7 used cars under RM 100k: Great comfort and superbly reliable
CY Foong · Oct 17, 2021 04:00 PM
While performance and speed are traits that we as petrolheads readily embrace, the reality is that as a daily, we would much rather go for something comfortable. Would you rather walk on some uncomfortable clogs over a pair of pillowy loafers?
Unlike the clothes we wear, there is something else that is of concern especially when buying a car – reliability. So, for this article, we’re choosing used cars that excel in providing a comfortable ride all without blowing your bank account on repair bills.
That being said, while reliability is one of the criteria for this list, other deciding factors include the age (not more than 10 years, so loans are still applicable) as well as the budget (no more than RM 100,000).
Without further ado, let’s start the list with something Korean and was overlooked when it was first launched.
2014-17 Hyundai Sonata LF – From RM 51k
Twenty years ago, the Hyundai Sonata was a fierce competitor against the established Japanese D-segment saloons. Despite looking very much like an unashamed Mercedes-Benz knock-off, the EF Sonata was a real threat to the Toyota Camry, Nissan Cefiro, and the Honda Accord.
Eventually, Hyundai would lose its cheap imitation image as their models grew prettier but their popularity here suffered. It is a shame that the Hyundai Sonata LF sold poorly when it was launched.
Sold between 2014 and 2017, the seventh-gen Sonata was a more US-centric saloon compared to its predecessors. As such, it prioritised more on comfort and the large Korean saloon does it so well.
Despite the perception on Korean cars, this particular generation of the Sonata is near-faultless when it comes to reliability.
Never mind that the interior shouts “meh” with all the black upholstery, you get ample rear legroom which at the time is one of the best in class. The LF Sonata also has a very wafty and cushy ride with minimal NVH levels.
Forget about being a rival against the usual suspects, the Sonata is as comfortable as a Continental car without the reliability baggage. Used ones can start from around RM 50,000 and that is a bargain considering you’re getting a massive highway cruiser that is better than a Camry, Accord, or even a Passat.
2015-19 Nissan Teana L33 – From RM 50k
The Nissan Cefiro went from an enthusiast-driven RWD flagship in the A31 to a more comfort-oriented saloon from the A32 onwards. Though that might seem like a step backwards, the more comfort-focused Cefiro was a bigger hit than its predecessor.
That trait continued even as Nissan changed the name of its flagship sedan to the Teana. Though the smooth V6 engine was eventually discontinued and replaced by a pair of naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engines – 2.0L MR20DE (136 PS/190 Nm) and 2.5L QR25DE (173 PS/234 Nm), the Teana retained the Cefiro’s smooth comfort all the way to its final generation here.
Sold between 2015 and 2019, the L33 Teana has a very modern look considering buyers are a little more on the ageing side. In fact, some of my colleagues once pitted this against the Mazda 6 and although that was a looker, everyone was fighting to drive home in the Teana instead.
The L33 is generous too when it comes to equipment with 6 airbags and cruise control available as standard while the top-of-the-range 2.5 XV came with a sunroof, ‘Zero Gravity’ leather seats, and a 9-speaker Bose sound system. Truly a classy car for small-time businessmen.
But now you can get one for less than RM 50,000 and the L33 is a generally sound car. Sure, it misses out on some modern safety features given its age but when it comes to comfort, it remains one of the best and among the most refined.
Nissan truly excels when it comes to comfort as it is the only brand here that has more than one model to make it into this coveted list.
The Sylphy sat below the Teana and replaced the old Sentra back in 2008. While the G11 Sylphy looked a little bit frumpy in terms of style, the B17 that replaced it was sharper in looks and the latter makes it here.
Aside from the drastic styling change, the B17 also came with a smaller engine than its predecessor. Out went the 2.0-litre MR20DE (133 PS/191 Nm) and in came the 1.8-litre MR18DE (131 PS/174 Nm).
Despite the downsized engine, the B17 Sylphy still offered class-leading comfort over rivals. While many chose the Civic FB or even the E170 Corolla Altis due to both models’ strong resale value, the Sylphy’s comfort was unbeatable.
ETCM wasn’t scrimping on the Sylphy’s safety with 6 airbags offered as standard. Much like the larger Teana, the Sylphy is a relaxing cruiser and its prices in the used car market are certainly appealing if you’re looking for a C-segment sedan that floats on the road.
