Plain (Petite) Jane

Shop the competition, and the first thing you'll notice about the SX4 is its diminutive size. A family friend who owns a Honda Fit said my test car looked tiny. Technically, it isn't: The SX4 has roughly the same footprint as cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but its height — 60.8 inches — is tall for this class, and that gives it a stubby, thin appearance. A benefit of that is the SX4's tall windows, which translates into excellent sight lines all around. That — and the car's relatively impressive 34.8-foot turning circle — makes this car great for city driving. At my North Chicago condo, I have to thread cars down a back alley to park in my garage. The SX4? Piece o' cake.

As cakes come, though, it's a bland one. Elements from the headlights to the fenders fit a cohesive styling theme, but that theme seems to be "forgettable design." This doesn't necessarily spell doom for the SX4: Toyota has struck automotive vanilla with the new Corolla, but that hasn't stopped droves of shoppers from choosing it.

See also:

Ride & Handling
It's a good thing that the SX4 handles better than it looks. It's as nimble as the pros in this class — we're talking the likes of a Lancer, Mazda3 or Focus. The steering wheel requires a bit mo ...

Emergency Service
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Operating Your Vehicle
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