SUV choices for a college kid

Here's Botchi's pick but feel free to share your thoughts
by Botchi Santos | Sep 1, 2010

Hi, Botchi!

I'm a college student and my parents are thinking of getting me a new car. I want an SUV-type but I don't want a big one as it won't fit in the small space I have at home. I don't want a sedan even when I usually drive alone because I find it hard to drive from a low point of view. 

I’m choosing between the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson.

I hope you can give me your thoughts on these vehicles. Other suggestions would also be appreciated. Thanks a lot! 


Hi, Pao!

Better save your allowance so you have funds for Top Gear magazines, fuel, maintenance and mods of your new SUV!

Since you're a college kid writing to Top Gear, you must be one cool kid; hence, I suggest two crossover activity vehicles for you:

Kia Soul – Yes, it’s a Kia; yes, it's made in Korea; and yes, the body graphics look makulit but it really is a comfortable, decent-sized SUV of sorts that has style, panache and the ground clearance you'll need should you encounter flash floods on the way home form school. Believe it or not, the Soul is better built compared to a slew of other Thailand-built Japanese SUVs. The size is perfect, the looks are exciting and the Soul is what every college outdoorsy, lifestyle-ish kid wishes he or she had to drive and show off at the school parking lot. I only had a short test drive and was left wanting for more.

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Mitsubishi ASX - Though not as stylish as the Kia Soul, the ASX is just as good as--if not better than--the cute Korean. Essentially a Lancer on stilts, the ASX handled predictably well—feeling more like a sedan and less like an SUV. I was able to drive it on track and the ride comfort is super smooth. Though it looks tight inside, has actually a lot of space. The pillbox effect is an illusion created by the small windows; trust me, it has all the room any college kid will want. Top Gear's tuning and technical editor Ferman Lao was with me during the media launch and he said a turbocharger under the hood looks good so you tuning options are far broader on this baby. This is the newest, cutest and certainly accomplished crossover in the market. It's actually slightly narrower and shorter than a regular Lancer sedan according to the guys at Mitsubishi.

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Now, about your choices…

Toyota RAV4 – This is old and dated. I never liked this particular Toyota even when it was new a few years back.

Honda CR-V - Only the top model with the 2.4-liter engine whets my automotive loins. The other CR-Vs are a bit dowdy.

Hyundai Tucson - This baby looks really gorgeous, almost as good as the Kia Soul but, like a college girl, she's a bit mataray because she knows she looks good. Translation: It's a great SUV. The Tucson knows it, everyone knows it and everyone wants to take it for a spin. Everyone is lined up for the delivery of the Tucson so prepare for a rather lengthy waiting list before you get your unit. Stretch your budget and get the diesel if your folks will allow it. It has the best iPod/MP3 connectivity and it is the most stylish of the lot.

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I admit my recommendations are a bit wacky but trust me, when you drive a really interesting car, your motoring life will never be the same again. Good luck and Godspeed. Keep saving your allowance. Study hard but party hardest!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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