Suzuki has made an art form of releasing new models at just the right intervals to make a good impression on potential buyers. First came the neat Vitara SUV with a four-cylinder 1.6L petrol engine in both manual and auto guise, outputting 86kW of power and 156Nm of torque. Then the punchy 1.6L common rail direct injection turbo diesel (another four-cylinder engine) came onto and stole the scene, thanks to it’s well-tuned output of 88kW of power and 320Nm of torque – double the torque of the 1.6L petrol model.
Prior to this review, I hadn’t seen many Mahindra Pik-Up utes around the city. In country towns, they’re no rarity. A run to the New England area surprised me, as I saw two in Tenterfield alone. Dirty, unwashed, with tools of trade and drums of chemicals in one, a stock crate in the other, it was fairly obvious that land owners had seen the great value for money in these Pik-Up utes. It made me feel a big smug to think we had the Trek camper trailer on the back of my loan car and were heading bush for a couple of days of fishing.
It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: the Australian ute buyer has never had it so good! We are definitely spoilt for choice at the moment. Take the Nissan Navara for instance. Released last year with great fanfare, the new model NP300 actually lived up to the hype. It comes in a choice of petrol or twin turbo diesel engines, with options for coil springs at the rear or a leaf spring set up.
As replacement for the Challenger, the new Pajero Sport appears to have taken off from where its predecessor finished and then raised the bar.
Hyundai’s Santa Fe has been gracing our roads for a few years now, and you wouldn’t think Hyundai could make such a good vehicle even better. However, with the extra refinements they’ve incorporated into this year’s new model, they’ve done just that.
A few issues back I reviewed the excellent Suzuki Vitara wagon in top-shelf AWD specification, complete with sun roof and 6-speed auto shifter. As good as the auto All Grip drive was, I was also quite impressed with the five-speed manual 2WD Vitara. During the test drive it provided quite high comfort levels along with great fuel economy on a mix of city driving and some prolonged country runs. The 2WD Vitara might be a base vehicle within the range but it’s a long way from being a basic motor vehicle.
A few years back, Hyundai Motor Company had a family-orientated SUV wagon named the Tucson complementing their range of family sedans. The Tucson was fairly popular, if somewhat oddly styled, and was in essence a cheap and cheerful people mover. A diesel engine option ensured frugal running, while a decent ride offered comfort along with the economy.
The Isuzu MU-X is a robust 7-seater whose forte is serious off-roading. Bush tracks, travelling up beaches – perhaps with a camper or boat in tow – these are the sorts of things that can prove very difficult for many soft-roading SUVs, as many of their owners have found to their dismay. Not so with the MU-X!
Let’s start this review with what the Infiniti QX 80 isn’t. It’s not a big poser SUV that can hum along on the sniff of diesel or petrol fumes, pretending to have off-road cred where’s there’s none, or hoping to generate some on-road presence because of stylishly sleek lines.
Suzuki motors seem to be intent on spoiling Australian motorists, releasing a stand-out SUV in the Vitara. Unlike many smaller SUVs, it’s more of a high riding wagon than a chunky hatchback-style vehicle. It’s available in both RT-S (manual or auto 2WD) and the more heavily specced RT-X, which offers the All Grip AWD auto variant for those who like to drive forest trails, bush tracks and the like. As well as all the off-road fun, this model can easily double as the kids’ taxi to school.
Gone are the days when a work ute was just… well, a work ute. These days they often double as fun trucks for the weekend or general family runabouts. For some people, they’re even a status symbol! All of this means that without a full complement of air bags, a 5-star rating, a long list of additional features plus a ride closer to a car than a job site courier, it’s hard for a ute to pip the opposition at the sales target post.
Modern car manufacturers don’t sit still. Mitsubishi for example is constantly engineering innovative changes to their models to release very well received upgraded vehicles. The Triton released earlier this year was a standout and now the Outlander has received an upgrade to bring it into line with some of the main contenders in the niche market of high performance 4WDs.
Isuzu D-Max utes have been around for a few years now and, to keep up with a very competitive market, each successive model or variant seems to be better than the last. In this review we’ll be looking at the most up-market of the D-Max models, the highly specced but hard to come by X-Runner. Why hard to come by? Only 360 are on offer this year.
The good old Mitsubishi Triton has been around for over 30 years, and this sometimes mundane utility has seen a lot of changes in this time. Notably, when the ‘new’ model came out in 2006 things suddenly became a lot more refined and business-like in the Triton’s world. A lot of tradies and people looking for a weekday work vehicle/Sunday Funday car suddenly took notice of what the Triton offered: a reasonable ride, lots of load capacity and interior room plus a diesel engine which was adequate but not overbearing in the power stakes, and yet with some economy.
