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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.

 

 

2019 Toyota C-HR: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Toyota C-HR. It can be seen as an alternative companion to the RAV4. Alternative because it’s a different option, companion becuase it’s a five door SUV that seats five. It’s a two-model range, with the Koba as the other entry. Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged 1.2L petrol engine. There is a manual transmission or CVT for the entry level, CVT only in the Koba. Opt for the CVT and it’s front wheel or all wheel drive for a choice. Peak power is 85kW between 5,200rpm to 5,600rpm. Torque is a bit more useable, with 185 of them between 1,500rpm and 4,000rpm. Economy is quoted as 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle. On our urban drive we saw a best of 7.4L, and a worse of 7.9L/100km. Recommended fuel is 95RON. There is no paddle shift in the base model, just the transmission selector for manual shifting.What’s It Cost?: Toyota’s website says the 2WD starts from around $30, 500 in Hornet Yellow. Head to a metallic colour and that goes to just over $31K. The AWD will start from around $34,700. You’ll get a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing can be booked via the myToyota app.

On The Inside Is: A reasonable amount of standard equipment and safety features for the ask. It starts with something basic but useable in the shape ofI an auto dimming rear vision mirror. There are auto headlights, dual zone aircon, but no DAB in the overly boomy audio system. The 6.1inch touchscreen system has a CD to make up for the lack of digital radio, plus USB & Bluetooth connectivity. Satnav and voice activation are also standard is the ToyotaLink app function.SafetySense is the name Toyota give to their suite of driver aids, and the C-HR has Lane Departure Warning, Auto High Beam, Blind Spot Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Active Cruise Control are standard as well, as are seven airbags.Trim material in the C-HR is black and black. This may make the interior somewhat claustrophobic for some, as there is a hunchbacked look thanks to the rear window line being steeply sloped. There is some triangular shaped embossing in the roof lining which matches the interior light above the manually operated front seats and mirrors the rear light design. For the driver there is a sense of having their own office space. the dash sweeps around from the window to the centre stack, and this faces towards the driver’s seat. Trim here is of a piano black and there’s some smartly integrated buttons for the aircon controls.On The Outside It’s: Not unpleasing but definitely one example of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is down to the profile. The rear roof line slopes dramatically forward from the tail lights, which can compromise interior headspace for taller people. There’s a huge roof-lip spoiler too, which in the Hornet Yellow is noticeable. The wheel arches and guard are pumped out from the body and these are defined by strong crease lines coming down from the windscreen and rear window.

Overall length is 4,360mm, with a wheelbase of 2,640mm. Height is 1,565mm and width is 1,795mm.

The rear doors have a severe upwards kink to meet the roofline which means it looks like boot space is compromised. However, there’s enough boot space to house a week’s shopping for a family of four. It’s a high floor though, meaning a bit more of a lift to get items in. The front end bears (bore) a striking resemblance to the now outgoing RAV4 and features a triangular LED driving light cluster inside the angular headlight design. Alloys are 17 inch in size and on the C-HR have a design that somehow emphasizes the spinning when underway.

On The Road It’s: One of the few vehicles with a CVT that benefits from using the “manual” part of the gear selector. Programmed with seven ratios to mimic a standard auto, it’s far more responsive to using it manually. Use the C-HR in auto and it becomes what a 1.2L engine suggests. It suggests nothing special, it suggests sluggish, needing a heavy right foot. Move the lever to the right, pull back for M1, hit the go pedal, and tip forward for upshifts, and it comes alive. Forward movement seems to have far more sizzle and pizzaz than leaving the transmission to do it all by itself. Changes are swift, crisp, and really allow the driver to take advantage of the torque delivery.The engine itself is quiet though, with no audible appeal and neither is there anything at the exhaust’s end to suggest anything exciting. No rasp, no fizz, no….well, anything.
Ride quality though is average at best. The MacPherson strut front seems indecisive; should I be soft or should I bang on bumps? The steering rack didn’t help. There would be input at the same velocities having more response than others. The trailing arm double wishbone rear end also had issues, with a harder than expected setup banging away on otherwise normally non-intrusive bumps. On the road the steering feel is numb. There’s no real sense of communication from the front and although it’s not a guess where it’s pointing proposition, it doesn’t really provide a chance to converse with the front either. The Bridgestone Dueler rubber wasn’t a fan of the wet too. The front end had noticeable push-on understeer on wet roads, meaning that throttle usage had to be carefully weighed up. The AWD mode is automatic, meaning the driver can’t select any drive mode at all. There is a graphic for the driver that’s displayed on the 4.2 inch driver’s display screen. It’s a combination G-Force and drive apportion graphic, and a hard launch shows the drive being sent to the rear wheels and easing off in conjunction with the accelerator being eased off.

At The End Of The Drive: The C-HR is, for AWT, a conundrum. It’s a vehicle that offers an alternative but at the point of being why so. The RAV4 does everything the C-HR does and now offers a hybrid. But in terms of market alternatives Toyota have to have something that competes against what Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan et al have. the problem here is that the C-HR is a case of doing nothing terribly bad, it simply doesn’t do anything outrageously special. Make up your own mind here.

Updates And Freebies For Triton, Eclipse Cross, And Colorado.

Mitsubishi has released details of its 2020 updates for the Triton, and Holden has confirmed some special servicing costs for the Colorado.

