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Becoming Greener, Saving Money, and Other Ways to Get About

It’s always a prudent idea to have a little bit of cash tucked away for a rainy day.  As much as we like to drive, there are some other ways of getting to work or the shops, especially if you’re one who lives in a city or town, which will probably be most of us.

“I wish I had a little more cash in the bank!” is a phrase that’s been around since Noah, and I guess he too might have looked at getting a higher paid job to cope with the rising costs of timber, building materials, fuel, and other important goods and services.  For some of us, the reality is that our current job is pretty good, anyway.  So, what are some things we can do when we feel we need to be saving a little more money for other things (e.g., that weekend away to Fiji or paying for that school sports trip to NZ that one of the kids has to go on)?

Getting from A to B every day of the week does draw down on any spare cash, and once you’ve made the switch to a smaller car, a hybrid or – lucky for some – even a new EV, you are left scratching around for other options to cut costs.  Is there anything else that can be done then to reduce our fuel, EV power bill, and our carbon footprint?

On sunny days – and we have a few of those in Australia – why not take the bike instead of taking the car?  If your work premises is under 30 minutes away by bike, then cycling is a great way to keep yourself fit, also ensuring that the times when you do dust off the car to take it out for a spin become even more fun and rewarding.

Using your car less and biking or walking more is going to be good for keeping your body in shape.  Now that’s a great incentive if you’re on the lookout for someone special or even if just maintaining the special relationship you do have.  How cool is that, maintaining your sexiness and letting more cash build up in the bank for that holiday away or “Johnny’s or Jenny’s” school sports trip.  Of course, if you have to take half a dozen kids to school, take a load of gear or a trailer, or if it’s simply pouring with rain, then you’re probably going to want to stick with your car for transport.  However, shorter distances can also be walked – even with a brolly in the pouring rain!

Governments, town planners, and urban designers are all trying making it easier for cyclists to be able to bike safely, pedestrians to go walk about, all while working towards cleaning up the air quality of our urban environments – particularly the congested city environment.  I do love a ride on the pushbike.  The wind in the hair, the sun on the back, and the blood pumping through the veins feels great.

But what about the bus or train?  Does your public transport system provide a better alternative to your vehicle’s thirsty internal combustion engine?  If you can find a public transport route that takes you within half a kilometre of your work, why not use public transport and walk the remainder?  You’ll get to stretch your legs before arriving at your office, and this will help your work productivity – especially first thing in the morning.  Buses are usually comfortable enough in Australia, while the train is also available in many of our main centres.

I guess if it’s time for getting the groceries, the bus or train might not be a practical option; it is hard work carrying all those shopping bags full of milk and eggs.  The grocery run is definitely easier to do by car.  Doing the groceries weekly or even fortnightly rather than less frequently saves you petrol money and also grocery money – it’s a fact!  Flip the coin, and I suppose lots of little shopping trips everyday by bus or train could also get the groceries done.

But is everyday shopping practical or relaxing? Maybe not for busy Mums and Dads, or workaholics, but it is probably more attractive for older people who haven’t quite the same work and family commitments.

Of course, there will be a number of you smirking as you read this because your work office is at home.  Yes, I agree, that’s a pretty cool set up!  Rolling out of bed in the morning and into your office chair sounds like a great way to get to work.  Still, there are ways, I’m sure, that you could reduce the level of car trips you do in a week, especially if you needed to save a few extra dollars for various reasons.

Still not convinced that you can give up the car entirely?  Actually, it is pretty hard in this day and age to go carless.  All of us need to be able to get out of town and see the countryside from time to time – it’s healthy and the Doctors would agree!  However, there is another phenomenon known as carpooling.  You could carpool with the people at your work.  Single-occupant vehicles (i.e., one person in one car) are frowned on by town planners, environmentalists, and traffic engineers, so if you can share the ride with someone else via a carpool system, you will be impressing these types.  You will also get to save money, and you can relax a little, feeling a bit better about how you’re helping to reduce traffic congestion, your own carbon footprint, and the urban air pollution.

Of course, if you love cars, then you are going to want to drive yourself everywhere.  Best save up and buy a hybrid or EV, then!

It’s School Run Time Again!

Well, the start of another school year is upon us, which means that the roads at certain times of the day are going to be super-busy as mums and dads do the school run.  If your child is starting school for the first time or if he/she is going to a new school that’s beyond walking distance, you might be wondering about doing the school run for the first time.  What do you need to know?  And how do you get your car ready for the school run?

First of all, figure out whether you want to be part of a car pool scheme or whether you’re only going to pick up and drop off your own kids.  This depends on a number of factors, including how large your family is and where all the other families involved in the car pool scheme live. It also depends on how large your family vehicle is.  If what’s handy for the school run is a smaller two-door hatchback that requires passengers to do a fair bit of clambering in order to be squished in the back seat, then you may not be all that popular.  However, if you have a minivan or MPV handy, then you’re probably the obvious choice for doing the school run.

