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2020 Mitsubishi Triton GLX+: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The slightly updated Mitsubishi Triton four door cab chassis in GLX+ spec. There was a couple of updates for the range and specifically for the GLX+ it received a rear diff lock as standard (also for the GLS), plus the dual cab (as tested) was given a rear air circulator. The GLX+ model comes standard now with Easy-Select 4WD. A centre console mounted dial, as seen in other Tritons, allows easy switching between 2WD and 4WD modes and offers 2H, 4H and 4L transfer case settings.Under The Bonnet Is: A 133kW, 430Nm 2.4L diesel. Peak torque arrives at 2,500 rpm but there’s mixed messages below that. There’s an indecent amount of lag before the torque curve suddenly leaps upwards. From 2,000rpm there’s a gunshot surge of torque, not a smooth progessive delivery, and it’s enough to chirp the rear rubber and that’s with the driveline’s electronic nanny activated. It also provides a towing capacity of 3,100kg.How Much Does It Cost?: Mitsubishi’s RRP for the GLX+ four door cabin body starts at $40,990 for the manual diesel version with 4WD capability. The auto is $43,490. The Triton range itself kicks off with the 4X2 GLX Cab Chassis 2.4L Man Petrol $22,490 in a single cab body. The four door Crew Cabs start at $36,290 for the 4×2 GLX ADAS Pick Up 2.4L Auto Diesel. There is a three trim level Club Cab as well. Metallic paint is a $690 option. The manual was on sales at $37,990 drive-away at the time of writing (November 2019).

On The Outside It’s: Long and white. The redesign for the Triton range sharpened up each end, with the now signature “Shield” grille and inwards angled bumper side up front, a subtle change to the curve behind the second row doors, and a less curvy shape to the tail light cluster. It’s a look that seems to define the Triton as a “bloke’s ute”. That’s backed up by a solid looking set of tyres, The Bridgestone Dueler A/T rubber has a chunky tread block and stand at 245/70/18 with the alloys an efficient six spoke design. Driving lights and indicator lamps are in the far corners of the blocky front bumper.The tray fitted is big too. It’s 1,520mm in internal length, 1,470mm in width, and 470mm in depth. cargo capacity is 950kg. At the other end are hard jet washers for the windscreen. This is an area where the finer mist style would be far more efficient.On The Inside It’s: Functional and aesthetic in a minimalist sort of way. The aircon rear air circulator is perhaps the standout, as it’s a biggish dome shaped protrusion from the roof, with a set of slats facing the windscreen. The outlets are a pair of slimline vents and each have a flap to redirect the airflow. Up front is Mitsubishi’s standard and functional dual analogue dial and LCD screen setup. The centre console in the dash has a seven inch touchscreen and is better in usage than the screen in the Eclipse Cross. It’s the slightly older GUI and it’s safe to say it’s more user friendly. There is DAB, Bluetooth, a pair of USB ports and a HDMI port as well.Seats were cloth in covering, manual in adjustment, and comfortable enough for normal day-to-day driving. It’s a charcoal and light grey colour mix, contrasting with the black and light shades in the lower and upper sections of the cabin. The tiller is height and reach adjustable as well, meaning getting the right driving position shouldn’t be an issue. There is a dull alloy look plastic on the steering wheel’s spokes, circling the airvents, and on the centre console around the gear selector.Leg and shoulder room has never been an issue in the Triton and there’s plenty of space for people of all sizes. Shoulder room is 1,430mm, leg room a handy 1,020mm up front. 970mm is the measurement for rear seats. There is also a handy little icon that shows which seatbelts haven’t been connected when the car is ready to move away.On The Road It’s: Not nearly as wayward as its underpinnings as a work ute would suggest. It’s decently comfortable, handles better than expected, and speed can be washed off with the front end scrubbing the tyres. The suspension is tight up front, a little less so for the rear, naturally, in order to cope with the expected load usage. The steering is heavy but manageably so, and there is little free-play from centre, meaning steering response is quick.Unfortunately the very good handling and ride is hobbled by horrendous turbo lag and then a punch in the back. Twist the start key, fire up, engage Drive, and hit the go pedal. There’s a real and genuine wait for anything to happen as the turbo spools up, and the revs rise. Then kapow bam wham, it’s a far too instant launch as the numbers see two thousand. This really needs a smoother and more progressive torque delivery in order to make this a more driver friendly vehicle.

The brakes are well balanced, with enough feedback on the press of the pedal to get a sense of where the foot needs to be in order to haul up the two tonnes worth of metal. There’s enough to make sure than when going into corners and dabbing the brakes to use the front end scrub as well, that the combination become instinctive and driver friendly.The Safety Package Is: Good but could be better, and work utes are getting better in an area they’ve lagged in. Forward Collision Mitigation Warning with Pedestrian Detection is standard on the GLX+ as is Lane Departure Warning. Lane Change Assist and Blind Spot Warning, plus Rear Cross Traffic Warning are missing.

And the Warranty Is: Listed as 7 years, 150,000 kilometres, and servicing is free for two years as of December 1, 2019. Four years road side assist is included.

At the End Of the Drive. For what it is, the Triton range are a sturdy, solid, and worthwhile investment. The GLX+ drives well enough but that turbo lag is a problem. Standard equipment and trim is good enough for its intended market as well. The Mitsubishi website is where you’ll find out more.

2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A slight revamped version, for 2020’s Model Year, of the top of the tree Exceed from the oddly proportioned and oddly named Eclipse Cross. The range itself had minor updates, such as the LS gaining the S-AWC, or Super All Wheel Control, drive system. The Exceed has some trim changes, with revised front door trims with illumination and a black interior headlining. Mitsubishi have also joined the club when it comes to offering a “Black Edition”. This adds in a front skid plate, black front bumper and radiator grille. There is also a black interior and black spoiler. Safety goes up a step with variable auto rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusk sensing headlamps with auto high beam, fog lamps and forward collision mitigation.

