A reader asks: What\'s the best vehicle for a new family man?

Help your fellow reader by taking the poll
by Botchi Santos | Sep 25, 2013

Dear Botchi:

I want to start by saying I am a fan, and I read your work quite often. I once congratulated you on your work when I saw you at a Subaru dealership. I was there looking for a larger car, and I hope you can help me solve my car problem now.

I am a new family man. My current cars are fairly small, and I am hopeful you can help me select a larger vehicle that can handle our needs. After a recent trip with the Jazz, I figured that there is a lot of wisdom in having a car with substantial room when traveling with your kid (and the yaya, as well as the copious amounts of luggage that go with them). Gone are the days when a backpack and/or a duffel will carry all my needs.

I hope you can help me find a vehicle that fits the following criteria:

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* comfortable (both for driver and passenger);

* has sufficient space (having a third row is a good option, but not necessary);

* a fuel-miser (a must);

* good value for money (I don\'t want to spend a big amount when I can spend less and get the same elsewhere); and

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* spacious

I am willing to consider all reasonable options.

I proposed the Toyota Innova to my wife, but she feels the ride isn\'t comfortable enough (she used to ride in a two-year-old Innova, and she says the suspension was stiff). I like the Hyundai Santa Fe, but I don\'t know if the higher price tag is justified when I can get a Sorento (4x2 diesel), which I also like at around P400,000 less and just fill it with aftermarket accessories to bring it up to speed.

The Mitsubishi Montero Sport, despite all the good reviews, somehow doesn\'t excite me (weird, right?). The Toyota Fortuner is out, because my sister claims her mileage is less than ideal, and, well, it\'s old and well past its prime. I like the Subarus and the Honda CR-V (especially with the third-row option), but I think mileage might be an issue.

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I also considered \"executive\" cars, but frankly only the Mazda 6 and the Hyundai Sonata seem to be good buys. I also feel that, at their price points, the other options offer more, but I may be wrong. I also view them more as driver-centric cars, with rear legroom being a little tighter.

I hope you can help me. Thank you.

The Family Guy
(Kindly keep my e-mail address private)


Dear Mr. Family Guy:

Thank you for your e-mail. I hope that I did not say or do something embarrassing during the time that we met at the Subaru showroom in Greenhills.

Everyone indeed needs more space once we get married, start a family and have kids. So aside from the usual SUVs you just listed, here are some more options for you to consider:

* Kia Carnival LWB - This is one highly underrated minivan. It hangs with the very best of American minivan offerings, and is diesel-powered. And your wife, kids and yaya will love the space and ease of entry and exit. Okay, as a guy, you might feel emasculated driving a minivan, but trust me, the Carnival is really fantastic and offers decent punch out on the highway, and it comfortably seats eight people. You also have a choice of short- or long-wheelbase versions, but both seat eight people.

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* Kia Carens - The best MPV in the market also happens to be a highly underrated vehicle. Awesome diesel engine, awesome six-speed transmissions (both manual and automatic), comfortable seating for five people. But there are two more seats at the back for a total of seven. Admittedly, the third row isn\'t meant for adults on long trips. This will be the most car-like to drive, and the 1.7-liter CRDi diesel engine is really impressive.

* Subaru Forester XT - Pricey and probably the thirstiest and most expensive to run, the Forester is also the most fun and has the most street cred, making the family guy look like a cool family guy. Awesome handling, awesome 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo engine, awesome and very reliable heavy-duty CVT transmission, awesome traction thanks to symmetrical AWD and the X-Mode system. Moreover, it has a very roomy interior, more so than its predecessor.

I agree that the Montero Sport isn\'t exactly the last word in excitement (it\'s very common); that the Fortuner is very long in the tooth (rumors are that a full-model change will happen in 2015); and the Santa Fe is great but just very expensive.

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Check the three cars I listed, and let us know what you get.

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

Do you want Botchi to help you pick the right car? Send your inquiry to topgear@summitmedia.com.ph.


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