WhichCar should I buy: Time to supersize

What do you do when you want to upsize… dramatically

2019 Subaru Forester Front Side Action Jpg

I am a single woman wanting to replace my car. I currently own a 2006 Suzuki Swift which I have loved for its manoeuvrability, surprising space and fuel economy as I drive for 30mins every day to get to work and then the same to get back.

To complicate things I now have a dog that struggles on the front seat of my little nippy car. My sister has four children that I often look after and some extra space would help for that and I am a keen woodworker, DIYer and welder so having a vehicle with more space and capacity for a roof rack would be handy.

At the moment I am tossing up between an SUV (Hyundai Tucson possibly, though no idea which subtype or if other SUV would be better) or a dual-cab ute. Any suggestions to help me make my choice? Fuel economy is one of the more important features that I am looking for. I was hoping for no more than $35K and would prefer an ex-demo vehicle rather than brand new.

Thank you,


Hi Tessa, an interesting set of circumstances you have there! There’s certainly a good range of options that fall within your desired price range, and while a dual-cab ute would definitely satisfy the DIY, woodwork and welding requirements (while still allowing space for four kids and/or a doggo), that definitely comes at the expense of everyday liveability and comfort, not to mention most decent dual-cabs are outside your price window.

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Our advice would be to look for something in the medium SUV class and spend a bit extra on a decent roofrack that can carry the metal/wood that you need to cart around. Keeping that hardware out of your cabin will also mean the interior stays nicer for longer.

Now comes the tricky part. How tall are you? A personal question, for sure, but if you’re on the short side then heaving metal above your head to the height of an SUV’s roof might see you visiting the physio sooner than you’d hoped. A traditional wagon may make more sense in that regard, and will also come with the neat bonus of being more fuel-efficient than the average SUV.

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The only thing that might change our recommendation is if you expect to tow heavy loads on a semi-regular basis or want to carry quite heavy payloads (several hundred kilograms, for example), in which case a dual-cab ute may actually make more sense.

So what specific models do we recommend within your price range?

  • SUV: Mazda CX-5 Maxx 2.5 ($34,770), Nissan X-Trail 7-seat ($32,490), Subaru Forester 2.5i ($33,490), Honda CR-V VTi-S ($33,290)
  • Wagon: Ford Mondeo Ambiente wagon ($35,040), Mazda 6 Sport wagon ($33,790), Skoda Octavia 110 TSI Sport wagon ($31,890), Volkswagen Golf Alltrack ($35,250)

Those prices are retail, so knock a few thousand off for something ex-demo.

2019 Mazda 6 Wagon Front Side Static Jpg

Unfortunately you’ll need to do some serious bargain-hunting to get a decent ex-demo dual-cab ute at your price target. Though there are a more than a few Chinese and Indian options that retail below the $35K mark, most of the utes we’d recommend for you start north of $40K. The only exception to that is Mitsubishi’s Triton, which is freshly facelifted and starts at $32,990 for the manual-equipped GLX.

Would we recommend it alongside the SUV and wagon options above? Given your 30km commute and requirement for fuel economy, we’d say ‘no’.

We hope this helps, Tessa!


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