QUESTION – CAROL (question from 25/4/2017):
We are looking for a family car – we have an eight month old baby and a 18 month old child as well.
We have shortlisted the Mitsubishi ASX petrol LS (negotiated to $24,000), Honda HRV base model or Kia Sportage base model petrol (negotiated to just over $28,000).
I am a bit worried about the CVT transmission of the first two cars. Budget is approximated $25,000 but can stretch to about the $30,000 mark. We won’t be doing any off roading, It’s just a city SUV. We also may consider a third baby so having the option of fitting three car seats would be nice (but not essential).
ANSWER – SAMANTHA STEVENS:
First up; the CVT gearbox is nothing to fear – unless you are a driving enthusiast. The way it operates makes for infinitesimal, frugal gear ‘changes’ and it is quite hardy in its design. If you’re worried about its solidity, there isn’t too much to worry about. If you simply don’t like driving one, you may be best with a traditional torque-converter auto or even a manual.
With regards to the baby seats: we know what you are asking, but being able to fit three seats across is more dependent on your actual car seats than the second row of the car. Even light city cars can fit three across, if they are the right compact seats or boosters. Your capsule/seat/boosters need to have narrow bases and compact impact wings to begin with. The latter is particularly important; the newer car seats with side impact technology (such as the Britax and Maxi Cosi ranges) will fit narrow seats at the base, however their side impact wings are broad and fitting three across would be nigh-impossible in a compact SUV.
From the three you have picked, the Honda HR-V VTi is a solid car with room for the family to grow into. Its economical 1.8-litre petrol engine is matched to a CVT auto even in the base model making it much more affordable if you don’t want the stick shift. Honda’s are typically super-reliable, and the HR-V has excellent safety as standard, but we like the higher-end models adding blind-spot monitoring and City-Brake, which automatically applies the brakes if there is a risk of collision (at low speeds).
The top-shelf VTi-L at $34,340 has a lovely interior with heated front seats and a sunroof, sat-nav, dual-zone air-con, front and rear parking sensors, among other goodies – if used vehicles are in your sphere, you may want to explore this spec? At 437L the boot is one of the largest in this class, and has a wide opening to get everything in. Keep in mind you have servicing every 10,000km/1yr, where other brands have 15,000km.
The Kia Sportage is an agile compact SUV with great featured for the price. The engines are frugal and responsive, fuel use is good, and the boot is a little compact but uses its space efficiently. Resale is still costly on a short turnover particularly for Kia, but you have that seven-year Kia warranty and capped servicing to keep costs down for the long-term, or to entice buyers if you sell the car within five or so years.
The Mitsubishi ASX is not as refined a vehicle, as it is a little older. The 2.0-litre petrol LS base model at $24,990 new is matched to a manual gearbox if you don’t like the CVT, and sips a litre more fuel at 7.6L/100km. The boot space is 393L, so again is quite big for this segment, and it has a five year warranty for peace of mind. However, the current ASX arrived in 2010, was overhauled in 2012, and is due for a facelift soon – this could lead to some good bargains, but it’s not so hot on the resale.
You may also want to consider the Nissan Qashqai, formerly the Dualis. The base 2.0-litre manual petrol is $25,990 new, or $28,490 for the auto. It has a 430L boot, excellent safety rating, and has funky storage compartments under the boot floor and above the wheel arches.
We would highly recommend you test drive each model and variant to assess which works best for you and to narrow down your choices.