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Consumer Reports: 6 redesigned cars that fail to deliver

March 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
When you hear the word redesign, you probably think a product is going to get much-needed improvements. But that's not always the case. Some car redesigns actually end up backfiring.

Consumer Reports' engineers assess every aspect of the vehicles they test - everything from how well the car handles, to how well the interior is laid out.

When a redesigned vehicle is tested, you expect to see significant improvements, but their testing showed the Toyota 4Runner, along with five others, doesn't deliver.

"The 4Runner doesn't handle very well. It basically bobs down the road. We'd also like a nicer interior for over $37,000. Plus, when you're driving, it's pretty loud inside," said the Consumer Reports' Tom Mutchler.

They found that the redesigned BMW X5 has poorer visibility. And of the six, the new Volkswagen Jetta was their biggest disappointment.

The Jetta used to be really fun to drive and had a very nice interior. But this car has lost its agility, and the interior looks downright cheap," Mutchler said.

Consumer Reports' tests show the Toyota Sienna, the Mercedes E350, and the Honda Odyssey - while still very good performers - are not quite as good as the vehicles they replaced. They say that overall, this is a troubling trend.

"Two areas where we often see a decline are in vehicle handling and controls. Now both of these can affect safety, so you want them to get better, not worse," Mutchler said.

If you're interested in one of these vehicles but aren't thrilled by Consumer Reports' findings, look for an earlier model before the redesign. An added bonus is you'll save some money buying used.

Finally, Consumer Reports said not all redesigns are a disappointment. Several new ones they tested are significantly improved, including the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Kia Sportage.