How Much Does It Cost?:
The range starts at $29,990 for the ES 2WD with CVT. The LS 2WD with CVT is $31,990, before moving to the LS AWD at $34,490. Exceed 2WD starts from $36,690 with the AWD at $ 39,190. Black Edition 2WD with CVT is listed at $31,690. These are the manufacturers list price, without government and dealer charges. At the time of writing, Mitsubishi list it on their website as $42,990 drive-away.Under The Bonnet Is: A surprisingly small “donk”. It’s just 1.5L in capacity, drinks petrol only, and there is no hybrid option currently. It does have a turbo though, and that means there’s decent torque. In fact there is 250Nm from 2,000rpm to 3,500rpm. Peak power is 110kW at a typically high 5,500rpm. Fuel is 91RON or above, with economy quoted as (combined cycle) 7.7L/100km. That’s a figure we achieved and beat in our mainly urban drive cycle, with 6.7L/100km recorded. That’s a good figure considering it’s not a big vehicle yet starts at 1,555kg before any load and fuel.Drive was put to all four paws via an eight ratio CVT. It’s one of the better examples of a CVT and possibly due to not being overwhelmed by torque so much compared to bigger capacity, higher torque, engines. There was a notable lack of slippage in comparison to some of the CVTs we’re driven recently. By the way, Mitsubishi no longer offer a diesel in the Eclipse Cross.

On the Outside It’s: Awkwardly shaped. There’s no polite way of saying otherwise. It sports the “shield” front end treatment and LED headlights, however in profile and from the rear it’s….angular and somewhat out of proportion. The 4,405mm length hides a 2,670mm wheelbase, a high 1,685mm stretch from top to bottom, and 1,805mm in width. From the rear the glass is split horizontally and right in the eyeline of the driver.That wheelbase and length have a relatively normal looking profile from the nose to the rear of the passenger door, but then there’s a vertical rear that then folds forward over a truncated cargo section of sheetmetal. It’s not really helped by a long, straight, windowline that comes from the upper corner of the headlights and terminates just over a deeper crease line that starts mid-front door. This itself finishes at the base of the rear lights that also fold forward with the metal. The wheel arches offset this by being clad in the now familiar polycarbonate.

Above the driver is a glass roof, with a fixed panel for the rear seat passengers. It’s needed as the interior trim is black on black. Underneath are a set of 225/55/18 tyres from Toyo. They’re compromise tyres, so mainly for road, not off-road. Speaking of which, approach angle is just 18.8 degrees, with a departure angle of 29.6. That’s largely thanks to the squat arse it has. Ground clearance is 175mm, so if the plan is to get hot and heavy with anything other than the occasional puddle and speed-bump, this isn’t the faux off-roader for you.On The Inside It’s: Not uncomfortable. Leather seats, heated (not vented) up front and power adjustable for the driver’s, Head Up Display, four cup and bottle holders, start the party. DAB audio/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are on board but via a very confusing layout on the 7.0 inchtouchscreen. We’re far from technologically impaired but when a need to consult a manual to find out how to store a radio station is required…The screen is high-definition, making the 360 degree camera views crystal clear.The tiller and gear selector have leather covering as well, and the plastics have a nice soft touch under the fingertips. All four windows are one touch up/down, and ignition is Start/Stop push button. There’s alloy look plastics to provide a bit of brightness around the centre console, airvents, and dash binnacle. Contrasting gloss piano black is on the door handle surrounds and the touchscreen. Outside, the wing mirrors can be power folded and they’re also heated.

Roomwise there’s enough. 1,003mm of headroom up front, 933mm in the rear means a feeling of spaciousness. Leg room is ample too, with 1,039mm and 897mm front and rear. Again, it’s needed with the black on black trim possibly feeling a bit claustrophobic. At least a shrug of the shoulders shouldn’t upset anyone, not with 1,428mm of space up front. Somehow Mitsubishi cram in 374L to 1136L of shopping space in the back. It’s JUST enough for the family average shop. BUT the rear seats may need to be called in as an assistant.On The Road It’s: Not a sparkling performer. That’s unsurprising given the size of the powerplant and the dry weight. But it’s not a slug, as such. Rapid, no. Adequate for Nan? Utterly. But this isn’t the kind of car that Nan would look at. This is for those that will look at the ASX and deduce it’s not right for them. It’s slightly bigger in presence and being petrol only it lacks the low down punch that a good diesel, even a small one, can deliver.

The upside is that the CVT really is one of the better ones. Because the turbo eases delivery in, the constant variable transmission doesn’t have that slippage feeling so commonly found elsewhere. This translates to a better driving experience as a result. And using the manual shift imbues the Eclipse Cross Exceed with a little more dynamism, a little more verve. The S-AWC helps somewhat, with the torque being distributed front to rear as required. But it’s not heavily front wheel biased in steering feel though. It’s also not light enough that a finger twirl elicits results, with a bit of heft required to get the front wheels angling.

It’s well tied down, with a ride that sets it apart from the competition. It’s flat on all but the most unsettled tarmac, with the dampers really in control. Absorption of general road irregularities is up there with the best. There’s no pogoing, no floppiness, it’s a tightly written composition underneath and confidence inspiring as a result. When it’s wound up it’s actually a fun little machine to take into some of the lovely curvy roads in the region. When the engine’s into its stride, it handshakes beautifully with the steering and suspension to get into an almost sporting mode.

What About Safety? It’s packed. First up, there is Forward Collision Mitigation system, which works with Adaptive Cruise Control. For sideways looking there is Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Warning plus Lane Change Assist. Seven airbags including driver’s kneebag feature also. Rear and front safety is backed by Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System. Supplementary safety systems have Adjustable speed limiter, Automatic High Beam, Emergency Stop Signal function, plus Emergency Brake Assist system and Hill Start Assist.Warranty And Service? Five years warranty or 100,000 kilometres is their standard. It’s good but doesn’t quite measure up against those offering the unlimited kilometres offerings from competitors. However, new 19MY and 20MY Triton go the extra mile with 7 Year / 150,000km Mitsubishi Diamond Advantage New Car Warrantywhen purchased before 31st December 2019. Mitsubishi says the capped price servicing covers: all items specified under the regular service tables for each vehicle type detailed in the service and warranty booklet, including parts, labour, oils and fluids, workshop supplies and any applicable environmental or waste oil disposal charges. Pricing can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. The Mitsibishi Eclipse Cross range provides a solid, if unspectacular option to vehicles such as Hyundai’s Tucson, or Kia’s Sportage. It’s a quirky looker, reasonable if familiar in its unspectacular interior and dash layout, and not an uncomfortable place to be in either. It’s dependable, and drives well enough. There’s enough, as expected, room for four, plenty of safety to protect the occupants, and, difficult to follow DAB screen aside, a user friendly environment in the equipment sense.