Any buyer of a Colorado that is delivered between October 1 and December 31 will receive free scheduled servicing for seven years. It covers all LS, LSX, LTZ and Z71 4×4 vehicles, and this will save owners over $3,000. This is up and over the standard five year warranty for the Colorado. This offer also applies to Holden’s seven-seat SUV’s Acadia and Trailblazer. The Triton range has been given a tickle, with the GLS and GLX+ models receiving a rear diff lock as standard. The GLS now has keyless start as standard and the double cab GLX+ now gets a air circulator for the rear seat passengers.In the driveline section, Mitsubishi’s Easy-Select 4WD is fitted to the GLX+ model. With the twist of a dial 2WD, 4WD high range and 4WD low range are made available. Move up to the GLS and GLS Premium the Super-Select 4WD-II offers 2WD and 4WD high range, plus what Mitsubishi calls 4HLc (lock up) and 4LLc (lock up in low gear). The electronics are programmed to provide Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand, and Rock capability And when equipped with 18 inch wheel and tyres, ground clearance is 220mm. This gets added to the 31 degree approach angle, 23 degree departure angle, and “break over” angle of 25 degrees.Pricing for the Triton range starts at $22,490 4X2 GLX Cab Chassis 2.4L Man Petrol (RRP). This is the only petrol engine in the range, with the 4X2 GLX Cab Chassis 2.4L Man Diesel clocking in at $25,990. The Club Cab 4×4 GLX Cab Chassis 2.4L Man Diesel starts the second tier at $35,490, with the dual cab range starting with the 4×2 GLX ADAS Pick Up 2.4L Auto Diesel at $36, 290. before topping out with the 4×4 GLS Premium 2.4L Pick Up Auto Diesel at $51,990.

The Eclipse Cross has been given some extra fruit, especially for the LS. Here it’s been given all wheel drive and S-AWC or Super All Wheel Control. Part of the system involes AYC, Active Yaw Control, which controls the brakes and power steering to regulate torque split between the left and right. The top of the tree Exceed gains black headlining and illuminated front door trims. The limited run Black Edition, which is fitted with a front skid plate, black front bumper and radiator grille, black interior and black spoiler, is also fitted with variable auto rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusk sensing headlamps with auto high beam, fog lamps and forward collision mitigation.

Paint options for the Black Edition are Starlight, Black, Red Diamond and Titanium. Costs are $690 for the metallic & pearlescent paints, however they’re free on Black Edition vehicles. Prestige paint is $890 or $300 on Black Edition. All models have these colour options except for the Black Edition: White, Starlight, Sterling Silver, Titanium Black, Lightning Blue, and Red Diamond. The range starts with the ES 2WD & CVT at $29,990, the LS 2WD is $31,990 with the AWD version at $34,490. the Exceed 2WD and 4WD versions are $36,690 and $39,190. The Black Edition is $31,690 and is 2WD only. All prices are RRP and exclude on-roads.

Nissan Patrol Updated for 2020

Nissan has shown off the new 2020 Nissan Patrol. There has been additions to the equipment and a reskin of the solid looking machine.

Significant changes see the Nissan “V-grille”reinterpreted for the new Patrol and it’s bracketed by a pair of boomerang LED driving lights.  This is mirrored by a similar design in the rear lights. Sequential indicators have also been added, a first for Nissan.“The Patrol is one of our longest-standing and most cherished models, with a long and proud heritage,” said Joni Paiva, regional vice president of the Africa, Middle East and India region at Nissan. The new Nissan Patrol represents the peak of luxury and ultimate capability and will continue to provide authentic experiences to its loyal customers in the Middle East and around the world.”

The interior has been given a makeover also. A redesigned centre console features dual displays which incorporate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The leather pews are diamond-stitch quilted and have been given extra padding for that luxurious touch. There is also a hand-stitch covering on the tiller. Climate control and powered lumbar support can be optioned for the front seats. Passengers can also feel a bit more cossetted thanks to changes in the structure. Noise, vibration, and harshness, have been reduced for a higher level of comfort, plus the aircon has been improved.Nissan’s own Intelligent Mobility technologies provide a high safety standard. Blind Spot Warning, AEB with pedestrian detection, Forward Collision Warning become standard for the 2020 Patrol.

A V6 engine with 205kW and 394 Nm of torque is the entry level engine. Buyers can also choose a 5.6-litre V8 produces 298kW horsepower and 560 Nm of torque. Drive hits the tarmac and dirt with an All-Mode 4×4 system that provides different drive options depending road conditions. Hydraulic Body Motion Control, available on V8 models, ensures a more comfortable ride thanks to improved suspension and vibration reduction.

An on-sale date and pricing for Australia are yet to be confirmed.

2019 Toyota HiAce LWB Petrol/Crew Cab Diesel/ SLWB Diesel Hi-Roof.: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s completely revamped HiAce range. There is a choice of petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, long wheel base or super long wheel base, panel or crew cab. We were lucky to back to back to back three different versions. There is the LWB V6 petrol van, LWB diesel crew cab, and hi-roof diesel super long wheel base.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.8L diesel, 3.5L petrol V6, and six speed autos in the vehicles tested. There is a six speed manual available but for the LWB panel van version only. The free spinning V6 produces 207kW (6,000rpm) and 351Nm (4,600rpm). The diesel has 130kW (3,400rpm) and either 420Nm for the manual (1,400rpm – 2,600rpm) or 450Nm (1,600rpm 2,400rpm) in the auto. Economy is quoted as 8.2L/100km for the petrol auto LWB, 8.4L/100km for the auto Crew Cab, and the same for the SLWB diesel auto van.What Does It Cost?: The range starts at $38,640 for the 3.5L LWB and $48,640 for the same engine inside the SLWB. The diesels are $42,140 for the LWB van, $47,140 for the crew cab, and $52,140 for the SLWB van. That’s before on road costs and dealership fees.