If you choose to go down the car pool route, then sit down and negotiate everything with the others involved in the scheme. What happens when someone is ill or has an unexpected meeting at an awkward time? If someone has to do the lion’s share of the driving (that person with the seven-seater, for example), how will they be compensated for the extra fuel (or power) costs? Will the car pool only be for the mornings, or will it be for afternoons as well – and what happens when one (or more) of the kids has after-school sports or drama or something along those lines? Carpooling, while good in theory, might not work for everybody in all situations.

Getting The Car Ready

Here, we’ll assume that your situation is like mine: two kids and no nearby families, so you’re doing the school run on your own. Do you need to do anything to get your car ready specifically for the school run?

Your car will already be set up in many ways for carrying your own kids (booster seats, for example) but there may be a few more things that you need to think about. For example, will you carry school bags in the boot or in the car cabin? What happens if someone has to carry an extra-big delicate school project – where will that go? How will you make sure that the inevitable paper notices that kids come out of school clutching at the end of the school day don’t get lost in all the other bits that creep into a car’s cabin over time (we’ve all been there!). If you have some sort of system, the chances that an important notice will get lost in the seat-back storage pocket or in the footwell will be minimised.

Other things you might want to get ready include:

  • Having USB chargers ready to go in case someone needs to charge their phone, tablet or laptop – especially if they have only just realised that the laptop has low battery and they’re going to be the first person to present a speech when they get to school.
  • Snacks for after school. Kids are often hungry after a busy day, and this can make them grumpy and whiny, especially if you end up getting stuck in a traffic jam. Dried fruit, nuts, rice crackers and bliss balls are all easy to store in the glove box to restore flagging blood sugar levels while still being reasonably healthy.
  • An umbrella. Weather can be fickle, and if you opt to park further down the road then walk to meet your kids at the school gate, there will inevitably be a day when you didn’t think it was going to rain but…

Cleaning your car before the school year begins is your choice, although I’d recommend giving the inside a good vacuum just to give it that fresh, new feeling that you always get at the start of a new school year. If your kids are old enough to be embarrassed by a dirty car exterior, or if they’re old enough to find writing “Clean Me” messages in the dust funny, they’re old enough to be made to wash the car themselves.  You could make going to the car wash a bit of a weekly ritual – perhaps at the end of the week.

School Run Etiquette

When you do the school run, it’s important to be courteous and considerate of other parents and other children. Don’t go all Mama Bear, ready to run roughshod all over other people in order to get your kids.  Every other parent is as stressed and protective as you are.  What’s more, congestion and visibility are real hazards around school gates at the busy times of day.  To ensure that everybody stays safe, follow the etiquette rules:

  • Don’t double-park, park in bus stops or park in No Parking zones. Parking a little way down the road and having a short walk won’t do you or your kids any harm.
  • Keep your speed down, no matter how busy or rushed for time you are.
  • Respect zebra crossings – that’s a no brainer.
  • Don’t honk your horn to get your child’s attention.
  • Avoid getting into silly status games with other parents involving fashion, achievements and vehicle type.
  • Respect rules such as the time limit in the “kiss and run” zones.
  • Model the sort of patience that you would expect your kids to demonstrate, especially regarding places in the queue, waiting your turn and so forth.
  • If someone else breaks these rules, refrain from shouting corrections and comments out the window. You don’t want to be a Karen.

An MPV – Great for School Runs!

S to Z of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s or outdoorsy-person’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans or MPVs with AWD like the Volkswagen Multivan, LDV G10, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Mercedes-Benz Valente, Volkswagen Caravelle, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai STARIA, Volkswagen California, Toyota Granvia, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY, and the Volkswagen Caddy are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for ensuring you have a better chance of getting through soft sand and out of sticky situations.

For years, station wagons have been a go-to machine for the surfer; for good reason too as they offer plenty of space for lugging gear and for sleeping.  Having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.  Outside of the list of MPVs/vans above, there are some great vehicles worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing and any other type of outdoor adventure.

Here is the best of them from S (Skoda) to V (Volvo).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Skoda Kodiaq

Arguably the best in the business is Skoda’s Kodiaq.  It does everything a surfer wants very well.  The 2.0-litre Turbo petrol engine is smooth and powerful.  4×4 capability is at the ready, and the Kodiaq Wagon boasts 7-seats and a 7 speed automatic 4×4 gearbox.  A 132 kW/320 Nm turbo-petrol is under the bonnet of the base and Sportline variants.  The punchy RS packs a 176 kW/500 Nm version of the 2.0-litre engine. The AWD-only Skoda not only offers 3 rows of seats, it is also able to open up 2005 litres of boot space.  With standard autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, active LED headlights and a cosy, suede-trimmed interior complete with sat-nav, keyless start, two-zone climate-control and side and rear-window blinds, the Skoda Kodiaq is one very impressive package.

