More often than not, our vehicle ownership journey begins with a relatively smaller car that is ideal for us alone.
During this phase, travelling with a car full of occupants is a rare occasion, which means that space and practicality is not really on top of the priority list.
However, as we progress in life, many of us start earning more, get married, and become family oriented people. When this happens, our needs as well as our priorities change, and this also includes our choice of vehicles.
And this is when many of us face the situation in which we have no choice but to upgrade our bujang cars with something bigger and more ideal for the family.
So, with a wide range of sedans, SUVs, as well as MPVs available in the market, which one would make the most sense?
To answer this question, one must first ask themselves a few important questions like:
“What do I need this vehicle for?”
“How big is my family?”
“How often do I travel with my family?”
“How much things do I carry in the vehicle?”
“What are my daily driving activities like?”
“What do my family members and I need during travelling both on a daily basis and during holidays?”
Once we ask ourselves these questions, the answers will definitely give us a clearer picture of what we actually need.
Since most entry level and B-segment vehicles that we use before becoming full-blown family-oriented people are priced under RM100,000, those who upgrade will normally look at vehicles that are priced one level above, between RM100,000 and RM200,000.
Speaking of families, the average Malaysian family is usually between three to five people strong – Dad, Mum, as well as two or three children, plus a maid in many cases. So, a seven or eight-seater is what would make the most sense.
After going through a list of capable candidates, we feel that the two vehicles you see here offer the best value for money.
If an MPV is what you have in mind, the Toyota Innova here should definitely be in your list. Upon hopping into the new Innova, you will notice that the cabin actually looks like a more affordable version of the Alphard.
The redesigned dashboard clad in material that looks much more premium than the outgoing model, the steering wheel which comprises a combination of wood and leather, the ambient lighting system, the impressive audio system, and the 8-inch touch screen infotainment system certainly gives the Innova a very premium feel.
Further complementing the more sophisticated cabin of the new Innova is the practicality offered. There are the seatback “tables” that can support up to 10kgs, 12V power socket for rear passengers, 50:50 split-folding third-row seats, 60:40 split-folding second row seats with ‘one-touch-tilt-and-tumble’ third-row with cup holders, as well as plenty of seating arrangements.
As far a safety is concerned, there are 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, ESS, VSC, Traction Control, Parking Sensors, as well as Hill-Start Assist.
In case you’re wondering if there is enough power to move eight occupants and their luggage on a road-trip, the answer is definitely. The trustworthy 1TR-FE 2.0-litre petrol engine and 6-speed automatic transmission combo deliver a decent 139 PS and 183 Nm of torque, while consuming 9.1 litres of fuel per 100 km.
Add the impressive noise insulation, the comfortable ride and handling, and the handsome design into the equation, and what we have here is a vehicle that is worth every sen it asks for. In fact, we even spoke to a couple of owners who have been driving their Innovas for about three years now, and all they have is praise.
Offered in three trim levels, the Toyota Innova is priced at RM115,280 for the E variant, RM123,400 for the G, and RM132,400 for the X, which comes with a generous dose of sporty cosmetic enhancements.
However, if MPVs don’t float your boat, and an SUV is what you have in mind, you will have to spend a bit more than the Innova above to get your hands on arguably one of the best 7-seater SUVs out there today – the new Hyundai Santa Fe.
Measuring 4,770 mm long, 1,890 mm wide and 1,680 mm tall, it’s 80 mm longer and 10 mm wider than before, and its 2,765 mm wheelbase is 65 mm longer.
Inside, there’s a sweeping three-tier dashboard, high-quality materials, best-in-class legroom for the second row, increased third-row headroom, one-touch tilt-and-slide second row with buttons to fold them, and 1,625 litres of maximum boot space.
In terms of features, the Santa Fe comes with 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, dual-zone climate control with ioniser, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, black leather upholstery, a floating seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reverse camera, 6 airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control, hill descent control and ISOFIX second-row child seat anchors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and even a Rear Occupant Alert (ROA) that warns you if a child is left in a seat behind (Premium variant only).
Powered by either a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine producing 193 PS and 440 Nm of torque, or a 2.4-litre petrol engine that makes 172 PS and 225 Nm of torque, the Santa Fe is available in 3 variants, priced between RM169,888 and RM211,888.
Although some may argue that the Santa Fe’s active safety features are not as extensive as some of its Japanese rivals, our priority today is space and practicality, which is why we’re recommending the Korean.
If you have a larger family, we have a few impressive candidates as well, such as MPVs like the Hyundai Starex, Westar Maxus G10, and the Kia Grand Carnival, all of which are excellent people movers with an extensive list of safety, luxury, and convenience features which offer good bang for the buck.
So, depending on how much you can afford, our market has something for everyone, from affordable models like the Proton Exora, Perodua Aruz, Honda BR-V, and Toyota Avanza, slightly pricier alternatives like the models above, and all the way to the Bentley Bentayga, or even the Alphard Executive Lounge.