Bad cars don’t exist anymore. It is well over, the era of the Hyundai Pony which fell into ruin, rusted after a few years. Today’s vehicles are more resistant than ever to bad weather and can travel more than 300,000 km, twice as much as in the 1970s, according to Dennis DesRosiers, Canada’s leading automobile statistics guru. We see the same progress on the comfort side. Seats that don’t fold down? Very rare. Models without power steering, audio system, ABS brakes, or airbags? Untraceable. Even since September, a law imposes the electronic stability system, the most effective device in reducing road deaths from the seat belt, according to safety experts.
Mistakes to avoid
That said, if there are no more bad cars, bad choices, it still exists. A mother who dreams of a Smart Fortwo? Mistake. A solo driver in a big seven-seat utility? Mistake. A lover of performance driving a hybrid? Mistake. A motorist who does a lot of driving in a powerful V8? Mistake. Our best guides: our needs and, of course, our budget. For each profile, there is one and even several cars that correspond to our priorities: fuel economy or power, interior space and versatility, driving pleasure and safety, style and ergonomics, technologies that make life easier and indulgent options, not to mention the wow factor! Haro, therefore, on what our market of more than 250 vehicles can offer to five very different types of drivers
Concerned about the environment, she swore for a long time that she would never have a car. But here it is: she has just changed jobs and can no longer get to work by metro. And then, it’s true: having a car would make her life easier for the holidays, the weekends when she wants to go hiking… and even for groceries. That said, there is no question of denying its principles.
His car: It must, priority of priorities, be frugal in fuel, just to pollute as little as possible. For this, our Ecolo is ready to look at hybrids. She would also like it to be durable and, ideally, highly recyclable at the end of its life. On the other hand, and always in the spirit of low fuel consumption, you don’t need a lot of power under the hood. If, moreover, our Ecolo lives alone, it does not need a large interior: two places are enough for it.
The Honda CR-Z, the most affordable hybrid on the market. Small and very maneuverable in traffic, it is one of the 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles. It is the only hybrid to be offered with a manual gearbox. Other advantages: a good cargo space under its glass tailgate and the reliability of the Japanese brand. FROM $23,500 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 5.3 L/100 KM (CVT), 5.8 L/100 KM (MANUAL)
The Smart Fortwo, which proves that you don’t have to be a hybrid to be frugal at the pump. Only two seats and two doors for the smallest and least powerful car on the market (70 horsepower), but surprising interior clearance and 340 L of cargo behind the seats, as much as in the trunk of a Civic. It can be parked just about anywhere and we love its convertible version. FROM $14,300 – CONSUMPTION: 5.4 L/100 KM
The Volkswagen Golf TDI is better suited than a hybrid to one that circulates mainly on the highways. True, diesel costs a little more than gasoline, but a single fill-up can cover up to 1,200 km, for annual savings of at least 25%. In addition, diesel engines are robust and run for a long time, sometimes even over 500,000 km – excellent for resale value. We like the family variant, generous in cargo. STARTING AT $25,425 – CONSUMPTION: 5.8 L/100 KM (MANUAL), 6.0 L/100 KM (AUTOMATIC)
Whether her financial resources are limited or she just doesn’t want to spend a fortune getting from point A to point B, the Budget seeks the best value at the lowest price. As comfortable as possible, of course.
Her car: Inevitably, she will turn to a small economical car. But it can do it without fear, because, for more than a decade, those called econo-boxes have offered a minimum of quality (power steering, audio system, etc.) and all are covered with the (mandatory) elements safety devices such as airbags and ABS brakes. The air conditioning? No need: the Quebec summer only lasts a few weeks. Other sought-after qualities: low fuel consumption (at the price per litre!) and reliability, to limit visits to the garage.
Depending on his budget (it’s always relative), we recommend:
The Nissan Versa , which is currently the cheapest car on the market. This Japanese sedan has the merit of being more spacious than its subcompact competitors, thanks to its large trunk and excellent rear legroom. The air conditioning and the electric group are optional? Never mind: it’s the small monthly payment that counts. FROM $11,798 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 6.0 L/100 KM (CVT), 6.6 L/100 KM (MANUAL)
The Hyundai Elantra is the compact that offers the best value for money equipment. Its accessories are interesting (heated seats and mirrors, cruise control and audio controls on the steering wheel, in the GL version), its trunk is worthy of a much larger sedan and it displays very low fuel consumption on the highway (under 5 L /100km). What’s more, its fluid style makes this Korean one of the prettiest cars of the day. FROM $15,850 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 6.0 L/100 KM
The Subaru Impreza , for the Budget with a bigger…budget. For less than $21,000, this five-door comes standard with the famous – and much appreciated – all-wheel drive. In addition, the new generation promises a very frugal 5.5 L/100 km on the highway. And the resale value is excellent. FROM $20,895 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 6.6 L/100 KM (CVT), 7.2 L/100 KM (MANUAL)
She prioritizes comfortable clothes, her residence is a true haven of peace. She loves beautiful things, even more those that make her job easier. His daily refrain: zero trouble, please. She knows how to surround herself with what makes her feel good, and her vehicle must do the same. However, she does not have a quick finger on the spending trigger; she likes what makes sense, at a price that makes sense. And every dollar must bring him more than less.