The engine is a reasonably willing unit, and the CVT is a well sorted unit for the engine’s capabilities. As a whole, the package is good enough for those that have chosen to buy it and that’s the end result Mitsubishi would hope for. The 2020 Model Year Eclipse Cross information can tell you more.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Is Here.

Toyota has released details of the forthcoming Corolla sedan. Due to be released by the end of November, the range and pricing is as follows. Ascent Sport petrol manual: $23,335, Ascent Sport petrol CVT: $24,835, Ascent Sport hybrid CVT: $26,335, SX petrol CVT: $28,235, SX hybrid CVT: $29,735, and the ZR petrol CVT: $33,635. All prices are manufacturers recommended and not inclusive of government and dealer charges.

All CVT equipped models will feature a solid safety package. Lane-trace assist with steering assist, plus lane-centring functionality and all-speed active cruise control, with the manual Ascent Sport featuring high-speed active cruise control and lane departure warning that has steering assist. Rear camera and seven airbags will be across all models, whilst the SX has Blind Spot Monitor and the ZR will received a Head Up Display. Toyota’s SafetySense package is standard. This includes autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety system with daytime and nighttime pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, auto high beam, and road sign assist.The Corolla Sedan will feature, for the first time, a hybrid drivetrain. This will be available on the Ascent Sport and SX versions. A new 2.0L petrol engine can be specced for all three trim levels, with a six speed manual or a CVT with ten preset manual shift points in the Ascent Sport. It will be connected to the CVT as standard in the SX and ZR. Maxiumum power is rated as 125kW and peak torque is 200Nm. 6.0L/100km and 6.5L/100km for the CVT and six speed manual respectively.

Choose the hybrid and the petrol side is a 1.8L engine and what Toyota call a e-CVT. Power is rated as 90kW. It’ll drive the front wheels, with all four corners to have low rolling resistance rubber. All up, Toyota quoted 3.5L100km. Emissions are rated as just 81g/km.

Toyota will add dusk sensing LED headlights, rear lights, and daytime running lights to all versions. Alloy wheels and climate control will be standard across the range except for the manual Ascent Sport. This will have manual aircon. For those that use them, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will now be standard and accessible via an 8.0inch touchscreen. Bluetooth and Siri eye-free functionality will also be standard. Go hybrid and it’s a keyless Start/Stop.

The SX Corolla sedan will have a new three-spoke tiller with paddle shifters. Wireless smartphone pads are standard in the SX along with DAB and satnav. The ZR goes up a notch with a full glass roof, 18 inch alloys, and the front seats will be heated. Again, Australia misses out on venting, an oversight for our climate in summer. The driver’s seat will be 8 way power adjustable and audio is via a JBL 9 speaker system.Outside is a restyle that brings the sedan’s look closer to the needle nosed hatch, whilst the rear has been refreshed as well.

Servicing costs have been aligned with the hatch, meaning every Corolla has capped price servicing that costs just $175 per service with 12-month/15,000km intervals. Contact your Toyota dealer to book a test drive.

2020 Nissan Patrol: The Big Machine Gets A Makeover.

Nissan’s long-running competitor to the Land Cruiser, the Patrol, has been given a substantial makeover for the 2020 specification. Available to order through Nissan dealerships now, in a two model range, it’s priced from $75,990 (plus ORC) for the Nissan Patrol Ti, and the Ti-L is from $91,990 (plus ORC).

The exterior has been revised at the front and rear, and the safety levels have also been improved. The suspension has been further tweaked for a better ride, and there are now extra colours to choose from.Safety.
Standard equipment for both the Ti and Ti-L include: Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Ti now also has: Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Intelligent Lane Intervention, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention.

Outside.
The Ti has been given it’s own sportier looking front end treatment. The Ti-L goes for a premium, upmarket, look. The bonnet, fenders, grilles, LED lights and front bumpers have been modified for a more upright, no-nonsense stance. the headlights have a total of 52 LEDs, and there’s 44 LEDs in the rear. the rear lights are now in a stylish boomerang shaped cluster. The rear bumper has been restyled to match the solid lines of the rear, with a squarer look. Colour choices now have Moonlight White, Galaxy Gold & Hermosa Blue, which are new to the range.Inside.
Australia’s hot weather conditions require better air-conditioning and Nissan have updated the system in the Patrol for a tri-zone setup. Airflow has been improved and the rear seat passengers have been given better flow too. This means cooling will take place quicker and therefore will be more efficient. Access is via an intelligent key with remote keyless entry with push button Start/Stop, cruise control, heated door mirrors, plus 3D mapping for the sat-nav in an eight inch touchscreen.Power and Ride.
Both vehicles will have 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque from Nissan’s 5.6 litre V8 petrol engine. Drive gets to the ground via a seven-speed automatic transmission featuring manual mode and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC). There is also an electronic rear diff lock, Hill Descent Control (HDC) with on/off switch, Hill Start Assist (HAS) and an off-road monitor. The suspension tweaks have the dampers retuned for a more positive response for an increase in on-road comfort, and enhanced off-road comfort as well.

Contact your local Nissan dealer for a drive evaluation.

2019 Toyota RAV4 GLX 2WD: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The second in the RAV4 range. It’s the GLX, and in 2WD, non-hybrid, specification.How Much Does It Cost?: In this specification, Toyota lists it as near as dammit $40K drive away. That’s in plain, non-metallic white. Add that red colour (or any of the metallics) and the price goes up by around $600.

