Please help my family of three – plus a Great Dane. We sold our 2004 Subaru Forester last year to be more environmentally conscientious as a one-car family. Our 2010 diesel Volkswagen Jetta hasn't been great in the Newfoundland winter, and the Great Dane in the Jetta with the seven-year-old isn't working. We really like the diesel, but less so the cost of diesel lately. We are open to changing back to gasoline – but mileage is important. We were looking at the Mercedes GLK, Subaru Outback or Forester, maybe a BMW X3 or (BMW) 3-Series Touring. Thoughts? – Alexandra in Ottawa
Vaughan: Alex, you have a Deutsche Dogge, otherwise known as a German Mastiff. There has been a century-old dispute between the Danes and Germans over who created the breed. But it's a wonderful dog – a gentle giant. Big, strong, elegant and friendly; descended from the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.
Cato: And so ends the latest instalment of Canine Quarterly. Fascinating.
Now, as you say, German Mastiffs are massive. But Alex, that poor seven-year-old in the back of your Jetta? How does that work, buried under a Wolfhound and covered in slobber? On top of that, Newfoundland winters are wicked – tough on cars and demanding on drivers. So I'm thinking the Outback.
That particular Subie has the style and panache you need to go with your handsome Deutsche Dogge. Very safe, which is good for anyone with kids. And durable. You don't want to go back to the Forester; you've moved beyond that car, Alex. Useful, but basic.
The all-wheel-drive Outback is the winter warrior for you. Splurge on the 256-horsepower, six-cylinder 3.6R Limited for $38,495 minus at least a $2,000 factory discount.
Vaughan: The great German statesman Otto von Bismarck was a fancier of Great Danes, and while he was around the breed in the 19th century, the breed was called Reichshund. Alex, I'm sure you'd agree your Reichshund is extremely well balanced with its long, powerful strides.
I wonder what the coat colour is. I've seen Great Danes in at least six combos. I don't know how you stuffed yours into a Jetta; a male or a female can stand over 80 cm foot to shoulder. By the way, what Cato said about the Outback is right.
Cato: I was wrong. Canine Quarterly continues. I've had a Czech Shepherd, a Newf and a Cocker Spaniel, so I'm a dog person. But you've completely lost the plot, Vaughan.
We're here to talk about cars. Or SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC diesel – $43,500. There is good value here, Alex, though you're having second thoughts about diesels because of the pumped-up pump price.
Alex, you could also look at the BMW 3-Series wagon, gas or diesel – $47,850 for the gas, $49,350 diesel – but you'll find it too small for your needs. And far more expensive than a fully loaded Outback.
BMW X3? Nicely updated last year and useful and a better option than the 3-Series wagon. At $42,800 to start, it's reasonably priced. But again, you get more for your money with the Outback – especially so given the factory offers from Subaru.
Subie's all-wheel-drive system is better and the Outback's comparatively low centre of gravity, thank to the "boxer" horizontally-opposed six, is fantastic.
Vaughan: Alex, did you know that the Danish National Kennel Club demanded that Germany cease all references identifying the Great Dane as being of German origin? The Germans ignored the demand.
And yes, Cato's right. If you want a Bimmer the X3 is the one.
Cato: Now if you want to save a bit of coin, Alex, how about a made-in-Canada Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. I lean to the CR-V – $28,290 with AWD, minus what I last saw was a $2,500 discount.
The back end is goofy-looking, but you can count on this Honda to start every morning and it's safe. The four-cylinder engine is fuel efficient, too, which matters to you, Alex.
Vaughan: Alex, I have wondered why you don't have a Newfoundland Dog. Given where you live, a Newf would be perfectly suited to your winters and summers. Brave Newfoundlands have rescued people from ship wrecks, saved children from drowning and pulled nets for fishermen. Now that you're getting a larger vehicle, maybe you could get a Newf, too.
Cato: Outback, Alex.
Vaughan: Honda CR-V and a Gordon Setter.
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2014 Honda CR-V LX AWD
2014 BMW X3 xDrive 28i
2014 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
9.2 city/6.6 highway using regular fuel
9.8 city/7.1 highway using regular fuel
8.6 city/6.5 highway using regular fuel
Source: car manufacturers
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