Getting a Brand New Car in Costa Rica

The top of the line Kia SUV

The Kia Mohave SUV

Since 2006, we here at have helped our clients purchase reliable used cars from reputable dealers in Costa Rica.  If you’re reading this, you probably know that vehicles are a major investment here.  The import duties run from 30% for new cars, to 85% for cars that are more than 6 years old. No vehicles are manufactured here, so transportation and customs brokerage fees are always an additional cost.

In 2015 we had 3 clients that purchased brand new vehicles at dealerships with our assistance. While you might think that it should be fairly easy to walk into a dealership and pay cash for a new car, it isn’t necessarily the case.

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Toyota 4runner RAV4 For Sale in Costa Rica

All-time, All-Terrain Classics

Used Cars in Costa Rica Toyota 4runner 1999 rear view

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

Suzuki Sidekick – Samurai in Costa Rica aka Geo – Chevrolet Tracker

Suzuki Samurai 1988 - Great if your motto is "Life's a Beach!"

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

Import Duties on Shipping a Car to Costa Rica

The Galloper was never sold in the USA, but offers good value and economical operation.

If you have a vehicle that you have owned and that is commonly imported to Costa Rica, you may consider shipping the car to Costa Rica. This article explains the reasoning behind the high import duties, as well as some exceptions, including updated information on environmentally friendly taxes.  Read More

Permit for vehicle to leave Costa Rica (temporary exit)

Tico Plates, Exit Stamps for Vehicles

Getting an Exit Permit for Costa Rica Registered Vehicles

If you want to go see the Panama Canal or take a weekend trip to Nicaragua, then your car, truck, SUV or motorcycle with Costa Rican plates, must get a permit to leave the country.  This is something you can do yourself, although someone else can do it for you with a notarized letter.  The cost of the permit is about $11, but it is only  good for 15 working days, so you have to leave the country within about 3 weeks of the time you get the permit. Following is the low down on the procedure, which varies according to whether the vehicle is owned by an individual, company, NGO, government agency, or if it is in the process of being registered to a new owner. Read More

Costa Rica Fuels: Gasoline, Diesel, LPG, and more

Turbo Diesel Intercooler Engine - The best of both worlds?

If you are going to own a vehicle in Costa Rica, a big part of your life (and budget) is going to be spent filling her up.  Here is some information about fuel varieties, the national refinery and distribution system, and the choices you may make in buying a car. Read More

Costa Rica Auto Insurance and Coverages

The hill of death?

Accidents happen …

If you have done some driving in Costa Rica, you may have felt an “urge” to get insured (lol).  Most of our clients in the PASS service end up getting voluntary coverage, often mainly for the road side assistance which is valid nationwide.   The following information is basic information on the mandatory and voluntary insurance in Costa Rica.  What they cover and some information about costs. Read More

Hyundai Galloper SUV For Sale in Costa Rica

Hyundai Galloper 2000 side view

The Hyundai Galloper SUV 2000 Model

The Hyundai Galloper is the most practical SUV for Costa Rica, the initial investment is unbeatable, it is economical in fuel consumption and parts are very cheap (for Costa Rica at least).

Features and Options

The Hyundai comes with many extras as standard features, for example most Gallopers have electric windows and door locks. All Gallopers are true 4 x 4, meaning that they have a low and high 4 wheel drive to get you through most situations. They are available in automatic and manual transmission, although the manual is much more common. Most available in Costa Rica have true luggage racks (not luggage rails! ) for tying down gear or suitcases, running boards and a rear ladder. Fog lights are often a factory feature or have been added.  High quality aluminum rims are a standard feature also.

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Mitsubishi Montero and Montero Sport for sale in Costa Rica

A Fascinating Evolution

Mitsubishi Montero History

Full offroad capable SUV

Mitsubishi Montero - Power and grace, a classic SUV for Costa Rica

The Mitsubishi Montero first appeared in Costa Rica with the 1985 – 1991 model. The Montero and the Sport version have always been considered a class act and are highly regarded by Ticos. They tend to have lots of options befitting a higher end SUV. The early models are an excellent choice for those who want a good SUV for around $6000. In 1992 the design was upgraded, Mitsubishi added body side moldings and improvements to the suspension and interior. Because of this styling prices are higher than earlier models, which can  happen quite often in Costa Rica, so you want to be careful. For example, if you want a 1992 model, you will find prices similar all the way through the 1998 model, so you can always get a better year for a little more money. Whereas, in 1999 the body style and model were changed again, so they are significantly more expensive than a 1998 model. The 1999 – 2000 models are “tweeners”. They have more features, more power and a better suspension than the earlier models, but the 2001 and newer models have a distinctive new “cheeky” look and major improvements to the options package, in addition to more power in the drive train and improved handling.

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