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SUV

SUV, Hatch or Wagon?

SUVs like the Volvo XC40 look really cool!

 

The ever popular Toyota Corolla Hatchback

Station Wagons like the new Ford Focus are brilliant.

 

Why do most women like the SUV, wagon or hatchback shape?  These are the preferred vehicles that women are driving.  SUVs definitely offer that extra status not to mention size.  It seems too that Teal coloured cars are the ones that most excite the ladies.

SUVs are hitting our road on mass, thanks to the buyers, female and male, preferring their practicality, safety and room.  You can buy FWD only SUVs, which if you never go in search of the wide open spaces outside of Suburbia then these types of vehicle will do all your townie jobs nicely, and often with plenty of room to spare.  AWD equivalent SUVs are more expensive anyway!

SUVs are bigger than anything else on the road besides trucks and buses, so anyone will likely be attracted to the safety aspect of owning an SUV.  Many guys will like the fact that their special other half drives a big safe SUV, which often ends up carrying the kids too.  Having a higher ride height does give you a commanding view of the road ahead, and generally speaking, the extra ground clearance works wonders should you be into off-roading.

SUVs are easier to get in-and-out of, and for loading child seats, child accessories, and library book and shopping bags.  Generally speaking you step inside an SUV, rather than sink down into them- like in a hatchback.  When it comes loading cargo into the boot the space is usually large, higher and easier to access.  That said, there are some nicely designed station wagons and hatchbacks that are very practical.

Downsides to owning an SUV are that they cost more to feed; cost more to maintain, and they generally need more wizardry and expensive technology to defy the laws of physics should you want to drive them quickly around corners.  Still, manufacturers are beginning to build a wide variety of SUVs to suit your tastes.  You can even buy convertible SUVs or 2-door coupe SUVs – which pushes the contemporary envelope somewhat.

So if you are a lady on the lookout for a nice new SUV – perhaps Teal coloured or close to it, that is competitively priced then there are some models you may consider.  OK, you men could consider this as well – though you’ll probably prefer a silver, black or white colour (though flaming orange and buttercup yellow is said to get a guy’s heartrate up).  So, how about a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, BMW X3, Ford Ecosport, Ford Escape, Ford Everest, Foton Sauvana, Haval H2, Hyundai Sant Fe or Kona, Jeep, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-3 or CX-5, MG GS, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross or Outlander, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008, Renault Koleos, Skoda Kodiaq, Subaru Forester or XV, Suzuki Vitara, VW Tiguan, or any of the Volvo XC models?  Modern, safe and great multipurpose vehicles, this list is a good mix to get you thinking.

But if you don’t go the SUV way, there’s plenty of savings to be had by sticking to a hatchback or station wagon instead.  If you spend most of your time travelling within the confines of Suburbia then the SUV size might not make so much sense if a Station wagon or Hatchback will do.  And even at their most practical, an SUV is a bit more difficult to park in the tiny city car parks – unless you have an SUV with all the self-parking aids.

If you think that a good small hatch or station wagon will suit your needs just as well, you will enjoy the benefits of this type of vehicle being cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, more fun to drive and, thanks to the swelling tide of SUVs on the road, you’ll be bucking the trend and looking pretty cool.

Here’s some wagons or hatchbacks you might like to consider: Volvo V60, VW Golf wagon or hatch, your good old Toyota Corolla wagon or hatch, Subaru Forester or Impreza or Liberty, Skoda Octavia Wagon, Renault Megane, Proton Preve, loads of Peugeots, Nissan LEAF (Electric Vehicle), Mitsubishi ASX, a Mini, MG3, Mercedes Benz B-Class or C-Class, a Mazda 3 or 6, Kia Cerato or Soul, Hyundai i40 or i30, Honda Civic, Holden Astra, Ford Focus or Mondeo, Citroen C4 or C5, BMW 3 or 5 Series wagon, Audi A3 or A4, and Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Audi Unveils The e-Tron

Audi has unveiled the e-Tron in a webcast from California. Focusing on the design element, price, and the extensive charging network that Audi and its business partners have and will invest in, the e-Tron, Audi’s Tesla challenger, is available now to order online in the US. Audi have also partnered with global retail giant Amazon in what is currently a unique move, allowing one stop at home charging via the Amazon Alexa smart-home device.An energy recuperation system is expected to harvest up to 90% of the battery’s usable capacity to power the vehicles twin electric engines. Quick charging for the 95 kW/h battery provides up to 150kW or 80% from empty in around thirty minutes. A zero to 60mph time of the 5.5 second mark has been quoted also. Driving range won’t be an issue although Audi didn’t confirm expected range. With a raft of charging stations available throughout the US on major roads, connecting and recharging from the west to east coast won’t be an issue. With the immediate competition offering figures between 240 to 295 miles of range, an extensive network will alleviate range anxiety.

The e-Tron is based on the Q series of AWD vehicles, features the signature Audi grille which will have a platinum hue to signify Audi’s electric intentions, and will start in the USD$74K range. It also means that visually they are immediately more relatable, in an electric car sense, to buyers familiar with the Audi styling. Interior styling should be “standard” Audi with the multi-media and virtual cockpit fitments. There will be a pair of large screens for the centre section of the dash, with a 10 inch and 8.6 inch screen for satnav/entertainment, and climate control usage. With the driver having the Virtual Cockpit it means most conventional tabs and buttons have been removed. Autonomous driving will be on board but to a level that still requires human input. A Comfort and Sport mode is programmed to have the semi-autonomous factor as well. A panoramic roof and four zone climate control are standard. The much talked about digital mirrors will come later.Audi have provided the e-Tron with a signature look up front. Alongside the stylish grille are new four bar LED driving lights that blend well into the overall Audi styling. And the rear is standard Audi as well, with a clean and uncluttered design.

The entry level e-Tron will have twenty inch diameter wheels, a 360 degree camera, and a pounding B&O sound system. Vented and heated seats will be standard. Spend a little more and the Prestige at USD$81K offers a HUD or Head Up Display, massaging front seats, and dual pane acoustic (noise reduction) windows. Then there is the First Edition, a limited run numbers version. USD$86,700 has Daytona Grey paint, 21 inch wheels, and just 999 will be available in the US.
The car is due for deliveries in the US in the first quarter of 2019.

