When you’re a middle-aged empty nester who loves to drive and has to spend quite a bit of time in the car to get to and from work what car should you buy?
We were sitting having coffee with one of our friends the other day when she popped that question … what car should I buy?
Her need arose because she’s about to change jobs and in that change she’s going to lose the use of the company car (a Subaru Liberty) that she had with the job that she’s leaving. While the new job entails a lot of traveling … further into Brisbane on some days and out to Nambour (a bit over an hour’s drive) on others she won’t have the use of a company car.
So she’s looking for one that suits her driving habits … her lifestyle … and her bank balance both in purchase price and running costs.
Her driving habits … well she likes to move along at a good pace and she doesn’t like wasting time (read into that whatever you think is appropriate). Her lifestyle … she’s got grown-up kids and a partner in the building trade who drives a ute.
A reasonably priced car … something a little more up-market that what Top Gear describes as ‘a reasonably priced car’ … isn’t going to break the bank and she would probably be in a position to replace the car when the warranty period expired.
However, when it comes to running costs, she knows that the price of fuel is going to continue to rise and she doesn’t want to see a large chunk of her pay disappear into the fuel tank of whatever car she does buy.
So Toni and I sat and pondered for a moment and then came up with two sedans and one SUV that would just about tick all the boxes for her … and her partner too. After all he’s going to be driving the vehicle at some stage.
With a lot of city driving in our friend’s near future it would have been tempting to suggest something like the Barina Spark, or Ford Fiesta but those vehicles don’t quite fit the after-hours lifestyle of our friend … she’s just not a small car kind of person.
We could have also recommended a really fuel efficient vehicle such as the VW Golf BlueMotion but she needs the car now and the Golf BlueMotion won’t be here till next year. We could have also recommended the Prius but … well … this is a lady with some style and the Prius … well it’s just not in the same class as our friend.
So the first sedan we recommended was the Toyota Hybrid Camry. At a combined cycle of 6.0L/100km it’s going to be cheap on fuel and that was important to our friend. Fixed price servicing also keeps the cost of servicing down.
Despite all of its economy and hybridness the Toyota Hybrid Camry is no tortoise on the road. It has great acceleration and the handling is outstanding and that’s what this lady would want in a car.
It’s also very comfortable and can fit plenty of luggage when our friend and her partner want to head off for a week or a weekend so it’s not going to put a crimp in her lifestyle either.
Of course there’s always some resistance to new technology and while it’s unlikely that buying a hybrid would be a problem for our friend we thought we should offer her a more conventional alternative and the one we both thought would be a good fit for her was the Hyundai i45 Premium.
While the i45 is certainly no hybrid it does return some great fuel consumption figures and a combined cycle of 7.9L/100km is going to keep her fuel bills down.
The Hyundai i45 certainly has the looks that would appeal to our friend and the combination of great acceleration and the paddle shift gear change that would really appeal to her. You could just see her eyes light up when we described how the paddles worked and what they added to the driving experience.
There’s good interior comfort in the i45 too and you can load it up and head off for some time away and not have to worry about fitting everything in.
Toni and I both love our old Honda CR-V … it just goes … and goes and despite being over 10 years old it’s still comfortable and fun to drive. But we haven’t had an opportunity to test the latest CR-V and we do know that between our 2000 model and the latest CR-V there have been some problems so we opted instead for the Hyundai ix35 Highlander.
The choice of a compact SUV when we had been recommending mid-sized sedans may seem a little strange but you can fit everything you might carry in a mid-sized sedan into the ix35 and you have the added benefit of driving a smaller vehicle in city traffic.
The ix35 Highlander is the top of the range and it comes with all the creature comforts you could hope for. It also comes with a 2.0-litre diesel that will give a combined fuel consumption cycle of just 7.5L/100km.
While the diesel-engined ix35 may not be quite as nippy as the two sedans it’s still got plenty of get up and go and it would certainly keep our friend happy.
The ix35 also has the added advantage of the seating position that comes with just about every SUV. It’s quite different to what you find in any sedan and it is more ergonomically correct and well suited to older hips and backs.
There were certainly other vehicles in both the mid-sized sedan and SUV category that we could have recommended and I’m sure that you will have your own personal favorites but these were the three that stood out for us.
Not only do they tick all the boxes for our friend but they’re also readily available and there are plenty of dealers on either of her routes to work where she could get one of these vehicles serviced and that’s an important point too.
Buying a much more exotic vehicle than the ones we mentioned here can be fun but that fun soon wears off when you have to take the car you’ve bought halfway across town to get it serviced.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the right car to buy in the comments section.