Car Buyers' Guide: Not a people mover
They want to move people but not in a people mover
Jo and her husband own an older Toyota Land Cruiser but are expecting their fourth child later in the year and need to upgrade.
All four of the children will be in car seats so they are looking at SUV/4WD options that have a 2/2/3 or possibly a 2/3/3 seat configuration where the centre middle seat can be folded away to allow for a walk through to the rear.
"Ideally we do not want to go to a people mover as we live rural and on a gravel road, so need the higher ground clearance and, at times, a vehicle with 4WD abilities," says Jo.
The budget: $30,000
As the father of five children I can sympathise with you Jo. Often it's a matter of practicality over desirability when it comes time to select the family vehicle.
With your budget and wanting 4WD you will definitely need to tread carefully. Most of vehicles you will be looking at will have travelled up to, or over 100,000km so the petrol versus diesel option is one you may want to sort out as a first step.
I suspect because of your lifestyle, trips in the car are fairly well organised with less time spent loading and unloading children the priority, so the fuel bill should be pretty well contained.
I would lean more toward the petrol option especially the higher the odometer reading. Finding a suitable SUV with an unobstructed walk-through to the rear seats will be difficult if not impossible. Best you can hope for is a second row with a centre seat that folds forward to allow access to the rear.
Subaru Tribeca (2008)
This vehicle scores highly in four important areas: comfort for Mum and Dad; a roof-mounted DVD player; safety features that include stability control, reverse camera, parking sensors and multiple airbags; Subaru's proven All-Wheel-Drive system. The 3-litre engine certainly won't lack power or performance. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 12.4l/100km (11.6l/100km for the 3.6l engine).
Toyota Highlander 4WD (2008)
Apart from the DVD player the 3.5l Highlander matches the Subaru in terms of safety, specification levels and driver comfort. Combined claimed fuel consumption is also almost identical at 11.6l/100km. The Highlander continues to sell in reasonably good numbers from new vehicle showrooms and for this reason you may be asked to pay a little more or, for similar money, a vehicle that has travelled further in comparison to the Subaru.
Nissan Pathfinder (2007)
If the vehicle is required to double up and carry out some of the heavier duties on the property then you could consider the seven-seater Pathfinder. It leans more towards being a good solid workhorse than it does a straight-out family vehicle. Both a 2.5l diesel and 4l petrol option are available. Claimed combined fuel consumption figures are 10l/100km and 14l/100km respectively.
The Highlander may have an edge in terms of acceptance in the workshops around the rural community but don't discount the Tribeca. It's an awful lot of motor vehicle for the money. Look at the Pathfinder (diesel) only if you need the dual personality.