Mercedes-Benz EQC Unveiled and Mitsubishi ASX Updates.

It’d be fair to say that Tesla has been seen as an innovator when it comes to the fully battery powered car. Their Model X is a beautiful example of practicality, being a large and roomy people mover, with no challengers. Until now. Mercedes-Benz, an originator of the electric car, first put forward a concept of a people mover powered by electricity at the Paris Motor Show. That concept has now been released as a working version under a new branding, EQ. Known as the EQC, this SUV styled machine is powered by a pair of motors, one each for the front and rear combining to produce 300kW. Consumption is rated at 22.2 kiloWatt hours per 100 kilometres driven.Peak torque is quoted as 765Nm, and top speed is limited to 180km/h. Range is said to be 450 kilometres which of course will depend on driving conditions. It’ll be a hefty beast though, with a kerb weight of 2425 kilos for the 4761mm long machine. Gross Vehicle Mass for the 1884mm (sans mirrors) wide and 1624mm high EQC is 2930 kilos, with the battery pack making up 650 kilograms of that. However there’s enough oomph to get the EQC to 100km/h in a breath over five seconds.

Charging is courtesy of an on-board charger that is capable of delivering 7.4kW, making it AC home charging compatible. Using a M-B supplied “Wallbox” increases that by up to three times, with up to 110kW, and in forty minutes from nearly empty up to eighty percent.Styling is a mix of standard high riding SUV, a sloping rear roofline to add a bit of coupe, and a standout front panel in black. This encloses the headlights and a grille like structure. There’s an LED strip that borders the top of the panel that draws a line between the headlights. Design highlights inside have a ribbed edge to the instrument panel that resembles the heat exchange vanes from a music amplifier. Mercedes-Benz have ensured that the EQC will feel like a driver’s car by designing a cockpit-like feel to the cabin. Charging information can be found via the MBUX, or the Mercedes Benz User Experience. Charging current and switch off times can also be set here. MBUX will have its own tile on the screen to access EQ functions.

One of those is a form of pre-journey climate control, where the system can be activated to a certain present temperature before the vehicle is called into use for a drive. The satnav system will constantly calculate the best route based on charge time and usage plus aid in finding the best charging station on a distance basis. Pricing and release dates are yet to be confirmed.Another SUV is on its way however this is an update from an established vehicle. Mitsubishi‘s ASX has been given a freshen up and a surprising decision embedded in the update. There will be no diesels in the three model range, with a 2.0L petrol fed power plant as standard instead. Another surprising change is the move away from an AWD option to a purely front wheel driven system. Only one option will have a manual and that’s the entry level ASX ES at $23,490 RRP and a CVT equipped version at $25,490 RRP. The ES can also be specced with the ADAS option.Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), along with reversing sensors, dusk sensing headlamps and rain sensing wipers. Exterior features include front fog lamps and door mirrors with side turn lamps. The ASX ES optioned with Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) will have a recommended retail pricing of $26,990. The LS is $27,990 RRP with the top level Exceed well priced at just $30,990 RRP.

All vehicles will have DAB audio, seven airbags, smartphone compatibility, a minimum of two USB ports, reverse camera, and two ISOFIX child seat mounts. The LS adds Forward Collision Mitigation, two tone alloys, auto high beam, leather accented seats, and auto headlights & wipers. The Exceed takes this list further with heated front seats, six speaker sound system, the ADAS as standard, plus a glass roof.Check with your local Mitsubishi dealer for availability.

2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Petrol.

The Kia Sorento has been given a freshen up for 2019, like most of the Kia range. The changes are subtle but effective, with enhancements inside and out. I drove the 3.5L petrol drinking V6 Kia Sorento GT-Line trim, with an eight speed auto and seven seats. It’s priced at $55,490 (RRP) and came in the optional Aurora Black metallic, an extra $595.00. Peak power from the free spinning V6 is 206kW. You’ll need to drive like an F1 driver in training to use it though, as it’s on tap at 6300rpm. More sensible is the torque. There’s 336 of them but again at a high rev point, 5000rpm.

Fuel economy has been vastly improved, even though the engine is a 3.5L, up from the previously used 3.3L. The addition of a slick eight speeder helps as we finished on 8.7L/100km. What’s truly astounding is that the big car (1932kg before fuel and passengers) was driven in a predominantly urban drive loop, reflecting its intended usage. Kia quotes 14.2L/100km from the 71L tank in a urban drive and 10.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

The engine and drive-train are a well suited combination. The throttle response is instant, there’s a genuinely angry rasp from the V6 when driven hard, and the auto is 90% on song. The final two cogs, when driven at state legal urban speeds, seem unsure as to whether they were wanted or not. There’d be no real change in the engine revs however the transmission would drop or gain a gear. Smoothly, yes, but being indecisive is not a driver’s best perception for automatics.

The Sorento was also taken into an environment it normally wouldn’t see. On the mid western fringes of the Blue Mountains is Australia’s own grand canyon. There’s some great gravel roads on which to drive and the Sorento was given its head on a few of them. There’s no full time AWD system, rather a clever torque split on demand for the diesel and front wheel drive only in the petrol. There’s four drive modes to complement this too: Eco, Sports, Smart, and Comfort. Bearing mind it’s an urban warrior, the Sorento surprised with its gravel road manners.

Handling was composed, rarely skittish, and only really exhibited nervousness on some of the more broken and rutted tracks. The ABS system worked a treat on some mid-slope downhill runs, with a balanced and measured feel to the pedal itself. The steering’s weight was spot on for the light off-road style of driving, and the Comfort drive mode turned out to be the best choice for the required driving style. The Sorento is easy to drive from the throttle; back off into turns and the nose will run slightly wide, but a feather touch puts power to the front and tightens up the steering.

