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car review

The 2022 Toyota Corolla Cross is a narrow-body alternative for buyers looking for a subcompact SUV.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

I am looking to replace my 2011 Toyota RAV4. I love everything about it, but realize the time is getting shorter to replace it before it needs major repairs.

My RAV4 just fits into my old garage. Most new SUVs are wider and I don’t want to do major work on my garage to keep parking inside it. Do you know of anything comparable to my RAV4 coming onto the market that is narrow?

I spend a lot of time doing long highway drives, and therefore require a vehicle with the height, power, safety, trunk space and the comfort of my RAV4. – Joan

Mark Richardson: Well, my first suggestion is that if Joan wants a larger vehicle, she forgets about parking in the garage and leaves her vehicle on the driveway. As I’ve explained to my wife many times, garages are for motorcycles, not cars.

Petrina Gentile: I disagree. There’s nothing better than having your vehicle parked in the garage, especially in the winter – no removing snow and no visibility issues.

Richardson: That’s what my wife says. She also says her car would be more secure in the garage, less susceptible to theft. I’ve told her that if her car goes in the garage, then the motorcycles go in the living room. We’re at a stalemate.

Gentile: I’m with your wife on the security front, too. And besides, I doubt Joan has a motorcycle to worry about, so let’s think about her, not you.

Richardson: She’s right that most every new generation of a vehicle gets a little larger. Today’s sub-compact SUVs are around the same size as yesterday’s compact SUVs, so perhaps we should be focusing on those.

Gentile: Good idea. Joan’s 2011 RAV4 is 1,816 millimetres wide, plus about an extra 300 millimetres for the mirrors – most compact SUVs nowadays are much larger. So going with a subcompact SUV would do the trick. One of my favourites is also from the Toyota family - the Corolla Cross.

The 2021 Honda HR-V. It will be redesigned for 2023 to add more features.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Richardson: Which is 10 millimetres wider than Joan’s RAV4. That’s not much difference in the real world and might be okay, but maybe not. Even Toyota’s sub-compact C-HR crossover is 40 millimetres wider than the older RAV4. I think Joan will be happier with the Honda HR-V, which is only 1,773 millimetres wide. It’s a lot less spacious inside, though.

Gentile: It gets redesigned for 2023 and adds more features, but the 2022 is a nice, little affordable package – it’s not the fastest out the gate, but it would fit nicely into her garage.

Richardson: It has the height, power, safety and comfort of her RAV4, but when the seats are folded flat, it has 1,631 litres of cargo space, which is a big jump down from the 2,067 litres of her older SUV. So what else is there?

Gentile: I’m thinking a Mazda CX-30. It starts at less than $27,000, which is cheaper than an HR-V, comes with standard all-wheel drive and has a more powerful engine. At 2,040 millimetres, it’s a bit wider, but should be able to fit in her garage.

Richardson: That’s a lot wider – more than 200 millimetres. It just won’t fit. Let’s face it, vehicles are wider for the greater stability it offers, especially with taller vehicles like SUVs. Sub-compacts aren’t as long, so they sacrifice the internal space as SUVs have grown better proportioned and more stable, all around.

Gentile: There are still viable options for Joan, though.

the 2022 Chevrolet Equinox Premier is an often overlooked SUV.Handout

Richardson: I’d suggest a Chevrolet Equinox, with its 1,844 millimetres of width and 1,810 litres of seat-down cargo space. That might fit a happy medium. The Chevy is a nice SUV, and it’s often overlooked because it’s affordable, but not exceptional.

Gentile: That’s 20 millimetres wider and 45 litres smaller than the Corolla Cross you dismissed so casually.

Richardson: Good point, and there’s even an extra 35 litres in the Corolla Cross if Joan opts for the front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive. I’ll cede you that one, but it doesn’t have quite the same height. She should drive one though, and maybe even ask to bring it home to see how it fits in the garage. That’s the real test.

Gentile: Excellent idea. So what’s your best recommendation?

Richardson: The Corolla Cross will let her stick with Toyota if she likes the brand. The Honda HR-V may give her more of the SUV feel she’s looking for and the Equinox will give her the feel and more space if it will fit. But I still say garages are for motorcycles, not cars.

Gentile: You’re wrong. Joan, stick with the reliable brand you know, Toyota, and go for the Corolla Cross.

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at globedrive@globeandmail.com and use ‘What car’ as as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.

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