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Hi, Botchi!

I'm Mark, 24 years old and eldest in our family. My single mom will get a new car come last quarter of 2011. We already have a 2005 Honda Civic; it serves as our family car and my daily car as well.

We have three shih tzus and one mini schnauzer now so our family got bigger. Human head count is sometimes three or four, plus the four dogs all snuggled up in our Civic during our weekend trips to the mall, parks or out-of-town destination.

Our budget for the new car would be P900,000 to P950,000--brand new or secondhand. For used cars, it must not be older than two years based on my mom's company policy.

We're wondering what to buy. Our problem is that we want a car that has space behind the back seats so we can put our dogs there. With our car now, it's either they're on our lap or on the floor. Fuel efficiency is also a factor. Lastly, aesthetics.

I'm the only one who knows how to drive, and I don't like vans or family cars--they kinda lessen the "pogi" points. 

I am considering the following cars:
1. Honda Jazz--I know that the back is spacious but I'm not sure how big it is
2. Kia Soul--Someone told us that the resale value would be low
3. Secondhand Honda CRV - I haven't seen its interior so I'm not sure about the space at the back
4. Secondhand diesel SUVs like the Mitsubishi Montero Sport or Toyota Fortuner, if the price fits

My mom likes:
1. Kia Carens
2. Toyota Innova
3. Toyota Revo
4. Mitsubishi Adventure

Can you help us meet in between? Is there a car within our budget that is sporty-looking but has great space and fuel efficiency?  And aside from our considerations can you suggest any other vehicle?

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Thank you in advance and more power to you and Top Gear!

Mark

Hi, Mark!

Thanks for your email. Interesting family you have there, huh? Four dogs make for one big family indeed!

The Honda Jazz is perhaps the sportiest choice you can ever get for a family-centric vehicle. It's fun to drive, has lots of room in the back and the seats split and fold 60:40. This means you can drop down part of the backseat and still accommodate one adult in the back. I've carried lots and lots of cargo in the back. Previously, my family (we're a family of eight) would try to cram inside our own Jazz because despite the small exterior size, it is extremely roomy inside. Well, okay, maybe not all eight but five adults can sit comfortably well. I play golf and I can drop two golf bags comfortably in the back with space for clothes bag, too, so you know the useable space is pretty good inside the Jazz. It's your best bet and fits right within your budget of P900,000 to P950,000.

The Kia Soul is hugely underrated, and I feel it's too soon to say if its resale value will be poor in a few year's time. It's roomy inside as well, although admittedly the back doesn’t have a huge storage space--which is where Kia engineers made the compromise to make a roomy mini-MPV while retaining a compact overall exterior. I fear, however, that the 1.6 liter variant won't be as fuel efficient as the 1.5 Jazz because the Soul is bigger and heavier.

You should consider the Mitsubishi ASX. It looks like a compact-SUV but Mitsubishi is marketing it more as a mini-MPV, a competitor aimed squarely at the Soul but with greater off-road or at least bad-road ability. It has good space at the back. The base-model 2.0 is just slightly outside of your mom's budget but, in my opinion, is well-worth the added premium because it offers better go-anywhere ability compared to the Jazz and even the Soul. Lastly, it should have better resale value than the Soul, probably as good as the Jazz in five years or more.

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The Kia Carens is a good-looking MPV but the rarity of it might make it a poor-resale-value choice in the future. I like it a lot, however, as it drives pretty well for a mini-van or an MPV with its powerful diesel engine and responsive automatic transmission. Unfortunately, it is social castration for some when street credibility is a concern. The Soul is avant-garde cool, the ASX is a macho SUV and the Jazz is the current compact IT car. The Carens…well, a 30-something might still question the relevance of its coolness on the road. Still, it's a pretty good car to have. Very practical, roomy, decently enjoyable to drive and fast while at the same time fuel efficient.

So my top pick is the Jazz, followed by the ASX, and the Soul a close third. The rest of the cars are just too family-oriented, not cool and fun enough to drive for a young 20-something like yourself.

Good luck with your choice, God bless and take care! Give my regards to your "family"!

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!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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