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.
It sounds to us like Jacques is one of those guys who gets out and about a bit, because he actually plans to use his new SUV for more than just running around the suburbs. As such, this is his criteria for his new car:
- Must be able to tow at least 1600 kilograms - he uses his trailer for camping gear and off-road bikes.
- He needs seven seats
- He'd prefer diesel and the assuredness of all-wheel-drive or four-wheel drive to get in and out of campsites
Seems fairly doable, and even within his budget of around $50,000. But, as Jacques says, his "missus likes a few comforts", so we're going to have to rule out a couple of the hardcore ute-based off-roaders straight off the bat.
Not that you can get many for that much money. The Isuzu MU-X in base 4WD form is $50,100 plus on-road costs with an automatic gearbox, though we know the Japanese brand is always doing deals below that on the entry-level model. Still, as good an off-roader as it is, it doesn't have those all-important goodies for Jacques' partner.
Likewise, there's no Ford Everest with four-wheel-drive at that sort of price point (the cheapest one of those you can get is $52,990 plus on-road costs), so there goes that. And you can put a line through the Toyota Fortuner for that reason, too (base model GX auto is $49,990 plus on-road costs, and isn't very special at all).
That said, we've got some more passenger-focused offerings for Jacques to put on his list. Remember, he didn't say he wanted a hardcore off-roader - just something that'll deal with dirt tracks and slippery slopes. But we've also managed to sneak in one of our favourite serious four-wheel-drives in Jacques' chapter of The Shortlist.
Kia Sorento diesel Si Limited
It's all-wheel-drive, diesel, with seven seats, and pretty well packed with value and a price tag of just $47,490 for the Si Limited version of the Kia Sorento. That's pretty enticing, especially considering you get a seven-year warranty with seven years' capped price servicing and seven years' roadside assist (if you service at Kia).
The towing rating is 750kg for an un-braked trailer, and 2000kg for a braked trailer - sounds like it could be perfect. Over the standard Si, the Si Limited scores 18-inch machine finish alloy wheels, leather-appointed seat trim, a premium steering wheel with faux wood trim and Limited badging.
Standard features on the base car already includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, a rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
The Sorento is due for an upgrade in October, so if you're shopping in the next six weeks you might get a good runout deal.
Hyundai Santa Fe Active diesel
Essentially a twin to the Sorento, but not quite as new inside or out - because there's an all-new version of the Hyundai Santa Fe coming next year.
Still, this base-model diesel version has all-wheel drive, the same excellent engine and six-speed auto drivetrain as the Sorento (but you can get a six-speed manual if you want it in the Hyundai), and a price tag of $44,850 plus on-road costs for the auto. You'll get one on the road for less than fifty grand, no problems.
And while the Active model may be the base grade, this 2018 model-year update adds autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and radar-guided smart cruise control – previously limited to the flagship Highlander model.
Other changes for the 2018 Active include an electronic parking brake, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, power folding side mirrors, and puddle lights in the side mirrors.
You could do worse than a Santa Fe, which has a five-year unlimited-km warranty, lifetime capped-price servicing at Hyundai dealers, and 10 years roadside assist if you service with them. It has the same towing capacity, too.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX
This is our left-field option, one that's more focused on proper off-roading. But if you camp a lot, as Jacques clearly does, and if you want to do a bit of serious off-roading on the side, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is the one for you.
Unlike the other two which have AWD, this bad boy has 4WD - so, high-range in 2WD and 4WD, and a low-range transfer case. It'll deal with towing with a bit more ease, theoretically, with its higher 3.1-tonne braked towing capacity.
The price is right, too - Mitsubishi is doing deals at $47,500 drive-away officially, but you'll probably get one even cheaper than that if you shop around... or just opt for the next model up, the GLS, which has a few extra bells and whistles, and it should still come in under $50k.
But all Pajero Sport models come with goodies like DAB+ digital radio, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, making this one of the most technologically advanced infotainment offerings in the segment. It has a rear-view camera, too.
And for peace of mind, it comes with Mitsubishi’s five-year/100,000km new car warranty, with four years/60,000km of capped-price servicing, with 12 month/15,000km intervals.
Want more of The Shortlist? Catch the growing series here.