Choice

After further perusing the lineup in the ever-trendy Jeep stable we settled on a vehicle that was much liked by our test team -the Patriot.Tested in December 2007, this has the full-on Jeep looks with even a mini-Hummer edge to it with its upright windscreen, but without the low-range transmission complexity of the Cherokee. Not being a common sight on the roads, it offers some exclusivity value to go with the styling. Alloy wheels are beautifully finished with machined surfaces combined with metallic lacquer.The facia is purposeful with a solid flat top and chronometer-style instruments.There's stacks of legroom fore and aft, too.

A centre diff-lock function is useful for the slippery stuff and a full-size steel spare wheel means you can still maintain your usual pace after a puncture. Packing space stretches from 192 to 1 176 dm3, which should be sufficient for Aidan's needs. Another handy feature, typical of the Chrysler group, is a fully flat floor once the rear seats have been collapsed and the front passenger's backrest can do the same to allow for lengthy objects to be loaded - perhaps even a fishing rod. Ground clearance is 210 mm and CAR's Fuel Index is 10,44 litres/100 km.

We have tested the 2,4-litre version that offers 125 kW at 6 000 r/min and 220 N.m of torque at a rather high 4 500 r/min. A punchy turbodiesel with 103 kW and 310 N.m was also available, but was only offered with a manual 'box and is no longer on the new vehicle price list. A total of 118 new Patriots were sold in the month of August 2010. The package when new includes a three-years/100 000 km maintenance plan, so, If Aidan can find a suitable 2008 model, he will still have this benefit until 2011.

SPOTTED FOR SALE Patriot 2,4 LTD 2009, silver, 46 000 km, R199 900, Gauteng Patriot 2,0 CRD 2008, white, 48 000 km, R194 999, East Rand Patriot 2,4 LTD 2008, red, 65 000 km, R175 000, Kwa-Zulu Natal

OTHER OPTIONS? Honda CR-V

If you're not fussy about looks but want sure-fire long-term happiness, look at the CR-V. A diesel version (first time for Honda) with 103 kW and 340 N.m was launched in 2008. However, diesel models have not yet depreciated to under the R200 000 mark. It is an easy-driving, enjoyable SUV with part-time four-wheel drive and versatile luggage space of 336/448 to 1 320 dm3. Expect excellent fuel consumption from this one. Also available is the 2,0-litre petrol version with 110 kW and 190 N.m of torque. You can find a 2007 model for under R200 000. Subaru Forester The previous generation is available with a 2,5-litre, 121 kW flat-four, or there's a turbo-charged version offering 169 kW.The Forester offers good luggage space at 344 dm3 expanding to 1 264 dm3.The turbocharged model is blister-ingly quick if you really want to abuse it on pull-off. Looks are purposeful and more station wagon-esque than an SUV. Still, off-road ability is good. Facelifted models (post 2007) can be found under R200 000 -even turbocharged onesl Land Rover Freelander II Comes with a 2,2-litre turbodiesel with 118 kW and 400 N.m, or a 3,2 transverse but straight six-cylinder pushing out 171 kW and 317 N.m. Pricey when new, and generally above the R200 000 level, Freelander II has improved quality levels over the first generation. We have spotted a few 2007 model yearTD4 variants at under R200 000. Land Rover's Terrain-Response traction control system helps with off-road grip. C3C

^r If you have a specific buying profile, send us your requirements to [email protected] and we will add this to our database for possible analysis in upcoming issues.

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