On The Outside It’s: Big. Boxy. Has a bonnet. That’s about it. Oh, the hi-roof has a ….. high roof. It’s 2,280mm in height which makes it 80mm too tall for some shopping centre car park entries. Otherwise there is 1,990mm for the panel and crew cab vans. Overall lengths are over five metres. The LWB is 5,265mm and has a 3,210mm wheelbase. The SLWB is 5,915mm in length and has a wheelbase of 3,860mm. Width is 1,950mm.There’s no doubt that Toyota’s designers and engineers worked hard together to ensure the design is familiar and efficient, with a profile not dissimilar to the previous model from the rear to the front doors. It’s that bonnet that showcases the change in design, with the extra frontal safety it brings and a balance to the weight distribution. Both sides of the van have sliding doors with a soft touch close. Glass is standard, changing that for steel is optional.

Up front is a nose that stands proud of the rest of the body and houses a squarish grille and surround, squarish headlights, and even squarish wing mirrors. This echoes the overall body before the long rectangles of the tail light cluster. The LWB petrol has grey plastic panels (body colour optional), with the Crew Cab and SLWB had body coloured panels. Rubber is from Bridgestone and is 215/70/16 on steel wheels with plastic covers.

On The Inside It’s: A revamped driver’s cabin with an easy to read dash display, steering wheel tabs, and Toyota’s easy to use 7.0 inch touchscreen system. The seats are all cloth covered, and the Crew Cab has a centre console tray. The SLWB and the petrol van have painted metal and sheet wood interiors on the doors and rear panels. There’s tie down hooks and in the SLWB enough space to double as a Sydney apartment. It also has two storage shelves above the driver and passenger. Volumes for the new HiAce are decent. The SLWB is 9.3 cubic metres, with the LWB rated as 6.2 cubic metres. The payload for the SLWB is 1,175kg for the diesel, with the petrol somewhat oddly higher at 1,295kg. The LWB auto diesel is 955kg, and the diesel crew is 875kg.Dimensions are rated as 2,530mm in cargo length, 1,760mm in width, 1,268mm between the arches, and 1,340mm in height for the LWB van. Inside the SLWB it’s 3,180mm, 1,760mm, 1,268mm, and a decent 1,615mm in height. The Crew Cab is the same for height and width as the LWB.What was a surprise was how car-like it was in layout and features. For example, DAB audio is onboard along with the CD player, USB ports and 12V socket. The driver’s 4.2 inch information screen is colour, not monochrome, and there’s a good list of safety features. The Crew Cab has 9 airbags, with the LWB petrol and SLWB diesel both scoring seven. The love continues with an active Pre-Collision Safety System with day AND night time pedestrian detection, plus day time cyclist detection. Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus Blind Spot Monitor are also here. THEN there is Road Sign Assist to add in plus a reverse camera with guidance lines and a nifty feature here too. A second camera is linked to the rear vision mirror and shows rear vision without Reverse gear. What hasn’t changed is one small yet familiar detail. On the passenger side and in its little nook behind the sliding door is the jack and tools for it. That essentially hasn’t changed for four decades.On The Road It’s: A car disguised as a van. Yep, that’s the easiest way to describe the way it rides and handles, even with the compromise light commercial oriented rubber. Yes, there is some grip issue occasionally, but that’s more a minor hiccup. The suspension is MacPherson struts meets a leaf sprung rigid axle, and it works admirably. Comfort levels on road are high, as a result, with a well controlled ride. However, it’s not recommended to drive these on windy days. That flat and boxy profile makes an excellent sail for catching wind.Steering is an unusual feel and not in a bad way. The driver’s seat is some 1,200mm behind the front wheel’s centreline yet it’s calibrated so that it feels as if the driver is sitting directly over the top. The ratio is quick, too, with what feels like a variable ratio setup. This makes a three point turn seem less onerous that what it can be, especially with long wheelbases.

Naturally there’s plenty of drumming from road noise. As there’s little to no insulation, the road noise gets very easily transmitted up and into the cabin. The SLWB especially has the driver feeling as if a pair of noise cancelling headphones are required. The petrol V6 has some serious urge and will launch the 2205kg (dry) van easily and with alacrity. It wasn’t tried but with traction control turned off, it’s a fair bet it would spin the rear driven wheels into a cloud of smoke. It’s silky smooth and spins without issue. The diesels pull hard, naturally, yet don’t seem to have the same electric urge expected. And being ahead of the driver their chatter is muted.What About The Warranty? Here is what Toyota says.

At The End Of The Drive. They were and continue to be a familiar shape on Aussie roads, thanks to one particular telco giant’s constant order base. This latest version, complete with car-like ride and car-like features, can do naught but reinforce why it’s been a mainstay of Light Commercial Vehicles (or Large Capable Vans) for four decades or so. The pricing is pretty decent here too, and that goes a long way to cementing the HiAce’s status as the go-to vehicle for this class.

Check out more, here.

 

2019 Lexus LS 500h: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The Luxury Sedan in the luxury arm of the Toyota family called Lexus. Named the LS 500h, with the h standing for hybrid, it’s a long, long, car that’s packed full of tech, niceties, and a couple of quirks.

