The cars you should consider will vary completely according to your tastes, budget and car usage. In general:
- Fuel is expensive in Costa Rica, any time you can go diesel or a smaller engine it will pay off in the long run.
- If you live in a rural area keep in mind the roads, not all new cars have a suspension that will handle gravel and potholes well. Many new cars now feature low profile tires, which will come off more easily in these situations as well.
- Many dealers have branches outside of San Jose, if you buy in San Jose but are traveling or end up moving to another area it could be to your advantage to know that warranty service is provided in other areas.
- Unless you plan on keeping the car indefinitely, the popularity of the brand is important. Vehicles such as Renault or Jeep may be excellent in their home countries and good quality, but here in the local market they are not popular. If you suddenly need to sell for any reason you will find that the car has depreciated significantly.
Depending on your specific budget, and which car you would like to purchase, you may wish to consider a new vehicle from one of the local dealers, which has advantages:
- You are getting a brand new vehicle under warranty (3 years and 100,000 kilometers is normal)
- You don’t worry about the car’s precedence, previous maintenance or other issues.
- You don’t worry about problems that aren’t apparent at the time of purchase but could crop up later.
- Many vehicles offered new here are created specifically for the Costa Rican market and terrain, these can have advantages since many factors have been taken into account. For example, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson SUV has a different engine and transmission than the same SUV offered in the US. Certain engines Hyundai doesn’t offer here, because the performance would deteriorate over time due to the fuel quality offered by RECOPE.
- Because of tax structure, depreciation isn’t as much of an issue as in the US, where driving a car off the lot reduces it’s value by 20%. New cars here pay 20% less import duty than used cars, so it’s almost a wash. Meaning that as the new car’s value depreciates over the years, the used cars imported here will be paying more taxes – so the new car maintains its market value.
All-time, All-Terrain Classics
Toyota 4runner pictured, see below for RAV4 photos
The Toyota RAV4 and 4runner are classic SUVs for Costa Rica and residents here. Many current residents had their first experience driving in Costa Rica in a RAV4 rental. The RAV4 is a smaller SUV, based on an automobile chassis. This gives it a much better ride and handling than many SUVs. At the same time it offers an excellent all-wheel drive feature, which will get you out of the majority of situations where you need traction but not that much power. The lighter body helps in these cases too. The RAV4 seats 5 adults fairly comfortably and has some room in the back for luggage or gear too.
The Toyota 4runner is a great multi-purpose 4 x 4. It has a good amount of cargo space in the back and will seat 5 adults comfortably. The 4 x 4 capability and ground clearance are superior to most SUVs, while the classic styling looks good in the city and exploring on the back roads. The chassis will handle up to 33×10.5 tires without modification, which improves the ground clearance and is good for those who generally travel on bad roads. Read More
Great if your motto is “Life’s a Beach!”
Used Cars in Costa Rica for Sale – The Ideal Sport Utility Vehicle ?
We talk about SUVs all the time, but if you sit down and think about the individual terms, the Suzuki Sidekick really comes close to being the ideal SUV — Sport Utility Vehicle.
Sport – Starting with the Samurai, and continuing with the original Sidekicks, the Suzuki 4 x 4 is convertible. How much sportier can you get? The colors are also fun and perfect for the tropics.
Utility – Utility means useful. The convertible top allows you to literally fit almost anything in the cargo area if the need arises, no matter how awkward or bulky. In normal day to day use, all of the versions have folding rear seats, allowing for 2 passengers and cargo / gear / groceries. Some versions have split bench seats, which means you can have 3 passengers and some gear — or a cooler! As well, the 4 x 4 capability is excellent, the bare bones construction and short wheel base means that you can get almost anywhere, and you aren’t worrying about damage you might be doing to some fancy electronics or delicate emissions control system.
Vehicle – being something that gets you from place to place. Aside from having 4 wheels and seats, the Suzuki Sidekick, Suzuki Samurai, Geo Tracker and Chevrolet Tracker are all dependable vehicles with good quality parts, that are also available nationwide. They’ll get you around when you first buy one, but you also can depend on being able to keep them going with a minimum of fuss. The Samurai is truly bare bones and you don’t have much that can go wrong there. Think of the classic VW Bug. The Sidekick is a step above and a bit more complex, but still fairly simple in most facets through the mid 1990s versions. Read More