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Archive for February, 2020

Do the Latest Cars Still Need to be Serviced as Regularly?

Even for experienced car owners, or motorheads, car servicing can be an uncertain and difficult minefield to navigate. From capped-price servicing, to decisions on what parts to use and where to take the vehicle, or even the frequency with which your vehicle enters the garage – there are no shortage of decisions to consider.

First things first, servicing should be considered for what it really is – preventative maintenance. The purpose is to keep your car in good shape and identify any potential issues before they become a concern. As such, the key is to keep on top of your service schedule and book your car in regularly as per its recommended service intervals.

 

 

How often should I service my car?

An unfortunate habit that many motorists have gotten used to is waiting for a problem to arise and then taking their vehicle in for repairs as well as general servicing. The problem with this approach is, not only does preventative maintenance potentially help prevent an issue in the first place, but it can save you considerable money.

With that said, the latest cars are beginning to incorporate a slightly different approach to servicing. Whereas it was once necessary to take your car in for service every 6 months or 10,000 km, an increasing number of manufacturers are drawing service intervals out to as much as 12 months or 15-20,000km. In fact, some car-makers, like Renault, are quoting a service interval as high as 30,000km!

Of course, not every manufacturer feels the same way, with Mazda sticking to its recommendation of 10,000km based on the mileage its customer base clocks up each year, which certainly seems a little on the lower side of distances covered. But in the meantime, if you’re driving one of the latest cars on the market, you can probably rest easy knowing that your service probably isn’t required as often as some of your past vehicles, even if certain manufacturers are pushing otherwise.

 

 

 

Should I go to a dealer for servicing?

Another thing you may want to consider is servicing your vehicle through an independent mechanic. Motorists often feel as though they are obliged to take their vehicle to a dealership for servicing, or they will void their warranty. This is not quite true. If your car is affected by a warranty issue, the independent mechanic will refer you back to your dealer for the manufacturer to subsidise the work. Outside of that, independent mechanics can offer very competitive prices, particularly if they utilise aftermarket, rebuilt or reconditioned parts. They are now also set to receive greater data from manufacturers, which should only make their job easier and, in theory, even more affordable.

Transparency into the servicing process has also become a growing theme. Whereas previously a motorist would be flying blind with regards to the prices they would receive, servicing has become a little more structured. Drivers now have access to dealers who offer fixed or capped-price servicing programs, where motorists are provided with a price ceiling for their service, usually for a certain amount of years. As always, however, motorists need to pay attention to inclusions and exclusions, the eligible timeframe, the frequency of the service, as well as any other terms and conditions.

Finally, the other matter that has become more prominent is menu-based servicing. This details the specific components and labour included in your vehicle’s service and their respective cost(s). Effectively, it is an itemised breakdown. When referenced with prices for individual parts, this type of summation provides some insight to understand the margins your mechanic is charging.

 

It goes without saying that motorists have considerably greater scope to shop around and compare their service costs between service providers, or for varying makes of cars. With that said, motorists shouldn’t confuse price differences between different car manufacturers as being attributable to the mechanic or dealership. After all, there are a multitude of vehicle-related factors which play their part, not least of which concerns things like availability of parts and the frequency of servicing.

Subaru Unveils Updated Impreza and Hybridised XV & Forester.

Niche filler Subaru has finally joined the hybrid family. The XV hatch and Forester now have that propulsion as an option. They’ve also updated their Impreza sedan and hatch range. For the XV there will be one variant and in hybrid form only, whilst the Forester will offer two, in L and S AWD specification.

Forester will run the familiar 2.0L horizontally opposed four, as will the XV. Transmission remains as Subaru’s quite well sorted CVT. The Hybrid system has been dubbed “e-Boxer”, with a small capacity lithium battery linked to the petrol engine in a method called Motor Assist. There will be three drive modes available: Motor Assist EV driving, Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving, and Petrol engine driving.

In pure EV mode it can reach speeds of up to 40 km/h before switching in the petrol engine. Economy, says Subaru, is down to 6.7L/100 from the 48L tank. Fuel is 91RON. That’s down from 8.1L/100km. XV Hybrid has an improvement of around 14% improvement for the urban cycle, and upwards of 7% for the combined. Forester’s improvements are 19% and 9% compared to the previous 2.5L variants.

