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 Retirees' Car-Buying Guide
 Posted: Nov 15 2017, 05:09 PM

Dentus Chookus

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Grey for go: Retirees’ car-buying guide

Stephen Williams
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 7:00AM

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Baby SUVs, such as the Suzuki S-Cross, are low-priced, practical and cheap to run.

I was reminded, recently, that my passably fit 63-year-old body was no longer as flexible as it once was.

The memory jog came during week-long testing of a low-slung two-seat sports car.

Onlookers had drooled over the gorgeous looker but — I’m a bit ashamed to admit — I was relieved when it was time to give it back.

Getting in and out pinpointed every potential twinge while minimal rear visibility tested my creaky neck.

Fortunately, there are many high-tech cars and gizmos that cater to people who are not as supple and sharp as they once were.

Overall, the trends in car tech are helping Australia’s elders to retain possession of their car keys for longer.

Indeed, 69 per cent of the over-80 population are still tootling about on our roads, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figure represents a rise of 10 per cent in 10 years while Roy Morgan Research says the over-65s are among the most enthusiastic of car buyers.

Each year, the age group buys almost as many vehicles as an avid car-buying cohort, people aged 25-34.

Such stats reflect that many modern seniors see their wheels as a vital part of being independent, mobile and young at heart, even if their joints don’t always agree.

user posted image

Get a tech tutorial when you buy a car.

Vehicles riding higher than a sedan or hatch put less pressure on the hips, knees, backs and muscles when getting in and out.

Such vehicles also allow straight-back lifting when loading and unloading cargo, such as groceries.

Many seniors also like the more elevated view of the traffic such cars deliver.

For many around-town seniors, one of the 30-plus baby SUV models could be just the ticket.

In the main, they’re low-priced, cheap to run, agile, practical, fashionable and likely to hold their value well.

Many are just two-wheel-drives while a few are auto only, matching the desires of buyers.

Examples below $25,000 (plus on-roads) include the Mazda CX-3, Suzuki S-Cross, Ford Eco Sport, Holden Trax, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti, Honda HR-V and recently unveiled Hyundai Kona.

Those priced $25,000-$30,000 include the Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Qashqai, Toyota CH-R, Citroen Cactus, Jeep Renegade and Subaru XV.

Luxe-brand models include the $38,900 Infiniti Q30, $41,800 Audi Q2, $43,400 Audi Q3, $43,990 Mercedes-Benz GLA, $53,550 Lexus NX200t and $53,600 BMW X1.

A mid-size SUV could be the sweet spot for a senior seeking improved ride height, door openings, towing capacity and space for grandkids and cargo, such as a walking frame or wheelchair.

Again, there’s a big field, starting at $28,000-$32,000 for mainstream brands.

These include the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail, Toyota Rav4, Subaru Forester and slightly pricier Volkswagen Tiguan.

Luxury mid-sizers come from brands such as Audi, Mercedes- Benz, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Range Rover and even Tesla.

Of course, grey nomads with heavy-towing needs will eye big SUVs and utes.

Some seniors are content with regular-height hatches, sedans and station wagons, which are thrifty to buy and run.

Indeed, the economical Honda Jazz hatch is a senior’s special, with its high ride height, cavernous cargo area and brilliant LED headlights.


Test a prospective purchase thoroughly to ensure it’s comfortable.

Most modern cars provide generous adjustability for the seats, steering column and mirrors.

Electric seats can deliver precise support while lumbar adjustment is a feature to look for.

Also make sure you are comfortable with the cabin controls and instruments.

Post-push-button-radio infotainment systems tend to be complex. So it’s easy to be distracted when changing stations, adjusting temperature or finding a cafe via sat nav.

Buyers should make sure they get the full after-purchase tech tutorial, then develop mastery when the car’s at standstill.

Unambiguously beneficial to senior drivers are the many electronic driving/safety aids that are flooding into low-priced cars, such as rear-view cameras, reversing guidelines and sensors.

Such features, along with blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross-traffic alert and rear autonomous braking, can be as relieving on a driver’s stiff neck as goanna oil.

Other handy aids are lane-departure warning, corrective steering, adaptive cruise control and forward autonomous braking.

Akin to having a second, invisible driver in the cabin are semi-automatic parking, driver-fatigue alert and head-up display.

Seek, too, sat nav, hands-free entry, dual-zone climate control, tyre-pressure monitoring and keys that remember seat/mirror/steering positions for individual drivers.

user posted image

Smart driving aids, such as rear view cameras, abound.


Unless needing to tow a heavy caravan or boat, seniors are spoilt for choice for cars that are a snip to buy and run.

Whether opting for a sedan, hatch, station wagon, ute or SUV, prices are stuck in 1987 — truly. Yet most drivetrains sip fuel while after-care can be the gift that keeps on giving.

Once upon a time in Australia, after-care was a mere one-year warranty.
These days, though, a senior could buy a Kia with seven-year surety on mechanical faults, servicing prices and free roadside assistance.

Citroen provides a six-year warranty and five years is delivered by the likes of Hyundai, Skoda, Renault, Honda, Mitsubishi, Haval and Proton.
Lexus goes it alone with four years while the remainder do three years.

Myriad motoring discounts are offered to seniors and pensioners, though never assume the deal is the cheapest available.

So shop around, while enjoying that great gift of driving independence into the golden years.

So, after being retired for almost 20 years, I've been driving the wrong kind of vehicle!

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
 Posted: Nov 18 2017, 12:20 AM


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I always thought yhat my next, and last car, would be an electric car that I could chage up off a few solar panels.

I was thinking along the lines of a Tesla 300, but changing circumstances may mean a change of model for something like this....

Just the thing for doing laps of the main drag on a Friday night - and I can still charge it from some panels on the roof.

It's a tough gig being the only duck in the shooting gallery
 Posted: Nov 18 2017, 10:58 AM

Supremo Poster

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That would be the only type of new vehicle I could hope to afford Bill.

Here's hoping my 10 year old Santa Fe (which I have now owned for 3 years) keeps going for a lot more years yet. At least it is easy to get into and out of.

Everybody is Willing:
Some are willing to work, the rest are willing to let them!

The older I get, the better I was.
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