A huge “Thank-you” to all at WheelsCR for your service in finding us the perfect car match that my wife and I were looking for.
More specifically, a huge thanks to Chris for driving us around to 7 dealerships to look at a selection of vehicles that matched closely to our pre-discussed wish list. There is no way that we could have even imagined covering all of the bases that you all did for us.
After finding the RAV4 that we were hopeful for, Chris drove us back to our hotel to deal with banking matters, then drove us back again to Autos Santo Domingo, the dealership, to complete our purchase, then drove us to the Notary to deal with the necessary legal matters, and then finally drove us back to our hotel where he had arranged an Insurance Broker to meet us to get our car insurance set up.
The day started at 9am and by 3pm we parked our new, used baby (Rav4) in the Hotel parkade. We celebrated over a nice dinner, and early the next morning headed back home.
Thank-you again for taking on all of the stresses that would have been insurmountable for us. Mary and I will certainly be recommending your services to our friends and family.
In finalizing, we would like to say that moving to a new country, we were very apprehensive about heading out to purchase a vehicle not knowing the language and customs. Your company washed that stress off of us, and we thank you for that from the bottom of our hearts.
David and I were very pleased with the services you and your associates offered us regarding purchase of a vehicle in Costa Rica. We appreciated your thoroughness and attention to detail, explanations and information. We also hugely benefitted from your business connections which made finding the car and getting the paperwork, transfer and insurance done so quickly and efficiently. Chris’s passion for cars, sharing of expertise and local knowledge was invaluable also and a special hats off to him too!
Thank you for your service and we will be happy to pass your name and information along to others.
We needed to buy a family car which was able to carry our luggage (5 person household with a dog). The process needed to be fast as we didn’t want to rent an expensive car only for this task.
The whole procedure from contacting Russ, test driving, signing the contract, transferring the funds and finally picking up the chosen car was made within 5 business days. Chris was our guide in the field and knew a lot about cars which also helped a lot.
I thank Russ and his team for the great and efficient experience we had buying our first car in Costa Rica. Well done and highly recommended!
I just wanted to drop you a quick note that perhaps you might be able to use as a reference or words from a happy customer.
Buying a car can be a stressful experience, factor in a different language, culture and a vastly different process for purchasing.
It took just a quick email to Russ and Kattia and Chris. I outlined what I was looking for and my price range. Russ came back a couple days later with some excellent options, we picked one had it checked by a mechanic and then agreed to purchase. Russ sent me pictures and a video from the mechanic and Russ ensured that the one switch that did not function properly was replaced.
Russ and the team at WheelsCR looked after the lawyer, insurance and ensured that everything was in line. Top that off by having the car show up in immaculate trim at our hotel at a time of our choosing. We were going to tee things up for the airport but we opted to play it safe and had the car delivered to our hotel. We were met by two members of the dealer where we went over the car, they showed me where all of the items are and how the sound system works.
They offered a test drive but knowing the previous inspection and reputations involved I opted to just take the keys. You might say trusting or naive, I say the process is quite fine tuned; the dealer reps brought a mechanic tested/driven car that was impeccably turned out. We have put quite a few kilometers on the vehicle with absolutely no problem, we both have absolute confidence in the vehicle and the buying process.
I found Russ to be very easy to deal with, always reachable and afterwards he followed up to make sure that I was happy with the car.
Many thanks Russ and team for a smooth and efficient process, the results speak for themselves.
It took the stress and any time crunch out of the equation, totally happy with everything from start to follow up.
As a part of Costa Rica’s efforts to become de-carbonized by 2050, the government institutions are required to reduce their emissions and also consumption of natural resources.
The National Registry is no exception, and in 2020 they stopped issuing paper titles for new and used cars coming into Costa Rica, and also for transfer of property titles to new owners. Read on to see how you can verify the title and also how you might get a property title or alternative documentation for a particular purpose.
I was a bit nervous about buying a car and going through the process here in Costa Rica. What I can tell you is that Russ, and Christian are a breath of fresh air! This service took every bit of anxiety out of purchasing a vehicle here!
If you are looking to purchase a car or any other vehicle in Costa Rica then you have definitely come to the right place! I told them what i was looking for, and they delivered in the best way possible! I got exactly what i wanted, and in my price range!