Power is rated as 110 Kilowatts at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm with the electric energy part offering 12.3kW and 66Nm or torque. Naturally the electric system features regenerative braking energy harvesting. The battery is integrated into the floor and located where the spare wheel once resided. The petrol engine has Subaru’s AVCS, or Active Valve Control System. Pricing for the trio is: $35,580 for XV Hybrid AWD, $39,990 for Forester Hybrid L AWD and $45,990 for the Hybrid S. Those prices are manufacturer’s list prices.

Subaru’s X-Mode, for soft and wet weather road driving, has returned. This is again a switch operated drive mode, and will show on the driver displays to indicate its engagement. Forester Hybrid S also has Subaru’s SI Drive system, where different driving modes, Intelligent and Sport, allow for some driver tailoring. The touchscreen is 6.5 inches in L, 8.0 inches in S, and features DAB, Apple and Android apps, driver’s kneebag, and Subaru’s renowned EyeSight system.

Orders are being taken however the initial allocation has been presold, with May the current ETA for new stock.

The bodies for both have been slightly tweaked, as has the Impreza sedan and hatch. All models have been given a restyled grille, with the front bumper and fog lights changed as well, plus there are new alloy wheels. The tail lights for the hatch have been given a smokey glass appearance. Also, all Imprezas now have SI Drive.

The range remains as a four tier model. The entry level 2.0i model starts from $23,740 and $23,940 for sedan and hatch, whilst the 2.0i-L starts from $25,860 and $26,090. The 2.0i-Premium is $28,390 and $28,590 with the range topper 2.0i-S at $31,160 and $31,360. Again these are manufacturer’s list prices.

Apart from the looks there has been tweaks underneath for a better ride and handling package. Premium receives Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert plus Reverse Automatic Braking and Front View Monitor. The S gains front and side camera monitors, along with an auto dipping passenger side mirror when reversing.

All cars have a standard five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Contact Subaru to book a test drive.

Is it Time we Scrap the Luxury Car Tax?

With the demise of the Holden brand now pencilled in for the end of the year, discussion has once again turned to the luxury car tax. That is, a measure that was introduced with the intention to help protect local manufacturers amid the slew of high-spec vehicles that one can only assume were deemed to be an ‘impediment’ to jobs and the economy.

With the 33% tax applying to imported vehicles less than two years of age and valued in excess of $67,525 including GST, or a threshold of $75,526 where that car consumes no more than 7L of fuel per 100km, the topic is right in the spotlight as motoring groups call for its abolition. However, the government has distanced itself from scrapping the luxury car tax, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg firmly saying, “we have no plans to remove that”.

Given the tax will contribute up to $720 million to the Federal Budget by 2022-23, it’s not like the government doesn’t have an incentive to prop up another tax as long as Joe Public foots the bill. That’s despite the fact that the tax has long been considered a thorn in the side of the European Union and any prospect of a free trade agreement being struck with Australia. But while the amount of tax proceeds may seem like a sizeable sum, the costs to administer the tax are arguably as much as what it reaps.

 

 

What other circumstances have changed?

One of the key differences now, as opposed to when the tax was first introduced, is that the new car industry is in its worst position since the Global Financial Crisis. Let’s not forget either, interest rates are truly at an all-time low. For approximately two years now, there have been continuous sales declines each and every month. Holden’s sales have been in the gutter for much of that time, dropping significantly, with buyers transitioning to SUVs and other more-affordable and reliable brands.

In addition, the impact of the tax on some of those hardest-hit by natural disasters has started to unfold. More specifically, many farmers have bought vehicles that are slapped with a luxury car tax – and no, they’re not driving around in Mercedes AMGs or Ferraris for that matter, but workmanlike vehicles such as the Toyota LandCrusier or Prado – yet all the while, the effects of the drought continue to weigh on their livelihood. Motorists are ultimately the ones who foot the bill for the LCT, even though it was designed to be absorbed by dealerships.