Skoda Superb AWD Scout

Grab yourself an AWD Skoda Superb Scout crossover wagon and surfing trips just got a whole lot nicer.  Under the Scout’s bonnet sits a 200 kW/350 Nm, 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The spacious, comfortable and high-quality cabin is laden with plenty of soft-touch panels and easy-to-read interfaces. Safety technology includes front and rear autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning with active assist, blind-spot monitoring and self-parking.  The Superb Wagons will take 660 litres of luggage, expanding to 1950 litres with the rear seats folded. Towing capacity is rated at 2.2 tonnes.

SsangYong Rexton

Here’s another strong contender for best surfing wagon.  The seven-seater, five-star safe, 8-speed auto, 4×4, 2.2 Diesel-Turbo SsangYong Rexton large SUV uses a 149 kW/441 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel that boasts less than 9 litres/100 km fuel economy.  With, all-independent suspension, all-wheel disc brakes and an eight-speed auto gearbox, the big Korean-made SUV is equipped to go bush.  Boot space is a handy 1806 litres with second and third rows flat.

Subaru Forester

An icon in the surfing fraternity, the Subaru Forester always delivers the goods.  2022 sees the 5-door wagon offer a CVT 7-speed AWD with even autonomous emergency steering standard.  This is five-star safe, great on sipping small amounts of fuel and comfortable on any surface of road.  The Forester continues with the 136 kW/239 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine, and the 2.0-litre mild-hybrid claims 6- to 7 litres/100 km.  The Forester offers generous levels of passenger space, and the luggage capacity can open to 1768 litres with the rear seats folded.  Of course, the Forester is known for going places that Physics suggest it shouldn’t.  It is capable off-road, just keep in mind that it’s not a “Landie”!

Subaru Outback

Surprise, surprise, here is another Subaru, and a favourite with surfers.  The latest Subaru Outback is the newest of a long line of wagon’s that have carried surfboards and surfers all around the country.  Subaru’s Outback is made for the surfer’s design brief, so it will happily go off-road, cruise the open road, accommodate a mattress and provide great accident protection.  Five-star safe and comfortable to drive, the 5-door Outback Wagon uses a 138 kW/245 Nm 2.5-litre boxer petrol four-cylinder driving all four wheels through a new CVT transmission.  Subaru’s Outback crossover is bigger inside and out, employs the company’s latest global platform and features all the latest safety technology.  You can tow up to two-tonnes, and you have a boot with up to 2144 litres!

Toyota

Plenty of choice in the Toyota brand. Take your pick out of the RAV4 (smallest), Kluger, Fortuner, Prado (largest), and Land Cruiser.  All will get you far and beyond the tarmac, the Prado and Land Cruiser being truly 4×4 bush bashing capable.  Comfortable, reliable, and safe.  Boot space starts at around 1800 litres for the RAV4 and gets bigger from here.

Volkswagen Touareg

Good things come from VW, as surfers well know – the VW Kombi being a surfing icon.  Well-dressed, big and brutish is what many of the ladies like, and the Volkswagen Touareg has it all.  Available as a huge 5-door SUV shape, the Touareg boasts five-star safety, 4×4 competence, and a huge boot (over 1800 litres).  Passenger space is right up there with the best in the business.  It is available with a choice of three diesel engines: two 3.0-litre V6s – 170 kW/500 Nm (170 TDI) and 210 kW/600 Nm (210 TDI), plus a ruthless 310 kW/900 Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 monster.

VW Tiguan Allspace

Over 2000 litres of boot space (Allspace version), a practical no-nonsense interior, 5-star safe, comfortable to drive, AWD availability, and the Tiguan starts to make sense.  It is also another vehicle that has self-parking capability.  With 4MOTION AWD and a dual-clutch six or seven-speed auto transmissions, the Tiguan is an impressive mid-size SUV.  The choice of motors is good; a 110 kW/250 Nm 1.4-litre and 162 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre petrol turbo is available along with the torquey and thrifty 147 TDI 147 kW/400 Nm turbo-diesel.

Volvo XC60

Volvos are amazing cars to drive.  They are so comfortable, elegant, and boast all the best tech. Safety is a given, and the XC60 has up to 1792 litres of boot space.  Five-door SUV styling, an 8-speed automatic with AWD and you’re away.  Volvo’s XC60 SUV line-up is powered by petrol-only mild-hybrid 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. The R-Design continues with the more powerful 220 kW/420 Nm B6 mild-hybrid powertrain while the Polestar Engineered sticks with the 311 kW/670 Nm T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain.  Both are nice and responsive engines.

