My wife (80) and I (83) live in a small town outside Toronto. There is no transit. My wife has a 2010 Hyundai Tucson; we have had zero trouble with this car, it has 190,000 kilometres on the clock and is our family car. I have a Kia Rio5 Hatch that I love for local trips. We are both relatively active – not perfect, but okay. We have been discussing trading in the Tucson, but what do we buy? How much longer can we expect to drive? Do we buy new or used? We have contemplated a Toyota RAV4 or a Subaru Forester, but we want to make this decision, not have it made for us. – Elizabeth & John
Richardson: You’re asking a lot of questions here, John.
Gentile: That’s okay – we have a lot of answers!
Richardson: Let’s start with the question of how much longer you can expect to drive. The easy answer is, for as long as you’re healthy.
Gentile: All the provinces have similar rules. In Ontario, once you turn 80, you must take a government test every two years to demonstrate you’re healthy enough – physically and mentally – to still drive.
Richardson: This is more of a general cognitive test than anything. It’s a 90-minute group session that includes a talk about modern rules of the road, an eyesight test and a written test. It’s looking more for signs of dementia than knowledge of driving.
Gentile: If you pass the screening, the government will renew your driver’s licence.
Richardson: But you’re only as healthy as you feel. My mother-in-law is 84 and has a valid driver’s licence, but she stopped driving this year. Her eyesight is failing and although her doctor has cleared her, she’s not comfortable any more behind the wheel.
Gentile: A licence represents so much more to seniors, especially men. My dad stopped driving after he was severely burned from a grass fire gone horribly wrong on the family farm, but he still kept going for his licence. He died at 87 with a valid driver’s licence and his old F-150 pickup parked in the driveway fully insured, although no one drove it. It represented his manhood. But if you’re healthy and fit there’s no reason why you can’t drive in your 90s.
Richardson: It’s unusual, though. Most people stop driving before 90 years old, for whatever reason.
Gentile: If John and Elizabeth plan on driving for a few more years yet – and I hope they do and continue their active lifestyle – they should invest in another car that will be reliable for those years.
Richardson: Yes, that Tucson has a lot of distance on it. It may have been trouble-free, but things wear out a lot more quickly after 200,000 km.
Gentile: A used car will cost less, but a new car will include a mechanical warranty that guarantees reliability, just in case.
Richardson: And some warranties are better than others.
Gentile: True. Mitsubishi has a 10-year warranty.
Richardson: Which is exceptional, but it’s just for the powertrain and will run out at 160,000 km, if that comes first, which it probably will. Mitsubishi’s limited warranty for most everything else is good for 100,000 km, or five years. Which is still good compared to others.
Gentile: Most makers’ warranties are five years for the powertrain and three years for everything else, with similar downsized limits to the mileage.
Richardson: Mazda and Tesla are the only automakers with unlimited mileages for their warranties. John and Elizabeth could be racking on the distance if they keep driving as they’ve driven the Tucson.
Gentile: Well, I don’t think a Tesla is for them. A Mazda CX-5 would do the trick, but I prefer the RAV4 over the CX-5 – it was on their shortlist, it’s safe, reliable, and affordable. But I think they should consider another Tucson – they haven’t had issues with their last one. Why not stick to the same brand?
Richardson: They’ll see a big difference between their Tucson and the new model, and the dealership will probably bend over backward to keep them as customers.
Gentile: I agree. The Tucson is a great vehicle – comfortable, fuel-efficient and value-packed. But it might be worthwhile to cross-shop it against the Kia Sportage. What do you think?
Richardson: The Sportage is good value and has a good warranty, but I don’t think there’s anything “special” about it. To my mind, it’s just another SUV. If Elizabeth and John can afford it, they should have something that’s a bit special, since this is likely their final vehicle.
Gentile: And they mentioned the Subaru Forester – that wouldn’t be my first pick for them.
Richardson: They should visit a Subaru dealership to have a look at the Forester, but I think they’ll find it easier to get in and out of a taller vehicle such as the RAV4 or the Tucson.
Gentile: My pick for Elizabeth and John is another Hyundai Tucson. They had great service with it before, so why not try it again?
Richardson: Maybe they’ve had a falling out with their Hyundai dealer. If that’s the case, they should go straight to a Toyota or Mazda dealer and try those SUVs for size.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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