 

 

The reality of the situation

Frankly, at the end of the day, Australians shouldn’t be slugged to protect an industry that no longer exists. The local manufacturing industry, while beneficial from a jobs perspective, was artificially supported for longer than was ever realistic or sustainable. In fact, it’s easy to argue that the plug should have been pulled on the LCT earlier, back in 2017 when Holden ceased manufacturing operations.

Even if the government has a vested interest in maintaining an otherwise unnecessary tax, the mechanics of it just don’t make sense when not only has it not been tied to inflation, but we are supposed to be trying to encourage people to adopt fuel efficient cars. Yet, here we are, punishing motorists who purchase ‘eco-friendly’ vehicles. That the luxury car tax has lasted this long, is a true surprise, particularly if we’re keen about kick-starting consumer spending to underpin the economy. Let’s not even get started on those unnecessary import tariffs either…for now at least.

Ford Updates Their Escape Plan.

Ford’s entry into the mid-sized SUV market, Escape, has been given a new model and some updates to keep it fresh and in line with the competition. The 2020 Ford Escape line-up has a higher level of standard equipment, and is priced accordingly. There is a mix of all wheel, front wheel, and PHEV, being Escape FWD, Escape ST-Line FWD and AWD, plus a PHEV option, with the new Vignale in FWD and AWD. Deliveries are scheduled to start from Q3, 2020.The pricing matrix is thus: 2020 Ford Escape with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine and FWD, starts from $35,990 (manufacturers list price). Escape ST-Line from $37,990, with the AWD starting from $40,990. The PHEV starts from $52,940, with Vignale FWD and AWD from $46,590 and AWD from $49,590. Across the range is a 2.0L Ecoboost petrol engine, delivering 183kW and 387Nm, with power going to the tarmac via an eight speed auto. The PHEV, Ford’s first vehicle of this type in Australia, has a 2.5L petrol engine with an Atkinson Cycle design. On the electric side is a 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery which produces 167kW. Fuel economy is rated as an incredible 1.5L/100km. On a purely battery driven cycle, the range is up to fifty kilometres.

Standard equipment in the entry level makes for solid reading. 18-inch alloy wheels, a chromed five bar grille up front, LED headlights and tail lights, with an integrated spoiler on the tailgate’s top, whilst the 2.0L dumps via a pair of chrome tipped exhausts. A colour palette of 11 colours allows for good individualisation.

Extra standard equipment reads like a technology who’s who: push button start/stop, wireless smartphone charging pad, DAB audio via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, Ford’s SYNC3 command system with Apple and Android apps, voice command, and reverse camera. Sensors front and rear plus a handy window open/close command from the key fob add some real distinctiveness. There is also Ford’s bespoke FordPass Connect with app connectivity. This covers services that are designed to simplify the ownership experience. The app allows for roadside assist access, service scheduling and checking of service history plus, for the PHEV, charge station locations and on-the-fly charge level checking.Safety levels are comprehensive. The Escape list is: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Evasive Steering Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Dynamic Brake Support, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Adding to the list is Blind Spot Detection (BLIS), Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Centring. whilst the driver has an Impairment Monitor System. Tyre Pressure Monitor, Adaptive Cruise, and an Emergency Assistance (000) call system round out the standard list of safety in the entry level. Extra safety is well packaged too: six airbags, seatbelt reminders, and ISOFIX seat restraints.

Warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres, with servicing being a 12 month or 15,000 kilometre cycle. A and B logbook services for the first four years/60,000km are set at a maximum of $299 per service. Ford’s Service Benefit, which includes a loan car, auto club membership, roadside assistance, and satnav updates, are also included.