Volvo XC90

Even with all 7 seats in place, the Volvo XC90 boot can hold up to 302 litres of luggage.  Folding down second and third rows makes way for 1856 litres.  A superbly comfortable, AWD capable, and delivering huge safety credentials, the new Volvo XC90 is a luxury SUV like no other.  All XC90s come with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning/assist, sat-nav, self-parking, AWD, an 8-speed automatic transmission and a fuel-saving idle-stop system.  The XC90 D4 is powered by a 173 kW/480 Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.  The T6 petrol comes with a 140 kW/400 Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.  The 2.0-litre plug-in petrol-electric hybrid XC90 T8 claims an amazing 2.1 litres/100 km fuel consumption and slingshots to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds!

K to R of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that, if you’re wanting something to get you places, will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans with AWD or MPVs are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for getting through soft sand and sticky situations.  Having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.

There are some very good vehicles worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing and any outdoor adventure.  Aside from an AWD Van or AWD MPV, here are the best of them from K (Kia) to R (Renault).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Kia Sorento

The seven-seat Kia Sorento SUV is one of the most advanced vehicles in its class.  If you find parking a mean trick, then it can even park itself without anyone inside. Quiet, roomy and with a large boot, the Sorento is available in Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line and the choice of a front-drive 3.5-litre 200 kW/332 Nm V6 petrol with an eight-speed auto gearbox, an AWD dual-clutch auto 148 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel or a 190 kW/350 Nm PHEV.  The roomy cabin is enhanced by a commodious 616-litre boot that increases to a massive, all-seats-folded 2011 litres.

Land Rover Defender

Ultimate 4×4 traction.  The 2.0-litre D200, D240 and D250 diesels produce 147 kW/430 Nm, 177 kW/430 Nm and 183 kW/570 Nm respectively, while the petrol engines output 221 kW/400 Nm, 294 kW/550 Nm and 386 kW/625 Nm.  All Defenders are highly capable, dual-range 4x4s, all driving through an eight-speed auto gearbox.  Up to 2231 litres of boot space gives you plenty of space to sleep!  5-star safe.

Land Rover Discovery

Ultimate 4×4 traction with added sophistication. Of course, the Range Rover alternative is luxury to the max!  Discoverys are big on comfort and refinement and offer up to 2104 litres of sleeping space.  5-star safe.

LDV D90

A big, cushy, well-priced 7-seater with 5-doors.  Sitting on a strong ladder-frame chassis and boasting a punchy 160 kW/480 Nm, 2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel with an eight-speed auto transmission this is a seriously decent machine.  Offering rear-drive or dual-range 4WD with multi-mode terrain selection, off-roading is a breeze.  5-star safe and providing up to 2382 litres of sleeping space.

Mahindra XUV500 W10

A 7-seater with 5 doors and a 6-speed auto, the Mahindra XUV500 SUV is one of the best-value mid-size seven-seaters in Australia.  It is powered by a 103 kW/320 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-petrol engine.  AWD form is the best version and performs well off-road.  Let down only by a 4-star safety rating, the Mahindra has over 700 litres of boot space with the third row seats flat and grows to an excellent mattress in the back material.  You also get a five-year/100,000km warranty with five years of roadside assist when bought new.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi’s fourth generation Outlander SUV is a roomy 5-door wagon that is comfortable to drive, has all the modern tech, offering its owner plenty of space.  Available in AWD, running with an 8-speed CVT gearbox, and using the new 135 kW/245 Nm 2.5-litre engine this is a reliable unit that will take you and your mates places.  Boot space is up to 1461 litres, safety is 5-star, and you also get Mitsubishi’s class-leading 10 year/200,000 km warranty.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Another highly rated surfer’s wagon, the 2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Wagon.  With its 8-speed automatic gearbox is smooth.  It’s a dual-range unit with Low and High, so 4×4 traction combines with a high ground clearance and long-travel suspension to ensure plenty of off-road capability.  There’s heaps of passenger space and it’s surprisingly smooth and comfortable on the road.  The Pajero Sport is available in both five and seven-seat form and is powered by a 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 133 kW/430 Nm.  5-star safety and a boot space that’s huge. The Pajero Sport boasts a big, square cargo space and boasts 673-litres of cargo volume even up to the second row.  Fold the second row down as well and it’s cavernous.

Nissan X-Trail

The sharp-looking Nissan X-Trail is a real surfer’s choice.  Nissan’s X-Trail continues to rate among the best cargo-carriers in its class.  It feels nifty on the road and is five-star safe.  The AWD version uses a naturally-aspirated petrol engine with 126 kW/233 Nm.  Boot space is huge and close to 2000 litres, enough to lie down and stretch your legs out overnight.

