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buying used

We’re looking for a mini SUV around the size of a Honda HR-V. We want standard transmission and do not want all-wheel drive. The limit is up to four or five years old and $20,000. Standard transmission and two-wheel drive seem to be a killer for availability. Also, where can I find reliable information about transmission options for various used vehicles? – Arnulf, Ottawa

It used to be that standard transmissions were, well, standard on lower-priced cars.

But there are budget CUVs – including the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Kona, Ford Ecosport and Toyota C-HR – that you can’t get with a stick shift in Canada.

Still, there are CUVs out there with manuals (and front-wheel drive) for under $20,000, there’s the 2016 Honda HR-V ($17,639 used, on average, according to Canadian Black Book), 2017 Nissan Qashqai ($18,650), 2017 Chevy Trax ($17,550) and 2016 Jeep Renegade ($17,700).

Since the bulk of sales aren’t manuals, it might take some hunting to find one used.

One place to see which cars were offered with a standard in Canada is Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption ratings. They list each model’s engine, transmission and drive options.

And those options can change from one year to the next. The 2016 and 2017 Mazda CX-3 only came with six-speed automatics. But for 2018, Mazda started offering a six-speed manual in the front-wheel drive CX-3 GX ($21,100 used).

2017 Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai.

  • First generation: 2017 - present
  • Average asking price for base: $18,650
  • Original MSRP for base, before freight: $19,998
  • Engine: 2-litre four-cylinder (141 hp)
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, CVT/Front-wheel, all-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10 city, 8.1 highway (manual), 8.8 city, 7.3 highway; regular gas

Struggling to pronounce Qashqai? The first part sounds like cash – and, to get one, you won’t have to part with as much as you might think.

“In a subcompact crossover segment that's continually gaining market share, the 2017 Nissan Qashqai provides one of the best value propositions without compromising on style, comfort, fuel economy and versatility,” Globe Drive said.

The Qashqai came in three trims: S (FWD, AWD), SV (FWD, AWD) and SL (AWD). The manual gearbox was only available on the FWD S. It came with a rear-view camera and heated seats.

Review site Edmunds liked the available tech and safety features and the cargo room. It griped about the “underpowered" engine and noisy CVT.

In the United States, the Qashqai is sold as the Rogue Sport. Consumer Reports liked that it was quiet for its class and had straightforward controls, but it griped about the tight back seat.

It gave it three out of five for reliability. There were no recalls.

2016 Honda HR-V

The Honda HR-V.Honda

  • First generation: 2016 - present
  • Average asking price for base, before freight: $17,639 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original MSRP for base, before destination charge: $20,690
  • Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder (141 hp)
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, CVT/Front-wheel, all-wheel
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.3 city, 7.0 highway (FWD, manual), 8.3 city, 6.7 highway (FWD, CVT); regular gas

Sure, the H in HR-V isn’t for hustle, but it can still hold a surprising amount of your stuff.

“‘Fun-to-drive’ usually comes standard in Hondas, but the HR-V didn't get that memo,” Globe Drive said. “[But it has] class-leading cargo volume behind the rear seats, and seats-folded volume second only to the Nissan Qashqai.”

Based on the Fit, the HR-V had three trims: base LX, EX and EX-L Navi. The LX and EX came in either FWD or AWD and with a choice of stick or CVT.

The LX came with heated front seats and rear-view camera. The LX added push-button start and Honda’s LaneWatch passenger-side blindspot monitor.

Edmunds liked the roomy interior, versatile cargo room and excellent visibility.

But it griped about the “underwhelming” acceleration and the lack of a volume knob.

Consumer Reports gave the 2016 Honda HR-V four out of five for reliability. There were no recalls.

Send your used car questions to with the subject: “Buying used.”

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