Interior space has been increased. The new Escape is longer by 89mm, wider by 44mm, and the wheelbase has an extra 20mm. Shoulder room is up by 43mm, whilst front seat hip room is increased by 57mm. The second row, which can be slid forward or back, is up by 20mm and 36mm respectively. Overall height has been dropped by 20mm yet headspace is increased by 13mm up front and 35mm in the rear. Weight has been decreased by up to 90kg and torsional rigidity is up by 10%.ST-Line is the sports oriented model. Bespoke 18 inch alloys and grille, a sports style rear bumper and side skirts, plus a lowered suspension add to the look. A larger rear spoiler sits up at the roof’s rear and also brings black detailing inside and out. The roof rails are black which complements the headlining and belt mouldings. The driver has a 12.3 inch sports themed cluster and the steering wheel is a flat-bottomed item. A hands-free tailgate, front heated seats and Ford’s tech pack can specified as an option. The latter includes: Head Up Display, “matrix” headlights and an adaptive lighting feature. The Vignale gains an impressive list over the ST-Line. Advanced keyless entry starts the party, whilst the driver has a heated tiller and Head Up Display. Both front seats have ten way power adjustment and are heated. The second row has heating for the right and left seats whilst the rook shine sun in thanks to a panoramic glass insert. The tail gate is powered and hands free. Wheels are 19 inch alloys, with 20 inch alloys as an option. Headlights are self leveling LED quad-projector style and will bend in cornering. An exclusive colour, Blue Panther, is available to order.

PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, gains a partial leather trim, 10 speakers for the sound system, and a ten way powered driver’s seat. The ST-Line package is available as an option, with hands-free tail gate, front heated seats, and the tech pack.

Contact your Ford dealer for information.

Rubber And Tarmac: Driving Roads to Enjoy.

Along with owning a house, going on a great drive has to be one of the great Aussie dreams. But, much like the pub discussion over which sci-fi franchise is best or is AFL better than NRL, the best Australian roads to drive can be a subjective list. Here’s five, both classic and perhaps a surprise or two, worthy of consideration.

1. The Great Ocean Road, Victoria.

Known for a combination of long sweeping corners, spectacular views, and holiday traffic, the Great Ocean Road, all 244 kilometres of it, is a walk up start. Commencing at Torquay, the home of the legendary Bells Beach surf classic, head west and passing the stunning Cape Otway lighthouse, taking in the remaining pillars of The Twelve Apostles, and terminating near the picturesque seaside town of Warrnambool, this is regarded as one of the world great drives.

2. Caves Road, Western Australia.

Western Australia is home to the world’s most isolated capital city, Perth, and a world renowned wine region in the south. Margaret River is truly one of the country’s loveliest areas and is a lazy three or so hour drive south of the city.

Caves Road runs north/south in the state’s far south west, between the historic seaside town of Busselton (with its kilometer long jetty) and the peaceful village ambience of Augusta. It provides easy access to the stunning coastline, the friendly towns, and of course, the fabulous wine region.

3. Brown Mountain, NSW.

Although short in distance, at between ten to fifteen kilometers in length, this is a road that will bring a knowing smile to those that have driven it. Located west of Australia’s cheese capital, Bega, Brown Mountain itself is the highest peak in the Monaro region at 1243 metres above sea level. There’s Cooma, the gateway to the northern snowfields, and the Snowy Mountain Highway that winds its way across the stark landscape, a drive in itself. There’s a sudden change from plains and cleared land to forest before the sharp descent to almost sea level down this tricky, tight, yet offering vast views east, road. This one hit the news recently after heavy rain washed two huge boulders onto the road, blocking access for a couple of days. Explosives had to be used to get the boulders out of the way.

4. Border Range Loop, Queensland.

Picking one from Queensland is, like all other states and territories, a hard one. But perhaps for sheer value, the Border Range Loop drive, that takes in 530 kilometres of beautiful roads and views southwest of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is the choice.

Stretching over a recommended three day drive, there’s plenty to see on the road to the Queen Mary Falls near Killarney. There’s the ranges that are home to Mount Tamborine as well, a view not to be missed.

5. Uluru, The N.T.

Why this one? Simple. Who could pass up the opportunity to drive through Australia’s fabled outback towards The Red Heart of this magnificent area, and see the imposing monolithic red rock rising majestically out of the plains ahead. Stretch the view a little and there’s the incredible jumble of The Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, glowing various shades of red and orange, just forty kilometers further on from the wonder that is Uluru.

Tell us your favourite driving road and let us know on in our comments section.

EV vs Hydrogen Vehicle

 

Electric vehicles are becoming more widely available, and better at what they offer.  But potential consumers of EVs have a checked enthusiasm towards going out and buying one; and for good reason.  The main inquiries lie around how pricey a new EV is to purchase, their fire risk, crash safety risk, their range between top ups being rather poor and subsequent charging times way too long, the lack of charging stations, as well as their candid hidden impact on our environment which is actually very big.