Renault Koleos

A pretty cool looking wagon is the new Koleos from Renault.  Nissan’s X-Trail and Renault’s Koleos have teamed up and are based on the same platform.  Five-star safe and superbly comfortable, Renault’s five-seat Koleos mid-size SUV combines attractive looks and excellent people and luggage-carrying abilities.  There’s a choice, at the top-level for 4WD, and the 126 kW/226 Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine drives through a modern CVT transmission.  Boot space is almost 2000 litres!

A to J of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that, if you’re wanting something to get you places, will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans or MPVs with AWD like the Volkswagen Multivan, LDV G10, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Mercedes-Benz Valente, Volkswagen Caravelle, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai STARIA, Volkswagen California, Toyota Granvia, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY, and the Volkswagen Caddy are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for getting through soft sand and out of sticky situations.

For years, wagons and SUVs have also been a go-to machine for the surfer; for good reason too as they offer plenty of space, the capacity for lugging gear, and for sleeping.  But having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.  Outside of the list of vans and MPVs above, there are some great vehicles still worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing or any type of outdoor adventure.

Here is the best of them, first article of three, from A (Alfa Romeo) to J (Jeep).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Three petrol engines offer the Stelvio between 147–375 kW of power and 330–600 Nm of torque.  The 8-speed automatic and 4×4 (AWD) ability make it ideal for heading off tar seal.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and 1600 litres of boot space when the rear seats are folded flat.

Audi Q Wagons

 

Audi Q5 and Q7 models are idyllic; the Q3 maybe a little small, however.  All of these are stylish, AWD and superbly comfortable.  Diesel and petrol engines are available that offer the Q5 and Q7 between 150–251 kW of power and 370–700 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them perfect for nosing about off-road.  Both Q models have 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.  The Q5 has 1530 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; Q7 has 1971 litres.

Audi A6 Allroad

Cargo room extends to 1680 litres with the rear seats folded down, and the AWD Quattro system ensures that you’ll get around secondary roads and the odd track pretty comfortably in an A6 Allroad.  A nice wagon to drive, and the surfboard can go on the roof or slide in along the flat cargo area.  A sportier drive than a similarly capable Subaru Outback.  The Audi A6 Allroad Wagon 45TDI is offered in Australia and runs with a tiptronic 8-speed quattro drive.  The 3.0-litre Turbo-Diesel is a peach, packing a healthy 183 kW/600 Nm from its V6 configuration, and scampers from a standstill to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds.

BMW X3, X5

 

BMW X3 and X5 models are really nice SUV wagons for open road touring.  All are stylish, AWD, and superbly comfortable.  Diesel, electric and petrol engines are available for the X3 that offers between 135–285 kW of power and 300–620 Nm of torque.  X5 models get between 170 and 460 kW of power and 450–750 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them handy when getting down to the beach or picnic area.  All X models have 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and the X3 has 1600 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; X5 has 2047 litres.

Ford Everest

The Ford Everest is magnificent.  Its 3.2 Diesel Turbo engine delivers 157 kW and 500 Nm.  The 10-speed automatic and serious 4×4 capability ensure you won’t easily get stuck in this one.  Smooth, loads of road presence, and comfortable, there isn’t many negatives.  1796 litres of boot space is available with the seats folded down.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

Haval H9

The big Haval H9 SUV Wagon gets a standard adaptive six-mode 4×4 terrain control system and a 700 mm wading depth.  The 180 kW/350 Nm turbo-four petrol/eight-speed auto is smooth and impresses.  A massive boot space combined with excellent features and a relaxing drive makes it a great surfing/adventure vehicle.  It’s also keenly priced.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai’s 7-seat Santa Fe SUV is large.  With a choice between a 206 kW/336 Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol or a 147 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four, the Santa Fe range is a great driving machine and is available in AWD.  Comfortable, and particularly well set-up in diesel guise, the Santa Fe is a warm travelling companion.  Boot space: 2042 litres.

Isuzu MU-X

A 7-seater with five doors and a rugged 3.0 Turbo-diesel motor is hard to overlook.  Stylish and tough, Isuzu’s new MU-X seven-seat off-roader comes in three spec levels (LS-M, LS-U and range-topping LS-T), each with the option of RWD or 4WD and standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.  140 kW and 450 Nm of torque match with a 3.5 tonne towing capacity.  ANCAP five-star safety and a boot space of 2138 litres makes the MU-X a perfect surfer’s wagon.

