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Alternative vehicle choices if you shift from Toyota

For a company known for its reliability, Toyota's suspension of sales of eight of its most popular models recently — for accelerator pedals that could stick in an open position — is more than a black eye. It's more like a chest wound. The recall covers 2.3 million models, including: 2009-2010 RAV4, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander, 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia. • If you were considering buying one of these vehicles and the recall has given you cause for concern, there are alternative vehicles to consider. Larry Printz, the Virginian-Pilot

Corolla/Matrix

There are plenty of good choices among compact cars, but three stand out: the Mazda3, available as a sedan or hatchback, and the Honda Civic, available as a coupe or a sedan. Both are more fun to drive than the Toyota and offer similar reliability. For those looking for a more Corolla-like feel, try the Hyundai Elantra.

Camry

Camry fans should consider the midsize Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, which have balanced ride and handling, include advanced safety features and are offered as gas-electric hybrids.

Another interesting choice is the Hyundai Sonata, which is not very exciting to drive but is comfortable, has good reliability and boasts conservative looks. A totally revised Sonata is about to be released, so the old model may be a good deal.

Other good choices include the Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Volkswagen CC, Honda Accord and Subaru Legacy.

Avalon

Those who like living large in a vehicle with grace, pace and space should consider the Nissan Maxima, which offers stellar performance and good looks. The redesigned Ford Taurus is a state-of-the-art sedan, while the slightly more expensive Hyundai Genesis is a perfect Avalon substitute.

RAV4

The rival Honda CR-V is a good place to start, although the new Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain offer superior fuel economy, good build quality and attention to detail.

Highlander

The Honda Pilot boasts similar accommodations at a similar price. Some may be put off by the Ford Flex's looks, but its superb balance of ride and handling, not to mention its size, make it worthy. The sporting Nissan Murano is a compelling choice.

Tundra

Full-size pickup buyers will want to consider a domestic pickup from Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge. All three offer similar performance, comfort and reliability. However, only the Chevrolet offers a gas-electric hybrid.

Sequoia

There aren't many full-size SUVs on the market, but the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon have impressive build quality, good towing ability and a wonderful ride, not to mention gas-electric hybrid models.

Other Toyotas

Not all Toyota models are affected, so many remain on dealer lots and are perfectly safe. However, if you have your doubts, other vehicles will give you peace of mind.

What to do

If you have one of these vehicles and find the throttle sticking open, Toyota advises stepping on the brake and shifting the transmission to neutral. If you can't shift the car to neutral, turn the key to the "ACC" position to shut off the engine. Do not remove the key. If your car has a push-button starter, hold it down for at least 3 seconds.

Alternative vehicle choices if you shift from Toyota 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 3:30am]
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