Under The Bonnet Is: A naturally aspirated 2.5L petrol fed four cylinder. It drives the front wheels only via a Constant Variable Transmission. Peak power and torque are rated as 127kW @6,600rpm, and 203Nm between 4,400 and 4,900rpm. Economy is rated as 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle. We finished on 8.2L of 91RON per 100 kilometres for our 70/30 drive cycle.On The Outside It’s: Clad in a deep burgundy metallic red. It highlights the more aggressive and bulldog jut-jawed look the update has given the RAV4. Apart from the 225/60/18 tyre and wheel combination there isn’t a lot different on the exterior to the Hybrid GL we reviewed recently (2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.). There are oval shaped, not circular, exhaust tips, roof rails, and privacy glass.

On The Inside It’s: Much like the outside. There is the addition of a smartphone charging pad in the centre console, but that’s really about it. The audio system and apps are accessed via the same sized 8 inch touchscreen. Toyota has recently announced the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for those that use such items. The seat materials themselves are a solid weave and have an embossed motif. Aircon is dual zone, which the GX misses out on.The plastics lack tactility by being hard and flat, not soft touch or textured. The centre console has the same motif in the cup holders and charger as the seats plus a splash of silver. That matches the airvent surrounds and grab handles on the doors.On The Road It’s: A substantially different beast to the Hybrid. Cats are the seeming choice for some makers and smaller engines, with the other option being a dual clutch auto. Both have strength, both have weaknesses.

Here, Toyota have gone for a stepped approach for manual selection of gears. It results in a better drive experience than letting the CVT work by itself. In “normal” Drive, the CVT fitted here leans more towards the original style, with a planted right foot having the engine wail, revs climb, and no real sense of forward motion. However there are semblances of traditional self shifters with a feeling of cog swapping. Go manual and the electronic side kicks in, with faster responses to a change of gear and a more natural feeling as a consequence. But there is the related engine rev noise either way, but for drivability, the manual gear swap is the choice.Ride quality is nothing questionable, with agreeable levels of comfort, compliance, and road surface dampening. The steering is perhaps less artificial in feeling than the Hybrid, but perhaps because here it’s calibrated to deal with the two front driven wheels, not all four as the Hybrid had.

What About Safety?: This is where the model difference stands out in one aspect. The Reverse camera has active guidelines, over static lines. Otherwise, the whole range has the same safety package. Downhill Assist Control is offered only on the top of the range Edge.What About Warranty And Services?: Pretty much the same as the Hybrid. Five years standard, seven years if serviced at a Toyota dealership or approved venues following the logbook. Service costs are capped for five years.At The End Of The Drive. We couldn’t help but come away feeling a little disappointed. Visually there’s little to see the delineation between the GX and GXL, inside and out. Although CVTs have improved since their introduction a decade or so ago, they still, largely, don’t seem to heighten the drive experience to the levels they once promised. And as such, the GXL RAV4 2WD becomes an unremarkable proposition.

2019 Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid AWD: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota released a Suburban Utility Vehicle in the late 1990s. Named the RAV4, or Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-wheel drive, it’s this car that’s to “blame” for the rise of the SUV. In mid-2019 Toyota released a new version and it’s been a substantial upgrade. For the first time the RAV4 has been given a hybrid driveline option and it’s available across three of the four model model range. There is the entry GX, then GXL, Cruiser, and up-spec Edge, the only one not available with a Hybrid.Under The Bonnet Is: Power is either a 2.0L petrol or 2.5L hybrid. The GX is the only version available with a proper gearbox, a six speed manual, otherwise there is a Constant Variable Transmission for all bar the Edge. Driveline options are two or all wheel drive for the hybrids. The Edge also has only the 2.5L petrol and comes with an eight speed auto. Economy figures are startling. The GX manual is quoted as 6.8L/100km, and 6.5L/100km for the auto. Go hybrid (as tested) and it’s quoted as 4.7L100km for the standard engine, 4.8L/100km for the hybrid. These figures are on the combined cycle using 91RON. We averaged on a purely urban cycle a brilliant 5.5L/100km from the 55L tank. Kerb weight for the hybrid GX is quoted as 1,705kg.Peak power for the standard engine is 127kW. The two and AWD hybrid system is rated as 160kW/163kW. Peak torque from the 2.0L is 203Nm. The hybrid engine quotes 221Nm from the petrol engine only, with no figure from the Toyota website showing a combined torque number.

What’s It Cost?: This is where it can be a bit messy due to the variants. In Glacier White, with 2WD and 2.0L manual, my drive-away price was just over $34,300. Tap the AWD button and the website automatically updates to 2.5L hybrid and CVT. Price jumped to $42,203…Choosing Eclipse Black and the price went to $42,821. GXL starts at $39,628 for the 2.0L auto in white. Metallic paint takes it to $40,246, then the hybrid option in black goes to $45,911.On The Inside Is: A long list of standard equipment. Playthings for the front seat passengers include DAB audio on a slightly fiddly to use eight inch touchscreen, plus Bluetooth streaming, and USB/Aux. The layout can be modified in look however the default, in a three screen layout, is to have the navigation screen as the primary or larger, allowing audio, eco, clock, etc, to be moved around in the other two smaller screens. Naturally the Toyota app system provides flexibility. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are coming… Wireless phone charging is available in the GXL upwards. The rear seat passengers have charge points and airvents, plus the subwoofer for the audio is behind the driver.In the hybrid there is a screen that shows the drive system, with the display showing power being apportioned between the wheels, battery, and petrol engine. There is also a usage page that shows distance and economy figures. The driver has a smaller info screen and this shows on-the-fly eco info amongst the usual radio, safety, and connected device information. If there’s a query about the interior it’s to do with the dash design overall. It mirrors the blocky exterior and offers no sense of cockpit or wraparound. However, there’s a nice touch with knurled rubber surrounds to a couple of the dials under the screen. The rear seats are 60/40 split-fold and cargo space is 542L. Lift the rear floor and there is a space saver spare.

