Saturday 19 January 2019

What car is the most suitable for my elderly parents?

Peugeot 3008 GT
Peugeot 3008 GT

FIRST off this week, apologies for not getting to all your queries online. It was just impossible — and a shocking flu didn’t help. Please feel free to re-send the ones we missed.

My elderly parents drive a Saab 9-5 2.0l auto, 2008 reg, approx 95,000km. In perfect nick mechanically; cosmetically it’s taken a battering. Relying on public transport not an option. They have it in their heads the next car will be the last they buy and they want the peace of mind of a newer machine. No trade-in as car will go to another family member. Buying second-hand only, not new. Little mileage, perhaps max 4k-5k/year; majority short 5km-15km hops. Would do a 100km round-trip regularly, but only every 10 days or so. All poor roads. Saloon/SUV style is preference, but open to persuasion. Ideally not as big as Saab. Dad’s a big guy and smaller cars are not an option. He finds climbing in and out of Saab difficult. A full-size SUV is too high for my mother’s reduced mobility. Not too low/not too high. Must be auto. Does that rule out EV and hybrids too (either would probably be the way to go otherwise)? The dash layout and instruments need to be as traditional as possible. Touchscreens etc more of a hindrance than a help. They are not open to persuasion on this. Budget up to €20k. Wrecking our heads trying to come up with options. Best we have so far are V40 and A-Class, but seems auto tied to diesel with both?

Aidan: Any new or nearly new car will have a host of modern technologies that your parents might find a little daunting. There is virtually no escaping this unless you opt for a basic machine. But thankfully your dad’s budget is at a level which means some of the models we suggest won’t be quite as heavily laden with gizmos. Look at the Subaru Impreza. It comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and most are automatics. It’s also got an excellent all-wheel drive system. It’s big without being massive and should fit both parents suitably. Subarus go for ever. Look for a 2017-reg. I highly recommend the Toyota Prius. It will do everything your parents require and I don’t think the interior gadgetry will pose enough of an obstacle to your dad. Find the settings he likes and after that all he needs to do is put it in gear and go. Impreza or Prius, either of those is the answer.

Eddie: The first word to come into my head after reading your query was ‘Prius’. The Toyota hybrid is roomy enough, simple in its layout of instruments and, critically, it is automatic in that its has continuously variable transmission. Forget the technicalities: you don’t have to change gears. Keep it simple. The Prius is not fussy, not full of gizmos, is a hybrid, automatic, within budget and basics such as lights, wipers etc fall easy to hand. Strongly recommend.

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