QUESTION – MICHAEL (question asked on 18/2/2017):
My wife and I both retired in the last few years. We live on Phillip Island in Victoria, so most of our driving is done on the Island with infrequent trips to the mainland plus one or two interstate trips per year to rural South Australia and New South Wales. We are planning on a few interstate road trips up the east Coast in the not too distant future.
Over the last three years, we’ve averaged around 20,000 to 22,000kms per annum. We’re presently driving a 2012 Ford XR6 which is a great car, we love it, but it’s getting a little difficult to get in and out of. To replace it, we’re looking at the new Mitsubishi ASX LS Petrol CVT or maybe new/used recent model Mazda CX-5. We probably prefer the ASX but it sounds like it might be a little sluggish. We’ve also looked at the Outlander.
ANSWER – TOBY HAGON:
Whichever SUV you jump to, you’ll notice a step backwards in terms of long distance comfort. That’s because Australian-made large cars like the Falcon do a brilliant job of eating away the miles.
For that reason, it’d be worth at least having a look at the latest Holden VF Commodore to see if it could suit your needs. There are plenty of near-new ones on the market that would fit your budget, and if you can stretch to a Calais you’ll get plenty of car for the money.
The other advantage is the seating position on the Commodore generally better suits people over the Falcon’s, so hopefully it will be easier for you to get in and out of.
Anyway, if that won’t suit then it’s off to an SUV.
The Mazda is the pick of your shortlist. It drives nicely, although is lacking punch with the basic 2.0-litre engine used in the front-wheel drive models. If you can stretch to an all-wheel drive you get a better 2.5-litre engine as part of the deal.
Keep in mind, too, that there is a new CX-5 which has arrived, so check out any runout deals. Or you could pick up the new one, which is quieter and has a nicer interior.
The ASX is an OK car but feeling tired now it’s a few years old. Mitsubishi has tarted it up but the basics haven’t changed for years. That said, there’s plenty packed in for the money – and it comes with a five-year warranty.
Another couple to stick on the list would be the Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The HR-V is a similar size to the ASX but is fresher, better to drive and decent value.
The latest Tiguan is also a big step up on the original, albeit with a price premium over other mid-sized SUVs. But it’s the best driving of the breed and is a solid offering, although keep in mind it needs more expensive premium unleaded.