On The Outside Is: Dual exhaust pipes featuring at the rear under a manually operated tailgate. The exterior is a more solidly engineered look, with a blocky, non-organic design. The front end has a bulldog-jowl stance, with the grille line on either side a downturned angle. This echoes the stance in profile, with a longish nose giving a head’s down appearance. The rear is also squared off and has plenty of angles and straight lines. The cargo section houses a space-saver spare, with a full sizer being an option. Black polycarbonate body mouldings feature on the sides and under the front & rear lights.Head inside and all four windows are dual touched powered. Heated seats don’t appear until the Cruiser nor do powered seats. The GX has 17 inch alloys and 225/65 Bridgestone Atenza rubber. Lighting is halogen fog lamps and LED Projector, dusk sensing, headlights for the Hybrid. The cluster is surrounded by LEDS and it’s a classy look. Wing mirrors are power operated and heated.

What’s It Go Like?
Like the proverbial off a shovel. Although noticeably front wheel drive in normal drive situations with a heavy feel to the filler, it makes it abundantly clear that it’s a front wheel biased setup when punched hard off the line. The traction control system has been tweaked to allow a driver to launch hard but with some front wheel scrabbling, even with those 225 width tyres. It quickly picks up the drive and sends power to the rear as needed. And it gets away quickly, with no sense of feeling weighed down. In gera acceleration is pretty good too, just quietly, with rapid picup and response from the pedal push.There is electric power only up to 20 to 25 kp/h if using a light right foot, but then brings in the petrol engine above that, or quicker for a heavier throttle input. There’s a few vibrations on engagement and these too disappear quickly. The petrol engine is muted in sound and when heard has a dulled metallic edge to its note. It’s a delightful highway cruiser and is as equally adept around the ‘burbs. Although the steering is front heavy it’s weighted enough to have the driver connected and aware of what’s going on with the MacPherson strut setup. On the highways it lightens enough to have lane changing feel natural, nimble, and confident, rather than imparting a sense of heaviness.Ride quality is fantastic. It’s supple and compliant, with well controlled damping. The trailing wishbone rear has a slightly tauter feel to deal with the 580L cargo space. This means slow speed bumps have the rear bang a bit harder but still not uncomfortably so.

Naturally the braking feel is en pointe, with instant engagement from the barest touch. It’s a natural and instinctive travel too, with the modulation as finely adjusted as you can get to read, via the foot, just where the pedal is and what it’s doing.What About Safety?: Passengers are wrapped in seven airbags, for good measure. Toyota crams its SafetySense package into the new RAV4 range and it’s a potent package. Lane Departure Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Trace Assist with the CVT model, plus Pre-Collision with pedestrian and cyclist. Then there is Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front parking sensor alert, Road Sign Assist, Active Cruise Control, and auto high beam.At The End Of The Drive. Toyota have gone hard on the hybrid philosophy, and it’s working. There’s a high level of standard equipment and safety, a dogged, assertive look, and it’s not a bad drive. Aurally it’s as dull as dishwater, the bulldog looks may not appeal to all after coming from a more angular and sharper exterior, and the fiddly touchscreen may also not be a winner. Head to the Toyota website for more, or check the spec sheet here.

 

Japanese Makers Fire Electric Shots.

Both Nissan and Mazda have unveiled electric vehicles. Nissan’s is a test bed design and Mazda their first full production version. Nissan’s car is based on the Leaf e+ with Mazda naming theirs the MX30.

The Nissan has an all wheel drive system, with twin motors. Nissan also factors in their bespoke chassis control technology. The engines provide up to 227kW and a massive 680Nm of peak torque. The test car has a control system that adds regenerative braking to the rear motor as well as the front. Pitch and dive are minimised as a result. In addition to optimising the torque that’s spread between the front and rear, it also applies independent brake control at each of the four wheels to maximise the cornering force generated by each tyre.
Mazda’s car is an SUV as well. It’s powered by what Mazda call “e-Skyactiv system” It can be charged using AC power or rapid-charged using DC power. The system involves the battery, motor, an inverter and a DC-DC control unit. The inverter changes the DC to AC for the motors with the converter providing the charge for the onboard systems.

Mazda also engineer in a refrigerant cooling system that cools the battery pack when the temperature rises. By maintaining the best possible battery temperature even on hot days, the system helps protect the battery pack from degrading due to heat. Thin cooling tubes attached to the bottom plane of the battery module make contact with a heat exchanger. This structure contributes to realizing a compact battery pack. A sensor constantly monitors the battery’s temperature and controls the flow of coolant as needed. The result is an effective battery cooling system. There’s a single motor, mounted up front, and it will provide drive to the front or or four paws. The battery pack is rated at 35.5kWh, and has an expected range of around 200km. There is also a acceleration system called Motor Pedal. This adjusts on the fly response to throttle inputs and adjusts acceleration as well, depending on the speed the driver presses the accelerator pedal.

A key identifier for the MX-30 is the design. Not unlike the recently released 3 hatch, it features long and flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and suicide doors. It’s also green oriented, with cork and recycled plastic bottles being used in the interior trim. It’s not yet confirmed for the Australian market but it’s definitely in Mazda Au’s want list.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder ST 7 Seater: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 specification Nissan Pathfinder ST. It’s the entry level version to the second biggest passenger oriented car in their range. The vehicle provided was fitted with seven seats across three rows and that’s standard fitment.How Much Does It Cost?: The Nissan website has the ST 4×2 as starting from $44,490. The 4×4 version is from $51,550.

Under The Bonnet Is: A petrol fed 3.5L V6 with a CVT and AWD drivetrain. Power is rated as 202kW @ 6,400rpm, and peak torque is a decent 340Nm @ 4,800rpm. Economy is quoted as 10.1L per 100km on the combined cycle. That’s from a 73.0L tank and a tare weight of 2005kg. We finished on 11.1L/100km for a mainly urban drive.On The Outside Is: A big body. At 5,042mm in length it masks that by a svelte and curvaceous shape. The aerodynamics of the body contribute to both a “it looks smaller than it is” and a drag coefficient of 0.33. That’s pretty slippery for a big SUV. It stands at 1,793mm, making it one of the taller vehicles of its type. It’s broad, at 1,960mm and has a 2,900mm wheelbase. So, yes, it’s big, but by having more curves than a supermodel convention, it genuinely looks a lot smaller.

