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Which is the best 4WD for mum?

Car experts say women often opt for a 4WD because it makes them feel safer and fashion also plays a part.

So how do the cars compare? We took a selection for a road test to find the mum mobile which best suits you.

 

FOR THE MUM WHO LIKES TO BLEND IN

FORD TERRITORY TS RWD

REVIEWER: RUTH LAMPERD

STYLE QUOTA: The mainstream face of the big car range. It seems about 150 families at the children's school drive them already. So, if fashion is defined as “what everyone else is wearing/eating/driving”, this one is right up there.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: A minor problem is waiting children can't work out which Territory they should get into.

KIDDIE-PROOF LEVEL: For three young boys (9, 7 and 4), this vehicle stood the week-long test and emerged easily intact. The littlest chap, squeezing into his booster seat, did tip out and on to the footpath at one point while wrestling with a seatbelt. There was nothing to hold him in. They struggled to get in and out of the third-row seats, but enjoyed the distance between them and mum.

FEATURES: Mounds of shopping bags can be easily stacked into the back door through a window, instead of having to open the entire door and balance them precariously before shutting it (as you do with a van). But don't forget which part of the back door you should open to unload — you will end up with your groceries on your driveway.

PRICE: $46,190, including extras of prestige colour ($400) and third-row bench seat ($1800).

SAFETY: A standard reverse sensing system gives you a series of beeps in increasing urgency if you're about to back into something. Has driver, front passenger and side curtain airbags. The Territory's Acutrac system (with ABS,) dynamic stability control and traction control were not put to the test. But nice to know they're there.

PRACTICALITY: A car with the capacity to treat unforgiving speed humps like blips. You don't have to slow down (much) and still the children's heads don't hit the roof.

TERRAIN COVERED: Freeways, highways, suburban streets.

MUM MOST LIKELY: Those who like their cars big but not landmark fashion statements.

AND NATIONAL MOTORING EDITOR PAUL GOVER SAYS: The homegrown hero is only let down by its fuel economy, although that has just had a tweak together with a restyle job that is so minor even the experts will be pushed to pick it. Lots of space inside and a thumpy Falcon six means it goes well, but don't waste time or money on the all-wheel drive package.

Ford Territory for sale

 

FOR THE MUM WITH ATTITUDE

MITSUBISHI PAJERO

REVIEWER: KATE JONES

STYLE QUOTA: As a confessed four-wheel-drive hater, I was surprised to find myself feeling quite trendy in this beast. It's not as square-cut as the Jeep, but it's still big and strong looking enough to mean business. After just one glance at it, my husband had christened it Hercules.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: With an extra three fold-up seats in the back, this school bus can carry eight. Just don't tell the other mums. Parking is easier than you'd expect and it's a dream in traffic. The reversing camera, displayed on the in-dash satellite navigation screen, is essential in this car size — especially where there are children.

KIDDIE-PROOF LEVEL: This car can take anything that's thrown at it, literally. My daughter tried many food types, soil, sand and other unidentified objects. The beauty of leather seats is that anything can be wiped right off. The exterior is tough, too. The bumper bars are in the right spot to cop unruly prams and trolleys. And just a tip — kids love the outside step and hanging off the car. This is best tried while the car is stationary.

FEATURES: Wow, where do I start. The in-dash navigation system, audio controls on the steering wheel, reversing camera, diesel engine, roof racks, rear tinted windows etc. My favourite was perhaps the most simple — rear airconditioning. In our station wagon, the airconditioning is fabulous but only for front passengers. In the Pajero, my child didn't swelter.

PRICE: The base price of the Pajero VRX diesel auto is $66,490 (excluding taxes). Sat-nav and reversing camera cost an extra $2500. Accessories such as the luggage area cargo net, rubber mats and rear camera and screen in interior mirror range from $51 to $1035.

SAFETY: Being an ultra-cautious mum, a nagging thought was the safety of reversing around small children. But the reversing camera option eased my mind. Other paranoid mums and dads will also like the SRS driver and passenger airbags as well as the curtain airbags.

PRACTICALITY: Size-wise, it's a beast. At first, I doubted my ability to manoeuvre this thing. Also, the luggage area is huge — pop in the pram, portacot, nappy bag and whatever else you can think of and you'll probably still have room.

TERRAIN COVERED: Local streets and a run to the beach. A full tank of diesel will last about 500km.

MUM MOST LIKELY: Mums on the go, especially those in outer urban or country areas who need a 4WD. Mums with more than three children will appreciate the extra leg room.