Very knowledgeable, fair, and honest! Thanks once again you guys!
Hi! Thank you very much for helping me with my car buying experience! Chris was terrific. I couldn’t have done it without him! I highly recommend your service to anyone that asks. I’m happy to be a reference! Warmly, Sayles
In 2020, because of pandemic related concerns, we began offering our same great service virtually. This is something we had done occasionally over the years when circumstances or the vehicle specifications required it. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic we realized it could be an essential tool to help ourselves and our clients avoid exposure. Here are some of the first successful experiences, enjoy!
We contacted Russ a couple of weeks before our arrival in Costa Rica and within a couple of days he had emailed us photos and information on all the suitable cars within his network of dealers.
We chose which ones we wanted him to look at for us and within a few days this was done with detailed feedback. We chose the car we wanted and Russ sorted everything out for us. All we had to do was wire the money to the dealer and the car arrived at our house in Costa Rica the morning after we arrived, along with all the relevant paperwork.
Russ also sorted out getting quotes for upgraded suspension etc so our new car will be better able to tackle the local terrain, taking all the leg work out of the process for us. All this has happened over email and it has been once less thing for us to worry about amidst the craziness of moving country. We wholeheartedly recommend the Russ and the Virtual Pass service. – Chloe and Ozzi
Using the virtual PASS was a lifesaver for me during COVID. Moving to Costa Rica during a pandemic is stressful enough, so having Russ assume the responsibility of locating and test driving several cars was a huge help. Russ was an absolute professional from beginning to end. He explained the entire process and then when the time was right sent me a detailed description of a few different options (along with many photos). Once I chose my car, he stayed connected with me as I transferred money from the USA to the dealer in Costa Rica and even helped me to get setup with car insurance. Since I had never bought a car abroad before, I had my doubts and suspicions and Russ was very patient in verifying everything that I needed to feel comfortable with the deal. The car (and the dealer, Kildare) was there to meet me when I arrived at the airport and within 10 minutes of exiting customs I was ready to drive away. Two weeks have since passed and I am very happy with the quality of the car. Thank you to Russ (and Kildare), I will definitely be recommending your service.
Thanks so much for all of your help . This process has been awesome !! You have an awesome business !! A truly a one stop shop !!
The Most Popular Crew Cab, Extra Cab and Single cab pickups in the market
Prior to the early 1990s, pickup trucks in Costa Rica were almost exclusively for institutions and for agricultural / commercial use. You will see old Toyota and Datsun pickups, plus the classic Land Rovers. These were used by farmers both on the farm and to bring produce to market. The other main use was for work crews and other institutional applications, particularly in rural areas. As such they weren’t very comfortable for the driver or passengers, and either slow or unwieldy on the highway (or both). For the most part they were 2 or 3 passenger trucks, although many fleets did have 4 door (crew cab) versions.
The Extra Cab Innovation
Starting with Extra Cab trucks in the early 1990s, you began to see “civilian” trucks appear on the market and in San Jose. One of the best examples would be the Nissan D21 models, that combined an aggressive look with high level 4×4 capability to become very popular as a combination city / country every day driver. Other popular models in Costa Rica were the Toyota Hilux and also the Isuzu Space Cab, along with the Mazda King Cab.
These trucks were pretty comfortable for the driver and front passenger, but mostly only offer fold up bench type seats for the 3rd and 4th passenger in the back. And being 2 door were difficult to access for adults. Great for kids, or on short trips they offer space for 4 adults and gear or cargo in the rear truck bed. But they were still mainly used for commercial or institutional purposes, or quite often people with rural weekend properties would find them a useful combination vehicle.
The Hybrid Family Workhorse
This situation continued through 2005, when Mitsubishi introduced the redesigned L200, which was followed by the Toyota Hilux in 2007. Both models were designed specifically for Latin America, and both were based on the same size and weight class SUV offered by the brands. They feature many distinctions, that transform the image of the pickup truck from a work vehicle to an alternative to the SUV as an every day vehicle that is multi-functional:
They ride much better on the highway, improved diesel engines offer much better acceleration at highway speeds.
The 4 doors and 2nd row seating transform the vehicle from something uncomfortable for everyone but the driver, to vehicle that will work for even long family trips.
The handling is also greatly improved, and the ground clearance is higher — better for going off-road.
