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.