Tarmac driving is, naturally, the strong part of the Sorento’s presentation. It’s nippy, belying the weight it has. Although a good 4800mm in length, and packing a 2780mm wheelbase, the Sorento wraps around like a well worn glove, with only inexperienced drivers likely to feel it’s a big ‘un. There’s some serious mumbo from the V6, even with peak torque so high up the ladder rev wise. Standing start acceleration is somewhat indecent for the size and as mentioned there’s a real snarl from the V6 as it punches out in anger and the 235/55/19 rubber hooks up.

There’s little upper body movement meaning lane change stability is high. Again the steering is weighted just fine and the Sports mode is the pick for freeway driving. Eco is a touch sluggish, Comfort is an ideal mix, with Smart learning the driver’s throttle and braking inputs on the fly. Suspension tune is sportish, with a flat freeway ride, enough initial give before tightening up, and this lends itself to some good speed through tight corners and curves. Stopping isn’t a problem thanks to the 320mm front and 305mm rear vented/solid discs. There’s a niggle with the Lane Keep Assist though. It’s a little too assertive in its straightening of the wheel and was eventually disengaged.

It helps that the office space is a cool place to be in. The driver sees a combination of LCD digital and “old school” analogue instrumentation, a thoughtfully laid out dash and ancillary controls with a silver highlight, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB (more on that, shortly) and a ten year SUNA satnav update program, rear and mid row folding seats with aircon vents for both, heated mid row and front seats with venting up front, plus memory and powered seats for the front pews.

The rear seats fold flat into the floor and there is a mammoth 1662L of cargo space available. Those rear seats themselves are best suited for children or those that don’t identify as tall. The seats are highlighted with light grey stitching and there are GT-Line logos embossed into the leather. But the upper dash reflects quite visibly in the windscreen and sadly the Sorento isn’t alone on that.

It’s wonderful that Kia offer DAB audio in some of their vehicles now, however the sensitivity of the two tested (the Cerato Sport+ also has DAB and will be reviewed separately) is frankly near useless. In areas where other brands have clear and constant signal, the Sorento’s dropped out. In the same place. Every time. Although the sound quality through the ten speaker Harman Kardon system was fine when it was picking up signal, the lack of continuity in DAB was beyond frustrating. Otherwise, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, are available when a compatible smartphone is connected, or plug into the Auxiliary and USB points.

The Sorento range comes loaded with family features and is spot on for a family lifestyle drive. Six cupholders, two per seat row, start it off. Four bottle holders, a good sized centre console locker, map pockets, 3 12V sockets and a pair of USB chargers allow flexibility for smart devices. There’s no wireless charging point for compatible smart phones…yet.

The centre row passengers have sunshades in the door for both privacy and sunshade. Access to the rear seats is via the tilt and slide centre row or via the powered tailgate. Soft glow LED lights brighten up the black interior and beige/bone trimmed and highlight the two centre row mounted suit hooks. The alloy plate sill panels also brighten up with a red backlighting. All up though the Sorento, as comfortable as it is, does lack a real and measurable quotient inside: cachet. It’s still somewhat plasticky and not quite as eyeball grabbing as some Euro competition.

Family safety is assured thanks to the Sorento GT-Line’s extensive list. A high definition screen links to cameras placed around the Sorento’s exterior for a full 360 degree look around. Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Emergency Stop Signal are all on board. AEB is standard throughout the Sorento range.The Sorento’s exterior has been mildly massaged from the previous model, with slight changes to front and rear bumpers. There’s adaptive LED headlights in the GT-Line, with leveling and swiveling adding to night-time safety. There’s LED running and fog lights fitted, and the rear lights are also LED. The nose is bluff and smooth at the same time, with a subtle curve to the headlight’s upper edge on either side of the black & chrome grille.

Exterior colours are of a seven colour choice, with one (Snow White Pearl) being exclusive to the GT-Line. Otherwise there’s Clear White, Silky Silver, Metal Stream, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue, and the Aurora Black as seen on the test vehicle. There’s the standard seven year warranty and the capped price service intervals as well.

At The End Of the Drive.
Kia continues to go from strength to strength with is vehicles and the Sorento GT-Line is no different. Heaps of room, a broad range of family related features, and a family lifestyle oriented drive characteristic are big winners. The off road capability, a capability unlikely to be explored, from a front wheel drive SUV, place it ahead of its most likely competitor for moving people, Kia’s own Carnival. The better than expected fuel economy comes with a caveat: the test drive was with most one passenger, not a family and cargo.

At around the $60K drive-away point, it’s against Hyundai’s Santa Fe, Volvo’s XC40 and XC60, and models from Germany in regards to the intended buying market. Until all other makers standardise a seven year warranty then Kia will win straight away on that. As flexible as the interior is, it needs a lift visually. The DAB tuner needs a sensitivity boost whilst the lane assist service needs the opposite.

Make up your own mind by heading to Kia Australia website – Sorento to check out the 2019 Kia Sorento range.

2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design Launch Edition.

