Harvey Milder has been a car broker for decades, buying and selling cars for clients both in Melbourne and interstate. He has also been offering a teacher’s car buying service (and a corresponding teachers’ car selling service) specifically since his student days.
Harvey has a top-notch ability to tailor the right car to academic lifestyles, budgets and individual needs, developed over many years as a used (and new) car broker both in Melbourne and across Australia. Harvey also understands teachers needs perfectly thanks to his experience in the teaching environment during his own part-time academic career.
Harvey can hook teachers up with their dream cars, at dramatically reduced costs. He helped one of his own lecturers buy a beautifully maintained 3-year-old Alfa Romeo at 30% of its new price, a bargain the client had never imagined was possible. Harvey fondly recalls his joyful face on receipt of that car.
Harvey has been approached repeatedly regarding his teachers’ car buying service and his teacher’s car selling service. For this reason, he has decided to share his advice as to the best buys for academic staff in 2020 (priced at $25,000 and under). These include both used and, where price permits, new cars in all categories. Here are his top tips.
The Best Small Cars for Australian Teachers
New: Volkswagen Polo
Look no further than a Polo for a premium car at a small price, with excellent fuel efficiency. For a decade, the Polo has eclipsed all competition in its class. It offers strong performance for its size, thanks to the punchy 3 cylinder turbo-charged engine, which provides you with excellent fuel economy.
The base model 70TSI Trendline starts at $17,990. It includes a large touchscreen with Apple car play and Android Auto, as well as all the safety gear. However, it’s the small touches that make this car such a joy to travel in. For example, all four windows have auto up/down and can be operated using the remote control on the key just like an expensive prestige car. The plush ride quality is outstanding, exceeding all expectations for this class of car.
The Volkswagen Polo offers it all. It’s a car that meets the demands of both the head and the heart.
Used: Suzuki Swift
Many of my clients find this a surprising recommendation as Suzuki is not one of the larger automotive companies in Australia. However, it is a sensible one, due to the many merits of modern Suzuki Swifts.
The flimsy feel of late 20th century Swifts is long gone, replaced by a solid car which retains both the legendary reliability and lightweight feeling of the Suzuki brand. Even in base models, this car is a gift that keeps on giving.
However, I will always recommend the GLX Turbo and especially the Suzuki Swift Sport. At this stage these two models have experienced a healthy dose of depreciation, particularly the GLX Turbo. Both models possess all the active and passive safety equipment expected for their class, and offer fun and youthful styling with lots of interior space, as well as excellent performance levels while using the smallest amounts of fuel.
If you’ve got a bit more budgetary flexibility and love to drive, I highly recommend the sport model for its brisk acceleration and smooth handling, thanks to sports tuned suspension and complimented by sports seats. It offers fuel efficiency and a really great city and country driving experience.
The Best Small/Medium Cars for Australian Teachers
New: Toyota Corolla
Like the Volkswagen Polo in the previous category, the Toyota Corolla has, in more recent years, stepped up to become more of a premium offering in its class. Tasteful, angular lines define the dashboard, and the car offers precise steering and with a driving experience that far eclipses earlier Corolla models.
Toyota car have always offered unrivaled reliability, and the Corolla is no exception. As such, Toyota’s in general are relatively easy cars to sell once you’re ready to move on to your next car.
I have to add that it’s not easy to find a brand-new Corolla that fits into the $25,000 budget. That said, it’s still possible, and I’ve seen it personally.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Volkswagen Golf VII here, but I also don’t recommend the purchase of a new car that’s about to cease production, at least not in the absence of an unbeatable deal.
Used: Ford Focus Mark IV
The Ford Focus has a strange tendency to be forgotten about on the used car market, despite getting rave reviews by journalists. It’s been touted as being one of the best cars for handling in its class, as well as being extremely well-equipped for its price.
It’s likely that the transmission issues experienced by some Fords in years gone by have contributed to the Focus getting frequently overlooked. However, the models I recommend have well and truly moved past any such problems. Better yet, from a buyer’s point of view, this lingering reputation means that the Ford Focus has a really weak resale value. That makes it possible to buy a one-year-old focus in new condition for the price of a brand-new Volkswagen Polo.
The base model Focus Trend offers a fuel-sipping 3 cylinder engine that punches above its weight plus a great stereo to complement its excellent handling and ride quality. Clearly, the effort has been put in by Ford to make good on the past issues.
Furthermore, the tasteful styling sits on an all new chassis. This means you can be sure that the car has benefitted from Ford’s latest research and development efforts.
The Ford Focus really is too good a bargain to turn down. Especially since it comes with a 5-year warranty.
The Best Mid-Sized Cars for Australian Teachers
New: Holden Commodore
Again, some readers are likely to find this a surprising choice for best mid-sized car within the listed price range. However, as Holden has recently announced that importation of the Commodore and the Astra will cease, prices have dropped dramatically, and it’s now possible to get a new Holden Commodore for the same price as a new Volkswagen Golf.
