QUESTION - CATHY:
I have a Kia Sportage Platinum diesel 2011 that I’ll be trading in. I have loved the car and its torque, but I’ve changed jobs and need a more comfortable, plush looking SUV with front passenger adjustable seats. I don't really like the new Sportage’s front grille look and would love a more luxurious feel.
My son is almost in his teens and I need a car with room for growth, but it only needs five seats not 7. I also won’t be going off-road, other than dirt tracks. I have looked at the Range Rover Evoque, Kia Sportage, Jeep, Mazda, Audi Q3 and Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GL250, Nissan Qashqai, and a few others. I have about three months to buy a car and I can't seem to find the perfect car without going way over budget. I have searched comparisons and reviews online but I'm very confused. Hope you can help me.
ANSWER – BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS:
This year is proving to be a bumper year for fast-improving SUVs, though the two we recommend you test-drive over the next three months are not directly comparable to each other.
The first is the Mazda CX-9. While it is a large SUV with seven seats, and so a little longer and wider than you are used to in your 2011 Sportage, it has the lightness, agility, and confident control of a medium-sized SUV like your Kia. Additionally, it is far quieter and refined than the smaller CX-5, with a substantially upgraded dashboard that is both easy to use and easy on the eye. And you can keep the rear-most seats folded down permanently, to give you a spacious and practical wagon area. Note this is petrol only, and with a light-pressure turbo, it does perform strongly, but without using too much (standard 91 RON unleaded) petrol. And the Touring AWD version from under $53,000 offers a lot of equipment for the money.
The second is the VW Tiguan, but the new second-generation model that will be released in late September. It is quite a bit larger than the older one, which we feel might be too small for you. The Tiguan II is gaining very positive reviews out of Europe, and seems to tick all your comfort, refinement, accommodation, and seating requirements, while still offering a diesel option if that’s what you prefer.
Both the Mazda and VW have an engine cut-out device, but these can easily be switched off permanently via a press of a button, so don’t let that put you off. We’d encourage you to keep it on, especially in the CX-9, because the system is quick and seamless, and saves a significant amount of fuel and emissions.
Another medium-sized SUV that might fit your needs is the new BMW X1, though it is getting quite high up in the dollar stakes, so a fair amount of haggling on your behalf might be in order if this turns out to be the vehicle that suits you best. We do recommend that the adaptive dampers option is fitted, as this will improve the ride comfort of the X1 substantially.
Of the other SUVs you mention, we feel that they none quite offer the broad attributes and value for money combination of the Mazda, VW, and BMW, considering your $60,000 budget. Please also keep in mind that these the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices are not set in stone, and that many do advertise lower priced specials on a regular basis.
And we do recommend that you drive each car as to find out which one you prefer, as each does offer a different experience from behind the wheel.