Forester in its element
Getting him out of the Outlander is a good idea because it’s way behind the current SUV pacesetters and it’s probably a bit too big for his needs. He’s an ideal candidate for the new breed of compact SUVs, even if they are aimed more at twentysomethings and might not give him all the safety equipment of larger cars. But he will save some money on his budget, as they are not as expensive as the pacesetters of Outlander size, even going to the top end for maximum safety and some luxury. The SUV tiddlers are all limited in boot space but the rear seats should be fine for the pooch and they are light and easy to handle. The best of this new baby breed is good to drive, has impressive quality and safety and is produced by a brand with a rock-solid reputation. He won’t need all-wheel drive and the petrol engine is best for short runs. The safety pack at just over $1000 includes auto safety braking, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. Not as affordable as I would like but a serious alternative to the Mazda with a cabin that’s more flexible. It gets along well enough, outward vision is excellent — better than the CX-3 — but he’s going to have to buy at the top end of the lineup to get all the safety features. The bigger brother to the CX-3 will give him considerably more space and it still fits within his budget. He might find it more pleasant to drive, too. An optional safety pack, just like the CX-3, will make everyone feel better. The excellent Eyesight safety package, including auto safety braking and lane departure warning, puts the Forester into the mix. It’s bigger and feels more substantial but the downside is that it’s right at the top of the budget. You’ll pay $39,490 for the 2.5i-S with Eyesight. If it was my dad, I’d put him into the Forester to get the Eyesight safety package and a bit more real estate around him in case of a crash. But I’d also push hard on a deal to ensure the on-road price stays within budget.