My grandparents are in the market for a compact SUV since their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer's step-in height is too low for them. I took a good look at some options that would fit their needs and these cars might just cut it: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan and possibly a Mitsubishi Outlander. What would you recommend? – Joey in Vancouver
Vaughan: Cato, this is the beginning of the tidal wave. There's a horde of aging boomers out there just like you, with creaky joints and bad backs who are going to have to shop for cars differently. No more climbing down into some low-slung sedan. They and you need something that's as easy to get into as a TTC Wheel-Trans bus or taxi.
Cato: Two words for you: "yoga" and "Pilates." Five days a week for me, at least. I was thinking about this a few weeks ago while watching a gang of plump, aging, stiff-looking car journos grunt and groan themselves into the new Chevy Corvette Stingray.
Vaughan: Yoga and Pilates? I liked you better when you worked out with that old hockey player. The beach-ball workout. Namaste, my foot.
Cato: Stability ball, you downward dog.
Look, a little SUV makes plenty of sense for pensioners such as you and Joey's folks, Vaughan. The height makes it easy to climb in and out. The outward visibility is terrific – especially in the back seat where grandkids ride. The cargo room in back is incredibly useful and the load height means no bending over – no sore back.
So now you know why sales of compact cars are sliding. The slack is being taken up by the made-in-Canada RAV4s and CR-Vs of the world. One day little rigs will thoroughly push aside the Civics and Corollas and Lancers of this world.
Vaughan: You can't go wrong with either, but I do prefer the Honda. As for the VW Tiguan, which should always be referred to by its full name – the Tiger-Iguana – that's the German version of the RAV4/CR-V.
It's a perfectly good vehicle built on the Golf platform. You have two-row seating, a four-cylinder gasoline engine and a lot of good features. Volkswagen seats are the most comfortable and that might be reason enough for people of the rocking-chair age to try it out.
I know that as a free-trader it shouldn't matter, but I do lean toward the made-in-Canada stuff when it's competitive.
Cato: Safe choices, both of them – good resale value, reliable. The RAV just got a remake last year, in fact – though the power trains were basically carried over. The interior looks a bit chintzy, too, but the overall package is functional. The CR-V is more entertaining to drive, though.
I must admit to scratching my head over Joey thinking of the possibility of the Outlander. Why not the probability? The folks have been driving a Mitsu Lancer for eight years, correct?
Here's the problem: Mitsu is a bit player in Canada. That means Mitsu can't blanket the country with ads and promotions. Joey, put more thought into Mitsu.
Vaughan: I'm always happy to see that Mitsubishi is still around. I like their stuff; it's tough as nails and terrific value for the money.
However, you both have the wrong Mitsu. The main point is that Joey's parents are getting older and I think they'd be more comfortable and more capable of handling something smaller. The Outlander is big – 4,656 millimetres in length – which is long enough for three rows of seats.
Cato: Not big – roomy. And the parents don't need a three-row version. They should get the four-wheel drive ES model at $27,998 minus a $2,000 factory discount. The 166-horsepower four-banger is fine for power and thrifty on gas. The instruments and controls are dead-easy to use and the seats are really good – Tiguan-good.
Vaughan: No, Cato. The Mitsubishi RVR is what they should be looking at. It's more compact at 4,295 mm in length. In boomer talk, that's almost a foot-and-a-half less, and that makes it a lot easier to park.
It's also my favourite vehicle in the Mitsu lineup. They've been happy with their Mitsubishi, so let's put them into another one – only smaller. And the front-drive version starts at less than $20,000.
Cato: Let's recap, then. The RAV and the CR-V are the safe picks. I am leaning to the RAV because the four-by-four starts at $25,995, versus $28,290 for the starter CR-V with all-wheel drive. The design of the back third of the Honda is not something I like, so that clinches it. The RAV has a down-market cabin, but grandmom and granddad will applaud the price and the package.
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 Toyota RAV4 LE AWD
2014 Honda CR-V LX AWD
2014 Mitsubishi RVR SE 4x4
Part- and full-time four-wheel drive
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
9.1 city/6.8 highway
9.2 city/6.6 highway
8.5 city/6.7 highway
Source: car manufacturers
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