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Best 4WD, AWD and SUV for seniors

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We review the best vehicles for seniors ? both retiree and pensioner ? in this series, with this article looking at 4WD, AWD and SUV especially suited to grey nomads.

Life - human and automotive - is so unpredictable. When my 75-year-old father went looking for a car to retire with, he sought reliability, durability, comfort and a long warranty.  He bought a Hyundai, thinking that with a five-year warranty it should ‘see me out’.

In fact, he saw it out. The Hyundai Lantra is still ultra-reliable in the hands of a mate of mine while my now 84-year-old father has moved himself and my active mother into the latest Corolla.  I would have expected my parents to drive a Mercedes-Benz in later life as a reward for their tenacity through economic depressions and wars.

In fact, they chose economy in reverence to their working-class lives and have come out with only minor financial scars from their post-retirement car purchases.  You can as well. Carsguide readers with retirement looming all want new cars. Most of them want a 4WD or something powerful to tow a caravan or boat because ‘we're not dead yet’.

It doesn't have to be expensive, but if you are retired or just on the point of pulling the pin on a working career, you want the least possible hassles.  We'll start this week with 4WDs and SUVs. These are some choices. They clearly aren't all that is available and personal choice will play its role. At the very least, this should get you thinking.

4WD is for the adventurer who actually wants to go off the beaten track. These have excellent towing ability, diesel engine options (the better choice), a versatile cabin with seven seats that can be removed when not wanted, good safety levels and a comprehensive feature list. On the downside, they are big, less comfortable than a sedan, require more expensive servicing and repair (especially tyre replacement) and for aged limbs can be difficult to get in and out.

Toyota Prado (from $55,990)

Solid, high resale (and high initial purchase), great off the road and in the latest model, comfortable on the road.
Engine: 127kW/410Nm 3-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual/5-speed auto/2-speed transfer
Economy: 8.3 l/100km
Safety: 7 airbags, ESC, traction control

Land Rover Discovery-4 (from $81,990)

Exceptionally competent and fitted out with excellent comfort. Fourth generation aims to rid Land Rover of quality bugs.
Engine: 180kW/600Nm 3-litre V6 biturbo-diesel
Transmission: 6-speed auto/2-speed transfer
Economy: 9.3 l/100km
Safety: 8 airbags, ESC, traction control

Mitsubishi Pajero(from $49,290)

Great all-rounder on and off road at an affordable price. Better cabin package than Prado.
Engine: 147kW/441Nm 3.2-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 5-speed auto/2-speed transfer
Economy: 8.4 l/100km
Safety: 2 airbags, ESC, traction control
SUV: Don't want to go to the Outback but like the practicality of a tall wagon? The SUV usually has all-wheel drive but less rugged construction and no low-range gearbox. Some are even only front-wheel drive so save on purchase price and fuel consumption.

Hyundai Santa Fe (from $37,990)

Practical, versatile and reliable with a long five-year warranty. A good allrounder. Only available as a diesel and with all-wheel drive.
Engine: 145kW/421Nm 2.1-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 5-speed manual/5-speed auto/AWD
Economy: 6.7 l/100km
Safety: 6 airbags, ESC, traction control

Peugeot 4007 (from $45,490)

Culturally diverse Peugeot made by Mitsubishi (it's basically an Outlander shell) in Japan with an aggressive grille and very desirable turbo-diesel engine and optional six-speed auto.
Engine: 115kW/380Nm 2.2-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed auto/AWD
Economy: 7.0 l/100km
Safety: 7 airbags, ESC, traction control

Subaru Outback diesel (from $40,490)

Long-awaited diesel expands Subaru's out-of-town ability in a very desirable package. New style isn't the prettiest but is functional and roomy.
Engine: 110kW/350Nm 2-litre 4-cyl turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual/AWD
Economy: 6.4 l/100km
Safety: 7 airbags, ESC, traction control

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 16 comments

  • I agree useless article tells u nothing just a ad

    mick Posted on 22 July 2013 11:12am
  • useless article ,iwould like decent commentry on individual vehicles this tells me nothing at all

    dianne DAVENPORT of Australia Posted on 29 December 2012 10:54pm
  • To M of NSW,have you looked at the Suzuki SX4,its like a Corolla thats been jacked up and has a good seat height for getting in/out.Similar in price and weight so its light on petrol and has Japanese reliability/cheap spares etc.No good for heavy towing but fine for a pop top van,and with the AWD has great grip in the wet weather.It has good ground clearance and isnt too big for parking and U turns.I am very happy with mine after 2 years and 50000km and doing delivery work has proven it to be very robust.