Jeep Wrangler

The LWB Jeep Wranglers are stunning lookers.  Perfect in every way but only let down by a rather mediocre safety rating 3 out of 5 stars.  2050 litres of boot space and 4×4 tenacity.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

An awesome, comfortable surfer’s wagon, the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with a choice of a 3.6-litre petrol 8-speed automatic 4×4, or a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel 8 speed automatic 4×4.  True off-road potential and loads of space with up to 2005 litres of cargo space.  Offering between 184–522 kW (Yes, 522!) of power and 347–868 Nm of torque this packs a punch.  Superior 4×4 (AWD) ability make these ideal, and they are seriously comfortable.  All are 5-star safe.

I Like Them Big, I Like them Chunky!

Cars with the biggest boot space are always going to be the preferred vehicles for families.  Unless, of course, you’re a travelling salesman, builder, youth worker or schoolteacher, then the extra few cubes in the back are going to come in handy. What’s current out there that will prove a capable companion for taking three people (or more) in the back seats and a big load of luggage?

Tesla Model S (849 litres)

It might be surprising to see this addition on the list, but I’ll start with this one first because its topical.  Tesla’s lack of a conventional combustion engine and exhaust system works wonders for creating whopping luggage space! The electric motor in the Tesla Model S is very compact, providing the Model S with extra space to store luggage.  This Tesla has two large boot spaces where you’ll find one at the front and one at the rear.  A total of 849 litres of storage space is exceptionally fine for what is a performance EV sedan that can manage 0-100 km/h in around 3 seconds! However, buying new will set you back well north of $135k.

But now, to vehicles more conventional, and some with a buy new price that’s a whole lot cheaper than a Tesla Model S.

Peugeot 5008 (780 litres)

The snazzy new Peugeot is called the 5008, a family car that is anything but boring.  Two large infotainment screens, comfortable seats, seven-seating capacity or five, and you’ll be appreciating the talent offered by this roomy SUV.  Opt for five-seats up, and you’re left with a 780-litre boot.

Kia Sorento (660 litres)

The Kia Sorento is a class act.  It’s comfortable to drive and is also a handy tow vehicle, thanks to its punchy diesel engine and standard 4WD set-up.  Like the Peugeot above, the Sorento is eye-catching and good looking, and it also has seven seat capacity.  Drop the third row flat, and the Sorento boasts a decent 660-litre boot space that just loves to swallow suitcases and bags.

Skoda Superb Estate (660 litres)

One of my favourite vehicles on this list, the Skoda Superb Estate, has it all.  Not only is it not as bulky as an SUV, but the seats are superbly comfortable and spacious.  There is loads of practical interior space throughout the cabin.  Yes, it seats five adults in comfort and is one of the best cars with a big boot.  The big Skoda station wagon looks great and has a stylish cabin, with easy-to-use infotainment and acres of rear-seat legroom.  It’s also available with a strong range of grunty engines.

Skoda Karoq (588 litres)

Hello! Another Skoda?  The Karoq is Skoda’s mid-size crossover SUV.  It’s comfortable to drive with an excellent range of engines to choose from.  A high level of standard equipment, a nicely finished cabin and practicality is packed inside a Karoq.  Boasting VarioFlex Seats, three individual chairs that can slide, recline and be taken out entirely totally transforms the car and expands the boot space to suit.  The Karoq’s interior flexibility is unrivalled in this class of car, and you can also have it with 4WD.  The Skoda Kamiq is even bigger!

Volvo V60 (529 litres)

One of the suavest-looking station wagons in the list is the Volvo V60.  Its 529-litre boot space is the biggest you’ll find when pitched against its German rivals: the BMW 3 Series Touring, the Audi A4 Avant and the Mercedes C-Class Estate.  A beautiful modern Volvo interior with its metal, leather and wood trims, its portrait-style infotainment screen, outstanding comfort, and plenty of room for passengers deliver a fantastic package.  You also get a range of engines, which includes two powerful petrol hybrids that are quick.  If you’re looking for station wagon style along with boot capacity, then the Volvo is a winner here.

Mercedes E-Class Estate (640 litres)

With a little more room about its cabin than in the Volvo V60, the Mercedes E-Class Estate also boasts a few more cubes in its boot space.  Awesome infotainment and a range of new hybrid engines give this a drive to remember.  If you want a classy load-carrier that isn’t an SUV, then the E-Class has you covered.

Volkswagen Tiguan (615 litres)

The Tiguan’s boot offers 615 litres of luggage space when its rear seats have been slid right to the front.  This makes it a top rival to the other similar sized-and-priced Honda CR-V.  To look at, the Tiguan probably won’t win many beauty pageants, however it is a comfortable and practical choice with low running costs.

Honda CR-V (522 litres, 5-seater version)

Not the biggest boot on show here, but it boasts a practical shape and, with its comfortable cabin, the Honda CR-V is a nice small family alternative.  The engines are economical and very reliable, there are up to 7 seats, and it would be hard to find a better value large family car.  The seven-seater version hinders boot space somewhat, which drops to 497 litres with the seats up.  The CR-V packs a punch when it comes to standard safety kit.  Standard safety equipment includes lane assist, autonomous emergency braking and Isofix child seat mounting points.

