I drive a 2014 Hyundai Elantra but would like to replace it with something that has a higher seating position (I have a bad back), and we are expecting our first child. Ideally, we would like something with AWD, a quiet, smooth ride (I love my car, but it reminds me of a tractor on bumpy roads), above-average safety features and reliable. Heated steering wheel and a comfy cabin would be lovely to have. I’m hoping to keep it below $40,000. Know any vehicle that meets my needs or am I being too demanding? – Thrifty (but picky)
Gentile: I’d consider a subcompact crossover vehicle; it’ll have a higher ride height and more space than your Elantra. There are many new options and some have new, added safety features you’d expect to find on more expensive, luxury vehicles.
Richardson: I’d go up in size if there’ll be a baby in a car carrier in the back row. Those little sprogs take up a lot of space, what with the cavernous seat, and the stroller and the fold-up cot and the bag full of essentials. The odds are there’ll be a second child along in the car’s lifetime, too.
Gentile: Don’t jump the gun. There are some subcompacts that are spacious with plenty of room for a baby seat, strollers, toys and playpens.
Richardson: Such as?
Gentile: The Hyundai Kona has AWD and 544 litres of cargo space. It has a range of safety features including blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist, rear-cross traffic collision warning and forward collision-avoidance assist. That’s all on the luxury trim, which costs about $28,000, well below Thrifty’s budget. What are you thinking – a more expensive three-row SUV?
Richardson: Not at all – those are for when there are teenagers in the family. But Thrifty needs a bit more space. A subcompact is ideal for single people and couples, who rarely use the back seat except as somewhere to toss sandwich wrappers, or shuttling the occasional grandchild. More regular duty back there needs a bigger car.
Gentile: So what do you recommend?
Richardson: Thrifty clearly wants an SUV, with its taller seat height and more-common AWD. So do most new buyers these days. The comfy cabin and extra safety features come standard on the higher-end trims of everything. So, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe. I’d start with those three.
Gentile: If you’re looking at those SUVs, I’d pick a Toyota RAV4 instead. It’s made in Canada. It rolls off the line at Toyota’s manufacturing plants in Ontario – in Woodstock and Cambridge. We’re better off supporting Canadian-made vehicles, nowadays.
Richardson: If you’re going to wrap yourself in the flag, the Honda CR-V is also built in Ontario. The CR-V and the RAV4 are the most popular SUVs in Canada, but I think the three I mentioned might be a little better value for money.
Gentile: I disagree. And incidentally you read my mind; my second pick is the Honda CR-V. There’s a reason why so many Canadians buy the CR-V and RAV4 – they’re reliable, safe and value-packed. You can get both well equipped for under 40 grand. Thrifty won’t be disappointed.
Richardson: And they’ve both been around since the 1990s, longer than the rest. Buyers like them and pass on the word, and happy drivers stick with what they know and the dealerships they buy them from. That’s why I suggest Thrifty heads back to his Hyundai dealership first.
Gentile: Yes, it’s worth visiting his Hyundai dealership first – test the Santa Fe for you and the Kona, for me, since he’s already there. Let us know what you think. But the RAV4 and CR-V are definitely worth a spin, too.
Richardson: When you go to any of these dealerships, Thrifty, take the child seat with you. You’ll be spending a lot of time clipping it in and out. But I think you’ll only do it the one time with the Kona before giving up.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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