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I bought my first new car, a Mercedes GLK 250 SUV, about three years ago. I’ve only put 11,000 km on it, and since then I’ve taken on some added financial responsibilities that make the payments uncomfortable. What do I replace it with? I’m looking for a car with payments near $250/biweekly with $6,000 to $8000 down. I’m a fan of the new XC40, but balk at the price increase to get out of cloth seating. —Kevin, Edmonton

Lightstone: Kevin, I’m right there with you for the Volvo XC40 – it’s a great crossover in looks and how it drives.

Richardson: Agreed, but Kevin has a specific budget in mind. Does the new XC40 fall into the plan of $250 every two weeks?

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Lightstone: Well, if we look at a basic Momentum model with the AWD drivetrain, it has a starting price of $44,557 (that includes freight and PDI and fees, but the base MSRP is $40,300). Plop down $8,000 and, with a huge 24,000 kilometre mileage cap per year, and over a 48-month lease, you’re in well under that at $206.72 at 3.9 per cent.

Richardson: I’ve never known you to come in under budget before.

Lightstone: Even if Kevin adds in the $2,600 package needed to get the leather seats – which also includes a panoramic sunroof, fog lights and an electrically adjustable passenger seat – the bimonthly payments rise by less than $20 with the same amount down, and over the same leasing period.

Volvo XC40.

Richardson: And the standard seats on the XC40 Momentum are actually a leatherette combination with cloth and very comfortable. More kid friendly, for sure.

Lightstone: Now, Kevin knows he can afford the leather if he can swallow the $2,600 extra for the entire package. Car makers always want to sell you a package instead of specifics.

Richardson: I don’t like the small, vertical display screen on the XC40, though. Too many touch buttons without enough real buttons. Even just changing the radio station can be a chore.

Lightstone: But the important stuff is there. It’s solid, safe and powerful, and it stands out in its design from other premium compact SUVs.

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Richardson: Okay, so he can get the XC40 within his budget, but what are his other options? How about the Jaguar E-Pace?

Jaguar E-Pace.

David Shepherd

Lightstone: That’s in his budget, too. Right now, Jag is offering the E-Pace for $498 a month over 42 months at 4.0 per cent, with $6,000 down. That deal allows a measly 56,000 kilometres, a lot less than the Volvo, but four times what Kevin’s driven in the last three years.

Richardson: If he likes the Volvo, I think he’ll love the Jag – and there’s a dealer in Edmonton.

Lightstone: You know, the E-Pace looks physically smaller than the XC40 from the outside, but with the rear seats folded down, it actually has about 140 more litres of cargo space.

Richardson: It’s a very well-thought-out vehicle. Jaguar was late to the table with its SUVs, but they’re right on the money now and checking off a lot of boxes for many buyers. When Tata bought the company 10 years ago, it sank a lot of cash into research and development, and didn’t rush to do the job right.

Lightstone: But the brand is still expensive. The same luxury and performance can be found elsewhere for less coin. There’s another option Kevin might consider, from Nissan’s premium brand.

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Richardson: You mean the new Infiniti QX50? It’s a good looking small-to-midsize SUV that’s loaded with technology and very satisfying to drive. People tend to miss Infinitis on their way to the German showrooms, but they’re reliable and attractive. Like me.

Infinit QX50.

INFINITI

Lightstone: It’s a good deal for Kevin. All the trims have the same 268 hp 2.0-litre engine, which is just the right size for this vehicle. And he can get into a lease for the most basic model for $456 a month over 48 months, with $6,000 down. That’s a 2.99-per-cent interest rate, and he’ll get 16,000 km a year for that – the ultra-low kilometres plan. And if he wants real leather seats instead of “leatherette,” it’ll be $495 a month, which is still comfortably under budget.

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Miranda at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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