SsangYong Rexton (820 litres)

Yes, there are plenty of other SUVs that have colossal boot space.  Big SUVs that include the Skoda Kodiaq (another Skoda), the BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Volvo XC90, BMW X7, Audi Q7, Hyundai Palasade, Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Land Cruiser, the Range Rover and even Nissan’s whopping Patrol.  If you can afford one of these, then all is well.  However, if you’re hoping for a big seven-seater SUV option, then there is the excellent SsangYong Rexton with its loads of space, excellent comfort and decent price tag that’s easily half the price of the afore mentioned alternatives.

Yes, the SsangYong Rexton is a rugged, tough and durable machine, but this big SUV is perfect for carrying large loads along with people in spacious comfort.  The Rexton boasts an impressive 820 litres of boot space with all the seats in place, and then a cavernous 1806 litres with all five rear seats lying flat.  4WD capacity makes this an adventurer, and its smooth, powerful 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine can tow up to 3500 kg without even breaking a sweat.

Citroen C5 Aircross (720 litres)

The Citroen C5 Aircross has one of the most comfortable rides. It also gets a line-up of quiet, refined engines to go with its massive boot.  With the rear seats slid forward, there’s room for 720 litres of luggage in the boot, which then drops to 580 litres when the seats are in their rearmost position.  A very deep, square shape enables the boot to easily swallow bulky items, and the electric tailgate is a nice standard feature.  In terms of practicality, the C5 Aircross represents decent value for money with loads of comfort and practicality.

Citroen Berlingo Multispace (775 litres)

Staying on the with the Citroen theme, how about a new Citroen Berlingo Multispace?  Yes, it’s a bit different and an MPV type vehicle, but the French know all about space, comfort and practicality. Even the standard-sized Citroen Berlingo Multispace versions offer 775 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, but the seven-seat XL versions offer even more with 1050 litres of space, albeit with the third row of seats folded flat.

Mercedes V-Class (1030 litres)

Alright, I have indulged in one proper van, the Mercedes V-Class, also among the largest MPVs you can possibly buy.  I suppose there are any myriad of other passenger vans (e.g., Hyundai Staria, Ford Transit, Toyota Granvia) you could buy, but I’ve selected one of the best: the new Mercedes Vito van or V-Class, and with this vehicle you really are travelling in luxury and style. The V-Class can seat up to 8 passengers, but if you remove the third row of seats you’re left with a truly colossal 1,030-litre load area.

Above is a shortlist, really.  I haven’t mentioned other worthy contenders that could just as easily be added.  Vehicles like the Subaru Outback, BMW’s 5-series Wagon, the Honda Odyssey, the Mazda 6 Wagon, the Renault Koleos, or any of the dual cab utes are also pretty-adept at managing loads and people.

So, do you know a car that should be on this list – a vehicle that I’ve blatantly missed?  We need to know about it because there are people who are after such a vehicle – one that’ll shift loads of luggage and people.  Whether you prefer a crossover, an SUV, or a station wagon, now’s the time to let us know the best modern vehicles with big boots.

I need a bigger boot!

Small Overlap Crash Test

The influx of all the amazing new electronic safety aids and crash avoidance systems found on-board new cars has been exceptional.  There is no doubt that these systems are helping save lives and minimising injury.  There has been one part of the latest car crash testing regime that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has brought in as part of their testing in order to help make cars safer.

The IIHS is an independent, non-profit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through their ongoing research and evaluation, and through the education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.  The IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies and was established back in 1959.  Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia, USA.  A lot of what the IIHS does is crash test cars in a variety of ways to gather data, analyse the data, and observe the vehicles during and after the crash tests to quantify how safe each car is.  The results and findings are published on their website at IIHS.org.  Car manufacturers have been forced to take these tests seriously because, at the end of the day, these results matter and will affect car sales as the public become informed about how safe their cars will likely be in the event of an accident.

Since 2012, the IIHS has introduced a couple of new tests that they put the vehicles through to see how safe they are in an event of small overlap collision.  The driver-side small overlap frontal test was brought about to help encourage further improvements in vehicle frontal crash protection.  Keeping in mind that these IIHS tests are carried out using cars with left-hand-drive, the test is designed to replicate what happens when the front left corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.  This crash test is a challenge for some safety belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle from the time of impact.  In the driver-side small overlap frontal test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph (64 km/h) toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier.  A Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man is positioned in the driver seat.  25% percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side.

