Mary’s old Honda Accord was just stolen. Now she’s looking for a small crossover, but can’t find one that fits her well—or that doesn’t suck. She is on the shorter side and wants the higher ride height and all-wheel drive, but doesn’t want something too big or too loud. What car should she buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
My 2007 Honda Accord was stolen (not if, but when, right?) and I would like a small SUV for hiking and skiing. I’m short so the car can’t be too big. I test drove the Honda HR-V and hated it. It wasn’t comfortable and it was too slow.
Are there any options that include AWD but is smaller than a RAV4? It must have AWD or 4WD and higher up off the ground than a sedan. I also like a quiet drive as it seems like the newer cars are so loud! My budget is up to $25,000.
Budget: Up to $25,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Portland, OR
Wants: AWD, small, quiet
Doesn’t want: Big or loud
Expert 1: Tom McParland - Aloha
Mary, that’s too bad about your Accord! I guess they are still worth stealing despite being over 12 years old. I also totally understand your instinct to back to Honda to see what they had to offer you. Unfortunately, the HR-V, while not a bad car, is not Honda’s best effort. Especially when you compare it to other offerings in the same class.
Since you didn’t care for the power and the noise, my gut told me to find you a nice used BMW X1. They are small, quick, comfortable, and provide a bit more isolation. However, certified pre-owned versions with reasonable miles like this one were 2016 models, which means you would only have a warranty until 2021. It seems like you tend to keep your cars awhile, so I think you may want something with some better longevity.
I would suggest the Hyundai Kona. Now the styling is a little funky, but it’s grown on me as I’ve seen them on the road, but it comes packed with a lot of standard equipment and starts at a very reasonable price of around $22,500 when equipped with AWD.
The lower trims come with a 147 horsepower motor that isn’t super quick, but if you did want more power you can step up to the Limited that puts 175 horses under the hood. Those start pushing into the $26,000 range but with some discounts and rebates, you may get closer to your budget.
The current crop of Hyundais are extremely well-built, and you get that long powertrain warranty for some extra peace of mind.
Expert 2: Raphael Orlove - PNW Adventuremobile? No Prob
I see that you’re in the Pacific Northwest and that means you’re in probably the central hub of small adventuremobiles in the United States. Now, you could go the old-school Portland route of getting a bitchin’ old van. Call up Rolling Death Van Club and they’d help set you up I am sure! But those are going to be loud and a little crude, if affordable and stylish. For something compact, capable, but refined, you should just get a Subaru Forester that fits your budget. Wait! No, not that. Everyone already knows about old Foresters, especially up in the PNW. What you want is something interesting . You want a Mitsubishi Delica.
These little van-shaped offroaders have only been legal for import into the United States for a few years now thanks to the 25 Year Rule, but they’re super popular where they’re available. They offer the capability of a truck but the usability of a minivan and are pretty common where you are. This one near you looks to be in great shape, and at half your budget, that’s plenty of cash for new ski gear and some more passes this season!
Expert 3: Patrick George - Something A Tad More Realistic
Much as I’m tempted to co-sign on the Delica, you seem like someone who wants an actual vehicle and not some JDM off-road beast mostly optimal for impressing your friends on Instagram. How about a nice, used Acura RDX?
You’ve had good results in the Honda family, so there’s nothing wrong with staying there. The RDX is Acura’s “small” crossover, although it’s grown in size over the years. There’s an all-new one out now but the 2013-2018 generation is a really solid car—it’s bigger and more comfortable than the car it replaced, and offered plenty of grunt from the 3.5-liter V6.
I found a 2016 example near you for exactly $20,000 and 96,000 miles on the clock. For many cars that’d be a bit high, but this is an Acura we’re talking about here. Expect it to go three times that, or more, with regular maintenance. This one has AWD, heated leather, navigation and some other nice features. All in all, a pretty good deal.
Expert 4: Jason Torchinsky - Realism Is For Chumps
Hey Mary—look, I’m short, too, so I understand your struggle, but I also understand that you do not have to give in and get some boring-ass crossover that will deaden you, inside. Raph was on the right track here, and while Patrick is just trying to do what’s best, I don’t think you need to play it so safe and boring. Also, if the Honda felt too big for you, that Acura sure as hell will, too.
No, what you need is a genuinely good, scaled-down SUV. Here in America, land of rampant embiggenation, you won’t find anything that really works, so we’re going to have to look overseas. Luckily, the very thing you need does exist, and it’s called a Nissan Rasheen.
While Raph’s Delica pick is fun, you did specify SUV, not van, and the Rasheen is absolutely a classic SUV design. It has the rugged, clean, handsome look of an old Range Rover but scaled down to around 2/3 the size.
They’re roomy and practical and have 4WD and will do all the SUV things you want, just at a better scale for you. They’re all well within your budget, even factoring shipping costs if you get one right from Japan. This one is in great condition and is only $8,790, delivered to America.
Look at the plaid interior! Look at that drop-down tailgate! This thing is small and fun and tough, just like you. Don’t settle for mundane and bulky. Get something right for you.