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5-seater car for Tier-3 city under 20 lakh: Safe, spacious & reliable

Honda Elevate seems good but the 5th passenger would find it uncomfortable.

BHPian rajesh1868 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My Zest is having engine troubles and I am in the market for a new ride. I have tried keeping my cars for as long as possible. I had moved to Zest from WagonR after keeping it for about 8 years as my family was growing and I needed space. I have had Zest for 7 years now and would have kept it for at least 2 more if not for the issues, and a need for more space if possible.

The new one is also intended to be owned for as long as possible. There may be some year-end offers going on right now and Zest is due for insurance renewal soon. So if possible, I would like to purchase this month itself.

My requirements:

  • Spacious and comfortable 5 seater.
  • The boot should be larger than what Zest has, which is 390L.
  • Safe car.
  • Budget: Max around 18L. Can stretch to 20 but only if it matters.
  • Automatic would be great but ready to take Manual if the budget doesn't agree.
  • I live in a Tier 3 town and the nearest service center (Bangalore) is about 80-100 km away. I want to restrict these visits only to the scheduled regular services. So a fuss-free ownership experience is very much a requirement.

My current shortlist:

Note: Based on research on TBHP and official sites. I am yet to start TD on any because of the Point 6 notes above. But I will be doing them shortly.

Honda City ZX MT or VX CVT

Among the many that I have been researching on TBHP and official sites, this was among the last ones I checked, mostly as an afterthought but it may be the one I will go after.

City was what we had always aspired for, about 7-10 years back. And that was a long time ago. It has evolved but after having a (small) sedan for some time there is a feeling among all of us that an SUV may be more exciting now. So somehow came back to it as my choices appeared to run out.

  • Positives: Space, Boot, 6 Airbags, NCAP 4, Ownership experience seems to be good. The ride seems to be comfortable.
  • Negatives: I hope Honda stays in India. GC is lesser than Zest. I am not sure if this will be a problem. Anything more, will update after TD

I went through this and this thread which seems to indicate City as a good option for rear passengers.

It may be a naive querry but barring one trip on a rented Brezza, I have never driven an Automatic. Though I am yet to decide on MT vs AT, how is the experience of Automatic, especially with regards to city vs highway rides, any service cost difference, etc?

And that is the end of my shortlist.

The following were considered but had to be excluded for varying reasons. Let me know if I am wrong about any of them:

  • Honda Elevate - 5th passenger may not be comfortable. I will try to get into one when I TD the City to confirm this. Otherwise, appeared to be a good one.
  • Seltos/Creta/Carens - I will have to go with the mid variants for my budget. Some concerns about the ride quality of Seltos and Creta are seen in some threads.
  • Harrier - Same as above, Plus they don't offer many color options for the lower variants.
  • Slavia/Virtus - Is it a proper 5-seater? Hearing complaints with AC. Concerns on long-term ownership experience.
  • Verna - Tough choice against City with respect to features but ownership cost and concerns about 5th passenger is making me doubtful.

Am I missing some models?

Here's what BHPian Shreyans_Jain had to say about the matter:

Pls understand that all cars like City, Verna, Creta etc are not genuine 5 seaters. They do not have the width and do not have the shoulder space. The 5th adult can only be ‘adjusted’, ideally over short distances only. At best, they will be about par with your Zest in this regard, if not worse.

If you want a genuine and comfortable 5-seater with a big boot, your only options are the lower models of the ScorpioN, XUV700, Harrier and MG Hector. You will not get too many fancy features, you will most likely give up the automatic. But you will get a spacious, comfortable, powerful, sorted and safe car that will serve your family well for the next 8-10 years.

Here's what BHPian MotorDev had to say about the matter:

Go ahead and purchase the City.

  • Typically, I suggest considering the Slavia or the Virtus, but given your residence in a tier 3 city, a hassle-free ownership experience might be more suitable. While the newer cars from VWAG have seen improvements, they may still encounter issues such as rattles.
  • Consider the Verna as well; it's an excellent car with numerous features, and Hyundai cars nowadays are just as reliable as Honda's.
  • If you're torn between the City and Verna, check out the Team-BHP comparison of sedans.
  • If you're uncertain between the City and Elevate, refer to the Team-BHP comparison of both models.
  • Keep in mind that the 5-seater cars in this segment might not truly accommodate five passengers comfortably. As said by BHPian Shreyans Jain, for a genuine five-seater, you might want to explore options like the XUV700, Hector, etc.

Here's what BHPian fhdowntheline had to say about the matter:

I recently had a 6 ft 2in colleague sit in the rear seat of my Verna. And he was quite comfortable, except for headroom where the space was marginal. But even that was a revelation for me in terms of how Hyundai has really maximized legroom and overall interior space.

If you are looking at the City, also do check out the Verna. Both have marginally better rear seat comfort levels than the Virtus/Slavia. Where the VAG twins beat them is in terms of extra ground clearance, music systems and a slightly taut ride quality.

Here's what BHPian OpenRoads had to say about the matter:

With Honda City automatic you are already on top of your requirement. However, Honda Elevate would have been a way better choice in terms of boot space and ground clearance. The only issue is the rear is not for 3 adults but it is still better than its peers.

Suzuki XL6 with 6-speed torque converter transmission is something you can explore within budget as a second option and is extremely VFM.

And if you want to go high then the VW Virtus GT 1.5L TSI automatic is a clear winner and also satisfies all your needs in terms of boot space and ground clearance and beats everyone else in terms of performance. However, the only downside is the maintenance cost in the long run.

Good luck.

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