Eliminations, Round 1:
The first line description of the Matthews’ taste stated they were looking for “understated flash” which is not the image this vehicle gives off.
While pushing the boundaries of understated flash, the Baumeister was not removed from consideration on looks alone. However, the truck’s true offroader roots shine through; with ladder construction, solid axles, and the only entry with true part-time 4WD, the Baumeister is outclassed in all the important metrics.
The Kerberos is more on-brand with the type of vehicle the Matthews expected to be shopping for. Unfortunately, they felt the design was ugly, and though the vehicle has very impressive passive safety, they were unimpressed with the lack of active safety with the lack of stability control and low drivability, especially considering the Kerberos is near the top of their budget.
This big 7 seater is fairly safe, but offers middle of the road stats elsewhere with a nearly maxxed out price. The Matthews would be pulling out the 3rd row for cargo space anyways, so there’s no upside to the Fischer in the family’s eyes.
Threcoque Scinneflora TT
The only option with a turbocharged engine, the 3.2 liter 6 cylinder produces a potent 345 hp in this inoffensively designed crossover. Unfortunately for the Threcoque, it sits near the top of the Matthews’ budget and falls short in drivability and comfort compared to the V8 powered competition. While the interior oozes quality and has an advanced infotainment system, it is less luxurious than all of the competition, and while it scores well in safety, at the price, the Matthews are hoping for advanced safety features.
Primus Aventura 500 Ultimate S
The Primus brings to the table a fairly handsome design, that, while not bad to look at, looks more like a luxury trim on a regular family hauler than a prestigious luxury car. That feeling continues to the interior, with just premium satnav where the competition offers luxury, and at a lower quality level. Safety features are as expected and crash test ratings are very strong, and a full suite of active suspension are nice prestigious features the Matthews like. However, despite very strong acceleration figures, the Primus makes little attempt at sportiness, while offering less comfort and drivability than others, and at a price that pegs the budget.
Mont Royal MVU LX
A funky and modern design that offers the best suite of safety features and impressive, high-tech suspension. Drivability is stong too, and it does leave some room left in the budget. Unfortunately though, the MVU LX has a glaring achilles heel: comfort is far below the remaining options. The Matthews note that its smaller size may be partially to blame, but the unsorted ride is the real culprit.
(Editor’s note: Semi Trailing Arm rear suspension in a field full of Multilinks is a big uphill battle. I applaud the attempt, but the comfort is by far the worst aside from the doubly solid axle Baumeister, 5 points below the 3rd lowest and nearly 20 points worse than the winner, which was also a good chunk less expensive.)
Eliminations Round 2:
Tarske OB832 SL
This rather familiar design brings a top tier combination of stats to the table. It is well engineered, and checks the right boxes, with the bonus of being one of the most reliable options. It is held back from the top competitors by 3 factors: maximum budget, only standard safety, and the so-so appearance.
Puck Krieger GT
The Puck takes the same blatant inspiration as the Tarske and says “I’m you, but stronger.” Neither design is very original, but the Puck feels more complete. Statistically the Puck is very safe, and is well equipped, but, its tuning focuses a bit too much on sportiness, sacrificing both drivability and comfort compared to the top entrants.
Llewellyn Albany Ultimate AWD
@vero94773 & @debonair0806
A very good looking left field choice. Ironically, this ladder-framed, stately design is the sportiest entry. Drivability is very strong, and reliability is top notch. The active suspension components and top notch interior also make a strong argument for the Llewellyn. Unfortunately, there’s no looking past its safety, among the lowest thanks to the ladder frame, the relatively sporty tune hurts comfort, and budget is at the absolute maximum. Still, a strong entry.
Finals: Test Drives
The Matthews had narrowed down their choices to 4 options and decided to see the vehicles in person.
The first vehicle they went to test drive was the was the Basilone Fuoristrada 4.3i. After researching the available competition, it seemed the best suited vehicle for their needs; it is well-reviewed, well-equipped, safe, reliable, and surprisingly affordably priced.
On the test drive, the Basilone delivered as promised. While Ronnie expressed some desire for something with a bit more edge, Jan felt the car was sufficiently athletic while they agreed it provided an excellently easy and comfortable drive. They both agreed on the looks; it looks upscale and well detailed, slightly dorky in Jan’s opinion, but in an endearing way. They left the dealer feeling the Basilone had set a very high bar.
Next up was the Aquila Meridian 4.6. On paper, it offers a very similar package to the Basilone, but reviews stated the interior offered higher quality.
Ronnie and Jan were less enamored with the styling of the Aquila. The overall concept of the design is strong, but the design lacks detail, feeling it bit incomplete in the company of its competitors. They were not blown away with the Aquila on the road either; it offered more power than the Basilone, but aside from the extra power and a bit more sportiness, it couldn’t quite match the experience of the Fuoristrada. Considering the greater price as well, they chose not to follow up after their test drive.
The 3rd option was the Hirai Liasion. A slightly smaller and more affordable option that is still quite well equipped.
A modern and very attractive design, the smaller footprint of the Hirai made it feel instantly at home in crowded suburban traffic. Like the others, the V8 delivered power smoothly and in comfort, although the more taut ride made for a slightly less comfortable ride than the Basilone. On driving experience alone, it was their favorite so far, and the more budget conscious Ronnie loved the low price, but they both agreed that the lower safety ratings of the aluminum-chassis Hirai were not worth its advantages over the Basilone.
The Hiyunzari Obsidian was the last vehicle the Matthews went to test drive. Due to its all-aluminum construction, safety was a major concern; it scored far poorer in crash tests than their other top choices. Since it was also more expensive than the Hirai and Basilone, they would need to really fall in love with the car to make up for that.
Ronnie and Jan were both quite pleased with its appearance. While smaller than they would like, they felt it was very charming. Ronnie referred to it as rugged, while Jan felt it was cute, and frankly, they’re both correct. With fully aluminum construction, the Hiyunzari felt noticeably lighter than the other cars; sportier than the others while nearly as easy to drive as Hirai. The interior was equally well equipped, to the others, with a centerpiece being the impressive and futuristic luxury infotainment system, but overall they felt it was less comfortable than all the others they had driven. A fun car that can put a smile on your face in more than one way, but they decided, this one wasn’t for them.