EVs require big, powerful rechargeable batteries that use lead–acid (“flooded”, deep-cycle, and VRLA), NiCd, nickel–metal hydride, lithium-ion, Li-ion polymer, and, less commonly, zinc–air, sodium nickel chloride in their design.  It is worth noting that these expensive EV batteries require a bigger carbon footprint in their production and use a finite resource to make them.  Then there is the environmental cost of battery disposal when the spent battery needs replacing.  So, are we any better off driving EVs?  The answer would have to be no.

Actually, no vehicle driven on our road can be classed as purely “green” or “environmentally friendly” for people and their environment.  The fact is whatever car we choose, buy and drive; it will have some ecological impact.  Perhaps the best way of describing this would be that all vehicles impact on our environment and pollute, while other vehicles do so a lot more, and then some do so a bit less.  It is quite false to suggest that EVs are environmentally friendly.

That brings me to the question: What is the most environmentally friendly vehicle?  There are some major car manufacturers that are pushing forward with hydrogen power.  A hydrogen driven car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that produces the electricity that the electric car engines need.  Hydrogen vehicles only take five minutes to top-up, and provide much better range.  The only emissions are water, because inside the fuel cell hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water as a discharge.  So, hydrogen vehicles don’t emit pollutants.  Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels and natural gas, but it can also be produced from renewable energy sources by way of electrolysis.

I think hydrogen is the best way forward, and the Hyundai Nexo is the first vehicle to arrive in Australia that’s available for the Australian government and business fleets to use.  The reason for its limited availability is simply because Australia doesn’t have an organised hydrogen refuel station network set up, as yet.  But I can see this changing to it becoming common place on all fuel station forecourts across Australia.

Hyundai, Toyota and BMW are some of the key hydrogen vehicle designers and manufacturers.

So Much for Fuel Savings….

It’s no secret that a concerted effort has been made in many quarters of the automotive industry to push motorists towards more ‘sustainable’ cars that run leaner in terms of fuel consumption. Take a look at some of our favourite V8 models, which have slowly but surely been ‘downsized’ to a more efficient (turbo) four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. Then, consider the prominence of hybrid or ‘eco-oriented’ vehicles, not necessarily here in Australia, but across the world.

However, what’s being overlooked from much of the discussion is the trend seeing more and more motorists step into SUVs all over the world. This is playing out in Australia as much as anywhere, with the segment now a clear frontrunner ahead of the once dependable passenger vehicle.

 

 

A closer look at the trend

On a global scale, it’s a trend the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken aim at, citing the shift in buying preference as “the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010”. Surprisingly, that’s even more than ‘heavy’ industry, which is taken to include production of iron and steel, cement and aluminium.

The fact that SUVs, on average across all makes and models, consume more fuel than passenger cars will hardly surprise anyone. That’s long been a well-known consideration, even among many car buyers. But the broader picture, with such a shift towards ownership of SUVs, is not just offsetting ‘consumption reductions from increasingly efficient passenger cars and the growing eco fleet – it has wiped out those savings altogether.

In more specific terms, the IEA says “SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly”. At their current rate of growth, SUVs could add another “2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars”.

 

 

Where to from here?

These points make for an interesting outlook. On the one hand, many manufacturers are promoting their future vision for an electric and ‘efficient’ future, yet on the other hand, buying trends point to a picture where motorists are moving in a different direction. The clear absence of options in the electric SUV market further complicates the matter, with the majority of efforts to create efficient cars being angled at the passenger vehicle segment.

If we’re serious about addressing vehicle emissions, what’s the actual plan going forward? Sure, we each have our own ‘needs’ and preferences as far as the cars we drive, but what will be required to drive a collective effort to cut fuel consumption across the board?

2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2020 specification Cherokee Trailhawk from Jeep. It slots into the mid-sizer SUV market and in Trailhawk form comes well loaded with standard equipment. It’s the second generation of the overhauled model from a few years ago. Trailhawk tops a four model range, with Sport, Longitude, and Limited the other available options.

