Car Buyers' Guide: Don’t judge a car by its reputation
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Don't judge by past reputation alone
When potential buyers ask me for advice on what make/model of vehicle to consider, their budget often plays the biggest part in making what I consider to be a suitable recommendation.
When the funds are limited, I suggest brands that have a proven history of reliability and then keep it fairly basic regarding specification levels.
Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi are good examples of vehicles with a reasonable past reliability record for those with limited funds.
They are far from perfect motor vehicles. Corrosion can be an issue as they age, and safety is not always their greatest strength, but buyers in the lowest price bracket do have to make the choice between keeping their motoring costs as low as possible, or risk spending money they don’t always have, on a brand that carries a little more risk.
I learned enough from my days involved with mechanical warranty insurance to know some brands are definitely more reliable and cheaper to own than others, especially when it comes to the older fleet.
But times can and do change.
I often use Subaru as a good example of a brand that once carried the tag of being very one-dimensional, with a boy-racer reputation and carrying a high mechanical risk, to now producing some of the best family-friendly vehicles on the market. They still produce models that keep their past history alive and well, but they have struck a perfect balance across their entire model range in recent years.
Hyundai is another brand that has quickly moved up the sales charts in recent years after initially entering the New Zealand market in the early 1980s with some pretty average product. Year to date (November) they sit comfortably in fourth place overall in new passenger car registrations, with an 8 per cent market share.
In the hotly contested large SUV market, the Hyundai Santa Fe has long been regarded as a standout model. It’s offered with both petrol and diesel power units and with five or seven-seat options.
To reinforce its claim of being a top-end product, the 2.2 Diesel Auto Elite Limited has a retail price of $82,990, which is a statement in itself and places the vehicle in contention alongside the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado for those looking for a highly specced and comfortable large SUV.
The overall spec list is almost endless. Safety features alone include smart cruise control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane change assist, blind spot detection, self-levelling suspension, advanced traction control, cornering control, downhill brake control, reverse camera, rear park sensors, plus airbags galore.
Other models now in the Santa Fe stable are the 2.4-litre Petrol Auto (from $58,990), 3.3-litre V6 Petrol Auto Elite (from $69,490) and the 2.2-litre Diesel Auto (from $64,990).
So don’t let past reputations put you off certain brands. You will be surprised at the huge progress that has been made.