We’re looking for a low-mileage used car that we will likely drive into the ground. Most days it will be a commuter car for my husband. We are thinking a compact SUV and are open to other options as well. Our budget is $30,000, but we’re happy to spend less.
Our last car was a 2008 Nissan Rogue that used to belong to my grandparents. Before that we drove a Toyota Echo.
We want leather seats (we have a 75 lb shepherd/husky that sheds like crazy), a hatch back (so the dog can sit in the back if there are people in the backseat), fuel efficiency, and not too long - we live downtown and parallel park on our street. – Diana
Gentile: A 75-lb shepherd/husky mix – Diana asked the right people for car advice. We both know a thing or two about transporting big dogs in vehicles. My black lab-retriever, Moon, is 74 pounds and has ridden in every vehicle imaginable with me from Lamborghinis to Nissans.
Richardson: My Clumber Spaniel, Elvis, rarely rides in vehicles I don’t own. He’s 80 pounds and there’s just too much hair for me to clean from the seats and carpet. We’re on our third Dyson animal vacuum already.
Gentile: I always use rear-seat waterproof pet covers in vehicles to help with the shedding and dirt – they’re great. Of course, if Diana’s budget was higher, like in Land Rover territory, she could opt for official accessories like foldable pet carriers and cargo space rubber mats. But that’s way out of her price range so let’s stick to her budget.
Richardson: All that stuff is sold at any decent pet supply store, but those optional pet items are literally three times the price when you buy them from the car-maker. It’s convenient and you know they’ll fit, but there’s a price to pay for it.
Gentile: No argument on that point. And she’ll definitely want to invest in some pet accessories, such as waterproof covers to keep the leather seats clean and scratch-free, as well as a safety vest harness or seat belt to keep Rover securely in place in case of an accident.
Richardson: Not if the dog rides in the back cargo area of an SUV, instead of the back seat of a car. Diana says they’re thinking of a compact SUV, in which case there’d never be a reason to put the dog on the seats.
Gentile: Diana can get by with a smaller compact SUV – there’s no shortage of them on the market. Since she has owned a Nissan, maybe she should consider some used options from the Japanese automaker, perhaps a Qashqai or Kicks?
Richardson: She does want shorter and fuel-efficient, but the dog won’t be happy unless the rear seats are folded flat. I think the Kicks is just too small to be practical for her. The Qashqai might work though, and if she buys a three-year-old top-trim model, she’ll probably only spend $20,000.
Gentile: The Qashqai is not too long and it’s easy to parallel park. She’ll be happy to come under budget, too. But if she wants to go new there’s always the Hyundai Kona. That comes in at roughly the same price – about $1,500 more than a used Qashqai.
Richardson: I think the Kona will be too much of a squeeze in the back for the dog, and she’ll need to pay for the $28,000 “Luxury” trim level if she wants the leather seats.
Gentile: True. It does cost more to upgrade to the leather seats. So, what do you suggest?
Richardson: Honestly? Get another Rogue if she’s been happy with it. It’s just been updated, so she can get a good deal on a used model of the previous generation that was just fine last year. Otherwise, look at the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CRV, which are both spacious for the dog without being quite as long as others in the segment.
Gentile: She could get a nice Rogue that’s three- to four-years-old that’s well within her $30,000 budget. But I’d skip the RAV4 or CR-V – even those vehicles used are expensive and probably too big for what she needs. Diana can get by with a Honda HR-V. It’s not as large and long as a CR-V and it still has space for her dog in the backseat.
Richardson: If she’s okay with that size of car, the Toyota C-HR has an especially tight turning circle for city driving that she might appreciate. Its wedgy looks are love-it or hate-it though, especially compared to the more traditional Honda.
Gentile: Design – I hate-it, but they drove an Echo so it might not bother them. It’s a good size, tall and not too long, and checks several boxes on their wishlist. It’s definitely worth a look.
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. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.
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