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Best 4WD, AWD and SUV for seniors 2009 Review

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


Year Price From Price To
2009 $6,100 $17,930

View all Mitsubishi Pajero pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

3.0 SDV6 SE 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $25,700 – 34,100 2009 Land Rover Discovery 4 2009 3.0 SDV6 SE Pricing and Specs
5.0 V8 5.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $23,400 – 31,790 2009 Land Rover Discovery 4 2009 5.0 V8 Pricing and Specs
2.7 TDV6 2.7L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $21,000 – 28,490 2009 Land Rover Discovery 4 2009 2.7 TDV6 Pricing and Specs
3.0 SDV6 HSE 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $27,500 – 36,410 2009 Land Rover Discovery 4 2009 3.0 SDV6 HSE Pricing and Specs
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist


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