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2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD (Ford)
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD (Ford)

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Squeeze play: our ride is too small, our bills too big Add to ...

Hi: I own a 2011 Range Rover Sport. I find the maintenance ridiculously expensive and the car is too small for my needs. We are a family of four with two teenagers and two dogs. Weekly trips to the family cottage are squishy, especially if someone brings a friend. I’m thinking of moving to a GMC Acadia Denali – something with three rows would be better and I want to pay less on gas and maintenance. Any recommendations? – Mary Jane in Toronto

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Cato: Your Sport, Mary Jane, is ridiculously expensive – the outgoing 2013 started at $73,650. Yet Land Rover sold 415,000 Sports between 2005-2013.

And now there’s a new one coming to showrooms this summer. No price-cutting from the Indians at Tata – I mean the Brits running Jaguar Land Rover who report to a German CEO. The 2014 all-new Sport: $73,990-$104,990. The one is a delight on and off road, but I can understand your reluctance to pay a royal price for an oil change, MJ.

Vaughan: Cato, if MJ is going to deal a $90,000 Range Rover Sport after only two years, I don’t think she’s too concerned about the dough. She has to try the new one before she writes off the brand.

It’s all-new, all-aluminum and much lighter and fuel-efficient than the old steel-bodied one she’s in. The one to get is the Range Rover Sport SE, the so-called starter model. There’s no need to blow another 20 grand on the Supercharged version.

Speaking of blowing money – Range Rover had Daniel Craig, the Sean Connery-wannabe, drive the new one into a big event before the New York Auto Show. They blocked streets and bridges and shut down half the city to film the thing. Now that’s blowing dough!

Cato: I am thrilled to see that you read my story about the Sport in Globe Drive. Yes, as you noted from my piece, the 2014 model is roomier, faster and, best of all, it has car-like construction, not that truck frame borrowed from the LR4/Discovery.

But I did a little reading, too – MJ’s letter. And she was clear about wanting to put an end to wallet-busting tire rotations. For me, if she wants to pocket car money, two teenagers and two dogs equals station wagon, or the equivalent. That’s a Ford Flex: $44,399 for the Limited with all-wheel drive, minus whatever Ford Canada will deal. Here we have the most under-appreciated wagon on the market. There’s room inside for plenty of bodies and boxes.

Vaughan: And bodies in boxes. I thought it looked like a hearse when it first came out, but they’ve restyled it significantly. It doesn’t have the sex appeal of the Range Rover, but it is a totally comfortable rig for the cottage run. You can get six or seven people in it or five plus a couple of dogs. It is even more Range Rover-like in appearance now and you can probably get two of them for the price you paid for your current RR.

Cato: Precisely. I love the Flex. Fellows your age will love the slightly higher hip point and seating just a smidge taller than a car. So easy to slide in, rather than climb in, as with the Sport. The perfect livery car, by the way.

I might say something similar about the Acadia Denali ($55,335 minus incentives). Very comfy and a good value.

You know, Mary Jane is the first reader or viewer ever to ask about this rig. Ever. In a decade. Maybe GM’s long climb out of Government Motors hell is gaining traction. Dan Akerson said so at the last shareholders’ meeting.

This is a suitable rig for their needs. Car-based, 3.6-litre engine, reasonably reliable and they’ll surely have the distinction of driving the only Acadia Denali on the block, in the neighbourhood and likely in the city and province.

2013 GMC Acadia Denali
 

Vaughan: You’re such a GM doubter, Cato. They got Akerson out of the Carlyle Group, one of the big U.S. private equity firms. This guy’s no Mitt Romney; I think he can fix GM.

But even Akerson can’t fix the Acadia Denali. It’s just another name for the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook. Oops, that’s right, they killed off Saturn. Maybe GMC will be next. So let me suggest something. Dodge Durango. You know the story of this one, Cato.

Cato: A last note about a quick option: Mary Jane seems open to domestics, and the Dodge Durango fits the bill. Why hasn’t the ’Rango caught on like, say, a Mercedes-Benz ML or GL? Big disappointment given it’s at heart an ML/GL in Dodge sheetmetal. If Mary Jane wants a “German” SUV at Dodge prices and maintenance costs, here it is.

Vaughan: Durango is a huge surprise and a great value. Flex would do the job nicely at a reasonable price. But I say give the new Range Rover Sport one more try.

Cato: You would. You’re spending her money.

2014 Range Rover Sport

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

HOW THEY COMPARE



2014 Range Rover Sport SE2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD2013 GMC Acadia Denali AWD

Wheelbase (mm)

2,9232,9943,021

Length (mm)

4,8505,1255,101

Width (mm)

2,0731,9282,003

Height (mm)

1,7801,7261,789

Engine

3.-litre V-6, supercharged3.5-litre V-63.6-litre inline six-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

340/332 lb-ft287/254 lb-ft288/270 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel driveAll-wheel driveAll-wheel drive

Transmission

Eight-speed automaticSix-speed automaticSix-speed automatic

Curb Weight (kg)

2,1442,1062,219

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

12.6 city/8.6 highway12.2 city/8.6 highway13.3 city/8.8 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$73,990$44,399$55,335

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV

Send your automotive questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

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