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Archive for April, 2008


The Mazda 3 gets mixed reviews among its owners, guest drivers and passengers. Though it’s small and sporty, it has its share of challenges.

First, the good. The Mazda 3 is a zippy, fun car to drive. It handles turns with ease, and it’s a quiet, mostly comfortable ride. There is plenty of storage, though legroom in the back is cramped, especially if the backseat passenger is tall.

The 3 comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission. For drivers who do more city than highway or country dirving, the automatic transmission might be a needed upgrade, though it adds about $2,000 to the cost of the car.

Mazda engineered this car with an eye toward safety, fitting it with 6 standard airbags; it was the first automaker to put 6 airbags in a car of this size and at this price point.

The 3 doesn’t skimp, however. In 2008, Mazda changed the 3’s 15-inch steel wheels to alloy and made power doors and windows standard.

But on the negative side, there are a few things to consider. At about $22,000 base, the car is priced the same as many other small but sporty vehicles that might handle better under certain conditions and often offer more luxury features.

In addition, drivers often complain that the 2.0-litre engine doesn’t have as much perk as it should, though speed demons can upgrade to the 2.3-litre Mazda 3 SP23, which, at a base price of $29,000, also offers a bit more refinement and luxury inside.

The car can ride rough on bumpy terrain and the tires are expensive to replace. Worst of all, the Mazda 3 doesn’t have the resale strength of its category competitors like the Hyundai Elantra.

Though it has a small share of disadvantages, the Mazda 3 is a top seller in Australia. Those sales are likely fueled by the fact that it’s fuel efficient, sporty looking and surprisingly nimble for a car in its class.

Review Videos: Video 1Video 2Video 3



The Toyota Prado is an off-road landcruiser delight, but it’s equally at home in the city or suburbs, where most owners will generally keep it.

The Prado, a four-wheel drive muscular car that seeks to take on the highway or the unbeaten path, isn’t all about flash and power, however. This is a car that provides a comfortable ride, and room for whatever you want to carry.

If you’re bringing along the family, you’ll want to know that this car comfortably seats 8 and features three-point seatbelts and headrests for all occupants. Standard features include an in-dash CD player, power windows and locks, and 17” steel wheels. In standard models, the features can be basic, but include multiple airbags, 6 cup holders, mud flaps, and an engine immobilizer.

Upgrade to an “option pack” and get ABS brakes, cruise control and leather bound steering wheel.

Now, while the ride is comfortable and smooth, most buyers are looking for the vehicle’s off-road ability. Although many Australian drivers will never take their Prado off road, it performs well when given the chance. Whether in the dirt or on the beach, this car can handle it all.

The vehicle’s 3.0-litre diesel engine is surprisingly fuel efficient and runs smoothly and as quietly as can be expected.

Most drivers stick with the standard Prado model, as this car is more about fire and muscle than comfort and luxury. But the standard model nonetheless offers enough features to keep even the luxury-seeker happy. Some of these features include a power accessory socket, the Toyota Safe-T-Cell, 3 rows of seats and – for solid sound while on those off-road drives – a 6 speaker CD system.

Video Reviews: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3