Hi WhichCar, I’m at my wit’s end about what our next car will be. My wife INSISTS we must have an SUV, though I don’t think we need one at all. Her reason is that she feels more secure in traffic sitting up higher, while I think that a smaller wagon or hatchback will be easier to park, cheaper to run and probably cheaper to buy.
We have had a Toyota Kluger for the last six or seven years, but we’ve also raised two children and lugged around a lot of sports gear during that time. Now the kids are older, we have access to a company car and we don’t cart the same stuff over the same distances we used to.
Help me! I get why the missus wants an SUV, but I think they’re stupid! What do I do?
Aaron, Mordialloc, Victoria
Isn’t that funny… I’ve recently had EXACTLY the same conversation recently with my other half! She likes the fact that she has a commanding view in traffic as well, but she can’t give me one other single reason as to why we need a large SUV.
Similarly, our mob has grown and all but gone, and we just don’t need a hulking big car that burns more fuel, eats big expensive tyres and is tough to park in ever-shrinking parking spaces in our increasingly crowded cities. What to do?
Well, there are a couple of cars I’m leaning heavily towards as a bit of an SUV addiction breaker, with the (probably vain) hope that we can eventually downsize into something suitably tiny next time.
It also has a decent amount of boot room, and its plastic overfenders and chunky bumpers give it an SUV’s attitude. The non-turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine will feel lacking after the Kluger, though.
It’s also quite small in its footprint without giving up interior room (up front, at least; the rear is a little cosy).
Probably the poster child for an industry that’s looking to future-proof itself against any sort of SUV backtrack, though, is the Ford Focus Active.
Described by the company itself as a ‘passenger car with increased capabilities’, it’s nothing more than a stock Focus with a 30mm ride height lift and a bit more plastic around the wheels.
However, it does tick the SUV box in terms of being taller, and it even offers a couple of quasi-offroad modes should you want to head to a beach spot.
A tiny three-cylinder engine and a front-wheel-drive layout keep things frugal and simple, multilink rear suspension gives it real character in the corners and the interior is… well, from a Ford Focus, so it’s comfortable and well-equipped.
All three cars can be had for around the $30,000 mark, as well, making them pretty accessible.
If I was to bring one home, I’d have to pick the Subaru because it comes in bright colours (yes, that’s a stipulation from the Ministry of Finance), but I reckon the Focus is a great choice for a family who can’t quite shake the SUV bug.
WhichCar recommends – Ford Focus Active