The VUE and Rogue share the hooligan trait of trading away cargo-hold functionality for the sportier looks of an angled rear. Beyond that, they're chalk and cheese, matter and anti-matter (don't let them touch).

Turning the lunch conversation volume up again: "The Rogue's handling is almost amazing given the crossover platform," continues St. Antoine, "impressive front-end grip, nice balance, and tactile steering. A lot of fun to drive, though the ride can be brutal."

Like the VUE and the Rogue, it's tempting to pair the RAV4 and CR-V as the two corporate-mindset 'utes. They're detailed-oriented. Consensus mongers. Nothing about them suggests the dice having rolled more than one tumble from their last iterations. The downside is being slightly-yaaawn (pardon me)-predictable. That's not to knock attention to detail; these two take the OSHA prize for human factors. Both have twin gloveboxes, the Honda has a flip-down tray between the front seats, both have triple-split reclining rear seats with built-in armrests, and the RAV's spare tire is attached to the swinging rear door, freeing up interior room (though at the price of partly blocking access to it). The principal ergo knocks go against the CR-V. One is its cranium-cracking door-opening to the back seat; the other, its strangely low-cut rear seatback cushion. Loh: "It makes my shoulders feel naked, like I'm wearing a sundress. Ah, you're not putting that in the story-right?" (Moi?)

And their dynamics? LaPalme: "After driving the Saturn and Forester, I got into the RAV and CR-V and thought, good gosh, there are horrible seams and bumps in this road I didn't even realize were there." St. Antoine: "The CR-V is disappointing in terms of ride. And I'm shocked at the RAV's ride. Typically, when you get into a Toyota, you expect soft and cushy." Through the back-and-forth curves, the Honda also has a peculiar squirmy thing going on: tiny gyrations deep down in its suspension joints. Worms in the bushings, maybe.