Most modern cars have safety cages encapsulating the occupant compartment and are built to withstand head-on collisions and moderate overlap frontal crashes with little deformation.  At the same time, crush zones help manage crash energy to reduce forces on the occupant compartment.  The main crush-zone structures are concentrated in the middle 50% of the front end.  When a crash involves these structures, the occupant compartment is protected from intrusion, and front airbags and safety belts can effectively restrain and protect occupants.

However, the small overlap frontal crashes primarily affect a vehicle’s outer edges, which aren’t well protected by the crush-zone structures.  Crash forces go directly into the front wheel, the suspension system and the firewall.  It is not uncommon for the wheel to be forced rearward into the footwell, contributing to even more intrusion into the occupant compartment, which often results in serious leg and foot injuries.  To provide effective protection in these small overlap crashes, the safety cage needs to resist crash forces that haven’t been amplified, concentrated on one area or aren’t tempered by crush-zone structures.  Widening these front-end crash protection structures does help.

The IIHS also performs the passenger-side small overlap frontal test.  The passenger-side test is the same as the driver-side test, except the vehicle overlaps the barrier on the right side.  In addition, instead of just one Hybrid III dummy, there are two — one in the driver seat and one in the passenger seat.

Automotive manufacturers initially responded to these driver-side small overlap test results by improving vehicle structures and airbags, and most vehicles now earn good ratings.  However, IIHS research tests demonstrated that those improvements didn’t always carry over to the passenger side.  Discrepancies between the left and right sides of vehicles spurred the IIHS to develop a passenger-side small overlap test and begin issuing passenger-side ratings in 2017.

It is good that vehicle safety always seems to be on the improve and, with each new model, the new-car buyer can expect a safer vehicle.  Thanks to crash testers like the IIHS, ANCAP and Euro NCAP, we are experiencing safer cars on our roads.

Best People Movers for 2021

There are those of us who would rather avoid being seen in what are technically called ‘People Movers’.  By choice, they’re not a car that many would prefer over a roadster or GT.  However, they do have their place and the current new people movers are stacked with the latest goodies, are comfortable and work hard to make their cabins a pleasant, safe space for plenty of people to spend time journeying in.  Of course, the space and comfort throughout a people mover cabin is, generally, superb, making them ideal at doing what they say they will on the tin.  So, if you have been particularly virile and require a decent vehicle for moving your large family about, or you just need those extra seats and space, then here are the newest people movers available on the market in 2021:

Honda Odyssey

Available in a 2.4-litre ULP, 129 kW, 225 Nm, 7-speed CVT, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8-9 litres/100 km, towing 450 kg un-braked and 1000 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Honda Odyssey ViL7 (around $49k) and Honda Odyssey ViLX7 (around $56k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Hyundai iMax

Available in a 2.5-litre Turbo Diesel, 125 kW, 441 Nm, 5-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Hyundai iMax Active (around $49k) and Hyundai iMax Elite (around $54k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

Kia Carnival

Available in a 3.5-litre ULP, 216 kW, 355 Nm, 8-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 10 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2000 kg braked, ANCAP rating untested but previous model was 5-star, eight seats, Kia Carnival S (around $51k), Kia Carnival Si (around $56k), Kia Carnival SLi (around $61k), Kia Carnival Platinum (around $68k), 7 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

LDV G10

Available in a 1.9-litre Turbo Diesel with 110 kW and 350 Nm or a 2.0-litre ULP with 165 kW and 330 Nm. 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km for the Turbo Diesel and 12 litres/100 km for the ULP. Towing 750 kg un-braked and 1750 kg braked for the Turbo Diesel and 750 kg un-braked and 1500 braked for the ULP. 3-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, LDV G10 Turbo Diesel (around $35k) and LDV G10 Executive (around $38k), 3 yr/100,000 km warranty.

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d (around $86k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d (around $94k), Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d Avantgarde (around $111k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI (around $72k), 5 yr/250,000 km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Toyota Granvia

Available in a 2.8-litre Turbo Diesel, 130 kW, 450 Nm, 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8 litres/100 km, towing 400 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, six seats, Toyota Granvia (around $65k) and Toyota Granvia VX (around $76k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Volkswagen Caddy

Available in a 1.4-litre Premium ULP, 92 kW, 220 Nm, 7-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 6.5 litres/100 km, towing 630 kg un-braked and 1300 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen Caddy Trendline 5 seats (around $35k) and Volkswagen Caddy Comfortline 7 seats (around $41k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen California Beach

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel RWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen California Beach TDI340 7 seats (around $83k) and Volkswagen California Beach TDI450 4×4 5 seats (around $93k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD, 110 kW, 340 Nm, 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 9 seats, Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline (around $65k) 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Multivan

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 7 seats, Volkswagen Multivan TDI 340 Comfortline (around $62k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Highline (around $85k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Comfortline (around $88k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.