PAUL GOVER SAYS: One of the oldest four-wheel drive names in the business still stands for quality, reliability and off-road ability. Also a good tow vehicle for mid-range work. Not as sexy as the surburban SUVs, but a lighter drive than a Toyota LandCruiser or Nissan Patrol.

Mitsubishi Pajero for sale

 

FOR THE ALPHA MUM

BMW X5

REVIEWER: KAMAHL COGDON

STYLE QUOTA: The supermodel of the road, this not-so-little number brings new meaning to bitumen fashion.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: For those who like to make a statement. Small car parks posed no problems. The rear camera and electronic distance and direction guide ruled out unwanted surprises while reversing.

KIDDIE PROOF LEVEL: Nothing risky or annoying within reach of my four-year-old's booster seat in the centre spot but let him loose and he had a field day pushing buttons. Thankfully he waited until we parked to open the sunroof and stick his head out.

FEATURES: Most of the gadgets were lost on me. I'm sure the six-CD changer and the ability to switch channels on the dashboard TV are great but Channel 7 isn't that bad. I mastered the radio, eventually. Built-in navigation system could be a marriage saver for mums who don't do maps.

PRICE: As a working mum of two, safety, fuel efficiency and affordability are the three things I seek in a new car. Two out of three ain't bad. This BMW X5 is more than $109,000.

SAFETY: ABS brakes, corner brake control, airbags in every nook, dynamic stability and traction control, hill descent control, rollover sensor, all-wheel drive. I'm not sure what most of these do but I've never felt safer at the wheel.

PRACTICALITY: There's ample room for prams, bags, sports gear etc. One boot door opens upward for quick access and a lower door opens down flat to let you slide in cumbersome loads. Passengers have plenty of leg room.

TERRAIN COVERED: Mostly city driving but also the open roads of the Mornington Peninsula and Princes Highway.

MUM MOST LIKELY: The mum for whom a big bank balance and big sunglasses are standard, and the kids are an optional extra, thanks to a nanny.

PAUL GOVER SAYS: The benchmark for suburban SUVs drives more like a car than a four-wheel drive, and has great engines including a frugal turbodiesel and an enjoyable 3-litre petrol motor. Not cheap from $86,635 before options but definitely the first choice for driving enjoyment.

BMW X5 for sale

 

FOR THE THINKING MUM

VOLVO XC90

REVIEWER: MICHELLE POUNTNEY

STYLE QUOTA: It's solid, looks good and works well for the mum who likes safety and function in a car that still says style at the shopping centre.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: Instant street cred with the teen family members. The XC90 also has a third row of seats, making it a seven-seater — handy when extra kids need a ride.

KIDDIE-PROOF LEVEL: The kids appreciated their own air vents in the back. And with a DVD entertainment system in the back, the toddler was happy with her new ride.

FEATURES: The navigation system made finding new destinations a breeze. The reverse parking sensors were a help in tight spaces but living in a court where children often play outside, I felt a little vulnerable backing the big Volvo from the driveway without a rear camera.

PRICE: $81,450.

SAFETY: The family felt safe in the embracing cocoon of the Volvo with its checklist of safety features such as roll stability, whiplash protection and six airbags including front, curtain and side impact. Visibility in traffic was good except when there were other four-wheel-drives around.

PRACTICALITY: It was hard getting the toddler in and out of her centre seat. I had to climb on board. The leather seats are easy to wipe and the middle seat with toddler car seat on it can be moved forward. While we didn't try it out, parents can listen to the radio in the front while the teens listen to a CD in the back and the toddler watches a DVD. The in-built iPod dock won votes from the teens. As a five-seater, the boot space is huge. The tailgate folds flat for easy loading and its height makes for a great mobile change table for the toddler. As a seven-seater the boot space is compromised but a stroller and the weekly shop still fits easily.

TERRAIN COVERED: One week of school holiday driving including a visit to family across town.

MUM MOST LIKELY: Likes her car safe and her family cocooned and has the cash to do it.

PAUL GOVER SAYS: One of the biggest SUVs with plenty of room for seven, and good fun with the V8 engine choice. But heavy to drive and very hard to park, which counts against it in the suburbs. Plenty of people will like the safety gear, but the smaller XC60 is the best Volvo choice.

Volvo XC90 for sale

 

 

FOR THE SEMI-URBAN MUM

LAND ROVER FREELANDER 2

REVIEWER: KYLIE HANSEN

STYLE QUOTA: I had an image of this car belonging in the English countryside, driven by a woman sporting pearls, a twinset and a serious pair of gumboots. I was pleasantly surprised at how urban it looked.

