Car Buyers' Guide: Jumping off the bandwagon
Jack Biddle says take time to find a replacement for an ageing station wagon
Peter is driving a well-travelled 2.3-litre 2007 Mazda 626 station wagon which is up for replacement.
He values the versatility of a wagon but because his budget won’t stretch to a new vehicle and he believes there are limited choices in the used market, he is wondering about a more versatile and fuel-efficient SUV.
“I tow a small boat on occasions and also find the Mazda struggles up hills at times. Though 4WD is not really necessary, it would be a bonus,” Peter says.
Seeking a 4WD eliminates 2WD SUVs with smaller engine capacities. If you decide to move up in engine size and power, you may at best only march on the spot with fuel consumption.
For those potential buyers who still prefer a sedan or wagon over the more popular SUV, it will definitely become harder to find late-model and low-mileage NZ-new vehicles on the used market. But they are out there; it’s just a matter of taking your time to look.
Toyota Highlander 4WD
It’s one of the first vehicles that springs to mind, as it goes a long way to covering most of your general needs. One possible downside is that in your lower price range you may not move a long way forward in terms of age or mileage.
The Highlander is a popular and versatile vehicle which tends to hold its price very well on the used market.
This can mean late-model variants that suit your budget will probably have a higher than desirable odometer reading.
Find something within the budget that has travelled a reasonable distance and it may be getting a little long in the tooth. Fuel consumption from the 3.5-litre V6 engine (claimed 11.6l/100km) is not their strongest point although many prefer them over a diesel SUV because of their lower overall running costs and quieter engine noise levels.
Subaru Forester (around 2013)
The Forester is somewhat underrated in terms of usable interior space, particularly with longish loads.
You also have a great opportunity to buy a late-model example with kilometres in keeping with its age.
A Sport model will come with added features to provide some additional exterior and interior appeal.
The NZ-new Subaru range has always scored very highly in independent crash test results while their symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive technology and boxer engine design is well proven.
The claimed fuel consumption for the Forester is around 8l/100km, which does not take into account towing a boat, of course. It’s possibly the perfect balance between a wagon and a more traditional SUV.
Mazda6 GSX Wagon (around 2013)
Mazda has come a long way since the 626 even though it was regarded as a very versatile vehicle in its day, especially with business reps and their families.
So why not stick with a wagon and take advantage of the improvements across the board including performance, safety and fuel efficiency?
And why not stick with the Mazda brand? With SUVs being all the rage, the chances of getting a slightly better deal on a well-specced wagon will be pretty good.
You may lose the 4WD advantage but if the boat is used sparingly it may not be a major issue.
Think carefully about individual needs and purchase accordingly.