What Does It Cost?: $196,125. That’s before options, government charges, and delivery charges at the dealership level. It’s a fair bit of coin and places the LS 500h firmly in the same area as the Audi A8 and entry level BMW 7 Series. However, the Lexus website indicates a driveaway price of not much more than $203,500 for the LS 500h in Luxury trim. Add in the Sports Luxury package and that’s up to $209,400. From here there are enhancement packs that include items such as handcut Kiriko glass and hand-pleated black leather.Under The Bonnet Is: A ten ratio, super slick, automatic that is bolted to a battery pack and 3.5L V6. Peak power is quoted as 264kW. The non-hybrid version has 310kW and 600Nm from a twin turbo V6. Economy is quoted as 6.6L/100km. Emissions are 150g/km. We reached an average of 9.7?100km on a 70/30 suburban/highway cycle.On the Outside It’s: Dominated by that air intake that’s made of 5,000 individual pieces. Lexus handcraft the spindle grille and in their own words: “The design process behind the grille would be considered extravagant if the result were anything less than visionary.” Indeed. The 5,235mm length starts with that, and that huge grille sees full LED illumination either side, both in headlights and the separate driving/indicator lights.At just 1,450mm in total height, the LS looks longer than that length measurement suggests. Such are the proportions that the driver is placed at the halfway point of the car. Subtle lines highlight the gentle upswing of the rear window line before a surprisingly small bootspace of 440L finishes with LED tail lights. Both front and rear indicators follow the Audi-eque style of flashing longitudinally in sequence, rather than all at once. Rubber is Bridgestone’s Turanza and at 245/45 front and rear on 20 inch diameter chromed alloys, it makes for an impressive footprint.On The Inside It’s: An impressive place. There are: Heated and vented front seats with three memory positions. Heated and massage capable rear seats. Blu-ray player and screens for the rear seats. 23 speakers of DAB quality sound from Mark Levinson. 12 airbags. Quad zone airconditioning. A passenger side section of the dash that lights up internally. Mood lighting. Rear and side window sunshades, which sees the rear lower on engaging Reverse… And that damnable touch interface on the centre console. It’s time to bench it and go for something ergonomically and user friendly. There’s also no wireless charge pad…The centre console houses some operating buttons and one is for the height adjustable air suspension.Back to that touchpad. Even allowing for touch and sensitivity setting changes, it’s not intuitive in usage. The cursor on the 12.3 inch display screen never seems to correctly line up with the icon being sought, some options are a swipe as opposed to a click like a mouse, and the menu system itself doesn’t always make for user friendly interpretation.The seating position for each pew is simply operated. The driver’s seat moves when power is switched off to provide lift and space for easier exit from the car. The rear seats have multiple modes for top of back, lumbar, and lower back massaging. It makes for interesting passage for the rear seat passengers, especially those that are in late primary and early high school. Because there is a screen each, their comfort level is higher than a single roof mounted screen. However, their centre fold out console which has a touchscreen for aircon and audio, allows the rear seat passengers to control audio for the front seats too…a separate audio source for headphone wearers would be more suitable.For the driver there is a classy looking binnacle and dash. Leather material surrounds the area and is stitched. The screen is full colour and changes in look depending on which drive mode is selected via the toggle dial on top left. Normal mechanical analogue gauges on either side show fuel and temperature. There is a HUD as well. This shows a broad variety of info but the display is limited to being adjustable for brightness and height only.Design wise, the dash showcases and mirrors the grille. Sine wave lines stretch from side to side, and in front of the passenger is a translucent panel that is lit internally to match the lines. The stitching in the seats in the test car also matches the stitching and dash, making for a cohesive appearance. What’s also cohesive is the feel of the centre console storage lid. Buttons on either side allow the lid to be opened in either direction. It’s a small yet eminently usable feature.Out On The Road It’s: A mix of power, grace, sportiness, and hmmm. It will launch, and hard, from a standing start. It will handle back country roads, of rutted surfaces and sweeping corners, as easily as it does smooth highways and suburban roads. It can be driven with verve and a nod towards sports as equally well as it can be driven gently and politely. The hmm is the reaction time from the air suspension.

As much as the LS 500h can waft along, hit anything of a height of five centimetres or more at certain speeds, and rather that “pillow” over the top, there’s a solid bang instead. It’s a small jolt, to be sure, but a jolt nonetheless. It isn’t a common occurrence either, as the car isn’t intended to be driven in such environments to invite those intrusions.We took the LS 500h on a drive loop from the Blue Mountains to Kiama via the Hume Highway, the Mount Keira road near Wollongong, then back via the Jamberoo Road through to Robertson, home of the The Giant Potato, then back roads north through to Mittagong and along the Hume again. It’s a superb and relaxed cruiser on the freeway, with plenty of noise insulation keeping the extraneous noises to a minimum.Sink the slipper and the V6 roars into life. There’s an odd note to it, but in a good way, with a hint of V8 to the tone. Acceleration is indecent for a big car, and the power steering assistance is calibrated to provide instant response to the slightest touch. Drive itself is engaged via a rocker switch selector, with Park engaged via a push button.Get into the winding roads heading down to Wollongong and out from Kiama, and the chassis sits flat, allowing the steering and drivetrain to perfectly combine for a drive experience best described as exhilarating. The Lexus can be pushed hard, harder than expected, with a surefooted and confident approach. Range Road, just to the south east of Bowral, the home of the Don Bradman museum, showcases the ability of the chassis, with varying road conditions meeting sweeping turns before sharp corners that test the brakes and handling. Apart from the aforementioned bang from the suspension occasionally, the LS 500h shone brightly.What About Safety?: A four position camera system allows for 360 degree viewing and the high definition display screen makes for crystal sharp viewing. Depending of trim level there are ten or twelve airbags. The LED headlights are adaptive in direction and the rear lights flash under emergency braking. Naturally Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitoring are standard, as is Autonomous Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection. Radar Cruise Control with distance adjustment is perfect for the highways and freeways. The bonnet is pedestrian friendly, with an emergency pop up system if the sensors read an impact. There is also Front Cross Traffic Assist, alongside Lane Keep Assist and Roadsign Detection. The Front Cross Traffic Assist is very handy in areas such as the Kiama lighthouse carpark.And The Warranty Is?: Still just four years or 100,000 kilometres. On a service booking, Lexus may provide a loan car or organise a pickup & return for a home or business address. More info on owner benefits can be found here.

