As you know, (or at least you should) our (usually) weekly feature Ask AutoGuide is all about helping readers in need (or for our own amusement). People require vehicle-buying advice and we provide guidance (it’s in our name after all). Give and receive, that’s how it works; it’s just like Christmas except Old Saint AutoGuide shimmies down the chimney 52 times per year not just once in late December.
Reaching out for a helping hand, Melissa sent us an e-mail this week asking for some car-buying advice. She’s a mother of three children and is in the family way again, but with a catch. A fourth child just isn’t enough; she’s decided (or rather her ovaries decided) to have TWINS, yes TWO babies for the price of one!
Melissa’s brood is set to increase to five and her Pontiac G6 just won’t do. She’s interested in an SUV (crossover) and is terrified of the alternative (minivan). Pricing is important as is seating capacity. Are there any value-themed, family-ready crossovers out there that will serve her? Let’s explore a few possibilities.
Suggestion #1 – 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander ES
If price is paramount take a gander at the Mitsubishi Outlander. This smart-sized crossover seats up to seven passengers and costs just $23,820 out the door, including $825 in destination charges. It really puts the “you” in “value.”
The entry-level ES model is powered by a 2.4-liter MIVEC four-cylinder engine that puts out a flaccid 166 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. It’s matched to an efficiency-minded continuously variable transmission. The range-topping GT model features a more powerful 3.0-liter V6 (with 224 hp) and a six-speed automatic gearbox.
While short on under-hood fun, the Outlander ES is fairly thrifty. It stickers at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 highway; the vehicle averages 27 MPG, which isn’t too shabby.
Around back, the Outlander serves up 63.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume behind the front seats. Aft of the third-row is about 10 cubic feet of space.
Other standard features offered in the Outlander include remote keyless entry, a six-way power driver’s seat and electrically operated windows.
Borrowing a page from Hyundai’s customer-satisfaction playbook this Mitsubishi crossover is backed by a five-year, 60,000-mile new-vehicle warranty. The Outlander’s powertrain is covered by an even more impressive guarantee: 10 years or 100,000 miles. S**t just got real.
Of course if Melissa wants to drive something a little more patriotic than the Mitsubishi she can always opt for a Dodge Journey, one of the most affordable crossovers in the country. An entry-level American Value Package model with a couple nice options stickers for $22,015 out the door including $895 in shipping and handling.
One of the extras we insist she get is the available flexible seating group, which costs $1,300. It includes rear-seat climate control with three-zone air conditioning, a 60/40 split second-row bench and a 50/50 folding third-row seat, giving Melissa plenty of places to put her progeny. On top of that, we recommend she spend an additional $225 for integrated booster seats in the second row. It’s a genius idea with the potential to save a lot of time and hassle.
There’s a lot of good baked right into this particular version of the Journey, from value pricing to prodigious seating capacity, but there’s also more than a touch of bad news as well. Unfortunately it’s found under the vehicle’s hood so there’s not much you can do about it.
American Value Journeys are lugged around by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that generates 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. That’s a pretty grim powertrain story but it gets even worse. The anemic engine is matched exclusively to a woefully outdated four-speed automatic transmission. The 1980s called, they said you can keep this transmission because they would rather walk than drive something with only four speeds.
Taking some of the sting out of this drivetrain combination is fuel economy, which isn’t all that bad. This flavor of Journey stickers at 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 26 on the open road. It ought to average 21 MPG.
It may be the American Value Package, but Dodge’s Journey is still built in Mexico. What’s more American than outsourcing your manufacturing to a country with heaper labor? Nothing, that’s what. It’s more patriotic than Colonel Sanders driving a red, white and blue Model T up the Capital Building steps in Washington D.C. to demand congress bail out the banking industry.
Suggestion #3 – 2014 Kia Sorento LX
The 2014 Kia Sorento is another viable option for Melissa, though it’s considerably more expensive than the fire-sale Dodge. Out the door a suitable version of this crossover stickers for $27,950, including $850 in destination fees.
Why is it so pricey? Well, there are two reasons. First, you have to shell out a grand for the optional 50/50 split third-row seat, but of course that’s not all. Kia forces you to spend another $2,000 for the Convenience Package to go with those extra seating positions.
Naturally that outlay nets you some attractive extras including a backup camera, second-row sunshades, heated front seats and Kia’s UVO infotainment system.
Exactly like the other two crossovers in this comparison the Sorento is motivated by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Fortunately for Kia customers this one is far and away the most powerful of this trio, offering up 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of twist. It’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.
When it comes to efficiency the Sorento is pretty impressive as well. In city driving it stickers at 20 miles per gallon, on the highway up to 26. Combined the vehicle’s score is 22 MPG.
Power and fuel efficiency, what’s not to like? The Sorento is probably the most appealing of these value-focused crossovers. But, and this is a significant caveat, it’s also the most expensive by a significant margin.
The Dodge Journey is not that compelling, with a dearth of worthwhile features and an ancient powertrain. The Outlander is scarcely better. It features modern mechanical bits but that’s about the limit of its appeal, plus it’s a Mitsubishi, which is a company that’s as good as dead in America. This makes the entry-level Kia Sorento the least-worse choice here.
As mentioned at the top of this story Melissa is in the market for either a crossover or an SUV; she dreads driving a minivan. But are they really that bad? When it comes to function miniature vanlettes are nearly impossible to beat. They’ve got room for kids and cargo, and many even have roof racks so you can pile them with more junk. They’re typically affordable and pretty efficient as well.
The Dodge Grand Caravan is about as stylish as one of these vehicles can be. And best of all it’s cheap! An American Value Package model starts under $21,000 and features a powerful, smooth-running 3.6-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Just some food for thought.
As always, good luck in your quest for a new family vehicle, Melissa, and thanks again for taking the time to Ask AutoGuide.
If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to ask@AutoGuide.com. Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.