Car Buyers' Guide: SUV with a difference
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SUVs with a difference are out there if you take the time to look
Jamie is in the market for a mid-size new SUV with a difference. "Every man and his dog seem to be driving SUVs these days and while I want to join the bandwagon, I also want to get behind the wheel of something a little different.
I don't have a bottomless pit when it comes to money, however, so my dilemma is should I play it safe and stick to the more popular brands or go for something a little different?
"I'm also aware I can probably negotiate a better deal with the bigger players and high-volume sellers within the industry, but I'm at a stage in my life where I feel like taking a little risk and am prepared to pay a little more if it means I'm getting something I really like," says Jamie.
He's hoping Driven can provide advice on whether to stay with the trusted brands or look elsewhere ... and what the different options are. The budget: $40,000
Well, yes, you definitely should have a good look around, Jamie, and try to sample many different brands. For many buyers, looking for a replacement new or used vehicle can become frustrating and tiresome, and drifting towards the more popular makes and models makes life easier.
If you're prepared to do the leg work, however, and compare specification levels and drive as many SUVs as you can, there is no reason you can't find a vehicle that suits your needs and your personality.
When buyers walk into a showroom totally focused on price alone, then sales staff will do the same and deals can be struck without buyers knowing too much about a vehicle's features - or lack of them, in some cases. While price is important so, too, is the overall experience with a particular brand and franchise dealership. The other important attribute to have when looking at different vehicles is patience and being prepared to be a good listener. Allow enough time in the showroom to let sales staff walk you through a particular vehicle from front to back and explain all the features and benefits. While you may start to hear much the same message delivered in a different way from each individual franchise, you may also find out something unique and different that one brand or model has over another.
Taking a relaxed approach can also provide an opportunity for sales staff to ask about your specific motoring needs and to demonstrate how their product or services can accommodate them. Yes, it's a bit of a game you play and it can be time-consuming, but, hey, it's not every day you're in a position to purchase a new vehicle, so why not take your time and enjoy the experience.
Peugeot 3008 Crossover 1.6-litre petrol
Prices range either side of your budget ($37,990 for the Active and $42,990 for the Allure). This is the exact model that would fall through the cracks for many looking for a suitable mid-size SUV/Crossover. The facelift 3008 is new to the market and has an extremely high build quality inside and out, including a soft-touch dash finish. Interior flow is well designed and it carries a very high specification level and safety package even on the base model.
It's a vehicle you can jump out of and say "wow, that is an impressive all-round package and drive experience". The 3008 also confirms my liking for smaller turbocharged engines which can turn on the power (115kW) and torque (240Nm) as required while the 6-speed auto is the perfect partner. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.6L/100km. One point of difference body-wise is the handy split rear tailgate, while the Allure model features a full-length panoramic glass roof, heads-up display (vehicle speed projects on to the windscreen) with a following distance alert, navigation, reverse camera, heated folding exterior mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Rear passenger space is a little tight but front seat occupants and their boot luggage are well catered for. Of note is the Active model's full-size spare compared to the Allure's puncture repair kit.
Subaru XV 2.0l
Some may argue it's more of a hatch-back on steroids than a true SUV or Crossover but, regardless, it does provide a point of difference in more ways than one.
It comes with the well proven Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system and horizontally opposed Boxer engine (110kW /196Nm) and has a street presence that strikes a good balance between aggressive and sporty.
A body kit, roof spoiler, roof rails, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels provide the exterior appeal. Combined claimed fuel consumption is around 7.0L/100km depending on the transmission option. The automatic would be my recommendation. Prices vary between $38,990 (manual) and $40,990 (auto).
Jeep Compass North
Another alternative SUV/Crossover worth a look. This facelift model is being promoted by Jeep for $33,490 (normal retail $39,990). The brand name may suggest off-road ability but this model has a 2.0l engine (115kW/190Nm) and is 2WD only.
Features include navigation, reverse camera, heated seats, 17-inch alloys and 6 airbags. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 8.3L/100km.
Take your time and be prepared to have a good look at what's on offer. Don't discount the mainstream players but focus on specification levels and overall appeal first, and price second.