The front end is dominated by Nissan’s current design stamp. That distinctive “Vee” motif is across all of its SUVs and some of the smaller passenger cars, as are the thin headlights, almost invisible indicator light, and curvaceously swept fenders. There is also a pair of inserts in the lower bumpers that will have driving lights fitted in higher spec models. That long body is highlighted by a subtle curve from the front window, sine-waving its way towards the tail lights and enhancing a subtle flare over the rear wheels. Passenger windows are blacked out as well for security and privacy. The tailgate on the ST is manually operated, and opens to a cargo space of 453L with the simple to operate third row seats raised. From the rear there’s a distinctive slope to the body, from the Continental 235/65/18 Cross Contact rubber inwards to the high roof.On The Inside It’s: Roomy, comfortable, and a bit confusing. We’ll cover that in detail shortly.

Firstly , the view from the driver’s seat shows a slab of black ahead of the passenger, an easy to read 8-inch touchscreen that sits above a busy looking two-section for audio and climate control, before ending in a mix of traditional and hi-tech for the binnacle.The slab ahead of the driver could very easily be made to look more visually appealing, for starters. The ambience found in competitors from Korea, and similarly sized Japanese offerings are of a more suitable level. There’s plenty of head, shoulder, and hip room though, meaning taller and wider passengers shouldn’t feel cramped.

Then there is the touchscreen and it has a feature that is bemusing. Sports oriented cars have a G-force meter. This shows lateral and longitudinal forces during acceleration , braking, and cornering. It’s ideal for the GT-R. It’s out of place here.

Visually the controls for audio and climate control are somewhat hard to take in. Ergonomically they’re poorly placed, being well below the driver’s line of sight. Then there’s the additional fact that that the touchscreen has aircon controls as part of its programming…Inside the binnacle are traditional dials placed either side of a information screen that has an almost holographic look to it. It’s exotic and cool simultaneously. Counterbalancing this is the programming on one button on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Like virtually every maker now, there are two tabs to access the centre ino screen and the submenus. There is normally a rocker tab to access the submenu information. Here this one changes the radio stations instead…

The driver’s pew is electronic for movement as is the passenger’s, a nice touch, and starting the ST is push button operated, also a nice touch. Remember, the ST is the entry level.

In between the front seats is a relatively uncluttered console, housing a dial for the AWD system, and a non-manual gear selector. There is a push tab for Sports mode, but no option for manual gear selection. No, there are no paddle shifters on the steering column. The largish wheel houses the usual selection of tabs for audio, info, and cruise control.The second row seats are marked to indicate they fold flat, and they slide forward. The third row are pull strap operated to fold, and they provide an almost perfectly flat cargo space as a result. Cargo capacity goes to 1,354L with the third row folded, and a huge 2,260L with the middle row flat.

There is also a separate set of aircon controls for the second and third row passenger seats. Back up front and the audio system is AM/FM/CD plus Bluetooth streaming. No DAB but that can be added via USB connection.Safety Features Are: Airbags all around, Front Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking, plus Blind Spot Alert. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Reverse Camera with guidelines are standard as well. The spare is a space saver however there is tyre pressure monitoring as standard.

On The Road It’s: Mostly a benign drive. Although nominally an AWD it’s predominantly front wheel biased, and the steering tells that story clearly. There’s a constant and gentle pull on the tiller, saying that the pesky V6 engine is driving the front wheels more than the rear pretty much all of the time.

Traction and grip levels are high, however. There’s no sense of the rear breaking away when driven exuberantly, and the front overcomes its incessant gentle pulling at the wheel, becoming more conversational about the drive and the road. Rubber is 235/65/18 Continental Cross LX Sport.

Damping is well sorted too. There’s minimal float, with rebound limited and dialled out quickly. Initial response to the usual road imperfections is quick, absorbing some of the more notably intrusive joins and bumps to the point their actual impact was negligible.

Front to rear balance was also well sorted, with both ends feeling the same, rather than a tighter or slightly looser response. Adding to the competent chassis is a nicely balanced brake feel. With a travel that tells the driver just where the pads are on their way to or from the discs, pulling up to a stopped vehicle, stop sign, or red light was intuitive and easy to judge. The weak spot here is the CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission. Also known as a stepless transmission, it’s evolved from its essentially single gear beginnings to having steps, or gera, programmed in to make it feel like a more normal transmission as it changes. These transmissions are best suited to smaller (read:less torque) engines. The issue here is that they feel like a manual transmission with a badly word clutch plate when put to the sword. There’s a feeling of slipping the gear, that not all of the torque is being utilised by the transmission, and therefore not as efficient in getting the engine’s workload through to the tyres.

In the Pathfinder ST, that 340Nm has a fairly steep torque curve from low revs, the engines normal and best operating range when underway. That torque really does seem to overwhelm the CVT here and one suspects that a traditional torque converter style transmission would be far more effective and more economical, especially with ratios of eight, nine, ten cogs now available. And remembering there is no manual change option, then there’s no change to exploit the torque more efficiently. Warranty And Services Are: Five years and capped price. Information is here.

At The End Of The Drive. The Pathfinder ST is by no means an unpleasant vehicle to drive. It’s a solid and competitive seven seater, making it an almost ideal family transporter. Having seven seats, and a third row that’s easy to operate go a long way to help the cause. There’s plenty of room for seven passengers and the seats are comfortable. Instrumentation is mostly user friendly however the dash below the touchscreen needs work. Then there’s the drivetrain. Even a DCT would be a better option for a big engine than the CVT.

Here is some extra information.

Toyota Updates: New Yaris and Corolla Hatch for 2020.