How Much Does It Cost?: $48,450 plus on roads. Head to the Jeep website for your local pricing due to varying state charges.

Under The Bonnet Is: A free spinning but thirsty 3.2L V6. Peak power of 200kW and peak torque of 315Nm can’t alleviate the fact that the around town economy figure of 11.5L we finished on is something to consider. That’s from a 60L tank, by the way. Jeep, however, quotes a higher figure for the urban cycle of 13.7L/100km. Tare (dry) weight is 1,889kg and that peak torque is at 4,300rpm meaning it needs a rev to get underway and haul that mass along.The run to highway speeds is quoted as 8.3 seconds. Stop/Start technology is on board and kicks in just when it’s not needed. There is a button to disengage. Emissions are a bit high too, at 236g/km of CO2. Drive is via a nine speed auto driving the front wheels with on-demand and electronic lock for the rear. Inside and located next to the passenger’s right knee is the drive mode dial including Snow, Rock, Mud, and Low Range. Towing is rated as 2.2 tonnes.

On The Outside It’s:
A lightly reskinned of the version launched in the mid 2010s. The main visual difference is the integration of the formerly separate eyebrow LED driving lights and a lower mid-mounted headlight. It’s immediately a cleaner and frankly more normal looking design, and from a safety aspect it’s better as far too drivers were using the running lights as headlights. All lights are LED too. The tail lights have been mildly worked over and it’s more a change to the framework in the cluster. The fuel access is on the right rear quarter and is capless, meaning the door is the cover. Body coloured mirror covers and window surrounds add to the imposing presence.

With the Trailhawk featuring some bespoke exterior detailing such as a bonnet blackout and black painted 17 inch alloys (with Yokohama Geolander 245/65 rubber), plus a different bumper to the other three models with each end featuring hi-vis red tow hooks, the Diamond Black paint and blacked out sections give the Trailhawk a menacing on-road presence. There’s added ride and overall height (1,724mm vs 1,680mm/1,683mm for Sport, Longitude & Limited) and that different front bumper shaves 6mm from the overall length of the other three, down to 4,645mm. The Trailhawk also has a slightly longer wheelbase, with 2,720mm as opposed to 2,705mm for the Sport, 2,707mm for the other two.

There is a massive difference between the approach and departure angle for the Trailhawk as well. Departure is 32.2 degrees. Approach is 29.9 degrees. Breakover is 22.9 degrees. The Sport is just 24.6, 16.7, and 17.7, with 25.0, 18.9, and 19.5 for Longitude and Limited. Wading depth is 480mm, with the Sport not rated, and 405mm for the two L plated cars. To ensure minimal issues when getting dirty, there are bash plates for the fuel tank, front suspension, transmission, and the underbody.On The Inside It’s: A gentleman’s club in ambience. Soft, pliant, red stitched premium cloth and vinyl (leather is standard in Limited) seats with heating and (huzzah!) venting, and a two position memory for the driver’s pew. Tilt and fold rear seats lead to a cargo area that’s accessible by a powered tail gate. Oddly, the interior button to lower the door is placed on the left hand side of the pillar, not in the base of the door like…..everyone else.

There’s a boomy Alpine sourced sound system complete with nine speakers with DAB. It’s crystal clear when it counts and can be wound up quite a bit, with the 514L cargo area mounted sub/bass unit kicking some serious low end notes. Music can be streamed via Bluetooth, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The highlight of the view from the front seats is the 8.4 inch touchscreen with Jeep’s UConnect interface It’s the typically brilliant layout and information is easily made accessible, as are controls for items such as climate control and the seat venting/heating.The driver faces a mix of old school analogue dials with a metallic silver look to the centre LCD screen and it’s 7.0 inches in size. Steering wheel mounted tabs scroll information up or down, with each sub-menu numbered. There is a compass direction icon on display all of the time as well. Classy and smart? Just a bit. This is complemented by the soft touch materials covering the dash and doors, plus the elegant sweep to the lines of the dash itself.

