Car Choice: Say cheerio, Cherokee – meet Mondeo mum

Lynne Gould is 61 and has a five-year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee that was bought to tow a caravan. There is no longer a caravan in Lynne's life, so now she wants an alternative vehicle, which will on average cover 11,000 miles a year economically. It will be required to accommodate Lynne's 84-year-old mother, often a grandchild – plus there is another on the way. Lynne also occasionally needs to transport large items, so needs space when the rear seats are laid flat.

A car for the head

Lynne sounds like the perfect candidate for a compact people carrier or a van. Something like a Renault Kangoo, Citroën Berlingo, or Fiat Doblo, which are perfect for taking on board big loads and are incredibly practical. But as I seem to have recommended those quite often recently, I think there are possibly some other more comfortable alternatives. Lynne's mother may well be very sprightly, but older correspondents tell me how much easier it is to get inside a vehicle that is higher off the ground. So an MPV is a good idea, but seven seats does not seem to be essential at the moment – and that brings me back to adapted vans, as there is a new model in showrooms called the Fiat Qubo. Van-based, it is absolutely huge inside despite being quite compact outside. So for Lynne's mum and the grandchildren it should prove to be a comfortable experience indeed. The boot is already huge, but if Lynne is happy to hoof the rear seats out, which do fold anyway, the luggage space gets even bigger. A good value buy at £10,950 – plus the 1.3 diesel engine will return 62.8mpg overall, which is incredibly economical.

A car for the heart

I know that Lynne enjoys driving and perhaps a large estate car would do. In particular a Ford Mondeo, inset – which is extremely refined, great to drive, comfortable, and comes with a massive boot. Here is a proper large-scale family estate car, which is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines. It has been voted the best estate car by What Car? magazine and it is easy to see why. First of all it is very comfortable, not only because there is plenty of room inside but also the doors open wide for really easy access. The driver's seat and steering wheel adjust to accommodate all shapes and sizes, plus the driver is helped by the very clear controls. On the road it is smooth, supple, and one of the most refined cars in this class. The level of standard equipment is impressive – so every model has air conditioning, cruise control and electric front windows. Lynne would probably want to go for the diesel engine, the 2.0 TDCi 140 that returns 47.9 mpg. Although the Mondeo is good value (£18,500), it depreciates quickly, so Lynne should look at examples that are a year old. I found 2008 Mondeos with 30,000 miles on the clock, two years of warranty to run, going for £10,900.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.