Downsizing dilemma: I want a medium SUV to replace my Prado
A Toyota fan wants to downsize when he replaces his Prado and asks: What other SUVs might work?
I'm a rusted-on Toyota owner with a Prado and a HiLux. I love my 2005 Prado diesel but it's time to update to take advantage of newer technology. I want to downsize but keep an SUV's ride height. I'm following the coming release of the new Toyota RAV4 but want to compare against the other medium SUVs. We want near top of the range and have a budget up to $50,000. I prefer to avoid a sunroof, leather seats, dark interiors and space-saver spare wheels. I'm not keen on hybrids. Warranty and service costs are important.
Geoff Shaw, email
Off the bat this looks a simple one, Geoff: you're a Toyota loyalist so wait for the new RAV4. It will be in showrooms in a matter of weeks and is bound to be impressive. No harm in comparing the opposition to see whether a rival brand can sway your decision.
2019 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser 2WD, $42,000 (est)
It's not yet in the country but the new RAV4 looks superb - more rugged than before - and all versions score active cruise control, road sign assist and autonomous emergency braking including for pedestrians and cyclists. As with the Camry stablemate, the hybrid version with 155kW 2.5-litre engine will doubtless be the pick, so don't let your scepticism exclude it. Batteries have an eight-year warranty and there's Toyota's five-year warranty for the rest of the car. Services cost typically less than all rivals. If you don't need AWD, the front-driver will save you money, and perhaps a cheaper mid-range cloth seat GXL would suit - standard equipment will be ample.
Hyundai Tucson Elite AWD, $44,945 drive-away
Tucsons look excellent and are solid all-rounders in the comfort and driveability stakes. Best engine is a 1.6-litre turbo petrol, only available with all-wheel drive. The Elite grade is the sweet spot, with excellent active safety including AEB, lane-keep assist, rear cross traffic alert and more. The eight-inch screen has satnav and there are power driver's seat, smart entry and start, premium audio, 18-inch alloys and full-size spare. It comes with leather seats - tick the $295 box for the brighter beige option. The five-year/unlimited km warranty is great and service costs over that time are cheap at $1585.
Mazda CX-5 2.5 Touring, $43,240 drive-away
It's Australia's best-selling SUV for a reason. There is a classy feel to the cabin and it rides and handles with aplomb. You don't need diesel or Mazda's new turbo petrol - the 2.5-litre petrol will suffice. You score suede rather than leather seats, which will be cooler in a Queensland summer, but they'll be black. No sunroof but only a space-saver spare. Gear includes an excellent head-up display on the windscreen, keyless entry, parking sensors all-round, traffic sign recognition, satnav, radar cruise control and strong active safety. Mazda now has a five-year warranty and servicing is pricier at $1898 for five years.
Subaru Forester 2.5i-L, $40,078 drive-away
More off-road cred than the rest, ensuring you won't miss the Prado too much. Engine and looks won't dazzle but it's huge inside, comfy, competent on-road and a star off-road with 220mm ground clearance, all-wheel drive and Subaru's X-Mode for varying terrain. Massively advanced safety kit, no sunroof, full-size spare, five-year warranty but pricier $2388 servicing over five years. Platinum-colour interior adds some light.
Drive all of the above before the RAV4 arrives in showrooms. I preach brand loyalty, so if your Toyotas have served you well, go the RAV4 unless you fall head-over-heels for one of the alternatives. It's very unlikely the new RAV4 won't meet expectations.
For advice on which car you should buy, write to firstname.lastname@example.org of PO Box 2808, GPO Sydney, NSW 2001