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Six smart used cars for 2014

In Kenya, we are allowed to import used cars that are not more than eight years old. This means that in 2014, we are likely to see an influx of 2006/07 models.

We searched high and low and found the cars that were voted the best in 2006 and present the list below.

The tests done on these cars did not involve stopwatches. Instead, boots were loaded up, kids shuttled, vehicles parallel-parked; in other words, the cars were made to do what you would do with them in the real world.

Value was the other essential consideration: Building a great, expensive car is easy; it’s building a great car at a great price with great resale value that’s a real triumph.

Small SUV: Toyota RAV4

The 2006 RAV4 is nearly seven inches bigger than its predecessors, creating a big jump in passenger and cargo space.

With that size comes power: An optional V-6 pumps out an unusually brawny 269 horsepower that makes this the quickest player in the class.

The RAV4 is also exceptionally sweet-handling, with nimble steering and great balance around corners.

The RAV4 can be one of the priciest entries in its class although because of Toyota’s quality and resale value, the RAV4 can play both bully and class whiz among SUVs.

Prices range between Sh1.6 million and Sh2.2 million.

Large car: Chrysler 300

This is a big, beefy sedan that’s American and proud of it.

 

Some say that the 300’s success is only about its signature grille and muscle-man styling, but it is equally about the muscle under the hood, in the form of the optional 340-horsepower Hemi V-8.

Some of the car’s excellence can be traced to corporate sibling Mercedes-Benz, which had a hand in the transmission and suspension.Prices start from Sh3.5 million.

Wagon: Subaru Legacy/Outback

Subarus have long been sporty, capable cars that were some of the best values on the road. They were just kind of frumpy-looking.

That’s no longer the case with the 2006 Legacy wagon and its more rugged Outback sibling.

But the real story is the wagon’s strides in refinement, power and handling. Step on the gas, and you’ve got a family hauler that drives like a sports sedan. Fold the rear seats, and you’ve got cargo space to rival a mid-size SUV.

Expect to pay about Sh1.2 million for the Legacy and Sh1.6 for the Outback.

Mid – size saloon: Honda Accord

Despite strong competition from Toyota and Ford, Honda still sits at the head of the family-sedan table.

The Accord is roomy, comfortable and safe yet feels more sporty and refined.

Four-cylinder, 166-hp models are so smooth, affordable and economical that there’s little reason to opt for the 244-hp V-6.

All Accords feature side and side-curtain air bags, six-cylinder models add standard electronic stability control, and the EX V-6 now offers a six-speed manual transmission.

Expect to pay about Sh1.2 million duty paid.

Large luxury: Lexus LS 430

Big German sedans are fashionable and fun to drive, but most could take lessons from Lexus when it comes to value, reliability and ergonomics.

Instead of reaching for the owner’s manual when you step into the sumptuous interior, just drop the LS into gear, set your course and soundtrack with the simple touch-screen navigation and audio systems, and settle into those leather seats. It costs Sh4 million.

Mid-size luxury saloon: Audi A6

Judging a luxury car comes down to how well it can juggle.

Can it excel in design, performance, features, quality – all while leaving you thoroughly entertained?

The Audi A6 deserves top billing in these areas. The four-wheel-drive four-door topped a test of five mid-size luxury cars in January 2006 by perfectly balancing beauty and brawn, comfort and sportiness.

The 3.2-litre V-6 has a healthy amount of power but also delivers fuel. You will pay approximately Sh2.2 million for it.

Small luxury salooon: BMW 3 Series

After serious challenges from Infiniti and Lexus, this BMW’s subtle gains in power, braking and handling vaulted the four-door to the top of the pack once again.

The new 3.0-litre inline-six engine now produces 255 horsepower for the 330i.

The small four-door remains one of the best handling cars on the road, period.

The interior isn’t groundbreaking, but at least BMW’s oft-lambasted iDrive controller (a big console-mounted knob that operates almost everything in the car – and does so in a confusing fashion) is an option here, one you can happily skip.

Large luxury SUV: Land Rover/Range Rover

When it comes to large, luxurious SUVs, the Range Rover is really in a category of one.

The Range Rover has unmatched style, serious off-road ability and buckets of country club prestige – all of which fairly justifies its price tag of about Sh5 million, second hand.

On road, the Rover drives as good as it looks, with smooth and responsive steering and surprisingly good handling for an SUV that tips the scales at 2.6 tonnes.

Adapted from Money.cnn.com
Additional reporting: Judy Munyinyi-Mumo