As a 2UE listener I would appreciate your advice. We have a Holden Commodore. It's eight years old with 49,000 kilometres on the clock. My husband does not drive any more. I am 84 years old and would like a smaller car. The important features I would like are to have better viewing and a reverse camera as our driveway is a T intersection, also easier access into the driver's seat.
Thank you very much in anticipation of your help.
Firstly let me say good on you for maintaining your mobility and independence into your 80s - you must be doing something right!
A reversing camera is something you can add to basically any car for a few hundred dollars. It is a very simple installation that any halfway decent auto-electrician could perform in a few hours.
Therefore, the question really becomes: Which vehicle should you buy. Many elderly people I talk to find it difficult to climb down into conventional cars (and/or climb back out when alighting). Compact SUVs - like those smaller 4WDs including the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage, as well as the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V - were designed to have seats at the average standing hip height, so people with reduced mobility find it much easier to get in and out (no climbing required).
Here are two options that I think really are good vehicles.
Kia Sportage: excellent value for money, great equipment levels, easy to drive, standard reversing camera and very well appointed. It's also safe and has a five-year warranty. You can read more about the Kia Sportage here. I bought one about 18 months ago and I have been very happy with it. Up-to-date information on the Sportage at Kia's official Sportage page here.
Mazda CX-5: Great technology, slightly larger than the Sportage, but not quite as good on value for money. Warranty is only three years. A very nice vehicle to drive.
If you want to see more of a comparison between the Sportage and the CX-5, visit my video portfolio page here, scroll down to the fifth video and play it.
Up-to-date information on the Mazda CX-5 at Mazda's official CX-5 page here.
If you decide you prefer a car instead, here are two options:
Mazda3: A superb car. Australia's most popular car - with good reason. Very pleasant to drive, reliable and reasonable compact (certainly much more nimble than an eight-year-old Commodore. You could also consider the Hyundai i30 and the Toyota Corolla, which are both excellent cars. Up-to-date information on the Mazda3 at Mazda's official Mazda3 page here.
Kia Rio: Slightly smaller than the Mazda3. You get five years' warranty, fantastic features for the price, good driving dynamics, five-star safety rating and great fuel economy. You could also consider the Mazda2 or the Toyota Yaris. Up-to-date information on the Rio at Kia's official Rio page here.
Apart from these four cars being the best of the breed, respectively, you need only go to the nearest Mazda and Kia dealers to check them out. I strongly advise you not to buy from the nearest dealer, however. Don't let them pressure you into buying now. I have an excellent car broker who can put the car you decide to buy out to tender across dozens of dealerships, and will secure the best possible price (as well as insulate you from the dealer's more common rip-off tactics). Once you decide on the car you want, please get back to me via my contact form here and I will get the broker to start work for you.
You might also like to review my guide to buying a new car here.
Best of luck with it, and please don't hesitate to contact me again if you have any more questions about the vehicle(s) as you make your selection.