For that price, you’ll get Holden’s signature excellent styling, keyless entry and start plus Advanced Park Assist. The latter means that the car that parks itself, even in the base model.
On top of all that, the Commodore includes advanced safety features like lane departure warning, meaning you’ll be notified if you cross over lanes. It also has forward collision alert, which is a mechanism that senses an oncoming head-on collision and stops the car. Pretty fancy.
The car also drives beautifully.
The only real downside is resale values, which will be low due to Holden’s decision to withdraw from the Australia market. However, the impact of that will be mitigated if you get a good deal on a new vehicle and intend to keep your Commodore for 5 years or more.
Used: Ford Mondeo
The Mondeo offers the exact same value equation as the Ford Focus in the previous category. As with the Focus, it provides the feel and driving experience of a far more expensive car than it is. The Ford badges are the only clue that you are not driving a German vehicle.
Just look at the front styling! Or the overall styling for that matter; it really is a champagne experience on a beer budget. The Mondeo has plenty of interior and boot space and can be had with a petrol or a diesel engine. As such, fuel consumption will not be an issue.
The pick of the range would have to be the top spec Titanium for its airbag equipped seatbelts, driver fatigue warning system, heated front and rear seat plus the massive sunroof, which is standard.
After 2 or 3 years, the Mondeo Titanium sells for around half of its new price, making it a similar price to a new Toyota Corolla. For this reason, it should never be bought new, but it makes for a very sensible second-hand purchase.
The Best Small SUVs for Australian Teachers
At the time of writing, there are no brand-new cars that I can recommend within the $25,000 maximum budget, so will review the best used choice.
Used: Toyota CH-R
I absolutely love this car.
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, though. The styling is stunning, but my initial view was that the value proposition was poor, because it only has a 1.2 turbo.
Yet, when I drove one, I realised that it was a game-changer for the small SUV class.
In years gone by, small SUVs were something of a necessary evil. You might have needed one to accommodate a small family, but it meant sacrificing your desire for a stylish car that drives well.
The CH-R has changed all that. I was incredulous at how well it handled and found I could take it around all types of corners with ease. The chassis was just that good. The interior quality was also lovely – comparable to a Lexus – with beautiful details, such as the diamond shapes cut into the headlining, the materials used on the dashboard and that brushed metal gear shifter.
The 1.2 turbo, as it turned out, felt like it was up to the task. While this is not a high-speed car, I never felt that I was left wanting for much more power around the city.
I was driving the base model, and found it to be extremely well-equipped. Blind spot warning is a standard feature. The thick, leather-bound steering wheel felt great in my hands.
Resale values for this car are quite high, so it’s not the best value in this class, but in my view, it’s nonetheless the best buy in its class.
The Best Mid-Sized SUVs for Australian Teachers
Again, at the time of writing, there are no brand-new cars that I can recommend within the $25,000 maximum budget, so will review the best used choice.
Used: Honda CR-V (RW)
For a long time, it seemed like Honda was asleep at the wheel. Having been regarded as pseudo prestige cars during the late 20th century, with their top quality and super high-tech vehicles at the time, Honda then failed to release anything special for about 15 years post-millennium.
However, the 2017 release of the new CR-V changed all that. It was evident at first sight that this was a return to form for Honda. The quality and design of the dashboard was that of a far more expensive car. The CR-V was also one of the first cars in its class to provide a small turbo-charged engine for fuel efficiency, an indicator that Honda was beginning to re-embrace its old identity as a technological leader, too. It has excellent handling, a great ride and comfortable seats, to boot.
Like the Toyota CH-R, it’s a stylish car and works well for family transportation needs.
The market has been slow to catch on to the high quality and all-around excellence of the CR-V, so it’s priced a lot lower than its competition.
With Honda’s legendary reliability, the CR-V will bring you and your family many great years of motoring.
The Best Sports Cars for Australian Teachers
At the time of this writing, there are no brand-new sports cars that I can recommend within the $25,000 maximum budget, so will review the best used choice.
Used: BMW 2 Series Coupe (220i)
The BMW 2 series is, admittedly, a bit older than some of the other sports cars at this price point. However, being one of the final BMW rear wheel drive cars that is still relatively new, I determined that it deserves top spot on my list, despite the fact that only the 220i is a realistic buy within the $25,000 budget.
The recommended 2 series remains a current model, despite a recent facelift. It rides a lot like a luxury car, except when you’re turning corners, of course. Like all BMWs, the 2 series is more than capable of taking corners quickly.
There are also rear seats which fit adults comfortably enough for shorter trips and can carry luggage for weekends away.
Admittedly, the 220i isn’t the fastest car in the range, but it should have enough pace for most people seeking a sports car. However, its stylishness – both interior and exterior – more than compensates for its average acceleration. That said, if you can spare an extra $2 – 3,000, the BMW 228i will possess everything I have written about with the extra pace that the chassis deserves.
The 220i will cost you more to service than a Japanese car. However, this car is an absolute pleasure to own, and people will think it’s worth twice as much as you actually paid.