At The End Of the Drive. The question is simple. Is $203K worth the ask? This car will appeal to a wealthy and retired audience, or perhaps a niche chauffeur service. There is no doubt at all that the car can be driven in a hard and sporting manner just as easily as its more likely purpose. The trackpad interface is only a small part of the experience, yet it’s a series of papercuts that overcomes any supposed advantage. The economy could be better too, but again the intended market wouldn’t worry about fuel costs. As an example of technology in an automotive sense, it wins here.

Have a look at the details here.

 

Mitsubishi Levels Up With Outlander.

Mitsubishi have released details of updates to their popular Outlander. The stylish SUV has been updated to deliver a more refined and functional vehicle with a number of specification changes across the range.

The new exterior includes a monotone 18 inch alloy wheel for the ES model, along with a black cloth trim, with piano black door and dash trims. Mid-spec LS models have a microsuede seat trim with synthetic leather bolsters, with piano black and silver pinstripe door & dash trims. The top of the range Exceed models have black leather trim, with carbon fibre design and silver pinstripe door & dash trims. Also for 2020, the Exceed incorporates the latest generation of Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system with active yaw technology. This incorporates a choice of driving modes, which are Eco, Normal, Snow and now incorporates Gravel.Safety technology has been given a wave of the magic wand. The ES 2.4L model has been given Forward Collision Mitigation as standard, along with rain sensing wipers, dusk sensing headlamps and auto dimming for the rear view mirror. In the Exceed model, the Outlander is the first model in the Mitsubishi range to display speed limit information in multi-information display sourcing data from the navigation app.

Inside, the introduction of a power lumbar adjustment has improved driver comfort across the range. Redesigned second-row seats have improved cushioning, offering a more comfortable driving experience for passengers. Passengers also benefit from the introduction of an additional rear USB charging port, and improved air-conditioning controls controls.

There is also a new overhead console. It blends the sunglasses holder, seatbelt reminder and passenger airbag cut-off indicator. The Exceed has a sunroof which locks out this new addition.Derek McIlroy, Deputy Director of Marketing and Operations, said of the vehicle: “Outlander drivers are looking for an SUV they can use for their daily drive, but they can count on for their next adventure. The Outlander is equipped with excellent handling through the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system, in addition to ample cargo space. This year we’ve strengthened the range by taking customer feedback and adding additional safety, comfort and infotainment features. It’s a flexible and great value SUV.”

The colour choice is extensive. Mitsubishi lists: White, Starlight, Sterling Silver, Titanium, Black, Ironbark, and Red Diamond.Pricing starts for the five seater 2.0L ES with a manual transmission at a RRP (plus government and dealership charges) of $29,490. $33,290 is the price for the ES five seater and CVT, with the LS being exclusively a seven seater. The 2WD seven seater petrol and CVT starts at $34,290, and the AWD petrol and diesel from $36,790 & $40,290. The  range topping Exceed has a petrol or diesel, and is priced from $43,290 for the petrol, and from $46,790 for the diesel. Head to the Mitsubishi website for details.

2019 Nissan Qashqai ST – Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s entry level vehicle in the Qashqai range, the ST five door small/medium SUV.What Does It Cost?: Nissan’s website indicates a driveaway price of $26,990 for the manual. The auto is $2,000 more.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L petrol engine and CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission driving the front wheels. There are 106kW and 200Nm to be found which doesn’t read as a great deal. However, the Qashqai isn’t a big or heavy car at 1,375kg (dry) and the CVT is well enough sorted that it makes a good fist of what the engine can deliver. In our 60/40 urban to highway drive, economy finished on a final figure of 7.1L/100km, not far off the rated 6.9L/100km. The range estimator and driven distance combined to say there was a theoretical distance of over 800km from the 65L tank.On The Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be. Seats are manual for adjustment and covered in a easy to maintain fabric. Legroom for front and rear seat passengers are better than adequate, even with the fronts rolled back. Rear cargo space is rated at 430L and 1,598L with seats down, meaning it’s a family friendly vehicle.

The driver and passenger face an elegantly swept dashboard with a line that curves in and around from the doors and meets in the middle over a well laid out centre console stack. It gives a strong impression of two separate compartments without being stifling in room. The quality of the plastics in the cabin is high, with a largely charcoal hue complementing the piano black surrounds for the centre vertical section of the dash.Here also is a couple of nice additions for an entry level vehicle. A left side camera engages in Reverse to show the car’s position relative to the kerb . This minimises the alloy wheels scraping along them. It shows the same view when the front left parking sensors read another vehicle coming into range. Audio has a DAB tuner, again a nice addition, and overall sound quality was of a decent enough level. However the touchscreen has a dull, even dowdy, look to it, and that’s at odds with the otherwise pleasing look and ambience of the cabin.The driver’s pinnacle is of two analogue dials and a small LCD info screen. Nissan places the tabs for info access on the left side of the quite broad steering wheel, and it’s a natural, intuitive, layout to utilise. However, Nissan have chosen to not fit paddle shifters for manual shifting, leaving that to the gear selector lever.

The wipers aren’t Auto on, nor are the headlights. Non auto wipers can be dealt with but we feel all cars should have auto headlights with no off switch, for safety reasons.On The Outside It’s: A clear indication that Nissan knows how to link its vehicles together with a corporate face. There’s the standout silver “Vee” in the grille and arrow head LED driving lights to start. In a safety sense here, the front indicators are too small and buried in the inner corner of the driving lights means they’re awkwardly placed and easy to not see.