His car: While comfort and excellent soundproofing are his priorities, the safety provided by airbags and driving aids is not far behind. Also, it needs space on board, both forward and aft. The passenger compartment should be versatile, with bench seats that fold down if he feels like shopping. A raised driving position is not to be neglected, but if for that, it must turn to a utility, it requires that the bill at the pump is not too salty.
The Ford Edge , for its elegant luxury and the comfort of its cabin. Due to our winter weather conditions, we prefer 4-wheel drive variants. Its avant-garde technologies, such as automated parking, are not found in the competition. Yes, yes, the Edge parks itself! FROM $27,499 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 8.4 L/100 KM
The Hyundai Genesis , because this Korean offers more for a lot less than the others. The heated and ventilated front seats are comfortable, and so is the five-year warranty. The key and the cruise control are intelligent: no need for the first to start and the second adapts its speed to the vehicle in front. In short, great comfort. STARTING AT $39,999 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 9.2 L/100 KM (AUTOMATIC)
The Toyota Venza brings together the best elements of the Japanese manufacturer. To the smooth engines and smooth suspension, you can add all-wheel drive for even more confidence on the road. The design is elegant, the interior space is generous. We like the electric tailgate and the excellent Toyota reliability. FROM $29,310 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: FROM 8.5 TO 9.9 L/ 100 KM
In everyday life, she goes about her business at full speed. Public transport? Sorry, it’s not for her. She likes independence and speed, but also style, the latest trends… and so much the better if a few thrills come as a bonus. We meet her around a racing circuit, she is often in car shows. What do you want, she loves cars – especially ones that are fast like her.
His car: La Sportive wants his car to look impressive, as much for its athletic design as for its cutting-edge performance. The suspension must be firm, for exceptional handling – and too bad if that means less road comfort. A small passenger compartment doesn’t bother her: she knows that’s the price to pay for small, highly manoeuvrable dimensions. However, she wants the driving aids – stability system, variable differential and whatnot – to be like her best friends: discreet at all times, beneficial in bad times.
The Scion tC , for its slender look, its driving dynamism (manual gearbox) and the practicality of its tailgate. Few two-door coupés have so much cargo space. The equipment is particularly generous – think double sunroof. Scion is a subsidiary of Toyota. FROM $20,940 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 8.0 L/100 KM (MANUAL), 7.7 L/100 KM (AUTOMATIC) – 0-100 KM UNDER 8 SECONDS
The convertible Chevrolet Camaro is a retro-looking rear-wheel drive that still “punches” in the automotive landscape. On a daily basis, the car is smooth and disciplined, its front seats are comfortable. But once the accelerator is pressed, the 426 horsepower of the V8 roars like a real muscle car. With, as a bonus, the hair that flutters in the wind. FROM $44,000 ($35,320 FOR V6) – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 11.1 L/100 KM (MANUAL AND AUTOMATIC) – 0-100 KM IN 5.3 SECONDS
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe is a small two-door sports coupe that comes close to perfection on four wheels. The turbo engine, eternal winner of the title of Best International Engine, is powerful: 335 horsepower in such a small car, it’s moving. It’s hyper-handy – and just as intoxicating. FROM $53,600 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 9.8 L/100 KM – 0-100 KM IN LESS THAN 5 SECONDS
The mother of the family
The Mother of the family often has the impression of being at the head of a sports team. She goes to the arena, the dance hall and the daycare, driving the oldest, bringing back the youngest, picking up friends of friends of friends on the way. She needs an efficient means of transportation that can pilot her pack safely. A bus would do, but hey, finding parking would be difficult…
Her car: For the mother and her kids, you need at least six places – eight is even better. A frugal fuel consumption would be welcome, but what matters first is the versatility of the passenger compartment. Cargo space needs to be highly configurable to accommodate all those gym bags, or even a few grocery bags. The seats must be easy to fold down; no time to consult the owner’s manual to demystify its operation. And reliability must be there: no time to visit the mechanic either!
The Chevrolet Orlando , currently the most fuel-efficient 7-seater. Its compact dimensions take away some cargo space, but it makes up for it by weaving through traffic with ease. Unlike traditional minivans, it is not decked out with sliding doors. FROM $20,000 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 8.6 L/100 KM
The Honda Odyssey , a safe bet both in terms of reliability and resale. Up to eight people can fit in it – five baby seats can be installed. The older ones will appreciate the large 16-inch video screen which can broadcast two programs simultaneously. No quibbles… FROM $29,990 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 9.2 L/100 KM
The Mercedes R-Class , with its central captain’s chairs, is a real living room on four wheels. Its cargo area is endless and its suspension gives the impression of floating on a cloud. The diesel variant offers good fuel economy and the all-wheel drive reassures, even in the storm. FROM $57,400 – COMBINED CONSUMPTION: 10 L/100 KM (DIESEL), 12.7 L/100 KM (GASOLINE)