Buyers Guide: Upsizing the family vehicle
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If you find yourself struggling to fit all the whanau or fishing gear into your vehicle on a regular basis, there's a good chance you've outgrown your vehicle and are in dire need of an upgrade.
With space, comfort, safety and versatility at the top of some shopping lists, SUVs are becoming a popular choice for growing families wishing to step away from the traditional minivan.
You may not need a seven-passenger SUV all the time, but when you need one, you want the best you can get.
If we look at the market figures from the Motor Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA), four of the top 15 vehicles sold this year are seven-seater SUVs, all with varying prices.
At the top of the list we have the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe or Toyota Highlander, which could cost upwards of $60,000 depending on the specifications you want.
For those looking for a slightly cheaper option, a Mitsubishi Outlander or Holden Captiva could set you back around $40,000 to $50,000.
These models all meet 5-star Ancap safety ratings and offer many safety-assist features to enhance your driving experience.
It's also important to remember that a good SUV can have the versatility to be an all-in-one solution. If your family needs extra seating capacity like a van, but also needs the towing abilities of a truck to launch the boat, or the four-wheel drive to travel on rough terrain, an SUV will be the answer to all your problems.
If you're considering an upgrade, it's important to think about what features you need.
Seven-seater SUVs vary significantly, so do your homework before doing the deal.
For example, many drivers assume all SUVs have some form of four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive system, but this isn't always the case. Many vehicles may have the look, but could be only two-wheel drive with a conservative engine -- basically a station wagon on stilts.
These models still have the vanity of an SUV, but are focused at the entry-level segment of the market and for people who primarily need only the size and safety of a new SUV.
Those in the market for an SUV should factor in higher running costs SUVs tend to have increased costs in servicing such as brake and tyre replacements due to their increased weight. This should be considered when changing from a light passenger vehicle.
Make sure also to factor in engine size when making a particular purchase decision.
If you want to achieve better fuel economy for day-to-day driving around the city, a smaller capacity engine or one with start-stop technology will help to cut costs.
If you need something with a bit of power to tow the boat or trailer, picking a model that's under-powered is a problem just waiting to happen.
This can overwork the engine and transmission and reduce the vehicle's life; so choose an SUV that can handle everything you can throw at it.
Typical passenger vehicles are fast losing popularity in favour of the new kids on the block that give consumers variety and allow them to choose a vehicle tailored to their increasing demands.
So, if you are in the market for a multi-purpose vehicle, truck, off-roader or all of the above consider buying a seven-seater SUV.