Doing what we do, CarAdvice writers are often asked by friends and family, and through our contact page: which car is best for me?
Most buyers can identify the top three non-negotiable factors that will guide their purchase decision. But… where to from there?
In this series, we look at these cases and single out three cars that fit the brief. If there are more than three, we’ll highlight the three models that have scored well in past CarAdvice reviews.
Troy is looking for a new SUV, with rear-seat space as a priority. He has a couple of growing teenagers that keep getting taller, and he needs space in the back a family’s worth of luggage.
He’s looking at a Hyundai or a Kia, and having spent some time in a Tucson a while ago, and after seven days with the mid-sized SUV fully loaded, Troy was pretty impressed, and so was his entire family. In fact, he said he “couldn’t fault it”.
The question is, should Troy look around at what else is on the market? The only stipulation is it needs to be a four-cylinder automatic. And that narrows it down to, oh, a few million choices!
But to make it a little easier, the budget is about $30,000 and these are the three key criteria we need to hit:
There are plenty of options here. If Troy was willing to consider a conventional station wagon instead of an SUV, a Skoda Octavia wagon would be very, very hard to beat. It starts below $25,000 and has great tech, massive space and a huge boot.
And given the fact Troy is keen for a high-rider, there are still multiple options to consider. A Subaru Forester could fit the bill, with excellent rear-seat head-room and leg-room, but the boot is a little bit tight. Toyota’s RAV4 has good rear seat space, and so does the Nissan X-Trail.
But there is a clear bent towards the Korean brands – with good reason, as they offer superior value for money in most cases, better tech, and better ownership potential.
Still, we can’t help but through in a wildcard. So here it is: Troy’s The Shortlist.
He said it’s hard to fault, and Troy is mostly right in that regard. The Tucson, depending on the spec chosen, really does represent a high quality option in the segment, one with good space on offer and plenty of equipment for the money, particularly in the lower-spec models.
The range kicks off from just $28,590 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Active manual, with the auto adding $2000. That model is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol with a six-speed auto, though it is best to step up to the Active X, which costs from $31,150 in auto. We had an Active X as a long-termer, and it was a fantastic accompaniment to the CarAdvice Melbourne office. You can get deals on these, from about $32,000 drive-away.
Those models mentioned above are front-wheel-drive, where the all-wheel-drive petrol models have a 1.6-litre turbo engine with a dual-clutch transmission, which we’ve found can be a bit dicky in stop-start traffic. If Troy wants to entertain the idea of a diesel, the Tucson diesel auto range starts from $35,090.
The Tucson range is backed by a strong five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with lifetime capped-price servicing and a 10-year roadside assist plan if you maintain your vehicle through the brand’s service network.
It has good rear seat space for the class at 488 litres, but Troy will need to shop higher in the range than the Active X if he wants his cool teenagers to stay cool in summer, as there are no air-vents in this spec or the Active below it. The passenger area is otherwise excellent, with good knee-room, headroom and shoulder-room, and plenty of storage options throughout the cabin.
The Kia Sportage is one of the best SUVs in this segment, having consistently impressed us. It and the Hyundai Tucson, which are essentially twins under the skin, both have big line-ups to cater to the varied needs of customers.
The Sportage range kicks off with a front-wheel-drive petrol model from $28,990 (there’s a flagship petrol AWD for about $44K, but we wouldn’t bother), and the diesel AWD range starts from just $33,990.
The recently added front-drive Si Premium model, for just $30,990 plus on-road costs – or $30,990 drive-away, if you shop around! – offers a strong option for Troy, with plenty of equipment, too: 18-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch colour touch display with sat-nav, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, automatic climate control, LED daytime lights, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Kia is known for its customer care credentials, with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, not to mention a seven-year capped-price service campaign and the same period of roadside assist, provided you service the car at a Kia dealer.
The second-generation Volkswagen Tiguan is bigger and better than ever before, and with a sliding second-row it is considerably roomier than the last model: easily big enough for a couple of teens, provided they aren’t giants.
The boot is the best you can get right now, with 520 litres of cargo capacity with the seats as far back as they can go, or 615 litres if you slide the seats forward. Flip the rear seats down and you’ve got 1655L – huge.
The DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission might not be to all tastes, but it’s a strong value SUV with plenty of variants to choose from. The range kicks off higher than its Korean competition, at $31,990 plus ORCs (or about $33,000 on the road), but every engine in the range is turbocharged – including the entry-level 110TSI, which is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo with a seven-speed DSG auto.
That turbo engine may well offer more effortless progress than the non-turbo drivetrains in the entry-level Tucson and Sportage variants. We’ve had a Tiguan in the office for a few months now, and not once has its engine urgency been questioned.
All models come with autonomous emergency braking, rear-view camera and parking sensors front and rear, and the latest smartphone connectivity.
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Want more of The Shortlist? Catch the growing series here.