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Oh Toh: Switching to four-wheel drive

Oh Toh 17

I’m typically a car person that likes cornering and good amount of torque.

With some lifestyle changes now, I’m considering an SUV or 4-wheel drive vehicle.

I’m looking for something with a good amount of torque, good handling, easily maintained, reliable and with sufficient space in the back seat after pushing the driving seat right to the maximum stretch due to my built and height.

I’ve a budget of about RM45,000 and was looking at the Mercedes ML270 diesel.

Just wondering whether this is a decent option and also if there are any other models out there that I should also be considering.

- Potential convert


Reply: There are quite a few options available with the budget you have set aside although you did neglect to mention if it must be diesel-powered or not.

However, most of the choices open to you in that price bracket are hovering around the 15-year old mark and maintenance may be an issue.

The diesel-mill and automatic transmission in the Mercedes-Benz ML270 is a robust combination but other aspects of the SUV were from a time when the marque was experiencing trouble with quality, especially rust.

While the engine and gearbox will rumble on for miles to come, you may encounter gremlins; especially electrical ones, during your time with it.

If you are open to other options, BMW came out with the X5 around the same time (early 2000’s) and since you mentioned that you have an affinity for cornering and good amounts of torque, this may be the SUV you need.

It certainly handles better than the ML although the X5s you find here only came with petrol engines; namely the 3.0-litre inline-six and the 4.4-litre V8. If diesel-power is not a must, the X5 should be the first one you look at.

Personally, my recommendation would be the second generation Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi. You can find a 2008 model for around RM45,000 and is still eligible for loans.

It is a much newer car; feeling and looking it on the inside and out. Furthermore, parts are still aplenty and easily available. The engine is a torquey unit as well and being a true seven-seater, legroom in the second row should not be an issue with your driver’s seat pushed all the way back.

Unless you absolutely desire a Mercedes-Benz or BMW, I would recommend the Hyundai. There are quite a number for sale online so start with a shortlist and take the time to go check each one out.


About Dinesh Appavu

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