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2010 Nissan Cube Credit: Nissan (Nissan)
2010 Nissan Cube Credit: Nissan (Nissan)

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In search of a real geezer pleaser Add to ...

I drive a 2005 Toyota Echo hatchback which, given my age, might be my last car. I am built like the proverbial brick outhouse: large-boned, heavy muscled and chubby. My friend Bernie, a human dynamo, is slight, and he recently bought a new Toyota Corolla. I hate the thing. They have done to it what they did to the Toyota Yaris: lowered the front roof line and I can't get into it without the front door being wide open. When our lease was up on the Echo, we looked at the Yaris. No good; couldn't get into it, and I made the sales girl laugh when I illustrated the way my head banged against the roof line. Point is, not all baby boomers are created equal. Not all of us are rich enough to buy an SUV. What I believe all these car makers are forgetting is that they ain't making as many youngsters as in the past. It's us oldsters that will be the buyers. You might mention that in your next article. Always read what you have to say. - Derek in Cambridge, Ont.

More related to this story

2011 Scion xB

Cato: Age-wise, you, Vaughan, can empathize and commiserate with Derek. You are not "large-boned" nor are you "heavily muscled," however. Chubby? Hmm. We can all agree you are an aging boomer like Derek, and you and Derek both indulge in a good rant.

Vaughan: If there's anyone who needs the door wide open to get in, it's you, Cato. Besides, Derek was expressing an axiom that seems to be getting lost by the car industry - fish where the fish are.

Cato: Now that's original and insightful and pithy, even. You and Derek will get along fine spinning fish yarns.

Vaughan: His point was that auto makers, with their obsession on youth, often overlook the people who actually have the dough to buy their stuff. I think Derek should hang onto his 2005 Echo if that's the Toyota he can both afford and fit into. But I think Toyota lost a sale because it didn't fish where the fish are.

Cato: Trout? Bass? Suckers?

Vaughan: Boomers. You've definitely reached the Back Nine yourself, Cato, and there are lots of other aging boomer jocks playing the holes ahead of you. Boomers were the biggest demographic bulge ever and they still buy plenty of cars, just not many low-slung cars.

Cato: I smell a rant. Toyota missed a sale because they pushed Derek toward a Yaris, the replacement for the Echo.

The Yaris was never aimed at Derek, or older fellows such as yourself. It arrived as a youth model with a crazy marketing push hung on the apocryphal "Uncle Yaris." The idea was to get a youth buzz going and with it Toyota planned to sell plenty of Yaris accessories to young people who like to jazz up their cars.

Cheapskates like you spend nothing on accessories. That's why Toyota went fishing where the fish were - the spendthrift youth market. Sales to boomers like you and Derek earn almost nothing in profit. Toyota went fishing for profits and caught them with the Yaris.

Vaughan: So what about Scion, the youth brand? You have confused me, Cato, but that's nothing new.

If you're not carrying a skateboard, Scion doesn't want to talk to you but I think there's a Scion that's perfect for senior citizens and it's the xB ($18,270 base). Yet Scion is flogging sway bars and coloured brake calipers and iPod connectivity when it should be emphasizing the great big front door, the wide comfy seats and your favourite - the high hip point. The xB is a box on wheels with the functionality and value that make it perfect for retirement homes.

Cato: You've nailed your description of the xB.

Here's another box that would suit Derek perfectly: the aptly named Nissan Cube ($17,398 for the 1.8S). Again, another box on wheels and a hugely roomy one inside, to boot.

As with the xB, Nissan has aimed the Cube at the youth market, but the last one I saw on the road was being driven by a portly, fiftysomething boomer. No, it was not you behind the wheel.

Vaughan: Forget the Cube. Derek's a Toyota guy. The Scion xB for 18,000 bucks is a great deal. Without the weird colours it even looks presentable. I think Derek might want to avoid Sizzling Crimson Mica and Stingray Metallic and get a nice white one or maybe a grey one.

I don't think he'll need the standard MP3/WMA/AAC compatibility - whatever that is - but he can listen to geezer stations on the AM radio through six speakers.

Cato: If he needs help finding them, he can have a look the radio presets in your car.

Okay, a third option for Derek: the Kia Soul ($18,595 for 2.0L). Another roomy box and, like these other two, the starting price is well below $20,000.

Vaughan: Lead the revolution, Derek. Be the first one at Extendicare to drive a Scion. Power to the people - old people.

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.

HOW THEY COMPARE



2011 Scion xB base

2010 Nissan Cube 1.8S

2011 Kia Soul 2.0L

Wheelbase (mm)

2,600

2,530

2,550

Length (mm)

4,250

3,980

4,105

Width (mm)

1,760

1,695

1,785

Height (mm)

1,590

1,650

1,610

Engine

2.4-litre four-cylinder

1.8-litre four-cylinder

2.0-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

158/162 lb-ft

122/127 lb-ft

142/137 lb-ft

Drive system

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Transmission

Five-speed manual

Six-speed manual

Five-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1,373

1,270

1,285

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.5 city/7.2 highway

8.1 city/6.6 highway

8.6 city/6.5 highway

Base price

$18,270

$17,398

$18,595

Source: Car manufacturers

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