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I have a 2014 Honda CR-V, with about 90,000 kilometres. I’m single and retired. It’s been an excellent vehicle. I’d like to get a new SUV, primarily to get Android Auto and some safety features that didn’t exist six years ago. I cycle a lot, and like to drop my bike in the back without taking off the front wheel. I also cross-country ski. Must haves include all-wheel drive. Cheaper is good, but I want a vehicle that will age well so if I need to pay a bit more, that’s okay. What do you suggest? – Vicki

Gentile: It’s always nice to have the latest 2020 model, but if Vicki is looking to save some cash, she might want to consider a 2019 model this fall. Dealers are anxious to move them to make room for the 2020 models in their showroom.

Richardson: The 2019 will always be less expensive than the 2020. This is such a hot segment, though, that the vehicles are all improving every year. Nobody’s sitting on their laurels.

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Gentile: I agree. And everyone is upping the ante – offering more safety and connectivity features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are items Vicki wants in her new car.

Richardson: Toyota has only begun offering Android Auto in the 2020 RAV-4, and isn’t confirming it will be in the smaller C-HR, so let’s rule out both of them right now.

Gentile: Let’s also rule out the CR-V, since we can assume Vicki’s already considered replacing her older CR-V with the new model. We always advise sticking with what you’re happy with, or the dealership you like, so that should automatically be on her short list.

Richardson: As well, if there’s any make that Vicki really doesn’t like, for any reason at all, she should strike it off her list right now. If you think a car is ugly today, then it’s still going to be ugly next year and you won’t want look at it every morning.

Gentile: Ugly on the outside of a car is easy to live with – inside is another story. That’s where you spend most of your time so Vicki should make sure she loves everything inside, is comfortable in the driver’s seat, and she finds the infotainment system easy to use and intuitive.

Richardson: So, what to recommend? If she wants to go smaller, I’d start with the Hyundai Kona. It’s the least expensive AWD vehicle in Canada and it can be bought with all the features Vicki’s looking for. It starts at about $28,000 for the AWD version, after all the taxes and stupid freight charges.

Hyundai Kona

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Gentile: I like the Hyundai Kona. It’s affordable and practical, but Vicki is pretty active and outdoorsy. If she cycles and skis, she really should have something larger with more space for her gear. I think we should discount the subcompacts altogether and focus on compact SUVs.

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Richardson: Actually, no – put the rear seats down and fit a roof rack or a bicycle rack, and two people can carry a lot of gear with a city-friendly car. But I’ll humour you with this, Petrina. What do you think for something bigger?

Gentile: I’m thinking a Subaru Outback – I just drove the all-new 2020 Outback and it’s impressive. It looks similar to the 2020 model on the outside, and I actually prefer the infotainment system on the 2019 model: It’s less complicated than the new version and has more traditional hard buttons for items such as the heated front seats. It’ll be way more spacious than a Kona.

2020 Subaru Outback

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Richardson: How’s the drive for the new Outback?

Gentile: Loved the 260 horsepower 2.4 litre turbocharged boxer engine – it was sporty and fun. Much better than the 182 hp, 2.5 litre boxer engine, which felt a bit underpowered compared to the turbo. But it has a few cool features on the roof rack including cross bars on the roof with new cross loops at the front and rear so it’s easier to attach items to the roof. That could come in handy for Vicki.

Richardson: But it will be a fair bit more costly than the 2019, and we’re looking for a good deal for Vicki, right?

Gentile: The 2020 starts with an MSRP of $30,695, but Vicki said she’d be willing to pay more for a vehicle that will “age well.” If she’s tight on cash, she should consider a 2019 Subaru Outback. She’ll likely get a good price on it right now.

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Richardson: I think another car that will age well, which will tick off all Vicki’s boxes, is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Lots of space in what’s more of a crossover than a wagon, plenty of modern features, good to drive, and it’ll hold its value into the future. Today, you can drive it out of the showroom for about $36,000.

2019 Golf All Track

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Gentile: That’s another good option, but the 2020 Subaru Outback is only a thousand bucks more out the door. Value for money, I think Vicki would be way better off with a 2019 Subaru Outback – it sells now for at least $4,000 less and it will also hold its value in the future. That’s my pick for Vicki.

Richardson: Give me tried and tested anytime. I’ll take a vehicle that’s proven itself, like the Alltrack, or the much less costly Sportwagen if Vicki doesn’t care so much about power. But for value for money, the AWD Kona wins hands down.

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

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