Hi Guys: I'm retiring next year and moving to the Hamilton area from Montreal, where I haven't had a car for 20 years. Once back in Ontario, I'll need one to get me to and from the west end of Toronto three or four times a week to help look after my elderly parents. I'm looking for a sedan that's spirited and fun to drive, practical (for taking my parents to medical appointments), generous in creature comforts, and equally sure-footed in winter as in summer. Budget: $45,000-$55,000. What can you suggest? – Rogé in Montreal.
Vaughan: Cato, this guy hasn't had a car in 20. Do you remember how long ago that was? I remember I was a brilliant student graduating from Queen's and you'd just gotten early release from that prison camp in California.
Cato: Yes, yes, you remember. That was where I trained for my undercover work with the FBI that led to my nabbing the international crime lord… Wait, I can't talk about that period of my life. Very hush-hush. And that time for you is just a blur of parties and ski trips to what I'm certain is Rogé's beloved Mount Tremblant.
Vaughan: Well, Rog has $45,000-$55,000 to spend, which I'm sure you didn't make working in the prison library.
Cato: You're off by a couple of decades, but we all can see how your wild days in Kingston massacred a few million brain cells. The trick here is to get a reference point for Rogé.
Let's see. In 1993, Ford's Taurus was the best-selling car for the second year in a row. The Ranger pickup – remember the Ranger? No longer sold in Canada – was the fourth best-selling vehicle in North America. And the Ford Explorer SUV was No. 6 in North America.
Ford, in fact, had four of the six best-selling vehicles in North America in 1993. Ford, Ford, Ford, Ford. I think Rogé will need to put a Ford on his list in 2013; Fords will resonate for him.
Vaughan: Ah, those were the days. Back then, nobody had the slightest idea what BMW meant. Slim had been selling these strange things down at Beach Auto Electric before they took his franchise away. Audi was something that slammed into reverse if you could find one at a VeeDub dealer. Porsche was going bankrupt and Mazda had recently won Le Mans. Toyota's Camry was on the rise and so was the Accord, but in 1993, Ford ruled.
Cato: Ford's back now after a lost decade and a half. I'd say Detroit's car companies are all pretty strong, actually. The Koreans may have been snapping together rust buckets in Quebec, but no more. Hyundai is celebrating 30 years in Canada. The marketplace is far, far more complicated in 2013.
Vaughan: Alright Cato, let's get off memory lane. We move ahead a couple of decades and the Koreans have achieved greatness, Ford has found the path to true enlightenment, General Motors has shaken off its decades of imperial complacency and Chrysler, under an Italian-Canadian CEO, is making bags of money.
So, as you suggest, let's start with a Ford. The Fusion, which they make in every country under the sun with about a zillion body styles, is a car with a great value proposition – i.e., worth more than they charge for it. The Fusion Titanium, loaded with every technology so far known to humankind and with all-wheel drive, is still less than 40 grand all-in.
By the way, I think our retired friend Rogé must have a government defined-benefit pension because he's planning to spend far too much for what he needs.
Cato: Well, you could have become a civil servant right out of Queen's, the training ground for Canada's bureaucracy. But you chose a different path – or it chose you. In any case, Roggie needs to look for deals on the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata sedans.
Vaughan: Wait. Have you seen the Kia Rondo? Fully loaded with seating for seven at $32,195. Fuel efficient and with every bell and whistle. In 1994, Kia was zero. Now you really must be persuaded not to buy one.
Cato: Okay, this one will blow Roggie's mind: the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. The reinvented 2014 Impala is ranked No. 1 overall among all sedans by Consumer Reports. You kidding me? CR has only rated Japanese and European models at No. 1 for the past 20 years. How things have changed in two decades.
Vaughan: It's like 1964 all over again, although I was so young then I can hardly remember it. Impala was once king of the road; it's entirely possible this might happen again. Our superannuated pal Rogé should enjoy getting acquainted with recent automotive history as he contemplates his next purchase. All our picks are light-years beyond anything he's ever driven.
Cato: And none will disappoint.
HOW THEY COMPARE
|2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD||2014 Chevrolet Impala 2LT||2014 Kia Rondo EX Luxury 7-passenger|
|2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged||3.6-litre V-6||2.0-litre four-cylinder|
|231/270 lb-ft||305/264 lb-ft||164/156 lb-ft|
|All-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive|
|Six-speed automatic||Six-speed automatic||Six-speed automatic|
Curb Weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
|9.5 city/6.3 highway||NA||9.2 city/6.3 highway|
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV
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