We are in our mid 60s and looking for a new SUV or CUV. I am tall (195 centimetres) and need lots of leg room. We keep our cars for 10 years, basically drive them into the ground, and drive about 17,000 kilometres a year. I am planning to retire in a few years and we may do some driving trips. Our budget was originally $50,000, which we’ve raised to $60,000 as this will be a ‘reward car.’
We currently have a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, which has good legroom and headroom in the front and rear seats. We find many SUVs have very little rear headroom. We’ve looked at the Nissan Murano, but it seems like an upgraded Rogue; Lexus RX350; Cadillac XT5; and MDX. We’ve always bought North American, but we’re open to others. Do you have any other suggestions? – Graham
Gentile: I love the fact Graham drives a Canadian-made vehicle – the Equinox is one of GM’s most popular vehicles. It rolls off the line at GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., for now. But there are bigger plans for that plant down the road.
Richardson: Yeah, they’re going to make electric delivery vans, right?
Gentile: You got it! GM and Ottawa are investing nearly $1-billion to retool the CAMI plant to produce the BrightDrop EV600 delivery vans, making it Canada’s first large-scale electric manufacturing facility.
Richardson: Graham doesn’t want a delivery van though. He wants a successor to his Equinox. I’d have suggested the Cadillac XT5 as a natural step up, but it sounds like he tried it and dismissed it. It starts at below $45,000 and almost tops out around $60,000 after taxes. I wonder why he doesn’t like it?
Gentile: Cadillac’s XT5 does seem like a natural fit for his next vehicle. It would make a great “reward” car as he put it. It’s luxurious and comfortable inside with pleasant road manners. Not sure why he dismissed it? Or the Lexus RX350, for that matter? That’s another one of my favourite Canadian-made SUVs.
Richardson: Well, reading his letter more closely, he may not have actually dismissed either of them; he might like them both, but just be looking for other alternatives. So I’ll make sure he doesn’t forget about the new turbo-charged Mazda CX-5. It’s a gorgeous vehicle with one of the most driveable engines you can buy.
Gentile: It is, but Graham is looking for a “reward” car. Mazda won’t cut it. He wants to move upscale as he approaches retirement. Think luxury, my friend.
Richardson: Don’t be such a snob. Mazda considers its Signature series as a premium version of its regular vehicles and they’re really quite luxurious. I don’t think Graham’s so concerned for the brand as he is for the experience itself, and the CX-5 is definitely a reward, so long as it’s the turbo.
Gentile: I disagree. When you think of a “reward” car, Mazda doesn’t come to mind. Ever. Let’s look at a luxury vehicle like perhaps a Volvo XC40?
Richardson: I’d be happy to buy myself a $45,000 Mazda as a reward. I don’t need to throw my money away on a nameplate to impress people I’ve never met. But we can move on to the Volvo if you insist. It will make Graham feel special, that’s for sure. I think he’ll want the larger XC60, though, since legroom and headroom is important. It starts below $50,000 and it’s well equipped at that price.
Gentile: True. He’s quite tall. It’s a beautiful, well-equipped and luxurious SUV. On long drives I find Volvo seats to be so comfortable and supportive. Graham will appreciate them on all the road trips he has planned.
Richardson: There’s reasonable headroom in the back seats too, which can’t be said for the smaller XC40. If he’s truly looking for a reward and wants to spend $60,000, how about the Benz? That’s one in the eye for the neighbours!
Gentile: Now you’re finally talking! Nothing says you’ve made it like a three-pointed star. I’m thinking the GLA, which starts around $42,400 – that gives Graham plenty of room to add a few well-deserved extras and stay within his $60,000 budget.
Richardson: But headroom and legroom is a priority. The GLA isn’t that big. I think he’ll want a GLC at least, which starts at $50,000 but will push that budget with just the base model after taxes.
Gentile: I don’t mind the headroom and legroom in the front seats of the GLA, but I’m 5-foot-5, or just 165 cm. Skip the GLC – it’s out of his budget. So what are you thinking?
Richardson: You’d have headroom in a vintage Mini! I’m thinking Graham should consider a used GLC that’s precertified from his local Mercedes dealer if he wants the bells and whistles and the space. Or maybe a lightly used BMW X5 or Audi Q5.
Gentile: Used might be the way to go if he’s open to trying something other than a North American-made SUV. Both the X5 and Q5 have pleasant road manners and good head- and legroom. But I still prefer a Canadian-made car for Graham, like the Lexus RX – it’s one of my favourites in the segment.
Richardson: The RX is more expensive than the Mercedes, starting at $56,650, so it’ll need to be a used model – the 2020 was a refreshed model year. But if Graham shares your disdain for Mazda, I’d recommend the more engaging, American-built Cadillac XT5. It’s a reward car for sure, and it’s not a silly price.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org and use ‘What car’ as as part of your subject line. E-mails with different subject lines may not be answered.
Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.