After a break of a few years, Toyota’s baby car, the Yaris, has been given a substantial makeover. In a both surprising, and unsurprising move, there’s a solid resemblance to the recently released Supra. There are muscular guards, a sharpened look to the nose, and more room thanks to an increased wheelbase of 50mm. 40mm of height reduction adds more to the sporting look as do new LED lights front and rear. Adding to the looks are two new powertrains. Both are 1.5L in size, with one being a three cylinder and the other a hybrid. The new 1.5-litre is big for a three-cylinder, Named “Dynamic Force”, the petrol engine is coupled with a direct-shift CVT with mechanical launch gear. This helps get a car with CVT off the line quicker and easier. Toyota also fit their new-generation hybrid system with an Atkinson-Cycle version of the engine and a high-density lithium-ion battery. It’s a new system for Toyota and can trace its roots to what is already found in cars such as Camry and Corolla. There’s been some solid refinement work put into this. Toyota say that thermal efficiency runs at 40% and improved internal friction, plus reduced energy losses.The tried and proven MacPherson struts system underpins the front front section of the new Yaris. The rear is a refined version of the previous torsion beam setup. This should help in improved dynamics and reduce body roll. Internal reinforcements, in areas such as the cowl, rear pillar, transmission tunnel, and inside the rear structure and rear wheelhouse, along with a stiffer dashboard panel will add to the stiffness and stability factor.Toyota has gone minimalistic, too, with an increase of spaciousness thanks to a paring back of the space used by the trim and equipment. The inside is refreshed, with a new 10-inch Head Up Display the centrepiece. Naturally there are screens for the driver’s binnacle and the centre console. Safety goes up a notch too, with an advanced version of pre-collision safety. The latest system can potentially prevent crashes at intersections by detecting oncoming vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing the road.

Toyota have also provided some updates to the Corolla hatch. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard. The SX and ZR versions have been given Rear Cross Traffic Alert plus what Toyota calls “Parking Support Brake”. It’s a low speed function, working at velocities of up to 15 kilometres per hour, and uses the car’s sensors to read static and mobile traffic at the rear. The ZR’s seats are now eight way powered, and also now have lumbar support. Outside is a new two-tone paint option, with a black roof being made available to order alongside the colours for the main body which includes a new Feverish Red shade.

The range has this pricing structure, with all prices not inclusive of dealer and government charges. Ascent Sport petrol manual starts from $23,335, Ascent Sport petrol CVT from $24,835, and Ascent Sport hybrid CVT $26,335. The SX petrol CVT starts from $28,235, whilst the SX hybrid CVT starts from $29,735. The top of the range ZR starts at a petrol CVT price of $32,135 and ZR hybrid CVT from $33,635.

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser VX Diesel: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The current FJ200 Toyota Land Cruiser in VX specification. There are four models: GX, GXL, VX, and Sahara.Under The Bonnet Is: A hefty 4.5L diesel fed V8 and six speed auto. Peak power is 200kW @3,600rpm, and a whopping 600Nm of torque between 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. The torque is needed as the dry weight is over 2,700kilograms, with a Gross Vehicle Mass of 3,350kg. Toyota fits two fuel tanks, a primary of 93L and a sub-tank of 45L. Economy is quoted as 9.5L/100km on the combined cycle. Our final figure, after a country drive loop of 1,300km, was way off at 11.5L/100km.What Does It Cost?: The GX in plain white starts from around $84,600 for our location. The Toyota website allows for a suburb by suburb pricing comparison. The VX comes up with a starting price of $107,600 and that’s with a folding pair of third row seats. In Silver Pearl, as tested, it’s $108,106.

On The Outside It’s:Big. And heavy. Bumper to bumper it’s 4,990mm in length and rolls on a 2,850mm wheelbase. Height is 1,970mm and overall width is 1,980mm. Stoppers are family pizza in size at 354mm front and rear for VX and Sahara. Rubber is from Dunlop and the Grand Trek tyres are 285/60/18. These were given a solid workout.With talk of an update to the body being released somewhere around 2021, and the current body based back in 2007, it’s a familiar look. Subtle curves to the flanks, a rounded nose with self-leveling headlights sitting above a chromed strip, that itself sits above a set of LED driving lights. In between is a massive air intake lined with three horizontal strips. Out back is a horizontally split non-powered tailgate and some eye-catching lights. There was also a towbar fitted and Toyota says there is a 3.5 tonne towing capacity.On The Inside:The VX is showing its age. Faux black leather seats look fine but up front there didn’t appear to be venting or heating controls for the powered seats nor is there memory seating. There is a 4 zone climate control system, however, with rear seat vents and centre row passenger access for temperature and fan speeds. Rear seats are flip to the side, not down into the floor, which means there is some cargo room accessible but not as much as there could be.The dash for the driver is full analogue for the dials (easy to read) and does feature the now ubiquitous info screen operated via the tiller tabs. To the left is a 9 inch touchscreen with access to climate control, navigation, Toyota apps, AM/FM/DAB, and a CD plus Bluetooth. There are 9 speakers and it’s an impressive system.

No wireless charge pad for a smartphone but a sole USB and 12V port. Somewhat disappointingly, the centre console storage box wasn’t a coolbox nor did it seem to cool down by running the rear centre console airvents which have their air channels run alongside the box. That same centre console houses a pair of dials. One is four going to 4WD low range, the other is for the crawler mode.The cabin is roomy but cramped. Roomy because of the sheer size but cramped due to the aging layout. However a white/grey rooflining against a contrasting black lower section does make for an airy feeling, along with the large glasshouse. A sunroof helped too.Out On The Road It’s: A legendary vehicle that, when driven in varying environments, shows why it’s a legend. The timing of the review allowed us to take the VX out to the dusty central north town of Coonamble, via Mudgee and Dunedoo.