2013-15 Lexus ES XV60 – From RM 100k
Okay, we are stretching the budget just a little more for this one. Still, if you want to experience high levels of comfort that is relatively reliable, there is only one brand to go for and that’s Lexus.
As its slogan famously put it, Lexus is always about the relentless pursuit of perfection. Though the Lexus ES is a Toyota underneath with a Lexus grille, there’s absolutely nothing to fault about that. The XV60 ES shared the same platform with the Toyota Avalon, Toyota’s flagship model in North America that sat above the Camry.
So, the ES is much more than a dressed-up Camry. It’s an elevated form of the “unclemobile” with a driving dynamic that perfectly balances out between spirited and comfortable with a more definite feel on the latter.
Step inside the ES and you’re greeted with premium luxury from the smooth leather upholstery to actual wood trims on the dash and the doors. But you’re more likely to feel more like a boss in the back.
Even against the larger and more expensive Mercedes-Benz S-Class the ES provides enough comfort and legroom in the back. Never mind it lacked some gizmos and features, the ES is simply a winner for those who wanted to be chauffeured around for a budget.
At least, they have little to worry about its reliability as the powertrains used on the XV60 ES variants that were sold here are similar to those used on the higher variants of the XV50 Camry. Granted, for around RM 100k, you're only looking at pre-facelift versions of the XV60 ES.
2013-18 Mazda Biante – From RM 60k
Mazda isn’t really a brand that comes to mind when you’re thinking about comfort. They’re dubbed the Japanese BMW which is saying a lot.
But for all that “jinba ittai” philosophy that zoomed around their marketing, Mazda did produce one of the most comfortable MPVs in its class. The Mazda Biante might have a look that screams extra-terrestrial but it is a really family-friendly comfort runabout.
A direct competitor to the Nissan Serena, the Biante offered a uniquely Japanese boxy design that sits eight comfortably. It was the Serena that won in sales while the Biante was considered the left-field choice (the Toyota Voxy/Noah was barely mentioned at the time, even among recond dealers).
However, the Biante excelled better in almost every way against the Serena. It drove better, it was more comfortable and was more refined. The Biante is also more pliant around the corners so that Mazda ride and handling is still retained on this family van.
Yet, it was the Biante’s high price when it was new that saw few fans favouring it over the Serena. Now with prices hovering around the RM 60,000 mark, the quirky-looking Mazda is simply a fitting car for those who want to get a family cruiser that stands out.
When it comes to reliability, there is one brand that is simply overshadowed by the usual suspects and it is Subaru. The brand might be underappreciated here but their cars are extremely durable and built to withstand the harshest of conditions.
The 4th-generation Subaru Forester grew into a more conservative and family-friendly SUV, a far cry from its enthusiast-looking first and second generations. But it’s this generation of the Forester that helped the Subaru brand to slowly grow in popularity in Malaysia.
Powered by a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated boxer 4-cylinder engine (150 PS/198 Nm) or a turbocharged flat-four unit of similar size (241 PS/350 Nm), the SJ Forester provides comfort and durability in a brand that is well-regarded among enthusiasts.
That flat-four engine might sound nerdy and technical but the reality is, the way it is designed helps in the SUV’s agility and handling. The boxer engine’s position also helps to reduce engine noise and vibration better than a conventional engine.
Besides, the Forester is also among the most comfortable SUVs in its class with supple suspension tuning. This is thanks in part to improved coils and dampers from the previous generation that was just a forgettable SUV.
Our final entry is a rival to the Subaru Forester and though it is still on sale, you can get one used for less money. The third-gen Outlander might be introduced in Malaysia in 2016 but it was a facelift of a model that was first introduced elsewhere in 2012.
However, even though it feels ancient among rivals, the Outlander is actually one of if not the best in providing comfort. Even when it is running on 18-inch wheels, the SUV’s comfort is simply impressive.
On bad roads, the Outlander soaks up all the bumps with ease without sacrificing on handling. It’s a comfortable SUV and it can seat up to 7 average-sized adults better than more expensive models like the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace or the Mazda CX-8.
There are some foibles with the Outlander including a poor air-conditioning system with a roof-mounted air circulator finally being offered as an option in later models but the Outlander is still a comfort-oriented SUV cruiser.
Those are some of the most comfortable cruisers that you can get in the used car market that wouldn’t harm your wallet in terms of price and maintenance. Which models do you think we missed out? Share your thoughts in the comments section.