Entering and exiting the Cherokee Trailhawk is mostly ok. There is a need to just dip the scone as one enters though. There’s plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room once in up front, with rear seat leg room adequate for most but if you’re six feet and above then it may be a mite squeezy.Ancilliaries such as 12V sockets are found in the cargo and centre console section. USB ports are available x 2 for the rear seats and console bin. There is a small net on the passenger side front console, a couple of nooks at either end, and cup holders. Each door has the now ubiquitous bottle holder. Switchgear has auto headlights and wipers too. Sunroof? An option. Full sized spare? Standard.On The Road It’s: Surefooted and confident in handling. Brakes need more immediate feedback. There’s a numbness to the feel and it’s not always intuitive enough in its travel to gauge how much pressure is needed versus distance to a point to stop. The steering is the same, with the front drive bias having a isolated and heavy touch to the beautifully leather bound tiller. Back to the handling and it’s a decently friendly machine at its worst, an excellent highway cruiser at best. With the drive mode left in Auto, that front wheel drive is noticeable. Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud, and Rock are the other options. Unfortunately the schedule clashed with what Mother Nature had in mind and we were not able to venture safely to our normal off-road test track for the sake of prudence.

It takes some effort, thanks to the high rev point for torque and that two tonne mass, to get going, hence the fuel drinking figure. The 3.2L engine found across the Cherokee range is a free spinner and has a rasp that lends a bit more sport to the experience. The nine speed auto is great, but needs to warm up. From Drive to Reverse, there’s a pause, like a dual clutch auto thinking about just when it wants to engage. It’s not always crisp and swift either, with some dithering and indecision initially.There is a manual engagement of gear changing, with a simple pull on one of the paddle shifts mounted on the rearside of the steering wheel giving the driver more control. Shifts are marginally improved, and a gentle hold of the right paddle returns control back to the computer.

When everything has reached the optimal temperature, whether literally of figuratively, it’s a smooth talking, come hither looking, thing and wafts along on most surfaces without a hiccup. There are some road surfaces that get noisy but overall it’s beautifully damped, beautifully controlled, and for a vehicle rated to deal with some serious off-road work, it’s got some serious on-road chops. The front end is built on a well proven combination of McPherson Strut and long travel coil springs. This sits on a one-piece steel sub-frame which connect to aluminuim lower control arms. The rear is a four link with trailing arm setup that sits in a steel rear cradle. The stabiliser bar rear four link rear suspension with trailing arm and aluminum lateral links connect to aniIsolated high-strength steel rear cradle, and coil springs.It handles being pushed into corners well enough. There’s minimal scrub on the front tyres, and understeer is almost non-existent. The Cherokee Trailhawk is an easy throttle steerer too in the curvy bits.

What About Safety?: Sensors front and rear. Parking assistance. Seven airbags including kneebag. The rear camera has dynamic guidelines. Forward Collision Alert, Pedestrian Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Active Front Passenger head restraints also make for a high safety package with a four star EuroNCAP rating. Then there is the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Roll Over Mitigation, Rear Cross Path Detection and Blind Spot Alert too. The forward collision system has a camera mounted in the lower section of the front bumper and it’s a bit trigger happy. Some corners would set it off thanks to cars being sensed on the entry apex.Warranty And Service?: Five years warranty or 100,000 kilometres. There is also five years capped price servicing, for which your Jeep dealer can confirm for you.

At The End Of the Drive. Jeep have ironed out most of the electrical bugs that plagued the brands a few years ago. We were on the receiving end of that with two products, one which resulted in the vehicle concerned left for a tow back to the pickup and return point of the time. This particular Cherokee exhibited none of the electric gremlins and aside for the recalcitrant cold auto, performed as a new car should. New because there was less than 2,500 klicks on pickup.

It felt solidly screwed together, the proverbial “tight as a drum”, with no squeaks or discernible movement of things that shouldn’t. For a car that has a well proven off-road pedigree, on road it simply plants and goes. As a family vehicle too, it does that job admirably. However, no diesel option and a thirsty petrol V6 engine don’t make the appeal level go any higher. Overlook those and there’s pedigree, history, and a decent enough drive package to suit most. Organise your own test drive to form your own opinion and check out which of the Cherokee range may suit you best.

Holden On To The Memory.

February 17, 2020. It’s the day after a very successful fund raising concert for Australia’s beleaguered fire fighting services. The country is on a high. Midday and the high is replaced by a collective sense of disbelief. It’s the day that many prophesied yet even more hoped would never come.

