing. By mating a powerful 320-horsepower V8 to a modified version of the previous-generation G35’s sport-tuned chassis, Infiniti created a machine that accelerates with vigor, attacks corners eagerly and generally feels alive …

Rating 53/100 Background Although one could legitimately credit Jeep as the creator of compact sport-utilities, only recently did the company begin building the kind of small SUV that most of today’s consumers want to buy: a small, docile, car-based crossover. Introduced last year, the Jeep Compass represents a huge departure from traditional Jeep values. It’s …

Rating 75/100 Background In the past few years, a lack of new product and marketing investment has left Isuzu struggling on the fringes of the light truck market. In fact, the end of the road is now in sight: 2008 will be the company’s last year for its i-Series pickup and Ascender sport-utility vehicle, with …