Volvo has come a long way from the boxy look of twenty years ago. Like most other brands they’ve moved into into the SUV market with gusto and their latest, the XC40, was launched here in Australia in May. We drive the top of the range R-Design with Launch Edition packaging.It’s a similar external design to its XC60 and XC90 siblings with one marked difference. There’s a sharp angle to the rear of the XC40 that kinks up from the door. Nope, it doesn’t mean rear seat headroom is compromised. A good six foot plus passenger will fit in there nicely. The R-Design offers a colour combination choice inside and out so here there can be buyer customisation. It’s a classy look in the supplied vehicles white body and black roof combination, LED driving lights in the now classic “Hammer of Thor” design that’s embedded into a LED/bending headlight combination. The signature Volvo tail light clusters are LED lit and both ends look superb at night balancing the LEDs in the doors. Embedded in the bonnet’s shut line on the driver’s side is a small rubber Swedish flag that commemorates the Launch Edition. Factor in LED downlights in the door handles and at night it’s a striking look.Power is provided by a silky smooth 2.0L turbocharged petrol engine mated to a eight speed auto. Peak power is 185kW, that’s at 5500rpm, so it’s the 350Nm of twist that makes this thing work. Yep, it’s a standard amount of torque for this size of engine, but it’s the spread over three thousand revs which really sings. It’s on tap from 1800 to 4800 and meshed with perfect ratios the XC40 R-Design is one of the most usable, driver friendly, cars around. It’s a pity that engines are hidden under a plastic shroud now.The XC40, like most cars now, is a keyless start vehicle. Open the door and the full LCD dash screen lights up, highlights a system checklist, and awaits the driver’s input. Foot on the brake, press the dash mounted starter, and the engines comes to life. Volvo have gone for a rocker gear gear selector, not a traditional gate style. Once the driver realises it’s a forward/backwards motion and the gears selected (Reverse, Neutral, Drive) show in the right hand dash dial, either a press of the electric parking brake or a gentle stab of the go pedal has the XC40 underway.There’s a Stop/Start system fitted and as effective as it is on shutdown, it’s not completely smooth on startup. Each and every time the engine kicked in the car would lurch, even with the brake pedal depressed. It’s a minor but annoying glitch. Ease away and there’s a bare whisper of engine and the faintest slur felt as the eight speeder does its thing. Plant the right hoof and the XC40’s all wheel drive system grips and slingshots the car forward. Volvo quote just 6.4 seconds for the 0-100 km/ sprint and that may be a touch conservative.

There’s three different notes to the XC40 R-Design. A gentle throttle has the machine move along quietly, almost electric car like. Mid throttle and there’s a purr from up front. The transmission is more noticeable in its changes yet as smooth as calm water. Mode three is when the accelerator is used in anger. That purr becomes a muted snarl, a hint of real aggression comes out, and the changes are sharper, snappier, edgier. It’s an assertive feeling and one the XC40 R-Design revels in.

The XC40 is suspended on the proven combination of MacPherson strut front and multilink rear. They by themselves mean a good ride. There’s sports tuned dampers and 20 inch alloys to consider. Whoa! 20 inch alloys? And Pirelli P-Zero 245/45 rubber? Doesn’t that mean a hard and uncomfortable ride? Nej. (Swedish for no). Irrespective of road condition it’s supple, pliant, resilient. There’s no bump-thump, no suspension crash, it’s a magic carpet ride. Just ahead of the rocker gear selector is a button for the four drive modes, of which one is Off-Road. This is as likely to be used as Elvis reappearing after 41 years. Tap it though and it changes the look of the dials in the driver binnacle.Actual road noise is also negligible. There’s sufficient insulation as it is inside the XC40. A nice, and sneaky, touch, is the amount of marine grade carpet fitted to the door trims. Intended to provide some grip and support for bottles it also doubles as sound deadening. It’s indicative of the careful thought that has gone into the planning of the XC40. The actual interior handles are subtly spaced away from the door trim to allow for easier pulling. The sound stage has been improved thanks to the simple expedient of relocating some of the drivers. Even the door ‘s arm rests inside have a redesign allowing taller bottles and better ergonomic access when opening and closing.The cargo area is accessed via touch tab or a kick sensor. Normally these tend to be literally hit and miss. The XC40 R-Design’s sensor is a little more carefully calibrated and worked with a proper forward/back kicking motion, not a swipe to the left. The same kicking motion will close it up too.On-road manners are almost superb. I say almost because the steering feels over-assisted and at speed there’s a subtle feeling of twitchiness. Perhaps it’s more related to that aforementioned steering but the XC40 R-Design never truly felt 100% composed on the road. Liken the feeling to having a well trained pup that’s constantly pulling at the lead and you’ll get the idea. Having said that there’s also no lack of confidence in the grip level. There’s plenty of both long sweeping corners and tightening radius curves in which to play in, and the Pirelli rubber shows why it’s famous. The words “tenacious grip” spring to mind and coupled with that sports style suspension the XC40 R-Design can be punted fluidly and hard. Road manners are otherwise spot on. The interior is typical Volvo. That means fit, finish, feel is just right. There’s a hint of old school Cadillac to the flattish dash and Caddy tail-light inspired air vents.The R-Design throws in a smartphone wireless charging pad, a pair of USB ports for the front seats, one for the rear, and heating all around via the three screen touchscreen. That’s typical Volvo and as intuitive as they can be after a bit of familiarisation, a timer to revert to a home screen would be preferred. However there’s no complaints about the sound. the R-Design has Harman Kardon sound and there’s plenty of bass, plus a clarity and depth rarely heard in cars. There’s also a 360 degree camera setup and it looks absolute fantastic. It’s in high definition too so clarity for the driver makes for easier movement.The R-Design comes with six external colour choices including a startling Fusion Red Metallic and a sumptuous Black Stone that goes so well with the R-Design black roof. By the way, Volvo emboss R-Design into the kink and it’s a subtle yet welcome addition. There are three interior grades of trim options. There’s the pretty much standard leather style, a textile and leather, and “Lava” floor and door inserts. An aluminuim plate style inlay is a trim option for the doors and dash. It looks great if lacking in tactility. Head room (including the panoramic sunroof), leg, and shoulder room is ample for both front and back seat passengers. There’s more than enough cargo space for a family and shopping…or scooters…or golf clubs as a certain car show host calls them.Volvo built its reputation on safety and naturally the XC40 R-Design is no different. City Safety is the name Volvo gives to its pedestrian, animal, and cyclist detection system. Bang in Intellisafe which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pilot Assist (semi-autonomous driving) and more, PLUS features such as Blind Spot Information, Front and Rear Collision Alert, Run Off Road Alert, and a full suite of airbags and electronic aids and there’s barely time to draw breath. The semi-autonomous system is understated in how it reads the road and instead of a hefty tug it’s a grandma’s hand on the shoulder and a quiet whisper in the ear.