Many manufacturers want us to believe that AWD is as good as true 4WD. The Suzuki Jimny, by contrast, stands out from the would-be-if-they-could-be pack. This is no high-sitting hatchback with double diffs and marketed as an SUV, nor is it offered in 2WD only either. Make no mistake – this little vehicle is a genuine 4WD in every sense of the word. It has a two-speed transfer box offering high or low range, which sees the ability to transmit power from rear wheels to all four wheels in high or low range by the push of a button. The ample ground clearance – 190 mm – very generous departure and approach angles all scream for a bit of fun off road.
Roughly based on the Isuzu D-Max ute and designed to carry the fight to the likes of the Colorado 7, SsangYong Rexton, Ford Territory, Toyota Prado, Mitsubishi Challenger and the like, the well put together MU-X will impress potential buyers with its excellent design, roominess and performance both on and off road.
Nissan’s popular X-Trail has been face-lifted in this third generation model. Svelte lines, some impressive frontal treatment and a fair few rounded curves have moved the X-Trail away from its former boxy shape to a far more modern appearance, which has a striking similarity to big brother Pathfinder. Nissan have also endowed the wagon with daylight LED lighting around the headlights for an increased road presence.
Call me Mr Lucky, I get to spend time in some fabulous caravan parks and camping grounds, and Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park is one of the really good ones I’ve seen in the last year.
Refined over several models, the current Mitsubishi Challenger wagon sits somewhere between the Japanese manufacturer’s Triton and Pajero, with the Outlander also nudging into the picture as well. Yet the Challenger is different from all of these offerings. While built on the Triton’s 4x4 chassis, there’s refinement and touches of luxury — plus a much enhanced ride — that should theoretically see the Challenger having great family appeal.
Looking at some facts and figures the Pajero wagon has been around for a long, long time. Initially hailed as a game changer back in the mid ‘90s thanks to a suspension set up that saw a car like ride from a very capable 4WD, the Pajero was in many respects well ahead of competitors at that time.
It’s been a while since I’ve test driven a Forester and I’ll admit to being the poorer for the situation. With the head spinning onset of so many SUVs gracing our roads it’s easy to forget that the all wheel drive Subaru Forester has been there and done it long before many of the current flock arrived from overseas.
In this issue the spotlight shines on Clairview. You haven’t heard of Clairview? This small but picturesque coastal locality is situated between Marlborough and Sarina and the Barracrab Caravan Park is right on the water, so close that you could virtually fish from some sites!
With several upgrades over the last couple of years, GMH’s Captiva series of SUVs just seem to grow more and more appealing to buyers seeking the advantages this style of vehicle offers.
Around this time each year potential buyers become thoroughly spoiled for choice of a new car as 2015 models grace show rooms throughout the nation.
First we got rumours, then a few leaked photos and then we got the real deal: an up-to-date replacement for the popular Nissan X-trail. It finally hit our shores a few months back. This new model X-Trail is a definite improvement on the previous wagon which, even with its aged styling, still maintained respectable sales figures for Nissan with around 140,000 units sold.
The Holden Captiva is one of the strongest selling vehicles in its class. It never takes long to spot one being driven or parked, and sales figures confirm its popularity in a very competitive market niche. Clearly the Captiva must have some good things going for it so let’s take a look at what’s on offer.
Following on the heels of a test drive of an Outlander PHEV, which really impressed me, I took the opportunity to test a diesel Outlander when one became available. Comparisons are odious things but obviously two similar vehicles from the same maker with entirely different power plants are going to provide an interesting review. Especially when the second one is powered by a frugal, but quite powerful diesel engine that pulls like a tractor.
Selecting the right off roader for the family has just become a whole lot harder. Within a mighty strong field of contenders the Isuzu MU-X seven seater has thrust its way into the mix as well.
Camping in winter at Somerset Park is always a lot of fun, even in winter. All it takes is some warm gear at night around the fire before heading to bed and, with fishing handy, it’s one of life’s rare pleasures.
Claiming a world first, Mitsubishi has released its 2014 Outlander PHEV as the first plug-in hybrid SUV. Smart marketing has seen the new Outlander PHEV introduced to a market that’s clamouring for SUVs yet with the added bonus of electric power to minimise fossil fuel usage. It’s a great concept and has the potential to make the Outlander PHEV ideal for a lot of families living and working in the city.
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