I'm looking for a fun, reliable car built for an older driver
The 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i and 2015 Kia Soul EX are two possibilities for less than $30,000
I'm on the north side of 70 and have to sell my wonderful 2013 TDI wagon back to Volkswagen Canada. I'd like my next vehicle to be my last – not that I wouldn't mind driving well into my 80s. Here's my criteria: Used vehicle for less than $30,000, dog-friendly, reliable, ease of exit and entry, good mileage and, yes, maybe fun to drive. Too much to ask? – Howie
Just because you're old enough to belong to the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, doesn't mean you're stuck with, er, a Crown Victoria.
Consumer Reports suggests smaller SUVs and higher wagons for ease of exit and entry – sedans can be too low, and big SUVs too high.
Among its suggestions of cars that have relatively simple controls and good visibility, a crossover – the Subaru Forester – and a sort-of-wagon – the Kia Soul – come in for less than $30,000 for 2015. The Forester beats the Soul for reliability.
If you'd like something more like your Sportwagen TDI (looking at 2015 models, with average prices for base), there's the Subaru XV Crosstrek ($24,225), Subaru Outback ($22,825), Volvo V60 ($29,125) and the Toyota Prius v ($24,656).
Or, you can get a brand new Sportwagen TSI starting at $23,145.
2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i
- Average price for base: $22,950 (Canadian Black Book)
- Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, continuously variable transmission/All-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.6 city, 8.4 highway (manual); 9.6 city, 7.5 highway (CVT)
Subaru first sold the Forester in North America in 1998 with the slogan, "SUV tough, car easy." It's still true – especially the easy part.
"No car is better designed for the older driver – or any driver who values easy access and great outward visibility – than the Subaru Forester," Consumer Reports said. "Visibility is among the best on the market thanks to large square windows and thin roof pillars. Access is super-simple, and controls are basic and easy to use. And the Forester is a cinch to drive and park."
Consumer Reports recommended the 2015 Forester because of its class-leading fuel economy, practical and a capable all-wheel-drive system, with "some limited off-road ability."
It also got top scores in U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests – and has an optional EyeSight package of accident avoidance tech.
Among the gripes? The interior is "fairly basic" and can get noisy.
Still, Consumer Reports gave the 2015 Forester its "best of the best" rating for used car reliability.
But is it fun to drive? At Edmunds, users praised the Forester, especially the "smooth" turbocharged 2.0XT ($29,844). It's no sports car, but at least one user there called it fun.
There were two recalls, including one to fix a mistranslation in the French EyeSight owner's manual that, if followed, could increase the risk of a crash.
2015 Kia Soul EX
- Second generation: 2014-present
- Average price for base: $16,728 (Canadian Black Book)
- Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic/Front-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 10.1 city, 7.7 highway (automatic)
The Soul isn't solely for millennials.
" Kia aims the Soul at young buyers, with advertisements featuring rapping hamsters, but it turns out that the boxy Soul is super-practical for more mature drivers who are young at heart," Consumer Reports said. "Chair-height seats and big doors make for easy access. Compact dimensions aid parking and visibility is quite good."
The base LX has a 1.6-litre four-banger and comes standard with a six-speed manual – Edmunds suggests going with the bigger engine on the EX and above.
"With respectable power on tap from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the 2015 Kia Soul is enjoyable around town and feels satisfyingly quick when merging onto a highway," it said. Edmunds liked the loads of available features, user-friendly controls and ample passenger space, long warranty and top IIHS crash test scores. But, it said fuel economy was so-so for its class.
"The handling is pleasant and controlled for such a small vehicle, an improvement over the previous model, which wasn't particularly fun to drive," Globe Drive said.
Consumer Reports gave the 2015 Soul its "average" rating for predicted used car reliability.
There were two recalls, including one to put a rubber stopper under the gas pedal to keep it from breaking. "On certain vehicles, the accelerator pedal may fracture if excessive force is applied," the recall said.
Trying to decide on a used car? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.