At the same time, they still have durable suspensions for cargo loads and rough roads, and the true 4×4 for difficult situations on the job or on the beach.
SUV or Pickup?
While all of these features are great, they come along with a huge boost in the price of pickup trucks, which even today are similarly priced to comparable SUVs. For example, we received quotes for clients on the Toyota Fortuner and Hilux as brand new vehicles in April 2019:
2019 Hilux– 2.4 liter4X4 Crew Cab Manual Transmission This would be the basic work truck, priced at $37,700 (no A/C)
2019 Hilux Limited Edition SRV– 2.8 liter4X4 Crew Cab Automatic Transmission This has leather seats, 9 airbags, and the VSC stability control system at $58,300
2019 Hilux FULL– 2.4 liter4X4 Crew Cab Automatic Transmission This is with power windows, A/C and other niceties $44,900
2019 Fortuner Sport – 2.8 liter4×4 Automatic Transmission This options package is similar to the SRV Hilux, and the price too — $54,800
2019 Hilux FULL SRV– 2.8 liter4X4 Crew Cab Automatic Transmission This is the full extras version, but also has the improved 2.8 liter engine with common rail injection, price at $54,400
You can see that the prices for the comparable trim level are pretty similar, even though you might think a pickup should be cheaper than an SUV. Similar pricing holds true among all the brands.
What are the Most Popular Models?
Best in Class — These models are the most popular, they are similar in quality, 4×4 capability, cargo capacity and extra features.
Nissan Frontier / Navara
With any of these models you will get a popular truck that can be easily repaired by any mechanic nationwide. Parts are a good value, the brands that are less expensive are good quality. If parts are more expensive, they are high quality and worth the extra price. You also have the option of buying parts at a regular auto parts store, but if it is an unusual part it’s likely the dealer has it in stock, or arriving shortly.
2nd Tier — These models are less popular, but could be a good value. Parts are not as widely available as for the first tier models, so that sometimes means they are more expensive or harder to find. However, they are high quality and so can have a longer useful life.
As of 2013, these models share the same 5 cylinder / 3.2 liter engine. It is the modern Common Rail Direct Injection (CRDI) engine, so they have superior performance at highway speeds, and also the same or better cargo capacity. The Mazda BT-50 offers a 2.2 liter version that is also CRDI, which can be a good option if your aren’t as concerned with the cargo and towing capacity.
Other Solid Options — If you are looking for a strictly work truck, the Kia Bongo offers a 4×4 crew cab version, it is reasonably priced and actually seats 6, the boxy shape isn’t maybe the coolest, but very practical and if you really have a work crew to accomodate it’s a good choice.
US Versions — Most Costa Ricans prefer the diesel pickup, but you will find some gasoline models that could be viable, if that’s your preference: Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. With the gasoline engine you generally expect better acceleration, particularly from a start and at highway speeds. Although some of the latest CRDI diesel engines are very close, it is still generally true. You give up some fuel economy with the gasoline engine, and the price to fill up is higher. But for some people that’s a fair trade-off.
The Dodge Ram is popular in the Central Valley as a work truck, or dual purpose vehicle, and it could be something to consider if you need to really tow something heavy. The size of the vehicle and narrow streets in Costa Rica would be drawbacks for a lot of people, and the lower fuel economy of the bigger engine as well.
The Ford and Chevrolet trucks are not popular, but if you live in the Central Valley or have a specific adaptation you might find them to be the only options. (Food truck, ambulance, camper, etc).
If you own a farm, or will be building, then a 4×4 pickup would be a very good option. As we know from our own experience, your contractor will always need something they forgot to put on the list. While quite often this can be handled with a car or an SUV, the pickup has the advantage in cargo capacity and avoiding wear and tear on the interior. And you will save money on transportation charges, particularly on items that won’t fit in the back of other types of vehicles.
As time goes along, it seems that SUVs have less and less off-road capability, so if you live in a remote area and want something very new, a pickup with 4 doors could be an excellent option. The Toyota Hilux (depending on the version) offers a rear locking differential, which is necessary in extreme conditions and very rare nowadays.
Disadvantages: In slightly older year models the pickup is as expensive or more expensive than the SUV. Also, because the rear suspension is tuned to handle heavy loads, they lack weight and give a rough and bouncy ride on rough roads when not loaded with cargo.