In profile it’s an aero look, with a graceful curve from the nose back. There are even a pair of aerodynamic aids in the shape of blades in the lower extremes of the bumper that houses the front sensors. Its a sleek look overall as it heads to the rear, with the rear passenger window kicking up to balance the slope of the cargo door.

Bridgestone supply the Dueler rubber and it’s a 215/60/17 combination on five spoke alloys.On The Road It’s: A bit of a mixed bag. The throttle can be a bit sensitive, with a gentle push having the Qashqai ST lurch forward more than expected from a stop. Getting underway is either a leisurely progress forward or, with a harder but not excessive throttle application, quite rapid. Its noticeably on pace when the rev counter has climbed to around 3,000rpm or so, as there’s a definite change to the engine’s character.

The CVT is well sorted in how it deals with the engine, giving an impression that’s there is plenty more zip than the engine’s output figures suggest. The needle swings around easily, and the computer readily defines the drive nature during acceleration. There’s either the constant surge from the engine or a more traditional gear change feel.

It works well in downhill runs too. The transmission has preprogrammed change points and it uses these to ” engine brake” readily and effectively.

There was a minor eyebrow raiser when cruising on the highway. There was a subtle but detectable back and forth feeling, with a corresponding almost imperceptible flicker of the rev counter needle. Think a slight, slight, acceleration and off the pedal for deceleration.

Highway ride quality is up there, with the suspension coping admirably with the varying undulations, and would compress nicely without issue on road joins. However, the lower travel of the ride does bang crash harshly at slow speeds on smaller bumps, giving the feeling the ride has been tuned more for long and middle distance comfort, at the slight expense of the occasional speed bump.

The steering and brakes feel natural and comfortable. Steering lock to lock is just over four turns. The brake pedal is communicative enough to provide decent levels of feedback and hauls up the compact Qashqai readily.And The Warranty Is? 5 years, with unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are every 10,000 kilometres. The first service is $226, the second is $306. $236, $435, $245, and $334 are the remaining four service costs. Roadside assistance is available for 12 months.
At the End Of the Drive. Nissan’s presence on road has come along in the proverbial leaps and bounds in the last few years. Stylish exteriors, family friendly interiors, good tech levels, driver friendly economy figures, and decent dynamics on road make for this particular Nissan, the Qashqai ST, a very appealing proposition for a new family. The Nissan website is where you can find out more.

2019 Toyota 86 GTS Manual and Auto – Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s joint venture with Subaru, the two door sports coupe Toyota call 86. In this case we drove, back to back, the 86 GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack, and the 86 GTS Auto.How Much?: The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports Pack is priced from $43,534 driveaway with the “standard” GTS priced from $40,497. The Manual has Apollo Blue paint, a specialist colour for this model and trim, with the Auto being clad in White Liquid. Metallics are a $500 option. The auto is $42,866 with Ignition Red, $43,381 with the Liquid White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Subaru’s fabulous flat or “boxer” four. Peak power is 147kW (auto) and 152kW (manual) from the 2.0L capacity engine, with peak twist being either 205Nm or 212Nm. There are slightly different cog ratios in the manual as compared to the auto, with the manual’s final drive at 4.3:1, compared to 4.1:1 with the auto. Peak power is at a lofty 7,000rpm, with that peak torque found between 6,400rpm to 6,600rpm in the auto, 6,800rpm in the manual. In order to get those figures the engine is tuned to run on 98RON. Economy is quoted at 7.1L/100km or 8.4L/100km for the auto and manual on the combined cycle. Due to the physical size of the 86, fuel tank capacity is just 50L. We returned figures in largely urban driving of 7.9L/100km for the auto and 8.6km/100km for the manual. Gross vehicle masses are 1,670kg (auto) and 1,700kg (manual) with dry weights between 1,250kg to 1,280kg.On The Inside It’s: a nightmare for rear seat passengers, a tight squeeze for front seat passengers, and a harken back to “the glory days” of Toyota with a retro look and feel to the cabin’s design. The front seats use a lever method for moving the seats forward to allow access to the rear, but they also use levers for seat back and height adjustment, not the preferable electric or at least “roller dial” adjustment. They are heated via a two position switch but only for the squab, not the whole seat.The GTS spec has Alcantara trim on the doors and dash for a little extra comfort, plus carpeted floor mats which also add a little extra sound deadening. Pedals are alloy with rubber tabs for the retro look and aiding shoe grip. The dash dials are fully analogue with a small 4.2 inch LCD screen set at the bottom right. This provides oil and coolant temperatures, G-force instant and history, a power and torque delivery graph, and more. The main screen is 6.1 inches in measurement and is a modern look on a retro theme. There’s a solid black surround, a CD player slot, and AM/FM only, meaning no DAB. Satnav, reverse camera, and streaming apps are standard.The actual look is of dials and toggle switches. It’s meant to evoke a sense of looking back in time and it works. The dual zone climate control, the air intake for fresh/recirculate, even the glowing red LEDs for the clock and temperature displays, are all “olde timey” in look. The centre console plastics are a chintzy silver plastic and have the traction control tabs embedded. Both have the standard push button Start/Stop and that’s visually obvious by being located in the bottom right corner of the centre console stack. And for those that prefer mechanical stopping, a proper hand brake is employed.The dash is a sweeping design that joins both doors in an arc and wave and has the centre airvents looking not unlike a impulse engine housing from a starship. The top of the dash binnacle and the flat panel have the Alcantara trim, and there is a subtle silver hue to the airvent surrounds. That colour is also wrapping the gear selector. Thankfully, both headlights and wipers are Auto on. There are a couple of centre console cup/bottle holders, and just enough room in the door pockets for a bottle. The boot is also surprisingly big, and coped well enough with a weekly shop. For its more obvious audience, a couple or single, it’s ideal for an overnight bag or two.On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged from the original model however a very mild facelift was applied in 2016. Tail lights are LED as are the headlight cluster driving lights. There are aerodynamic strakes in the lower quarters of the front bumper around the globe lit driving lights. The chin of the front bumper has been subtly restyled, and there are even thin strakes on the outer edges of the plastic at the bottom of the windscreen for air guidance.

