The dilemma

Malcolm is approaching retirement age and intends to work part time in the next few years. He needs a vehicle that suits his new line of work.

"To keep active after I retire from teaching, I intend to look for odd jobs, such as lawnmowing, so I need a vehicle that can tow and has room for gear," Malcolm says.

"Seven seats appeals to me for the occasional school trip and as we also own a parcel of land, a four-wheel-drive would be handy. It would be our 'go to' vehicle for longer trips."


But Malcolm doesn't know what to buy. He loved a Land Rover Discovery but could only afford an older model. Plus should he go for a diesel or petrol?

Well Malcolm, you keep admiring those old Discovery's from a distance unless you want to put that pending retirement on hold for a little longer. While they definitely have their strengths, they are well over-engineered for your needs and repairs are a lot more expensive than a lawnmowing round income would allow for.

I would suggest a more all-round SUV vehicle would suit your needs better. The petrol versus diesel option could be debated but unless you are travelling in excess of say 20,000km a year and are planning to tow heavy loads on a regular basis, then I would tend to stick with petrol.

Seven seats are great but make sure they will fit in with your requirements.

The budget: $35,000
Toyota Highlander

The Highlander has been a great seller for Toyota because it provides so much versatility, comfort and safety features with proven reliability. Claimed fuel consumption is not brilliant at 11.6l/100km, but overall running costs would be a lot lower than many other vehicles in this market segment, including diesels.

Ford Territory

A big seller for Ford when first released. Excessive fuel consumption from the 4-litre engine was its biggest weakness, particularly when fuel prices increased. Updates, including transmission changes, have been carried out during production in an effort to improve performance, especially with highway driving.

Subaru Tribeca

Early versions had curious front-on looks but they cover most of your requirements pretty well. Well spec'd, including leather trim and a rear factory--fitted DVD entertainment system. The AWD system is a Subaru strong point and claimed fuel consumption is only marginally higher than the Toyota.

Driven recommends

If you love Land Rovers then the Subaru may provide that point of difference with enhanced quality and reliability you are looking for.