SUV choices: Should you go German, Korean or Japanese?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Nov 11, 2010

Hi, Botchi!

I love your magazine! The humor you infuse to it is really entertaining.

My options are very diverse and are not really "apples to apples," as they say. However, please give me your thoughts and I would greatly appreciate it. 

My budget is P1.7 million. I am considering getting a Mitsubishi Montero Sport, a new Kia Sorento or  a secondhand BMW X3. And these are my thoughts on my choices:

BWM X3. I know that I'd be getting a five- to six-year old X3. It seats less and it's relatively small but brand equity is the get on. Will I have big maintenance problems considering it's not new? Is it worth getting an old one rather than a new Montero Sport or Sorento?

Kia Sorento. I really like the drive feel of this vehicle. It feels more planted on the ground than a Toyota Fortuner plus its reviews are outstanding. My only reservation is brand equity. They've made great leaps especially with the Sorento but do you think Kia is worth my money? 

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Mitsubishi Montero Sport.  I'm seriously considering this because it has more brand value (at the moment) than a Kia and I'd be getting a new one compared to the X3. I know Montero has the pickup frame so it rides not as good as the other choices above. 

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I would just like to mention that I am 35 years old and I'm the chief operating officer of a small company. These may give you more insights on which vehicle would suit me more. 

My sincere gratitude,

Hi, Cyness!

Thanks for the email, and apologies for the late reply.

In my experience, older European cars become expensive to maintain as more and more parts start conking out--which is normal for a five- to six-year old car. The first to go are small electronic sensors and modules. Not very expensive per se, but add them all up and the cost becomes considerable. I like secondhand cars because of the bargaining possibilities, but if it will be your primary mode of transportation your patience might get tested a whole lot.

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BMW X3.While this is really well-engineered, I personally think you find a lot of very basic models of the car for sale at that price level. So despite the fact that you are driving an X3, it will feel very basic. BMW or not, I'd prefer something more luxurious in this price range with more toys and goodies fitted as standard. 

Kia Sorento. I love this car. It feels very American--typical of Kia's huge push in the US. It feels very honest--nothing too flashy or fancy and you tend not to expect a lot--yet get very pleased with its performance. I agree that brand value and street cred is quite low with a Kia compared with the more established Japanese and European brands but what really matters is your satisfaction. It's like wearing very expensive, very fashionable but very painful shoes for the sake of being cool versus wearing a nice and comfortable pair that truly fit your feet and your overall look. Do you want to live up to being a fashionista/fashion victim, car-wise?

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Mitsubishi Montero Sport. For its price, this sport-utility vehicle is a bargain, especially with the middle-tier variants. My mom has one and she's pretty happy with it. The ride is noticeably smoother and better than my dad's Toyota Fortuner (both cars I picked for my parents, by the way). But the on-road dynamic performance of the Montero Sport isn't as sharp as the Fortuner's and--my current segment favorite--the Hyundai Santa Fe's.

Speaking of Santa Fe, you should look at the R eVGT variant. It rides like a car, handles high speeds really well and feels very composed and very stable. It is also very fuel efficient. I love this baby a whole lot!

As a left-field choice, you should also consider the Subaru Forester XT 2.5 Turbo. It fits your budget and it is easily the fastest car of the group. Subaru has very good brand equity and street credibility plus after-sales service is also very good. If I had the dosh, I'd have bought one right now. 

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Hope this helps you. Take care, good luck and God bless!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

Lost in a sea of cars and not quite sure which one to get? Click here to email your car query so Botchi can help you pick the right vehicle!

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