Backing a winner
I have been a Toyota driver for the past 26 years, Camry to Avalon to Aurion — all great reliable cars. But I have developed a minor lower back problem and am now looking for a higher-riding vehicle for easier access, with comfortable seating and the boot space for golf clubs without the need for dropping the back seats. I am looking at the Volvo XC60, Subaru Outback, Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger. Do you know when the new Kluger arrives in 2017?
The Volvo is a smaller car than the rest and so will have a smaller boot. You’ll have no trouble fitting a set of clubs in the Outback and that goes for the CX-9 and Kluger too, with the third row of seats down.
Volvo XC60 D4 Kinetic auto, from $56,990
It’s the entry model, with a 2.0litre turbo diesel that delivers 400Nm of torque and returns an astounding 4.2L/100km. The interior is well laid out with an Ikea feel to it. Controls are large and easy to use, although it requires a bit of digging to find some items in the menu. We especially like the customisable dash display with three styles to chose from. Our favourite is Sport with its large digital speedo. Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres. Service totals $2135 for three years/45,000km.
Subaru Outback 2.5i auto, from $35,990
This one sure has changed over the years. Looks more like an SUV these days, rather than the original high-riding wagon. The interior is more plush and for another $2500 there’s the option of a fuel saving diesel. The petrol model is rated at 7.3L/100km. Subaru’s CVT is among the best but these transmissions are not to everyone’s liking. Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres. Service totals $2202 for three years/75,000km.
Mazda CX-9 2.5 Sport auto, $42,490
A finalist in our Car of the Year, it’s a big seven seater and perhaps too large for your purposes. The cabin is quiet, with little road noise but it’s all generic Mazda. Shame you can’t get a diesel, because it’s thirsty, as was its predecessor. The turbo four claims 8.4L/100km but is more likely to return about 13.0L in real world driving. Warranty is three years/100,000km. Service totals $2027 for three years/50,000km.
Toyota Kluger 3.5 GX auto, $42,190
Another large but practical seven-seater, also compromised by its thirsty petrol engine. The upside: it goes like a scalded cat with 201kW and a six-speed auto. A facelifted Kluger is expected at the end of March, with an upgraded engine with direct injection plus eightspeed auto which in tandem should improve the fuel figures. Warranty is three years/100,000km. Service totals $1080 for three years/60,000km.
The Outback gets the nod. Not too big and not too small, it will have all the room you need, costs less than the others and comes with plenty of safety gear including autonomous braking.