I am an 80-year-old widow whose car is a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria with 77,000 km. It is the third Crown Vic I have driven over the past 30 years. Now it seems to be bigger than I need, since I mainly drive in the city and occasionally 50-80 km out of town. I have lost touch with developments in small cars – last one was a VW Beetle in the 1960s. Have you any suggestions re. some cars I should check out? – Gay, London, Ont.
Gentile: Wow – an 11-year-old Crown Vic with only 77,000 kms on it. Amazing! Clearly, Gay likes her Crown Vics. But there are a lot of other good options, especially when it comes to small sedans.
Richardson: Yes, she certainly doesn’t need another full-sized sedan, and today’s smaller vehicles are far more spacious inside than they used to be.
Gentile: That’s so true. Smaller cars like the Honda Civic have grown in size over the years – they’re more like Accords now. Even the trunk space has grown significantly. Gay doesn’t need too much space. She’s not shuttling around kids or cargo, so a small car would do the trick.
Richardson: I wouldn’t recommend too small for her, just for her piece of mind. She probably doesn’t need anything bigger than a Smart car, but if she’s used to the size of a Crown Vic, she’ll probably appreciate the space of a compact sedan, not a sub-compact.
Gentile: I agree. I’m thinking something reliable, not too radical, and affordable. Perhaps domestic. No point in considering Ford – with the exception of the Mustang, they’re getting out of the car business, so to speak, and focusing on SUVs. But a Chevrolet Malibu is definitely worth a look. Wouldn’t you agree?
Richardson: Actually, the Malibu is the only vehicle I’d recommend for Gay from the Detroit Three, though it’s a bit old now. Ford is all SUVs and CUVs, and Chrysler – sorry, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – is all performance and SUVs. The Chrysler 300 is the only sedan from FCA, and it’s far too large.
Gentile: Don’t discount the Chrysler 300 just yet. Gay is used to driving big vehicles. She might actually like its size and all the space inside.
Richardson: Well, you can mention it to her, but I can’t recommend it. It’s an old design and really has no redeeming features for me, aside from being built in Ontario and having a very good, optional all-wheel-drive system. But it’s expensive at $35,000 to start, and it’s still too big for her. I’d much rather suggest that she consider a sensible, comfortable, reliable mid-sized car like the $30,000 Honda Accord or the $28,000 Toyota Camry. Actually, the Malibu’s the best deal, at around $27,000 plus taxes.
Gentile: You did mention the 300’s best selling points: built in Brampton and AWD. And you usually can get great discounts on it, too. I hate to agree with you, but I also prefer the Accord or Camry over the 300. Both have excellent track records for reliability and dependability.
Richardson: To be realistic, this may be Gay’s last new car, since she seems to hang on to her cars for a while. I think she’ll want a mid-sized sedan she can trust that is comfortable and doesn’t overwhelm her with gadgetry. So she should play it safe and consider a basic Honda Accord. If she was my mom, I’d probably try to sell her on a basic Civic instead; it’s a bit smaller and less equipped, but starts at around $20,000 plus taxes.
Gentile: Honestly, all she really needs is a Honda Civic. Full disclosure: I just bought a Civic sedan to replace my nearly 20-year-old Accord. And it’s not short on space. My Accord is slightly longer and wider, but not by much. I’m single and I don’t have kids, and it’s the ideal size for one person. And it’s also made in Canada! There’s a reason why it is Canada’s best-selling passenger car for 22 years straight.
Richardson: More full disclosure: I just inherited my mother-in-law’s 15-year-old Civic sedan. She no longer drives, so it’s our second family car. In 100,000 km, nothing’s gone wrong. I think Gay might like the extra space of the Accord, but she should try out both while she’s at the dealership.
Gentile: I think Gay will be more than happy with a good ol’ reliable Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, for that matter. But if she wants that extra space, it’s definitely worth taking a test spin in an Accord or Camry.
Richardson: And if she wants domestic, take the Chevy Malibu and maybe the Chrysler 300 for a test drive, too.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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