    Andrew Willis of Brisbane Posted on 27 December 2011 8:11am
  • Ford Territory, best car ever!

    hazeleyes2772 Posted on 07 September 2011 3:55pm
  • I'm trying to find something suitable for my shrinking mum.....something that looks biggish but is smaller than it looks and easier to navigate. Lots of windows and a high boot - just like "K" said. Spmething easier to get into and out of than the average car would be nice. Doesn't have to go too fast - she keeps to the speed limit.

    M of NSW Posted on 21 March 2011 6:21pm
  • So, interesting that the writer is NOT HANDICAPPED, and why is there no mention of Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, or Chrysler, I am very happy with my TAHOE LT SUV AWD/4WD

    Chuck Gorgol of Tri-Cities, TN Posted on 04 January 2011 4:46am
  • I find that my 2001 Tahoe LT Is the most enjoyable and reliable SUV of any vehicle I have previously owned. The AWD and 4WD selections I have do the job perfectly. I am handicapped due to Polio at age 2, now age 73 and find that my Tahoe is easy to get in and out of very easy and driving it a joy.

    Chuck Gorgol of Tri-Cities TN Posted on 04 January 2011 4:39am
  • I was also hoping to get alot more from this article. I'm not a senior, I am only 22, but I have a back injury and want something that will be higher and enable me to access the boot without doing some strange squat behind the car to reach into the boot. With back injuries being so common, I find it unbelieveable that there is nothing to help decide without physically visiting each dealership and measuring up against each car to see how high/deep the boot is.

    K of ACT Posted on 30 November 2010 3:49pm
  • Love our 4007, tows 2000kg and 160kg on the ball. Gets great consumption around town compared to our previous Land Rover Discovery TD5. Part Mitsubishi - love that car!

    Paul of Sydney Posted on 29 April 2010 6:27pm
  • Having a disability, I find the 'higher' vehicles (SUV's) much easier to get in and out of as opposed to a sedan and that is the main reason I intend to get one as soon as I can.

    Joy Hodgson of Brisbane Posted on 23 February 2010 12:17pm
  • In terms of a review this article is pathetic. There is no detailed analysis of the differing vehicle types e.g pros and cons, towing abilities, servicing and insurance costs (particularly relevant for retirees) and most of the market has been left out of the discussion. Did some kid write this for a school project?

    Ian McDonald of Shanghai Posted on 06 February 2010 7:41am
  • To the korean convert. Seems like you have done your homework but you failed to mention if you are towing.If you are how heavy and dose it struggle. I to would like to know the tow ball & towing capacity of all the vehicles.

    Will from SippyDowns of QLD Posted on 03 February 2010 1:36pm
  • From a grey nomad wanting to change vehicles, it would be helpful if the towing capabilities of each vehicle was mentioned as I can only consider vehicles with a towing capacity of 2000kg>.

    Peter Schweinsberg of Terrey Hills. NSW Posted on 18 January 2010 10:21pm
  • Is this an Advertisement or a review? If its an AD please say so otherwise why leave out the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Kluga, Holden Captiva or Ford Territory? Vehicles common on our roads. Having just driven back from the GC, the ones that stand out most are the Territory, Kluga and Captiva

    Leesyd of penrith Posted on 14 January 2010 1:45pm
  • Correction: Hyundai Santa Fe has 6 speed manual or 6 speed automatic. Torque from the 2.2 L diesel is 421Nm in manual and 436 Nm in the auto. It has rollover protection, 5 star crash rating and only cost me $230 a year to insure! What a package and what a price! With all-road tyres & a modest suspension lift it will go everywhere I want to go. All that torque,a locking diff and a 6 speed auto means I won't even miss my old petrol Prado's low ratios.Go do the sums.

    Korean Konvert Posted on 01 January 2010 10:28am
  • Before you drive in the bush, learn to use your vehicle to its full extent, 4WD clubs such as the Pajero club,one of the largest clubs in the country run excellent driver training programs, from novice to advanced driver training.

    arch Posted on 22 December 2009 7:24am
Read all 16 comments

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