A nice looking machine that could hold its head high at any school pickup. With its diesel engine, it still has a slightly manly feel and any family man will also feel right at home behind the wheel. But it's also a stylish car for the outdoorsy mum — or at the very least the mum who stands on the sidelines at soccer practice.

However, in terms of popularity, I can't see it embraced by urban Melbourne mummies as universally as say, the Ford Territory or at the other end of the scale, the BMW X5. But perhaps, for some mums, that would be the appeal.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: Easy to manoeuvre and, while a big car, it's very easy to reverse and park. It is well designed so lifting small children in and out of seats is easy. There's great space in the back for all the family accessories. I almost felt obliged to do a garden centre run to make use of all my portable carry space.

KIDDIE-PROOF LEVEL: Easy wipe-down seats. Great space means small children aren't cramped in together, making family road trips more peaceful, genteel affairs.

FEATURES: The children were enthralled by the rear-vision windows, which automatically close when the car is turned off. Loved the airconditioning — nice and strong on a hot Melbourne day and keeps the kids cool in the back as well. It has a good music system for when you've dropped off the kids and want to crank up the stereo. It has all the accessories for a stylish, modern family — tents, ski gear and boating accessories will fit quite nicely in the back.

PRICE: $58,790.

SAFETY: The best thing about this car is how high the driver's seat is. You can see everything and everyone clearly.

PRACTICALITY: Easy wipe-down seats, so it's great to keep clean. Not too difficult for small children to climb in and out of.

TERRAIN COVERED: Shopping centre dashes, kindergarten pickups, city driving. This car moved effortlessly between them all.

MUM MOST LIKELY: The mum who likes a mix of city and coastal cool. Would suit the commuter mum who's made a sea change but still likes her city fix and needs a car for all terrains without sacrificing style.

PAUL GOVER SAYS: Has the right badge but lags behind the latest Volvo XC60 and Audi Q7 as a fashion statement and suburban runabout. It's really best in the bush, which makes it the choice for serious weekend escapes.

Land Rover Freelander 2 for sale

 

FOR THE MUM WITH NO TIME TO SPARE

SUBARU TRIBECA

REVIEWER: TRUDY MICKELBUROUGH

STYLE QUOTA: I loved being seen in this vehicle. It looks great, is not overly big and with a sunroof, stereo and DVD system, is a very nice way to cruise.

SCHOOL RUN FACTOR: Easy to manoeuvre and parallel park thanks to the reversing camera and guiding lines that appear on screen. The vehicle is a seven-seater, so ideal for a larger family and in my case, given the leg room in the back seats, ideal for teenagers. I loved the amount of room in the back for all the shopping, the bike, bags etc.

KIDDIE-PROOF LEVEL: As my children are teenagers we didn't have to put the kiddy-proof locks into action. However, they are easy to use.

FEATURES: The seat heaters were great. We couldn't believe how quickly they heat up and the air ventilation was really good. DVD player with wireless headphones is great for a long trip. Large mirrors. Satellite navigation and air control in the back seat area.

PRICE: $61,490 upwards.

SAFETY: Backing out was no problem. The camera is so clear you can even see cracks in the road. The car feels safe and has a large number of airbags.

PRACTICALITY: The car is ideal for running teens to their different activities — a full-sized bike can fit into the back easily once rear seats are lowered.

TERRAIN COVERED: City and suburban streets.

MUM MOST LIKELY: Mums on the run who have a lot of kids, lots of stuff and not enough time.

PAUL GOVER SAYS: Not the sexiest family wagon in showrooms, but it gets the job done. Much better since a facelift which improved the ugly nose and made performance - a weakness at first - much sharper with slightly improved fuel economy. A hidden treasure in this field.

Subaru Tribeca for sale

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2014 $16,800 $23,430
2013 $13,300 $19,250
2012 $10,100 $16,940
2011 $8,800 $17,050
2010 $7,400 $20,130
2009 $5,600 $19,250
2008 $4,300 $10,670
2007 $4,500 $9,240
2006 $4,600 $8,360

View all Subaru Tribeca pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$6,870
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$4,500
Highest Price
$9,240

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0R (5 Seat) 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,300 – 8,250 2007 Subaru Tribeca 2007 3.0R (5 Seat) Pricing and Specs
3.0R (7 Seat) 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,500 – 8,470 2007 Subaru Tribeca 2007 3.0R (7 Seat) Pricing and Specs
3.0R Premium (5 Seat) 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,800 – 9,020 2007 Subaru Tribeca 2007 3.0R Premium (5 Seat) Pricing and Specs
3.0R Premium (7 Seat) 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $6,000 – 9,240 2007 Subaru Tribeca 2007 3.0R Premium (7 Seat) Pricing and Specs