At The End Of The Drive.
Volvo is on a clear winner with the XC40 R-Design Launch Edition. It’s gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to drive, and full of intuition personified. At around $60K it’s a budget price for a luxury package. Buy it. Yes, it’s that good.
Here it is: The New Volvo XC40

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Jeep Compass Limited

Jeep. It’s a name that’s synonymous with unbreakable cars, uncompromising off road ability, and being uniquely American. Well, once. Any Jeep labelled TrailHawk is still uncompromising in its ability to deal with mud, snow, sand, gravel, as easily as the tarmac, but not all Jeeps are unbreakable and not all Jeeps are American. I reviewed a Jeep a couple of years that refused to play ball. It was a time when quality control wasn’t part of the first sentence in how to build one. Thankfully it seems those times are well and truly past as our Indian built 2018 Jeep Compass Limited with 2.4L petrol fed “Tigershark” engine proved.The time the Compass Limited spent with us coincided with a trip that would ultimately cover 1150 kilometres. This would start at AWT’s Blue Mountains based HQ, south via Goulbourn and Queanbeyan, east of Canberra, to Cooma before overnighting at the Aalberg Chalet. Mine hosts were Ulla and Lindsay, an engaging and effervescent couple, providing an atmosphere of welcome and warmth. From there a few hours at Thredbo for ski lessons for my junior staffers, before a drive along the “Barry Way” via Dalgety, the Boco wind farm, and the parched depths of the NSW plains before our eastward bounds journey had us in Bega for one night. From there is was north through Narooma, Ulladulla, and Nowra, diverting through the gorgeous Kangaroo Valley and marveling at the once ocean floor cliffs before rejoining the Hume on our way home.The Compass sits above the Renegade and below the Cherokee in Jeep’s substantial range. A choice of four trim levels are available, with Sport, Longitude, Limited, and TrailHawk on offer. The Compass Liited has a 2.4L petrol engine named Tigershark, or the preferred for long distance haulage diesel. The petrol engine has 129kW, 229 Nm, and a nine speed CVT auto. Fuel consumption is quoted as 9.7L/100km on a combined cycle from the 60 litre tank and 7.4L/100 for the highway. AWT’s best figure was 8.6L/100km on a purely highway driven cycle. This was with four up and the cargo area filled with three bags/travel cases. The petrol Limited’s weight is 1503 kilograms dry.Our journey starts with an eastwards bound run from the lower Blue Mountains to one of Sydney’s orbital freeways, The M7 takes drivers south towards the city bound M5 or the Canberra and beyond Hume. What’s immediately noticeable is suspension tune. It leans towards the harder side of compliance, and there’s an initial feeling that tyres were at the wrong pressure. That didn’t turn out to be the situation. What was also becoming clear was the lack of torque at low revs. On the flatter country roads it would purr along in a quiet, unfussed, manner. Thew CVT changes smoothly, unobtrusively. Heading towards Goulbourn, around two hours drive south of Sydney. there’s some good long gradients that test cars and with that peak torque available at 3900 rpm it needs a hefty shove on the go pedal to get the engine and transmission to drop back enough to get close to that rev point. Forward motion slows appreciably and in order to keep safety up for traffic flow, more pedal is needed.Downhill runs have the CVT finding itself in a cog and holding that, using the engine as a braking device. This would be ideal in a hybrid to charge batteries but it’s disconcerting in the Compass as it holds revs in the upper range. There’s a little more effort than expected to move the gear selector left to engage manual shift mode and override the computer’s selection choice. The movement isn’t silky smooth either. The same applies to the indicator stalk, mounted on the left hand side of the steering column in this case. There’s a plasticky click to engage but there’s an upside. Just about every other car maker has a soft touch program that indicates just three times. the Compass Limited’s blinker count is five.As the journey progresses south what also becomes noticeable is the lack of real road safety shown by far too many other drivers. NSW and the ACT have a myopic focus on speed as to why people crash. By the time a stop at Lake George, twenty or so minutes north of Canberra is undertaken, the amount of vehicles successfully completing a safe lane change is one. That’s the Jeep.The all purpose rubber fitted, Bridgestone‘s Turanza, with a 225/55/18 profile isn’t a fan of the rougher road surfaces and transmits that to the cabin via the MacPherson strut front and Chapman front rear. Get onto the smooth blacktop and the noise level drops dramatically and the ride becomes far more enjoyable too. Queanbeyan and it’s an 80 kp/h limit. The Compass Limited exercises her brakes here more than anywhere, with traffic lights and roundabouts working together to not make a fluid traffic flow possible. Unexpectedly the initial feeling of the seats being hard and lacking in support is slowly being disproved, with no real sensation of seat cushion related fatigue. The storage nook based under the passenger seat cushion is handy too.

Outside temperatures vary along the way. Countering that is the Jeep’s electric seats (quick, thankfully) and dual controlled climate control. There’s dial or icons on the eight inch touchscreen which are well laid out, simple to use, and efficiently effective. Economy has stabilised at 8.6L/100 and a pitstop for a break and top up has been undertaken. Mid afternoon has Cooma through the front windscreen. We’re in a convoy that includes an Audi Q7 and Ford Territory, driven by people that have no sense of road manners or safety. One overtaking lane has a Range Rover and Corolla ahead of the Jeep, with the Corolla inexplicably moving right, forcing the Rangie to brake momentarily before scooting past the left side of the Toyota. This has allowed us to do the same as the Corolla is clearly struggling. However again that lack of low rev torque is appreciable but the cams come on song at around 3500, and there’s a noticeable in the Jeep’s behaviour. It’s needed as the Q7 ranges up behind the Corolla before a sudden non indicated dart left to take up position a foot shy of the Compass. The merge lane to one lane is here and all of a sudden the Territory is almost buried in the Corolla’s rear, with the driver having no apparent sense of when to brake appropriately. The Jeep’s overall drive and safety package have been tested and passed.

Jindabyne and the twisting downhill run to the picturesque town has the steering come alive. Electrically assisted it’s light enough to not feel it is out of touch with the road, and weighty enough to provide a real sense of communication between car and driver. The CVT appreciates this sort of road more, and works in concert with the accelerator to be where it should be gear wise. Being a vehicle that has a 4WD mode that splits drive front and rear on demand, the predominantly FWD bias has the Compass track wide only occasionally. This requires naught more that a tap of the brake or accelerator to bring the nose back on line.

