I turned 50 in April and retired from a 30-year career with the Canadian Forces with a full pension. I race in triathlons, ride mountain bikes and cross country ski. Nothing beats coming back from a hard ride, sitting on the back of the wagon and enjoying a cool one. I have slept around with German (BMW), Japanese (Isuzu), and American automobile manufacturers (Ford), and in my heart, I would love to buy something made in Canada. Here are my must-haves: wagon or hatchback with a loading ledge to sit on; high performance engine under 2.5 litres; all-wheel-drive; and out the door for less than $30,000. – Kelly, master corporal (retired) in Trenton, Ont.
Vaughan:Whoever dreamed up Freedom 55 never heard of this guy. He hit the fully funded retirement jackpot half a decade early, does triathlons and still goes shopping for high performance cars. At your age Cato, I'm sure you'd like to be "sitting on the back of the wagon and enjoying a cool one."
Cato:You think so? Just imagine the Twitterverse alive with a picture of Cato kicking back on a car, fist wrapped about a frosty. One day I'll explain Twitter to you, by the way.
Vaughan:I understand Kelly's dilemma, so let's consider it. He could afford a VW Golf wagon with the 2.0-litre diesel. People buy horsepower, but they use torque. The TDI has plenty of pulling power, a back ledge to sit on, but no all-wheel drive. I say it doesn't matter because with good winter tires, front drive will get you through almost anything.
Cato:The Corporal personally knows about the diesel advantage, what with those military trucks in the motor pool. I say a Golf Comfortline wagon is sure to earn its stripes with Kelly – $28,075, 236 lb-ft of torque from that solid diesel mill. Strap a bike rack on the roof, and Kelly's all set to drive to Kelowna for the Canadian Ironman.
Option two: Canadian SUV. The choice here is the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain ($28,575 to start).
Vaughan:They're not the most modern and they don't have the latest technology. But they are solid and dependable and are built in Ingersoll, Ont., and Oshawa, Ont. – places that look like army bases.
And I love the crazy discounts. I think if Corporal Kelly wants to show his medals and Canadian flag patch, he ought to arrive in a Canadian-built vehicle and Equinox and Terrain fit the bill.
Cato:The Chev has a military presence to it, you know. It's reliable and would be useful for an old jock like Kelly. He'll be happy with the 2.4-litre four-cylinder because it's powerful enough (181 hp) and reasonably fuel efficient.
If he has a GM credit card, he can apply $1,500 to the purchase. If he's retired to the reserves, GM has a $500 military discount, too. I see a Holiday Coupon deal worth $250, too. And 0.99 per cent financing over three years. Stack 'em up, corporal.
I also like Mazda's CX-5 crossover. The $30,650 GS version gets Kelly the 184-hp 2.5-litre motor. And that's the one you want. Of these three, you will most like driving the Mazda. Without a doubt. The responses are tight and predictable and the cabin has lots of space for an old non-com and his skis and refreshments.
Vaughan:Open the tailgate and there's a nice place to sit, too. He can get his all-wheel drive in the CX-5 and stay in the $30,000-range.
I like a lot of what Mazda builds, but I think this is the best one. They do it more with light weight and aero than raw power, so I'm not sure if Kelly will appreciate the SkyActiv approach. But some day soon the CX-5 will have a diesel, if Mazda sorts things out, and that would be the vehicle to buy.
In the meantime, he should look at a built-in-Canada Equinox or Terrain. It'll keep Corporal Kelly from showing up at Don Cherry's house in a foreign car, after all.
Cato:Obviously, Kelly is a patriot, which means this made-in-Canada thing resonates. The Equinox is a safe choice and it will do all that he needs.
But only if he can string together the available discounts. You see, General Motors does not have a big redesign planned for the Equinox/Terrain until early 2015. This means that some time next year, GM will kick-start sales with a platoon of discounts – richer ones than we're seeing now. If you don't qualify for sales sweeteners now, Kelly, either wait or jump on the CX-5.
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2014 Volkswagen Golf Comfortline 2.0 TDI wagon
2014 Chevrolet Equinox LS AWD
2014 Mazda CX-5 GS AWD
2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
6.7 city/4.7 highway
10.1 city/6.9 highway
8.5 city/6.6 highway
Source: car manufacturers
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