Review: I drive a lot and want a comfortable highway cruiser with decent cargo space. What do you recommend?

The Volkswagen Tiguan is a larger SUV.Handout

I’m a sales representative who drives around 40,000 kilometers a year through the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, from Virginia Beach to Maine. I drive a 2017 Volkswagen Alltrack that now has 150,000 kilometers on the odometer.

I’m in the market for a new car and I’m not quite ready to take the electric plunge. Also, I’m 52 and had back surgery two years ago, and I’m feeling the time is nigh for me to slip into a vehicle that’s more of a comfortable highway cruiser. I also occasionally have to transport kids, bikes, a dog and the other cargo of life.

I’m fond of Volkswagen, and was thinking of either an Arteon or a Tiguan. Two totally different vehicles, I know. I am, however, open to suggestions and would love to hear your thoughts. – Jon.

Mark Richardson: That’s a lot of driving. The average driver racks up about 20,000 kilometers a year.

Petrina Gentile: That’s expected if he’s a sales representative – his life is on the road. With back surgery, he definitely needs something comfortable with supportive front seats and plenty of space for kids and gear. Shall we start with his first VW choices?

Richardson: Sure, and this is kind of interesting because he’s in the United States and thinking about the Arteon, but that’s a mid-size sedan that’s no longer sold in Canada. It was discontinued here for 2022 and is expected to be dropped in the US, too. If it’s not selling, he might find one quickly and get a good deal.

Gentile: It is no surprise – the car was often overlooked and VW did not sell many in Canada. It makes sense for it to be on the chopping block. While it does have distinct styling and pleasant road manners, with his needs and cargo capacity requirements, I think Jon would be better off with the bigger Tiguan SUV.

Richardson: Transporting bikes and a dog can be done with a sedan, but they’re much easier to move in an SUV or crossover, especially if the vehicle has a hitch for an external bike rack. However, VW’s premium brand, Audi, still sells a station wagon in the A4 Allroad, which is the best of both worlds. We don’t know Jon’s budget, but that may be an option for him.

Gentile: I love the Audi A4 Allroad – it’s stylish, well-equipped with safety and convenience features, and has pleasant road manners. But if you’re looking at luxury competitors, some of the competition, like a Volvo V60 Crosscountry wagon, has more space inside the cabin and cargo area. Besides, he’s driving a Volkswagen. I think we should stick to mass-market vehicles instead of luxury ones.

Richardson: Fair enough. I think Jon should forget sedans because he wants to carry some bulky and maybe unruly cargo. With his back, he might like the seats in a Nissan Rogue. Nissan puts a lot of thought and effort into designing its seats and I think they’re better than most, but nothing will ever fit everyone.

With his back, Jon might like the seats in a Nissan Rogue.Jay McNally McNally Multi Media/Handout

Gentile: Nissan calls them “Zero Gravity Seats” – they have 14 different pressure points designed to keep your spine in a neutral position when driving to reduce muscle fatigue. The driver’s seat in the Rogue is comfortable on long drives, but nothing extraordinary. But it is a question of personal taste.

Richardson: Jon should test drive one. He won’t know for sure that it’s comfortable for a long drive unless he takes a long drive, but at least he’ll know if it doesn’t work for a short drive. The Rogue’s been around for a while and there’ve been no major reliability issues with it that I know of. That’s important for a higher-mileage driver.

Gentile: The cargo area is spacious and versatile, which is ideal for when he’s taking kids, bikes or the dog along for the ride. Plus, it has plenty of safety technology features. Not bad considering the price starts at less than $30,000.

Richardson: It’s Nissan’s best-selling vehicle, but it has tough competition from all the other compact SUVs, which are really what we’re recommending here to him. The Toyota RAV4 has been the best-seller for a while and for a reason, thanks to its value and reliability, but now there’s a new Honda CR-V with the same priorities.

Gentile: Exactly. It’s a competitive segment with some good options. So, what’s your top pick for Jon?

Richardson: I suggest he sits in a Nissan Rogue, then goes next door to sit in a Toyota RAV4. While he’s at it, I’ll recommend the Hyundai Tucson too. Don’t bother with hybrids if most of his driving is out on the highway – they only save significant gas when driving in the city. He should see what kind of a wait he’ll have for any of those vehicles, and then I’ll bet he gets the VW Tiguan he initially suggested.

Gentile: I think Jon should stick with the Rogue, but if he wants to move up into a luxury vehicle, the Audi A4 Allroad is the way to go. But you’re right, whatever he chooses, he’ll likely be waiting a while for his new wheels.

If Jon wants to move up into a luxury vehicle, the Audi A4 Allroad is the way to go.Handout

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at globedrive@globeandmail.com and use ‘What car’ as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.

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