The name, Holden, would be consigned to the bin of history.

There will be many discussions as the reason why the once near invincible powerhouse that was “Australia’s own”, the company immortalised in a jingle along with “football, meat pies, kangaroos”, finally met its end at the hands of parent company General Motors. In simple terms, there will never be just one reason, there will be many.

If Holden’s last manager, Kristian Aquilina, to be is to believed, the company didn’t go down without some sort of a fight. “In this investment cycle, we developed an ambitious investment – an investment proposal to turn around our current performance and to see Holden flourish in this market, not just survive,” Aquilina stated.

“And over a number of months, GM undertook an exhaustive analysis of that plan together with our parent company we chased down every conceivable option, every strategy, every plan… We looked under every rock.

“We have had multiple rounds of discussions and have tried to find a way to defy gravity but the hard truth was there was just no way to come up with a plan that would support a competitive, and growing and flourishing Holden – and also provide a sufficient return to our investors.” he said. GM’s International Operations vice president Julian Blissett wasn’t willing to detail the costs involved, instead settling on a package to move the remaining Holden stock and close dealerships. The estimated cost is somewhere around $1.1 billion.

The closure also, sadly, includes the fabled Lang Lang proving grounds in the western part of Victoria. It’s rumoured that transport magnate Lindsay Fox has expressed interest in investing in the site. The anger that so many are feeling is inclusive of the statement by Holden after the closure of local building that Lang Lang and its importance would stay in place.

GM has also flagged the closure of its Thailand based manufacturing facility. However, a saviour for that plant in the form of Great Wall Motors may save the plant and its employees. Should this go ahead it places Great Wall into the same manufacturing heartbeat as brands such as Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and others.Holden’s own history has places where its innovation could, could have gone further. The homegrown 5.0L, the famous 308, was being worked on for an overhead camshaft design. This “mule” engine kept the standard centre of block cam, meaning it was a three cam engine, unique at the time. Concept cars such as ECOmmodore, the W427, the Crewman and its HSV sibling, the Avalanche, were all possibilities for ongoing. Our friends at Bauer Media go further, with this list of concepts.

Holden has committed to the next ten years for customer support, a statement that some, cynically, will equate to Holden’s advertising of “We’re here to stay”, when clearly they aren’t.

It’s a day, and a decision, that for many will remain as a stain on the once thriving heart of Australian automotive manufacturing.

Kia Confirms Stylish Sorento For 2020.

Kia has confirmed the rumours of what its forthcoming Sorento will look like prior to its first public appearance at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show. Not unexpectedly, it features styling cues first flagged in the Seltos. There has been subtle changes to the styling, such as the change to the front and rear overhangs. These have been reduced with the result being the Sorento now looks longer in profile. The front end has strong relationships with the Seltos, including the restyled headlight cluster with Kia saying it has “Tiger Eye” LED running lights. These are said to mimic the lines around the eyes of a tiger. A longer bonnet and a push-back of the windscreen’s A-pillar by 30mm adds to that perception of length. The rear edges of the bonnet wrap around further into the uppermost edges of the front guards, and create the start of a character line that helps draw the eyes from front to rear. This takes the view to the completely new rear lights, in a stunning vertyical block design, rather than the previous broadsheet styling horizontally, and there’s a hint of Volvo’s SUV here. There’s also the Seltos relationship to be found here, with the rear passenger window having the fin reaching towards the roof as seen in the smaller car.Passengers are given more in the way of sophistication and comfort. Trim levels have improved with metallic tones, higher grade materials, and wood-effect cladding. A new 10.25 inch touchscreen becomes the centrepiece of the tech level inside the Sorento. That complements the brand new 1203 inch full colour and high definition driver’s information screen. Along with other tech, the forthcoming Sorento is easily the most technologically advanced Sorento offered yet.The cabin is spacious, and has an ambience highlighted by LED mood lighting. The front air vents have an uncanny resemblance to the tail lights of the revered Holden HR. Switchgear takes Kia’s ergonomics to an even higher level, with a balanced look and spacing.The 2020 Sorento will be officially unveiled on March 3.