Richard Harrison has recently retired, and plans to replace his Mercedes C automatic – used for towing – and his wife's Toyota automatic Rav4, with just one vehicle. Richard is thinking about a SUV-type vehicle with higher driving position and four-wheel drive. The vehicle needs to have space in the rear for a dog cage, be automatic, a diesel, be suitable for towing a smallish caravan, and will cover about 12,000 miles a year. His price range is up to £25,000.
CAR FOR THE HEAD
Choosing an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), which is, let's face it, a 4x4, has never been more challenging. That's because there have never been more models and more options – many of them versatile and good to drive. In many ways, Richard wants a softer roader, which may not need to be fantastic off-road, but certainly competent on it. For that reason a Honda CRV may well be the answer, especially as they have recently added an automatic gearbox as an option to their diesel models. This means that a CRV 2.2 i-CTDI SE will cost £22,685, and the better-equipped ES will be £24,185. Both these models can be bought at a discount through a dealer or broker. Never mind the final price though, the important thing is that the CRV is a very refined way to travel. The diesel element means that the combined mpg is 43.5, which should reassure Richard. This would be the ideal replacement for two cars, being spacious and very practical. The boot is certainly large enough while the rear seats slide back and forward to make the most of the rear legroom or luggage space, and fitting in that dog cage. This would be a good compromise between an estate and an off-roader.
CAR FOR THE HEART
One thing we still do well in the British motor industry is design and build class-leading 4x4 vehicles. Now, Richard may not need the off-road ability of a Land Rover Defender (inset below) but I think he will really enjoy owning and driving one. Plus, if we do have serious winters from now on, the Defender will easily cope with anything that is thrown at it. The 2.2 TD4e diesel is very efficient and will return just over 42mpg overall. A six speed automatic gearbox model – the S automatic – is £22,676 while the GS version, which adds climate control, is £25,906. A bit of discount will see those models easily within Richard's budget. As well as being peerless off-road, the Defender is refined and quiet when used like a normal car. The only area of concern could be the boot size. It is not the largest, and Richard will have to make sure that the dog cage fits comfortably. Otherwise, getting comfy in the driving seat is not a problem, but the rear seats need to be checked, if Richard regularly takes passengers, to make sure space is adequate. Here is an off-roader that should do everything that Richard ever asks of it.
James Ruppert's Bangernomics Bible: How To Buy And Run A Car For Less, is published by Foresight Publications (01760 441423) at £8.99