Welcome back to CRCCC. In Part 1 we looked at old 4X4s I found on my vacation to Costa Rica, now let’s look at some newer vehicles I encountered.
The last time we visited in 1997, Toyota had a dominant position in the Costa Rican market thanks to the indestructible Land Cruiser and Hilux pickup. Times have changed, road conditions have changed and from the lead photo you can see that Suzuki, Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan are all now well represented in CR.
Incidentally I recommend you visit Lola’s in Playa Avellanas, not just for the beachfront ambiance and tasty tacos, but also for the town’s overflow parking: $3 to park in a dry field scattered with cow dung. That’s authentic! I don’t know where the cows went, maybe they didn’t have $3.
The current standard tourist rental SUV is a Hyundai Tucson in white. Our rental is shown above at the surf shop. It’s a bit confusing that this is badged as a Tucson,
because in North America it’s a Santa Fe and the Tucson name is applied to a smaller CUV. Edit- It’s just me that’s confused, it’s a Tucson everywhere.
We liked this vehicle a lot better than the Jeep Compass we rented for our SouthWest trip two years ago. It had much more room for luggage, and for tall kids in the back. The 4WD got us up some steep gravel hills, and the suspension soaked up a lot of washboard without any squeaks or rattles inside. I also found the outward visibility acceptable, unlike the Compass.
Once we learned to look for them, it was easy to spot the tourist families. White Hyundai Tucson, driven by a middle aged Caucasian dad with sunglasses and a baseball cap. A couple of times I had to click the remote fob just to figure out which vehicle was ours. Luckily my family always returned with the correct dad..
The Korean car companies pretty much have the Costa Rican market sewn up at the moment, new Toyotas are in the minority, new Fords almost nonexistent. However, I did see a couple of Chinese cars in a parking lot (a Geely and a Great Wall) so another change may be in the air for the Costa Rican car market.
Meanwhile, back in the Condo parking lot I took a look at what other people were driving. This photo illustrates the bookends of the 4X4 market:
The little Suzuki Jimmy is very common, we considered renting one just because it looked so fun, but wisely decided that it didn’t have enough room for 4 people and their luggage. The modern Land Rover is seen regularly, more often than not with “Land Rover Club” stickers attached as does this example.
What can I say about this Suzuki Swift Dzire? So small, so weirdly proportioned. So UnDzireable? At least there’s a curb in this picture, they don’t call it Curbside Classic for nothing.
Now here’s something I quite like. The Mitsubishi Montero seems more like the heir to the old Toyota BJ60 Land Cruiser than anything actually made by Toyota these days. Look at that nice upright airy greenhouse, which may also be the reason it’s not sold in North America (rollover standards?).
This particular one is a bit blingy for my taste, but delete the running boards, add the available 5-speed manual transmission, matte black finish door handles and mirrors, and this could be the perfect service vehicle for my new DougD business venture.
We met so many fellow Canadians in Costa Rica, many of whom lived there year round or seasonally. Some were retirees, but others owned a small business such as diving, deep sea fishing charters or a restaurant. Our morning walks on the beach gave us opportunity to brainstorm what we could do, and here it is:
Our beachfront town lacked a good coffee shop, and adventure tourism is big in Costa Rica so we figured a Coffee Shop/Zip Line would be the perfect operation. Get your coffee, clip on your lanyard and zziiippp, you’re on the beach for your morning walk in less than a minute.
Ah well, we can dream can’t we? But it’s back to reality now so let us say goodbye and goodnight to Costa Rica, as the D kids play in the surf at sundown.
It was a wonderful trip in all ways, hopefully we won’t have to wait another 19 years before we can return.
That Suzuki Swift Dzire has the patented “Bangle Butt” once seen on BMWs!
Amazingly, in India (which they were designed for and built in) those are more expensive than the much more attractive Swift hatchback!
Reminds me of the expression “it’s hard to tailor clothes for a dwarf.” IIRC, GM styling head Bill Mitchell said that.
I had no idea they made this.
I wish I still had no idea they made this!
I love the coffee shop/zip line idea. It’s right up there with others I’ve had while on vacation. The problem about vacations is that one shouldn’t really be thinking about such things. If you moved there, you’d be wanting to go somewhere else on vacation. 🙂
Well it was either that or a signage company, which seemed less fun.
But you’re right, that’s part of why I don’t live in the west, the mountains will still be there when I need them..
That Mitsubishi Montero (Pajero) is the latest model. No idea if these are available with a gasoline engine, but the diesel is a 200 hp 3.2 liter DOHC 16v turbo + intercooler engine. A big four-cylinder ! Unibody, unlike its main competitor, the BOF Toyota Land Cruiser 150-series.
The Land Rover is a Discovery Mk2, 2002-2004 given its headlights and bumper.
I want one of those Suzuki Jimnys. If I have to move to Costa Rica to get one, well so be it.
“…It’s a bit confusing that this is badged as a Tucson, because in North America it’s a Santa Fe and the Tucson name is applied to a smaller CUV…”
The Tucson in the pics is the same as the previous generation Tucson sold in North America.
Hmm, maybe I’m still confused then. My extensive research consisted of standing in a mall parking lot after we got home and looking at Tucsons and going “that’s not what we had, it looks more like that”
Yeah, that IS a Tucson. The SantaFe in the US comes in two lengths, the SantaFe SPORT is a 5seater, the regular SantaFe is a 7 seater. The rear end is different between them which makes it confusing, especially the little window after the rear door. And the Tucson is smaller yet with a similar window tratment to the (short) SantaFe Sport. They do look very similar though, especially after one or more tropical adult beverages…
That Suzuki Dzire is missing something, and not just a vowel!
Not seen one in Europe, thankfully, but the related Suzuki Swift is a credible left field MINI alternative.
The Dzire reminds me of the Chevy Malibu Maxx!
In India excise duty on cars less than 4m long is 8% and the same class over 4m long is 20%. As there is a preference for saloons instead of hatchbacks the tax structure has created these bizarre vehicles which look like they reversed into a brick wall. Other examples are the Tata Zest, Honda Amaze or Ford Figo Aspire. I had no idea any of these were being exported as the Suzuki for one exists in normal saloon form for the rest of the world.