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.
We received an email from Deb after she hit a bit of a wall in researching her new SUV. Rather than three non-negotiables (believe me, that makes it a lot easier to offer up a wider selection), Deb has seven specific requests.
She has so far been unable to find anything that ticks all of her boxes, but don't worry Deb, we have you covered. To start, here is the list of 'must-haves' you gave us for this instalment of The Shortlist.
- diesel engine
- manual transmission
- all-wheel drive
- satellite navigation
- full-size spare wheel
- under $45,000
Geez Deb, sounds like you're trying to find a needle in a haystack!
Manual transmissions are rapidly disappearing from the Australian new car market because we're just not buying many of them anymore. Add to that the fact that a manual transmission is most commonly offered on a base model, which coincidentally will rarely have satellite navigation as standard, and we have a very specific combination of features to find.
I'm confident there will be a few options, so let's get started on narrowing the options. Deb didn't specify which size of SUV she would like, however the entire small SUV segment can be dropped out of contention because there are zero that offer the diesel, AWD, manual combination.
Moving on to the medium SUV segment and there is certainly more potential. A quick scan through the list throws up a few strong contenders, at first glance anyway...
The Toyota RAV4 GX ticks the diesel/AWD/manual boxes and it's priced at $36,710 before on-road costs which is well within the budget. However, sat nav is only available in an optional advanced technology pack for the auto only.
There are a number that miss the manual transmission preference, including the Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Outlander. However, the Subaru Forester hits the hat-trick, as does the Mahindra XUV500.
The price-point narrows down the large SUV options, and again the lack of manual transmission makes it even slimmer pickings. If Deb were prepared to stretch the budget a little, the Toyota Fortuner comes close in GX trim with AWD, diesel and manual, priced at $47,990 but it misses out on satellite navigation.
The Isuzu MU-X almost fits the brief, it can be had with a diesel engine, manual transmission, AWD and satellite navigation in LS-U trim, but it busts the budget at $49,000. There are however two that seem to pretty much hit the mark - the Hyundai Santa Fe and Subaru Outback.
Because Deb has specified SUV, we'll stick with that. But dual-cab utes would be worth a look too!
Based on the very few vehicles we could find that fit the brief, here is The Shortlist in alphabetical order:
Hyundai Santa Fe
The entry-level 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Active is available with a 2.2-litre four cylinder turbo diesel engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission that produces 147kW and 440Nm. Ticking another couple of boxes, it has active on-demand 4WD and a full size spare wheel.
The diesel, manual Active trim level is priced at $42,350 before on-roads and also scores a rear view camera, rear parking sensors, dusk sensing headlights and LED daytime-running lights. It has a 7.0-inch touchscreen - but no in-built satellite navigation but with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can easily use Google maps to find your way around.
It has a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.3-litres per 100-kilometres, seven-seats and 516-litres of cargo volume with the third-row folded away. Hyundai also offer a great ownership package too - a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, lifetime service plan and roadside assist.
The top-spec diesel 2017 Subaru Forester, the 2.0D-S comes in well under the price-point at $39,740. Featuring Subaru's 2.0-litre Boxer four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produce 108Kw and 350Nm, it can be had with a six-speed manual transmission. It also has Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation and a full size spare wheel.
Although the Forester 2.0D-S scores an electric sunroof, dusk sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, digital speedo, dual-zone climate control and a few other fancy features, Subaru's EyeSight safety system - which includes lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking - isn't available on diesel Forester variants.
Combined claimed fuel consumption is a little lower than the Santa Fe, at 5.9L/100km but the cargo volume is smaller at 422L. Subaru offer a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance plan, however servicing is due every six-months or 12,500km.
Technically classified as a large SUV, but looking a little more low-line and wagon-like than the Forester, the Subaru Outback 2.0D Premium is worth a look as well. Like the Forester, it has Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system and a 2.0-litre Boxer four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that produces 110kW and 350Nm, teamed with a six-speed manual transmission.
The Outback 2.0D Premium is priced at $42,240 and also features a full size spare wheel and in-built satellite navigation. Among the other highlights, it has a 7.0-inch touchscreen, rear view camera, dusk sensing LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and power tailgate.
Cargo volume is a little more generous than the Forester at 512L and combined claimed fuel consumption is 5.7L/100km. Like the Forester, the Outback comes with Subaru's three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance plan and servicing is due every six-months or 12,500km.
The Mahindra XUV500 comes in well under budget, has all-wheel drive, a diesel engine with manual transmission and satellite navigation. It's priced at $32,990 drive away.
If Deb were willing to stretch the budget a little, the 2017 Isuzu MU-X has recently launched and other than price, it fits the brief. The entry-level LS-M is missing satellite navigation, so she'd have to jump up to the LS-U for $49,000.
If manual were negotiable, the diesel/AWD Toyota RAV4 GX is priced $38,750 and the optional advanced technology pack includes satellite navigation - the pack is only available with the automatic transmission.
MORE: Santa Fe news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Everything Hyundai
MORE: Forester news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Outback news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Everything Subaru
Want more of The Shortlist? Catch the growing series here.