The GTS Manual with Dynamic Sports pack comes with Brembo brakes and red calipers, Sachs suspension, and bespoke 17 inch black alloys. Rubber is from Michelin and is 215/45/17. There’s a small rear wing for both. The manual has it in full black whilst the auto was in black with body coloured end plates. There are twin exhaust tips and both are chromed. Indicators are embedded in the leading edge of the front wheel arches which also extend into the line of view from the driver’s seat. The auto also featured the excellent Brembo stoppers. Just a breath on the brake pedal has the Brembos applying grip, and with a beautifully modulated pedal, the driver can judge perfectly a “slow in fast out”corner drive.On The Road It’s: A huge amount of fun. Deliberately designed with a mix of skatiness and grip, the low centre of gravity, relatively thin rubber, and taut suspension make for a car that is always feeling like it’s ready to break loose. Get it onto a road that has more corners than straights and the chassis immediately shows why it delivers smiles in spades.

Although peak power and torque figures are north of 6,000rpm, the gearing and the engines are perfectly matched to give, if not true outright zip, a very good semblance of it. Because the driver sits so low to to the ground too, there’s a sense of higher speed. That’s helped by a raspy metallic induction note, especially in the auto with the longer gearing. On that point, the auto sees 100kmh/110kmh at 1,000rpm lower than the manual. 100kmh in the manual is 2,700rpm, 3,000rpm for 110kmh. Toyota’s head of PR, Orlando Rodriguez, advised that the manual was the pick for buyers and when the slight facelift in 2016 was applied, the change to the manual’s engine tune and final drive was applied due to the higher sales volumes. The auto’s driveline was left untouched.The manual is more manic to drive and the transmission changes have added faster acceleration times. The gear change is a combination of a definitive selector mechanism and a clutch that allows the driver to find JUST the right point to engage and slingshot away. Revs are dialled up, the left foot lifts to engage the clutch, and there’s a fine point where the rest of the travel upwards, and the accelerator’s pedal goes downwards, that works almost like a launch control. There is no clutch slippage, the narrow rubber hooks into the tarmac, and it’s off.

The auto is, naturally, easier to get under way and is by no means locked out of the fun facts. Left to its own devices it’s good enough, but use the paddle shifts or gear selector for a manual change, and it’s noticeably quicker, sharper, crisper. The selector in the manual is notchy, precisely metallic in feel, not unexpectedly, with a gate mechanism that tells the driver “yes, this is second, yes, this is third”. Reverse is a lift of a lock-out lever and across, and this too is definitive in its engagement and movement. Both have a suspension that tends towards the harder side of ride, with the Dynamic Sports Pack adding a hint more of the sharper edge. It’s the sort of feel that would have the Michelin rubber roll over a coin and tell you not only is it a five cent piece, it’s heads up and made in 1991. But neither are excessively uncomfortable, even with the rear end kicking up a corner every now and then. There is just enough “give” to dial out the upper end of the harshness. The dimensions of the 86 help with handling. It’s shorter than it looks, at 4,240mm and squeezes in a 2,570mm wheelbase.

Steering is thought process quick, with a lock to lock of just three turns. Think your way through a corner and the wheel points the broad nose exactly where it should be. Once the seating position has been sorted, and it really would be easier with the roller dial adjustment, not the levers, the car becomes an extension, and that’s how a good sports car or car with more sporting pretensions than others, should feel. Although it’s not the roomiest of cabins, there’s enough for the left arm to grab the manual gear selector, both arms to be just at the right angle to steer and not be cramped or over-extended, and therefore that steering becomes the extension.What About Safety?: Camera for reverse, seven airbags, hill start assist, and the mandated driver aids.And The Warranty Is? Toyota announced in January of 2019 that passenger cars would receive a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which could be bumped to seven years on the engine and drivetrain on “properly maintained vehicles” that are equipped with genuine Toyota parts.

At The End Of The Drive: The joint venture between Toyota and Subaru has provided a car that has found itself a strong niche. There is a bespoke motorsport series, the car is used in driver training, and drivers that have either one will acknowledge another driver. It’s a car that feels as if it needs more power however the chassis is tuned to take advantage almost perfectly of what there is. It’s also the kind of car that has a set audience and those that appreciate what its intention is, will be the ones that extract every erg of enjoyment from the drive. On a cost effective or “bang for your buck” basis, for a dollar per smile, at $40 to $45K, it’s a bargain. The Toyota website is where more information can be found.

Car Review: 2019 Isuzu MU-X LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu five door MU-X LS-U. It’s also available in LS-T and LS-M spec and comes in 4×2 and 4×4 driveline options. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. It’s currently available in a drive-away package (LS-U 4×4) at $50,490. Recommended retail is $52,400 plus on roads for a RRP of $57,674.Under The Bonnet Is: The rattly 3.0L that makes 130kW and a handy 430Nm of torque from 2,000 to 2,200 revs per minute. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from the 2.8L as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately however, compared to the D-Max utes there is extra noise shielding in the engine bay and transmission tunnel. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. In our drive loop we saw a best of 7.8L/100km for the seven seater, and an overall average of 8.1L/100km. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.

