What's the perfect car for a daughter?

Help our letter sender decide
by Botchi Santos | Dec 22, 2010

Hi, Botchi!

I need some professional advice. My 19-year old daughter is presently driving a 2000 Toyota RAV4 (AWD), which is a hand-me-down from myself. She is a student-athlete and she prefers driving an SUV because of the high ground clearance and, at the end of the day, the looks. Although the RAV4 is in very good condition even if it's already 10 years old, I'm planning to give my daughter a brand-new vehicle.

I am quite lost with the various small and medium SUV choices in the market, plus the fact that there are petrol and diesel considerations to think about.

I have made a long list of vehicles but I have yet to really narrow it down. By the way, it's also a surprise so I have no idea what she wants. Here are my gasoline-fed vehicle options: Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail (new verson, CVT?), Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-7 and Subaru Forester. And here are my diesel-fed options: Ford Everest 2.5 and Mitsubishi Montero Sport 2.5.

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I'd appreciate if you could give your personal opinion on the vehicles mentioned above. We live in BF Homes, Parañaque, and my  daughter studies at the De La Salle University in Taft, Manila. During the UAAP season, she basically goes to school and back home. During off-season, she loves going to the beach both north and south of Metro Manila.

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Looking forward to receiving your comments soon. Thanks in advance and more power.



Hi, Ramon.

Thanks for your email and I'm terribly sorry for the late reply. Your email got buried under a pile of other emails so I failed to notice yours immediately.

You have one such lucky daughter! I always had to BEG my old man into getting me one and now he tells me I should buy HIM a new car!

Let's simplify your long list.

In my opinion the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and Ford Everest might be a bit too much for your daughter to handle. These SUVs, with their ladder-frame chassis, will not offer the comfort and refinement of a unibody, car-based compact utility vehicle such as the Honda CR-V.

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As for the Ford Escape, it's the least of my favorites as there's nothing about it that I like.

The Honda CR-V is a safe choice but it's very feminine for your athletic daughter. She might find it too girly, too mommy-like. But it is smooth, refined, spacious and it's an excellent long-distance cruiser.

The Nissan X-Trail surprisingly is a favorite among female buyers. It's got loads of space, the CVT is excellent and responds very quickly, the suspension has excellent balance of comfort and control--giving you confidence even on winding, bumpy roads. The driving position though is quite awkward for me although I am admittedly not the most athletic person in the world. My jaw gets the most exercise as I angrily pound on those Tender Juicy babies!

The Toyota RAV4 is old (it's the oldest in the current line-up of compact utility vehicles on the market) so you'll be buying something that is, by design and specification, three to four years older than everything else. It's still a good, safe and solid choice but then the CR-V is slightly newer and has received significant suspension changes to improve ride quality further.

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The Mazda CX-7 is a surprise for me. Although the shape isn't macho and it's quite plain and bare inside, it's very classy when new. Tire noise is a concern on the highway but in-city driving is effortless and the vehicle is easy and fun to drive. The looks, though, are more modern-MPV than compact utility vehicle.

And lastly, the Subaru Forester. In the eyes of her peers, the Forester Turbo 2.5 XT is the most desirable, the most impressive compact utility vehicle to own. Fast, fun, versatile interior and surprisingly, the turbocharged flat-four gets very good gas mileage--better than the 2.0 non-turbo version, which is slow and cumbersome, not to mention thirsty because the measly 150hp is burdened with carrying a heavy SUV with advanced AWD system that it won't ever need given its modest power output. If you're going to buy a Forester, buy the turbo, or buy something else. This will also give you the best resale value among the vehicles in your list.

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Hope my thoughts on the SUVs you listed help. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her dad!

Good luck and God bless!

Botchi Santos
Consumer editor

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