I Need a Car and an SUV


G'day John,

Could you please recommend which cars & SUVs you believe would be provide us with safe, reliable and economical motoring between the Hyundai, i30 / i35 and either VW small car/SUV or Toyota small car/SUV.

There is a possibility we could purchases one car and one SUV and trade in a 2009 Honda Accord 2.4-litre (approx. 30,000km) and a 2005 Volvo XC70 with approximately 80,000km.

The Honda needs some panel work but is otherwise in good nick, mechanically. Reason for possible changes are we need a smaller car for my wife and an SUV for me. I need a vehicle that is easier to get into and out of due to multiple hip and knee replacements.

Your thoughts and comments will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and regards

Ron and Edelyn


G’day Ron & Edelyn

If you’re going to buy two vehicles I’d get two from the same brand because it’s one relationship to manage (at one dealer) and you’ll probably get a better deal if you buy two.

What instantly springs to mind is the Kia Rio small car for your wife. This is a really good little car (much better than the Hyundai i20). Get the one with the big engine – it is much nicer to drive.

For you, I’d recommend the Kia Sportage, which is an Hyundai ix35, with different hair and makeup. (The Sportage and ix35 are the same vehicle. Hyundai and Kia are the same company back in South Korea, which is why the powertrain and all the major body panels are the same. They do that to amortise R&D costs.) The Sportage is sharper to drive, sharper on pricing and nicer looking.

Kias all come with a five-year warranty, with unlimited kilometres.

The Sportage seating height is the average human hip height, so you won’t need to climb up of down when getting in or out. I bought my wife a Sportage Platinum diesel about 18 months ago - we're thrilled with it. It's been a great SUV. Very comfortable, great appointments, great value.

If Edelyn needs a slightly bigger car than the Rio, I’d recommend the Kia Cerato (which is an Hyundai i30 with different hair and makeup). Alternatively, you could try the Hyundai i30, the Mazda3 or the Toyota Corolla.

Forget Volkswagen. Their technology is great but their reliability is terrible and their customer care record is atrocious. See my report on Volkswagen's DSG fiasco here, and also a similar related report on Volkswagen's appalling customer care record here.

As for Toyota, the Corolla is a good car. I'm not a fan of the CVT auto transmission, but it is very efficient. I’d leave Honda to one side, however. They haven’t really recovered from the impact of the GFC and Tsunami yet.

I hope this helps, Ron. When you get down to knowing exactly what car you want, I have a contact who is an excellent car broker. He buys cars all day long. It’s the best way to get the lowest price, as well as not get ripped off by a car dealer. It’s a free service (he gets paid by the successful dealer). Let me know if you want to speak with him. There’s no obligation.