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.
Chris wrote in asking for help: he needs a new car, one that is quiet at highway speed because he does a lot of freeway and country road driving.
Well, Chris, so do I! My commute is about 150km per day, on some country and plenty of freeway roads, so I know exactly why you’d want something that is hushed on the highway.
Chris has some other criteria he wants to stick to, so here’s his rundown for The Shortlist:
- Quiet at speed – priority number one!
- Must have adaptive cruise control
- Unruffled at 110km/h, without the engine straining to maintain pace
With a budget of “$50,000-ish” to play with, there are soooooo many options out there that Chris could consider, including many CarAdvice favourites.
He could easily opt for a big sedan, because Chris doesn’t care about the body style, so something like a Honda Accord in flagship guise, or a Ford Mondeo (from Trend up), as they have adaptive cruise. A Skoda Octavia or Superb may also fit the bill in that regard.
Any of those would be sound options, but seeing how those sorts of cars are going in the market, and how their resale values compare to the more on-trend offerings around, we’d suggest a mid-sized SUV could be better suited to Chris’s needs.
So, here’s Chris’s instalment of The Shortlist.
Honda CR-V VTi-LX
This new top of the range Honda CR-V VTi-LX model is one that’d be up high on our list.
In this high-spec grade, it has all the safety stuff including radar cruise (not to mention autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping and a rear-view camera with side-view camera), and it still comes in under budget, at $44,490 plus on-road costs.
Because of its 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and smart continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic gearbox, it gets along in an unstressed fashion, never feeling fussed at highway speed. It's not whisper quiet, but it is quieter than many of its rivals – and indeed, it's quieter in the CR-V than it is a Civic hatch.
While space isn’t a huge priority for Chris, the CR-V is a well-packaged and thoughtful SUV, typical of what we’ve come to expect from the Japanese brand.
It is all-wheel-drive, and is decent fun to drive, too, with quick, decisive steering and a comfort-focused ride that will be great on those bumpy country roads.
Ford Escape Trend or Titanium
If you choose the Escape, you’ve got options upon options, because in the price range between $33,000 and $48,000 there are two models, and up to three drivetrains on top of that. Unlike the Honda, you can have the choice of petrol or diesel.
For instance, if Chris didn’t care for all-wheel drive, he could choose the 1.5-litre front-drive petrol automatic Trend, at well under budget, and option up the Driver Assist Tech pack for $1300, which adds the adaptive cruise control that Chris wants, along with lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, automatic high-beam lights, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Indeed, he needs to choose that option pack when he walks into the Ford showroom, whether he chooses the Trend (which comes in front-drive petrol, all-wheel-drive petrol, or all-wheel-drive diesel) or the top-spec Titanium (all-wheel-drive petrol – with a larger 2.0-litre turbo engine, or diesel all-wheel drive).
The Escape, which was previously sold as the Kuga, is one of the quieter SUVs on the market, too. It rides nicely, and the petrol engines are hushed at high speeds, while the diesel can grumble a tad.
You probably shouldn’t have to spend extra for the additional kit that is included in Lexus’s Enhancement Pack, being that the company has been known for ages as being somewhat ‘all inclusive’.
But them’s the breaks for the entry-level Luxury grade of the NX, and while it starts over the odds in terms of price – from $53,550 – plus the optional ($5250!) pack that includes adaptive cruise control, there’s good reason it made our list.
It’s a luxury SUV with luxury levels of cabin quietness. There's not much noise intrusion in the NX at all, be it from the engine or the road. The 2.0-litre turbo in the 200t model is better suited to highways than the 300h hybrid version of this car, and as such we’d suggest it every day of the week. The front-drive version would be fine for Chris’s needs, but AWD might see better value retention in the long run.
A huge bonus for Chris could be the NX’s seats. They are some of the most comfortable chairs on the planet, with excellent cushioning and support.
The safety stuff will likely be included as standard when the facelifted NX model arrives here next year, but if Chris is keen to purchase before then, he should be able to argue hard for a bargain with the kit included.
Want more of The Shortlist? Catch the growing series here.