I need a new car that comfortably fits four tall/bigger individuals, in the 6-foot-4-inch range. Not into minivans, gargantuan SUVs or top-of-the-line overpriced products. Must be city-friendly for tight parking. Have tried some beautiful, traditional four-door sedans but they’re too low to the ground to get out of. At the recent Toronto car show, I hooked up with another tall guy and scouted the cars out. We both sat in the back row with the front seats fully back, but we couldn’t find one model where we could actually get into the back seat, yet alone sit with our knees straight. – Marc
Richardson: Marc’s pushed himself into a corner here. A sedan is too low to the ground, but a spacious SUV that would easily fit three tall adults in the back is too big.
Gentile: Sounds like Marc’s vehicle can only be a compact or mid-size SUV.
Richardson: He’s also being a little unrealistic. He wants the front seats pushed fully to the back and yet still enough space for comfortable leg room behind them. There’s usually a compromise here, and even tall passengers don’t need the front seat as far back as it will go.
Gentile: It normally goes farther back than you’d want just to make it easier to get in and out.
Richardson: If you want stretch-out leg space in both rows, you want either a full-size vehicle or a stretched vehicle. At the show, Marc and his friend should have sat in the front to set the seats comfortably, then sat in the back.
Gentile: Let’s look at some options here. Marc, have you considered a South Korean brand - maybe a Kia Sportage?
Richardson: What’s so great about a Kia Sportage?
Gentile: Value for money. The base model starts around $25,000 and that comes with a 2.4-litre engine with 181 hp. I’d pay a little more for the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 237 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0-litre turbo is powerful and gutsy, yet smooth and refined. And you get more goodies with the higher model trims, including some impressive tech to keep you safer on the road.
Richardson: A Kia is always good value, but the model with the turbo engine starts at $39,595. I wouldn’t call that “a little more.”
Gentile: Marc never told us what he wants to spend, so maybe he’s good with the higher-end trim.
Richardson: At least the Sportage’s rear seats recline a little, which helps headroom if it’s needed. The rear doors open nice and wide, too, which really helps getting in and out.
Gentile: Mark, you can’t deny the Sportage has one of the nicest interiors on the market. It’s classy, well laid-out and looks way more expensive than it is. After all, you spend most of your time inside the car – it’d better be nice.
Richardson: I think Marc’s going to have to bite the bullet though and accept the laws of physics. He should look at the larger Kia Sorento. It’s $3,000 more, but it has more leg room and shoulder room all around.
Gentile: I also like Kia’s sister SUV, the Hyundai Tucson. Hyundai has come a long way since its Pony days. The Tucson’s styling is sharp, and the new colours are gorgeous. I’m sick and tired of seeing grey and black SUVs. The Tucson gets a splash of cool shades, including gemstone red and aqua blue.
Richardson: I have a 2005 Tucson, and it’s awful. My kids also drive it, and I didn’t want them driving a cool car – just a safe car. Mine’s a forgettable dark blue. Something always seems to be breaking. My mechanic calls it his daughter’s college fund.
Gentile: Like I said, though – Hyundai’s come a long way, even since 2005. The new Tucson is night and day over its predecessors. It has to be to compete in this market.
Richardson: Right now, one of the nicest compact SUVs is the Mazda CX-5. Mazda really sweats the small stuff to make its new vehicles comfortable and refined, and for its size, the CX-5 probably has the most rear passenger room among its competition.
Gentile: The only way to know for sure is to sit in one, like Marc did at the auto show.
Richardson: But don’t slide those front seats way back – they don’t need to go that far. It’s an SUV, not a Tardis.
What car should you buy? Write to Petrina and Mark at email@example.com.
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