We‘re downsizing from our SUV but still have hay to carry...
We have a 2012 Mazda CX-5 and would like to get a slightly smaller vehicle with similar seating as we are both in our 70s. We have thought about a Mazda CX-3 or a Hyundai Kona or similar. We still need boot space for two bales of hay or luggage when we travel. We'd appreciate your advice on alternatives.
The compact SUV class is the fastest-growing segment here with sales up 30 per cent so far this year. There's an astonishing variety of layouts - front or all-wheel-drive, diesel or petrol - and the mainstream price bracket is just as broad, ranging from $20,000-$40,000. You've focused on two of the best but I'd be taking my time and visiting a lot of dealers to ensure you slide in and out of the SUV with minimum effort
Mazda CX-3, $22,490-$34,890 drive-away
The CX-3's best party trick is its handling - at least in all-wheel drive guise. Owners get a more resolved rear suspension than the front-drive versions. The engine is strong, if a touch noisy, and all versions are equipped with city-speed autonomous emergency braking, though you have to spend more for blind-spot and lane-departure warning. The cargo area is clearly the smallest of this group at 264L. It may take a couple of bales but check before buying, otherwise you'll have to drop the rear seats and deal with picking out straw from the interior. There's a three-year warranty, servicing intervals are 12 months/10,000km with the first four trips capped at $1212.
Hyundai Kona, $26,990-39,880 drive-away
The Kona uses a 2.0-litre engine in front-wheel drive versions and a much more engaging 1.6-litre turbo in AWD guise. If you can afford it, the latter also uses less fuel than the naturally aspirated 2.0. The base model lacks active driving aids and satnav isn't available on any version - Hyundai expects owners to use the smartphone mirroring for navigation. The overall interior feel isn't as good as you'll find in the i30 hatch stablemate, especially in dearer variants. Cargo space is a commendable 361L. The warranty is the best of this group at five years. Upfront servicing plans run from $538 for three years/45,000km for the turbo to $777 for the 2.0.
Toyota C-HR, $30,280-$37,300
This one ticks every box except performance and warranty. All versions come with a full set of active driving aids and the styling is a welcome, if polarising, change from conservative Toyota looks. Cargo capacity is 377L, which should do the job for your. Satnav is standard but there's no smartphone mirroring. A three-year/100,000km warranty is starting to look stale as rivals move to five years. The 1.2-litre turbo needs 95RON to extract its still-meagre outputs and is matched to a six-speed manual or CVT. Servicing is at 12 months/15,000km and the first three trips are an economical $585.
WILDCARD Mitsubishi ASX $24,990-$36,580
The styling is starting to date inside and out but sharp pricing and decent specification have pushed the ASX to the top of the compact SUV sales. The base model misses out on active safety but other grades get autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure alert. Front-drivers get a petrol 2.0-litre with CVT and for AWD versions the set-up is 2.2-litre diesel with six-speed auto. Its 393L cargo space is the best of this group. The five-year warranty is good, service intervals are 12 months/ 15,000km. For three services, pay $720 for the petrol or $1130 for the diesel.
If you're not going to drive like a P-plater, the C-HR packs all the features you can ask for at this price. If you don't like its looks, the CX-3 is the next best, providing those bales fit.
WHICH CAR SHOULD YOU BUY?
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