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What the CarExpert team would buy for the price of a new Ford Ranger

We’re only two months into 2023, but as things stand at the moment, the Ford Ranger has ousted the Toyota HiLux at the top of the sales charts.

It was the all-time best-seller in Australia for both January and February, and there’s no indication it’s slowing down anytime soon.

But what if you don’t want a ranger? Well, that’s what we asked car expert Team.

The rules for this challenge are simple. We chose the Ranger XLT bi-turbo four-wheel drive crewcab as our cutoff, with a pre-road sticker price of $61,990.

Yes, you can spend a lot more on a Ranger – and we might be playing that game soon – but for now we wanted to keep things relatively reachable.

Check out below what the team would be spending their hard-earned cash on, and let us know in the comments what you’d buy instead.

Alborz Fallah: Tank 300 ($55,990 Drive-Away) – and some mods

It’s not even a question for me.

I would buy a GWM Tank 300 and put 24 inch wheels on it and cover it in matte black and call it G TANK and live happily ever after.

I love this tank so much that I hope to be able to do just that when the car goes on sale properly.

Scott Collie: Subaru WRX RS Manual ($50,490 pre-road)

It’s not the car I really want, but rules are rules and the Honda Civic Type R is just too expensive to qualify. boo

I know the WRX isn’t perfect, but it does a lot of what I want it to do on a daily basis. It’s all-wheel drive for trips into the snow, manual, and has enough space for golf clubs in the trunk. It’s also damn fast.

I know it’s not quite the wild child it once was, but the latest model has plenty of potential that could be unlocked with a few select mods. The extra $10,000 that’s under budget is enough to get me an exhaust, along with some racy wheels and sticky tires (maybe) that would unleash the beast within.

How would I indicate it? Red, manual (as God intended), in RS form to have a nice interior finish.

I’d also invest in a roll of duct tape to permanently cover up the pesky driver monitoring sensor instead of having to dive through the menu system every time you hit the start button.

Jade Credentino: Skoda Octavia RS Wagon ($57,490 pre-street)

I would go for a Skoda Octavia RS Wagon in gray – similar to Audi’s Daytona Gray. I would also go for the sunroof and premium package if I could bump the budget up by about $1000 (You can’t – Ed.).

Everything I need for my week and even the weekend fits into the trolley. I can pack a surfboard in the car or empty the trunk and drive to the drive-in on a Saturday night.

The standard features tick all my boxes, but I’d spend the money for the extra features in the premium package for heads-up display, adaptive chassis control, and heated front and rear seats.

Now that I’m down in Melbourne I have no doubt they will come in handy!

William Stopford: Kia Stinger 330S ($56,530 pre-road)

I’ve driven a lot of really fun crossovers lately, including the Cupra Formentor and the turbocharged Mazda CX-5. The upcoming Mazda CX-60 also looks like a compelling package, sliding under $60,000 ahead of the road.

But no, sorry, I don’t need an SUV. I don’t have kids or a walker so the extra space and higher hip point is not necessary.

A Cupra Leon VZ or Skoda Octavia RS is tempting, but I’ll be driving the first car that came to mind when I was asked this question: a Kia Stinger.

The $60,000 limit doesn’t get me into a GT unfortunately, but I can into a 330S with the same 3.3-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine pumping out 274kW of power and 510Nm of torque, plus a limited slip differential and bimodal exhaust.

I’m missing some key safety gear, not to mention a few niceties like ventilated front seats, but I still get practical hatchback bodywork and a seven-year warranty.

I also get the last affordable mass-market rear-wheel-drive sports sedan (ok, technically hatchback) just before Kia pulls the plug.

Anthony Crawford: Hyundai i30 Drive-N ($56,200 pre-street)

For me, it’s the Hyundai i30 N Drive-N Limited Edition Hot Hatch in Phantom Black Pearl with Hyundai’s in-house eight-speed dual-clutch transmission for $56,200 before road costs.

It’s based on the i30 Hatch N Premium with sunroof but also gets fantastic Alcantara seats and steering wheel, along with a set of very cool 19-inch forged alloy wheels in dark bronze matte.

I drove this car at The Bend circuit and it appeared to be faster than any other i30 N – despite the fact that its mechanical specs are identical to the standard i30 Ns.

And to think that this is still a practical hatch but more track-capable than any rival (other than the pricier Honda Civic Type R) is undoubtedly a winner. it just goes so well out of the box.

James Wong: Cupra Leon VZ ($57,990 Drive-Away)

It’s pretty hard for me to get past the Cupra Leon VZ, which at $56,490 is well under budget for some pick options and/or accessories.

In a world where prices continue to rise, it’s proving harder to get a fun, fast, and well-appointed high-performance compact car under $60,000 — but Cupra has you covered.

The Leon VZ is basically a Volkswagen Golf GTI with a different name and face, with a more focused chassis and angrier looks inside and out. It’s also a lot cheaper than its German sibling, which can only be a plus.

I’d add the $2490 leather and sound package primarily for the upgraded nine-speaker Beats audio system, while a full-leather interior with power seats adds a touch of class. I would also pay for a set of copper VZx alloys available as a $1260 accessory.

A close second place goes to a fully featured Audi A3 35 TFSI Sportback which, with its mild hybrid 1.5 TSI petrol engine and a range of available features, is a fairly efficient small luxury car for under $60,000 MSRP.

Paul Maric: Subaru Outback AWD Touring XT ($55,990 pre-road)

I would buy a Subaru Outback XT. I love the concept of the Outback – it has the space you need, it stands out from the ground, but it’s not just another SUV.

It was initially let down a bit by the engine, but now has a turbocharger to fill the gap. It’s a great package.

Jack Quick: Subaru Outback AWD Sport XT ($52,190 pre-road)

If I had $60,000 for a new car right now, I would most likely go for the Subaru Outback XT Sport. I would save the rest for fuel!

Other vehicles on my options list include the Skoda Octavia RS station wagon, the Cupra Formentor VZ, and even the Mazda CX-60 G40e Evolve. However, the Outback XT wins.

The recently introduced Outback XT is powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged boxer engine that produces 183 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque.

This extra power and torque over the regular model’s naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine makes maneuvers at higher speeds, such as overtaking, much more effortless. However, the car is a bit thirsty and needs at least 95 RON premium unleaded petrol.

Some of my favorite parts of the Outback are its extremely forgiving handling in both urban and rural environments, as well as its spacious interior and couch-like seats.

For the type of driving I typically do when I’m not driving a press car, which is mostly freeway and country road driving, the Outback XT is the best bet for under $60,000.



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