Finally it’s time to exit the Compass Limited and it’s a chance to appreciate the cabin ambience. There’s the natural level of fatigue after six hours of travel and breaks, but none extra from the seats and ride. The dash dials have a slightly old fashioned style of font for the numbers, with small LED light points spread around the dials. In between is a colour LCD screen, as is standard in just about every car, offering trip info, average and on demand fuel usage, and more. The rear seat passengers have enough leg room even with the adults pushing their seats back. Rear seat passengers also get a USB point, handy for the older but not yet teenaged ones. There’s a ski-port fold out cupholder for them as well.The front seat passengers have an elegantly designed dash to look at and feel. Soft touch materials abound, the trim is subtle, tasteful, and there’s plenty of room for legs, heads, and shoulders. A centre console mounted drive selector dial gives the Compass Limited some off road prowess including Snow, Sand, and Mud. All round vision is excellent and ergonomics including a push button start where one would find a keyhole makes the process natural and intuitive. It complements the redesigned exterior, aligning the Compass range more with the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee appearance. Audio is superb and well balanced, with the DAB tuner more sensitive than others, thankfully. What was noticeable was a lack of height adjustment for the passenger seat. It’s clearly not a big vehicle, making the interior packaging all the more remarkable for its successful implementation. The Compass is just 4394mm long, 1819mm wide, and stands 1644mm tall. It packs in a 2636mm wheelbase and has a stable chassis thanks to the 1550mm and 1546 mm track font and rear. This gives the Compass excellent cross wind stability and helps the compact SUV in its high levels of agility both off and on road. A 212mm road clearance allows for some good running on those tracks well beaten, plus the approach and departure angles of 16.8 and 31.7 degrees, it’s able to handle a good coverage of terrain. Although Thredbo was cold, it wasn’t overly endowed with snow. This unfortunately didn’t give us a real chance to try the Snow mode for any length of time. However some drifts were found and a simple flick of the drive dial had the Compass Limited crawl its way out without issue. Where the Compass Limited shine came later. From Jindabyne and along the Barry Way the road and terrain is tight, testing the handling and ride. The vistas are incredible, with ridge high roads providing unparalleled views all around. Sadly this meant that the view provided evidence of the terrible drought the farmers are enduring and all too often the tragic signs in a paddock were evidence of this.

The flat runs were fine for the auto and engine, but any uphill runs tasked the combination time and again. Anything over four thousand rpm and the noise was thrashy, whiny, and the Compass Limited really struggled to maintain forward momentum, even with the torque coming on stream. However there’s no doubt that with a lighter load the effort would, naturally, be less evident. Evidence of power was seen on the horizon, with a wind farm coming into view and the road would take the Compass directly between the line of the Boco Wind Farm. Almost silent, the huge turbines swung lazily, majestically, with the ridge they’re mounted on hiding a sudden drop to the eastern plains.The Jeep’s off road ability was tested somewhat after crossing the Snowy River and heading towards Bega. A rutted, sandy, gravelly road east of Cathcart called the Tantawangalo Road is a long, mostly one laned affair. It was here that the Jeep Compass and its all wheel drive system gets a workout. Slip the dial onto Sand and the dash lights up with an icon saying so. However it also shows that the traction control is disengaged. To us it seems odd that on such a surface that traction control would be disengaged. Especially when farmers are lawfully allowed to range cows freely on the roads.What also happens is that the computer bumps the engine’s rev point to around three thousand, taking advantage of the rise of the torque curve. This endowed the Compass Limited with a frisky, energetic, attitude, and could be coaxed into gentle skids on turns where it could be done safely. The handling tightens up and becomes even more responsive, and there’s just enough freeplay in the steering to set up for a Scandinavian flick style turn. The taut suspension also magically dials out the rutted surfaces and worked the coil springs wonderfully. The car could be throttle controlled, easing off for the turns before getting back on the juice, powering out and settling the Compass.

Overnight in Bega and north along the Princes Highway. Again there were far too many examples of why the government’s myopic focus on speed is a failure. Should the highway patrol police vehicles without working indicators then an absolute motza would be made and basic driving standards would increase. Further north to Nowra and to Kangaroo Valley. Again the uphill runs tested the engine and transmission and still averaged a sub nine litre figure.

The final run from Mittagong and Bowral and along the Hume to home, and the Compass Limited is settling into a rhythm. It’s a rev point of under two thousand at cruising speed and the car is composed, relaxed, almost as if it knows the home base is near.

At The End Of The Drive.
Jeep quotes 7.4L per 100 kilometres for the highway run. To achieve a final figure of 8.6L/100 km with a load aboard was a welcome surprise. The diesel is quoted as 5.1L/100 km for the highway so that final figure is superb in context. The overall fit and finish is as it should be, the initial misgivings over the ride quality were dispatched quickly, and for a family of four for a weekend away it suffices. Off road manners show why the Jeep name is the one to go to. In essence the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited was better than expected. And that’s a winner in anyone’s book. Here’s where you can find your true north: 2018 Jeep Compass range

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Equinox LT Diesel.

This review is a little different in that the difference between the Holden Equinox LT petrol we’ve reviewed and the Holden Equinox LT diesel is….the engine. And gearbox. Apart from that, there literally is nothing different about the car inside or out. Same interior trim, same annoying Stop/Start tech that canNOT be switched off manually, same reasonably attractive exterior. The link to that review is here: 2018 Holden Equinox LS Plus and LT petrol
What the diesel offers is a 1.6L capacity engine, with a six speed auto transmission only. The current RRP is $39,990 and that’s a three thousand dollar difference over the equivalent petrol version. Standard warranty is five years but Holden were offering a seven year package.

