Loyalty has its rewards
We are looking to buy a new small car, preferably a sedan. I’m the sole driver in my 60s and my husband is in his 70s. We don’t do any off-road driving and in fact don’t do a lot of kilometres. We’ve been Toyota owners for years now so what would you consider best all round value with a Corolla, Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Kia or Hyundai? Or perhaps even a Mazda CX-3 or Honda HR-V? Our trade-in is a 2000 Toyota Avalon with only 55,000km on the clock. Christine Ablett, email There is plenty to be said for sticking with the brand you know but there are some great alternatives in this end of the market. The Corolla and Mazda are popular for a reason, while the Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30 have longer warranties.
Stepping up to the baby SUVs will bring a higher driving position and may make it easier to get in/out of the vehicle if the hips and knees aren’t as flexible as they were. The trade-off is a relatively small boot and slightly inflated price.
Toyota Corolla from $20,740
That many car rental companies can’t be wrong. The Corolla is a fleet favourite because it’s relatively cheap, well packaged, has a reputation for reliability and is easy to drive — the same qualities that should endear it to private buyers. Right now an Ascent with continuously variable transmission can be had for $23,990 on the road.
Mazda3 from $20,490
The best-selling privately owned small car starts from $20,490 and Mazda is tossing in free registration, compulsory third party insurance and stamp duty. It has sharper styling than the Toyota and officially uses around a litre less fuel every 100km/h. The base Neo model doesn’t have a lot of standard gear, though a $1500 safety pack adds adds blindspot monitoring, rear crosstraffic alert and city speed (30km/h) autonomous emergency braking.
Honda HR-V from $24,990
A versatile cargo area and decent drive are the high points of Honda’s smallest SUV. It’s built to a price and that shows in some of the cabin fittings more than in its rivals but it does have a roomy interior and five-year capped price servicing. The 1.8-litre isn’t hugely thirsty, with an official use of 6.6L/100km.
WILDCARD Hyundai i30 from $19,990 driveaway
If you’re not wedded to a sedan and planning to pull the trigger soon, then Hyundai’s i30 is well worth a look. It’s well equipped, with reversing camera and Apple CarPlay and it has a five-year warranty for extra peace of mind.
If the budget is a major consideration, the Hyundai is hard to beat. If you’re looking for something a little special, drive the Mazda.
But given your many years of happy Toyota ownership, the Corolla is probably the right car for you.