The run commenced with an easy two and a half hours to Mudgee, a beautiful and thriving town. Immediately the VX impressed with its easy going, loping, style. But it also showed the aging architecture underneath and the sloppiness of the steering on centre. The suspension gives the impression of wafting the big machine, with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, fitted as standard, absorbing the varying tarmac terrains easily.North of Mudgee is the road to Dunedoo and again the VX Land Cruiser would make this an easy run. What wasn’t easy was the feeling of helplessness from seeing the dead wildlife and the sheer dryness of the countryside. This would only get worse and we headed north from the village to Mendooran and then Gilgandra. from here one can head north-east to Coonabarabran and Siding Spring Observatory in the stark Warrumbungle Ranges, or cruise north west to Coonamble.Increasingly apparent was the struggle between the farmers and Mother Nature. It’s clear that there’s water, but it’s much like a famous line from a song by America. In “A Horse With No Name” there’s a line: “The ocean is a desert with its life underground, and a perfect disguise above”….This is complemented by: “After three days in the desert fun, I was looking at a river bed, and the story it told of a river that flowed, made me sad to think it was dead.” The lines of trees that stretched away into the distance, with some of a lush green, and others of a desperate sign of hanging on, tell the story. And a constant in most areas was the tortured, parched earth either side.Coonamble itself is around 230km from the NSW/QLD border and around 80km from Pilliga, home to a bore water hot spring bath that’s been in operation since 1902. Here, too, are clear indications of how the drought has hurt the bush.

Our hosts in Coonamble were Scott and Jenny Richardson, Blue Mountains residents and living an Aussie dream by having their own pub. With Coonamble’s main businesses being based on sheep and wheat farms, there’s a lot of locals looking to quench their thirst. It also gave AWT a chance to meet and talk about life in a remote town. One of the locals, a dapper gent that had lived in the town all of his life, declared he didn’t entirely believe in climate change, and readily stated that he thought that there is something wrong with the weather as he’d never seen conditions as bad for so long.The road between Pilliga and Baradine gave us a chance to test the gravel handling capability of the Land Cruiser. Rutted, compacted, and with the big footprint of the VX needing constant monitoring, the suspension showed its mettle. Here and throughout the 1300 kilometres covered in two and a half days, the comfort level proved high, with minimum physical fatigue thanks to the way the VX simply ignored the road conditions. That loose steering feel also showed why it was loose; a light grasp on the tiller allows the front end to look after itself and required only minimal input to keep the Land Cruiser on the straight.

Baradine is directly north of the Warrumbungles and here the handling of the VX was tested. Although there’s plenty of rubber on the road, the sheer mass of the Land Cruiser showed that judicious driving was needed when it came to the turns and curves. The upper body movement would prove disconcerting and needing a mental adjustment in where braking points and steering inputs needed to coincide. Some turns marked as 75kmh needed to be driven at that speed in the VX, with others allowing a more natural flow, leaving the car to find its own way through the line from entry to apex to exit.Coonabarabran is in the same need for rain as Coonamble. Surprisingly, with the Siding Spring observatory complex just a short drive west on one of the volcanic plugs that makes up the Warrumbungles, it’s also affected by skylight from Sydney. Siding Spring is the largest astronomical complex in the country, playing host to a vast array of internationally operated sites and is the hub to the Solar System Highway. This is a virtual model of the solar system, with the inner four planets just minutes away from the mountain top, and Pluto is three hours drive away.

Heading west from Coonamble through the national park this road also tests handling and ride quality. Once on the western side of the extinct volcano, the road becomes sandy, gravelly, and has moments of tarmac as it winds its way to Coonamble. The actual drive experience varies; acceleration can be easy and gradual when needed. And that 600Nm comes into play when required too, with a surprising alacrity when pressed.Again the distinction between underground waterways, the bore water that makes up some of the water supplies, and the drier than the moon’s surface farmland, was palpable. Lonely sheep and cattle wandered almost aimlessly in vast dusty paddocks, yet, occasionally, patches of emerald green shone thanks to hard working pumps tapping the subterranean water supplies. Back in Coonamble and the signs that encouraged the locals to shop local became more and more frequent. The VX shows why the Land Cruiser is so ideally suited for this kind of drive. The torque of the engine and the gearbox’s ratios has the tacho ticking over at just 2,000 at better than highway speeds thanks to the six speed auto, and simply hauls the constant 4WD beast through the sand and gravel without a second thought. There’s no doubt that one of the transmissions that have an extra two or three cogs would help economy and drastically change the driving behaviour.

Although just six in the number of cogs thou shalt count to, it’s a slick, smooth, shifter. It’ll hold gear nicely on downhill runs, using the engine as a brake, and on acceleration, and as slow as it can be at times, shifts are mostly invisible. And sometimes the slide into sixth was perceptible but not overtly noticeable. Naturally Sports Mode is available but was not used, and neither are there paddle shifters anyway, hinting at the intended usage of the driveline.All through the drives two things shone: the muted burble of the V8 and the sheer lack of fatigue often found in other cars. Noise insulation is high, that aforementioned ride and comfort level too must contribute to the lack of weariness unexpectedly felt.

The return journey gave the VX a chance to stretch its legs and again it showed that for all of its prowess it’s still restricted in a couple of ways. It’s a big and heavy machine, and prone to diving under braking. It’s a big and heavy machine and needs to be gentled, not hustled, through quite a few corners. And that six speed auto does sometimes need an extra couple of cogs.The same trip also showed why the focus by the NSW Government and Highway patrols on speed will never reduce the road toll. On a sweeping left hand corner south of Mudgee, a two lane section with double white lines, one particular driver took it upon himself to pass a line of traffic into a blind corner. There was oncoming traffic that could be seen from the head of the queue but not from where this boofhead started from. Somehow, somehow, nothing occurred. No, he wasn’t alone in his dangerous driving, with plenty of other examples seen.At least there is a decent amount of safety kit inside the VX. There are airbags front to rear. Blind Spot Detection is standard and is Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Front parking sensors are also standard.

When it comes to servicing and warranty, a driver can book a service via the myToyota app. Toyota offer a standard five year warranty which can be extended to seven if the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership.

At The End Of the Drive. It’s been said that Australia is largely responsible for the success of the Land Cruiser, and in a drive such as this that covered suburban and deep country, it’s close to heaven for this kind of vehicle. The low revving V8 is ideal for long distance hauls, the comfort level showcases just how important fatigue reduction is, and then there is the off road ability that is almost unquestionably a leader. However it’s that same soft and wafty suspension that counts against it in some areas, economy wasn’t close to the combined figure, and that mass…..Right here is where you can find more.