Peak power is 100kW, with peak torque being a very good (for the size of the engine) 320Nm.  That’s a narrow maxium torque range, from 2000 to just 2250 rpm. Fuel consumption for the 1.6L in LT trim is a thrifty 5.6L/100 kilometres on the combined cycle. Go to the heavier LTZ & LTZ-V and that goes to 5.7L/100km or 5.9L/100 km. The six speed auto is also a standard auto, in that it’s a torque converter style, not a dual clutch or CVT. It’s an interesting drive setup; the traction control appears to have been formulated to allow some front wheel drive slip. Give the go pedal a good prod from stand still and there’s a noticeable scrabbling for grip for a second or two before the tyres hook up. Actual forward motion is deceptively quick. There’s a mild thrum from the front, which indicates there’s plenty of noise insulation and there is. There’s sheets fitted to the wheel arch and firewall, plus there’s a form of active noise cancellation too.The transmission selector is the same mechanism as found on the nine speed, with a rocker + and – switch for manual shifting. Like most well sorted electronic autos, there’s little to be gained in normal driving conditions by using the manual change. From a standing start and a low throttle application, the six speeder rarely disappointed. The diesel itself is throttle responsive, with a free spinning nature up to around 4000 rpm. Our real world drive, covering both urban and highway, saw a final fuel consumption figure of 6.1L/100 with a 75/25 urban leaning driving style.

Expect that figure to increase if you fit a towbar and utilise its 1500kg (braked) towing capacity. Bear in mind it’s a small diesel, not the bigger 2.0L or 2.2L (or even bigger) as seen in larger SUVs or utes. Other reviews seem to point out the relative lack of oomph from this engine but they’ve matched the 1.6L in the Equinox against 2.2L engines as found elsewhere. A fairer comparison would be against Suzuki’s excellent Vitara diesel. Although smallish, there’s still plenty of get up and go for when it’s needed. Roll off slowly and there’s quiet, unobtrusive changes and barely a hint of that traditional diesel rattle. Push a little harder and the changes are crisper, with the engine making itself known audibly but still quietly as mentioned. It’s really only when a heavy right foot is employed that the diesel really gets noisy and the six speeds seem to be lacking a cog or two or three.

Holden’s electronic engineers haven’t built in a feature to turn the Stop/Start mechanism off. The theory behind the feature is that it’s a fuel and emissions saver for when stopped at stop signs or red lights. the downside is that sometimes the car’s barely stopped before forward progress can be restarted. It can catch the car (and driver) unawares and sees the Equinox lurching forward, rather than moving smoothly. A little trick is that if the foot is lifted slightly off the brake pedal, it’ll re-engage the engine and still stop the car moving forward.

Ridewise it’s the same well sorted and compliant Australian tuned for Australian conditions ride as found in the petrol models. If there’s really anything that Holden should consider with the Equinox diesel, it’d be to evaluate having the nine speed fitted and calibrated to suit the specific torque delivery of the smaller oiler.

Another factor to consider is the forthcoming release of the Acadia, a larger SUV and a seven seater at that, helping Holden to re-target customers in the SUV market.

Contact Holden for more details on both and contact Private Fleet to see what we can do on a deal.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai‘s big SUV, the Santa Fe, has received a substantial makeover and it’s heading our way. The sheetmetal has been completely reworked, safety standards have been lifted, and overall ride & build quality has been improved. The Active petrol starts from $43,000, with the diesel at $46,000. The Elite kicks off at $54,000, and Highlander at $60,500, with these being the manufacturer’s list price. Here’s what we’ll be getting.Santa Fe comes in three trim levels: Active, Elite, and Highlander. The Active offers a choice of a 138kW 2.4L petrol and six speed auto or a revamped 440Nm diesel and eight speed auto that’s new to the Korean brand and gears can be paddle shift selected. The petrol’s peak torque of 241Nm is available at 4000 rpm. The diesel offers the peak amount from 1750 to 2750 rpm. Economy for the petrol is quoted as a reasonable 9.3L/100km on a combined cycle. The Elite and Highlander are specced with the EURO 5 compliant diesel and is quoted as 7.5L/100km for the combined. The exterior has been sharpened and flattened all around. Design cues from the Kona are strong, with the signature Cascading Grille, which is in a carbon effect finish on Elite and Highlander, split level lighting system being balanced via reprofiled tail lights which are LED lit in the Highlander. In between is a reprofiled body including a strengthened look to the wheel arches. Overhang at the rear has increased, and the overall length has gone up too. It’s an increase of 70mm to 4770mm and wheelbase size is also up, to 2765mm. Hyundai has also relocated the wing mirrors to the door panels. Height and width are impressive at 1680mm and 1890mm. Drive is courtesy of the HTRAC AWD system which is standard in all three and ride is thanks to revamped MacPherson struts and multilink rear. The HTRAC system comes in three drive modes, Comfort, Sport, and Eco, with torque being apportioned front or rear depending on which mode is selected. Sport has up to 50% shifted rearwards, Comfort up to 35%, and Eco goes to the front wheels. The rear has been stiffened and components realigned to provide more travel. Suspension rates have been further adapted for Australian roads so the Santa Fe will sit more comfortably on the road yet will follow contours precisely. Weight has been saved by utilising aluminuim for the front steering knuckles and rear carrier mountings for a total of 3.6kg and 5.6kg for each side.Safety has gone up a notch or two also. The physical structure of the Santa Fe has been improved with fifteen percent more high tensile steel and fifteen hot stamped components, up from six. Then there’s the standard list of equipment. Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (with autonomous application), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA)Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) are in all three.A couple of other nifty features are auto opening tailgates for the Elite and Highlander when the Smart Key is detected, and there’s a “Walk In” feature for the second row of seats that folds them flat, allowing easier rear seat access. The sound system in the Elite and Highlander is a ten speaker setup courtesy of Infinity. Highlander also features a smartphone charging pad for compatible items.

Head to Hyundai’s website for more information.

Why We Shouldn’t Phase Out ICE Vehicles Yet

 

Hello, I’m a mule – the very first hybrid form of transport.

In certain parts of the world – Europe, to be specific – governments have pledge to stop the sales of new cars that are powered by internal combustion engines only (aka ICE vehicles, where ICE stands for internal combustion engine).  This means that any new cars sold in these countries will be hybrids or pure electrics.