On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, easy pull straps for the third row seats, and a raised cargo floor with covered storage behind them. As it’s clearly based on the D-Max it’s virtually identical otherwise. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the centre row passengers at this trim level. The third row seats aren’t recommended for anyone of infant or adult size.The LS-U starts with a traditional key. Isuzu fitted the review car with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders. Near the driver’s knee is some switchgear including one that looked like an On/Off switch for the parking sensors.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection hidden behind a flexible rubber tab at the bottom of the centre console stack. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is the same as the D-Max, meaning it really needs a massive overhaul. It also features the same driver alert warning note that will stay on screen for as long as the car is running if the OK tab isn’t touched. The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on in situations such as dusk or when it’s raining.Actual switchgear is mostly well laid out and accessible with the minor accessories ports located at the bottom of the stack. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. The dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. The upper dash storage locker here at least did open without issue, unlike one found in the D-Max. Total cargo capacity is up to 1830L with the second and third row seats folded flat. With the third row only down it’s 878L.On The Outside It’s: Largely similar to the D-Max from the front to the rear of the second row doors. Here it’s the addition of a the big pillar, roof, and non-powered tailgate, with a towbar added here as well. Rubber is 255/60/18 H/T or Highway Terrain tread from Bridgestone. There are, though, front and rear parking sensors and the warning tone inside is a very high pitched screech, making it unmistakeable in intent. Headlights are self-levelling and there are LED driving lights. The lower front bumper is bespoke for the MU-X.

Out On The Road It’s: More of the same as that found in the D-Max. Steering is a little more assisted than the utes meaning turning and car parking driving is moderately easier. The rear suspension is a rigid live axle and coil springs, with the front being coil springs and gas shocks. Ride is more composed, more family friendly. The engine is the same rackety clackety noisy, just muted thanks to that extra insulation. It’s the same thrashy rattle from a start when pushed, more restrained off throttle, and almost invisible on idle and in cruise. It’s a determined load lugger too, and in no way can it be considered sporting. There’s a moment of turbo lag before the engine gets lively, and even then it’s a relaxed, don’t hurry we’ll get there, proposition.The transmission is the same in that it’s mostly smooth, will drop a cog or two for downhill runs and engine braking, but will exhibit moments of indecisive shifting as well. On a normal acceleration run it’s slurry with hints of change, will downshift after a pause when the accelerator is pushed, but it’s a leisurely progression forward.

On the upside it’s a brilliant highway cruiser. That relaxed attitude sees the legal freeway speed ticking the engine over at 1800rpm and it’s here that it’s in airplane cruise mode. You know it’s there but it’s settled into the deep thrum that eventually becomes background noise. There is some road noise and the handling shows that the mixed terrain tyres are a compromise at best on tarmac. The front end of the MU-X is prone to running wide but not as wide as the D-Max, and it’s not helped by a steering ratio that has the nose move barely from a quarter to half turn of the wheel. It’s great when off-roading where that flexibility is needed, but normal driving needs something tighter. Also, the steering isn’t as assisted as that found in the MU-X, meaning more arm effort is required.Brake pedal feel is nearly as numb as the D-Max, with perhaps a bit more initial feedback on the downward travel.

The four wheel drive system is electronic and Isuzu call it Terrain Command. Up to 100km/h the car will accept a change to 4WD high range, but for low range it must be stopped, and the transmission placed in neutral. A push of the cabin dial, a clunk as the transfer case engages, and the MU-X will be ready to get dirty. By the way, this is the only drive mode change available, there are no programs for Snow, Mud, etc. Approach angle is 30.0 degrees, with a departure angle of 22.7 degrees. Rollover angle is good too, with 22.3 degrees available.

The Level Of Safety Is: Average. The mandated safety systems are here, there are six airbags, Hill Start and Hill Descent control are here but there is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Blind Spot Detection, no Rear Cross Traffic Warning. However, the ABS is a properly sorted four channel system and the reverse camera is of a reasonable quality. Underneath the 4×4 capable MU-X is a sump guard plate that also covers the electrically driven transfer case.

And The Warranty Is: Now up, to counterbalance the price rise, to six years/150,000 kilometres. Roadside assistance is also six years, up from five. According to Isuzu their research says most drivers don’t go over the 20,000 kilometre mark in a year. In regards to service: the D-Max sees 12 months or 15,000 kilometre service intervals with the first service just $350. Second year service is $450, with year three $500. Make it to Year 4 it’s down to $450, then it’s $340, $1110, and year seven is $400.

At The End Of The Drive.
The MU-X is much like the Pajero Sport, the Trailblazer, the Pathfinder. All based on a ute with off-road ability, they’re clunky, agricultural, but still manage to deliver a form of comfort and there’;s the added extra flexibility of the third row seats. Isuzu is a truck maker, not a small sedan or hatch maker, and it shows. There’s value and that appeals, but for real appeal the interior and handling need a serious lift.

Isuzu has seen increased sales of the D-Max range, ahead even of its sibling by any other name, the Colorado. It’s a vehicle that really wins on price, a modicum of ok good looks, and possibly an appeal to those that don’t need what others seem to see as required. It’s an earnest, basic, no frills machine, and with pricing now backed by an extended warranty, there’s more appeal there. Those looking for a higher level of safety, a quieter driveline, and ride quality need to look elsewhere. If it still grabs your attention, go to the Isuzu website