Motoring Advice: Which automatic car should I buy?
Aidan Timmons and Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham team up to help readers make the right choice with their next car. Aidan visits dealers all over the country to produce a monthly guidebook on the values of used cars. He is co-editor of Motor Trade Publishers, who supply a car valuing service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. Eddie is author of former best-seller 'Clever Car Buying'.
I am flexible on buying a brand new or second hand. I drive a 2012 Toyota Avensis diesel and would like to buy an automatic. I travel from Dublin to Kerry every three weeks or so. I would really like a reliable automatic as opposed to the high van-type. I would like something of a similar size to the Avensis. I did sit into the Toyota C-HR automatic but am not sure how it rates in terms of engine etc. Another question, I am not great with is frost so can you clarify if all automatics are back-wheel drive? Sorry, you can see I am not great with the car terms.
Aidan: There is no correlation between a car's transmission and which wheels are being driven, either front or back. The overwhelming majority of models on the market are front-wheel drive but be sure to check with your dealer if you opt for something other than the models Eddie and I list here.
We will stick with front-wheel drive for you. If you sat into an automatic Toyota C-HR then it must have been the 1.8-litre hybrid version as the 1.2 petrol model does not have an automatic version. I can see why this model might appeal to you if your frequent trips to Kerry are punctuated by short, stop-start, city or town-type driving. Your fuel economy on the long spin might not be as economical as a diesel but your commute around town is best served by a hybrid so a C-HR is worth considering.
If you can go new, do it but now is the time dealers start selling their ex-demo models so look out for good deals on already-registered models with small mileage. The Auris hybrid is worth considering.
If you think that you need a diesel, then you would do well to look at the Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDi Ambition DSG (Ambition is the specification, DSG means 'automatic', in Skoda language).
If you are really worried about frost along your commute, look out for a used 2-litre diesel automatic 4x4 Skoda Octavia.
The 4x4 system kicks in automatically whenever one of the wheels starts to slip. You don't need to do anything. I still think you should start with the C-HR or Auris.
Eddie: The part of your question that resonated most with me was you didn't want anything bigger than the Avensis. So apart from the ones Aidan has mentioned I think you'd do really well with the Prius hybrid: fine cabin and good fuel consumption, and it is not high van-like.