First, before we all panic and start stockpiling petrol and diesel because we aren’t ready to ditch our favourite sets of wheels yet, let’s clarify a few things.   Firstly, Australia hasn’t made any such pledge yet, although certain political parties are starting to talk about it.  Secondly, what will be phased out is the sale of NEW cars only.  Presumably, second-hand car dealers will still have ICE vehicles sitting out in the yards (possibly quite a few of them if all the ones that have been kicked off UK roads make it over here).  And they’ll still have to sell petrol and diesel to run (a) the older cars, (b) the diesel or petrol parts of the hybrids and (c) things like motorbikes that haven’t really caught onto the whole electric thing yet.

Nevertheless, I don’t really want to jump on the “let’s phase out ICE cars” bandwagon.  I don’t think we’re quite ready for that yet.

First of all, there’s the issue of range in pure EVs.  Mercifully, we now have enough charging points along the A1 highway so you won’t get stranded in the middle of the Nullabor, but even so, it takes at least half an hour to fully charge an EV.  This means that your Great Australian Road Trip is going to take even longer than it would otherwise.  Plan accordingly.  However, although the main highways around the perimeter are pretty well provided with charging points, there are bits of the country where the charging points are spaced out further than the typical range of an EV.  This is not good news for, say, park rangers, farmers and rural nurses.  The developers are going to have to really, really work hard to get better range for EVs before these groups are going to even think about buying one.  I keep getting this mental picture of some rural midwife trying to head out to some rural woman going into labour but being held up by (a) detouring to the nearest charging point and (b) waiting for half an hour to charge her vehicle.  Don’t even think about what would happen with emergency service vehicles.

I kind of hope that the Powers That Be who are going to make the decisions about our national vehicle fleet go out and spend a day riding shotgun with some of the folk in our rural communities to get an idea of the distances they drive… and at least put in a few more charging points before they decide to kit out all the nurses with EVs.  Not sure what they’ll be able to do for the park rangers.  Carrying about a diesel generator to power up a vehicle in the middle of nowhere kind of seems to defeat the purpose of promoting EVs in the first place.

Anyway, there’s another issue, and it’s one that affect those in cities as well.  Now, the majority of EVs and hybrids are smaller vehicles.  When it comes to practical commercial vehicles that your typical tradie can use, it’s a different story.  Yes, there are some great hybrid SUVs available, such as the Volvo XC90  and the BMW X5 , but these aren’t your typical choice for a tradie.  As for the Tesla X SUV…  I, for one, would start wondering how much my plumber or electrician charges per hour if I saw him/her driving around in a high-end SUV.  At least Mitsubishi and Nissan have some offerings, including a 2WD version of the Nissan Pathfinder  and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV  (which is reported to be the most popular hybrid/EV in Australia).

Your typical electrician, plumber, builder or landscape gardener usually prefers to drive a ute or van, preferably one with lots of torque to tow a massive trailer as well as lots of load space.  I know this all too well, as the other half is a landscape gardener and I’ve seen the amount of gear he carries in the trailer and carts around in various bits of the trusty dual-cab Navara ute.  Given what your typical tradie charges per hour – which has to be affordable in order to be competitive – new cars aren’t usually on the cards.  A phase-out of ICE vehicles would mean that second-hand vehicles would still be an option for your tradies… but what happens further down the track?  If nobody’s bought brand new hybrid/EV utes and vans then there won’t be any second-hand ones for your small-scale tradies to purchase.  Let’s hope that if the phase-out happens, larger operators will get themselves a fleet of hybrid utes and vans that can then go on down the line.  Either that or the banks are going to have to be nicer to owner-operator tradies so they can finance something brand new.

Tradies also clock up quite a few kilometres just around town, which means that even if pure EV commercial vehicles were available yet, your tradies would have to spend ages charging up possibly at least once a day. This means that you could be left waiting for the plumber (assuming he or she does emergency call-outs) for that little bit longer while your toilet refuses to flush and/or overflows.  Half an hour can be a long time when you’re waiting for the dunny…

At the moment, there aren’t a whole lot of hybrid or electric vans and utes out there on the roads – at least not yet.  Renault  has one electric van that’s going to arrive very soon, Haval has plans for a hybrid ute and there’s even talk about a hybrid version of my favourite tradie’s beloved Nissan Navara.  But they’re still in the future (we’ll let you know when they arrive). Even if a big construction company wanted to kit all of its builders out with hybrid or electric commercial vehicles as soon as they hit these shores, this would still be some way off.

There’s also the issue of all the investment and research into biofuels, but that’s worth taking another whole post to discuss.

In short, it’s too soon to talk seriously about phasing out ICE vehicles in Australia simply because we don’t have enough suitable new replacements for the current vehicle fleet that have the range and the practical ability of the petrol and diesel units currently available.  Although your Green Party members living in the city could probably make the switch to purely electric vehicles tomorrow and not be affected (and I hope they’ve already made the switch and put their money where their mouth is), there’s a significant proportion of typical Aussies who can’t make the switch yet and will have to stick with ICE vehicles for a while yet.  Be patient, folks.  Although there may come a day when hybrid vehicles and EVs triumph, today is not that day.

Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD and LS.

Mitsubishi have joined the ever growing band of car makers supplying a smaller mid sized SUV. The oddly named Eclipse Cross fits snugly between the Outlander and ASX in size yet packs a 1.5L turbocharged four cylinder and CVT. It’s a comfortable four seater, has a couple of nifty features inside, and comes with a cargo space big enough for a family of four’s weekend away luggage or a week’s shopping. It’s priced from the high $20K mark plus on-roads so it’s not a bankbuster either.The three model range has the LS 2WD, Exceed 2WD, and AWD. All three have the same 1.5 litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine that produces 110 kW at 5500 rpm and 250 Nm from 2000 to 3500 rpm, and CVT with eight steps. There’s a 60 litre tank that holds standard unleaded, and runs at a quoted fuel consumption figure of 7.7 litres per one hundred kilometres for the combined cycle. However, part of the dash display screen option list is expected range. On highway and freeway usage the range does extend and from pickup to home saw over two hundred kilometres being added.Exterior design is eyecatching; there’s Mitsubishi’s signature shield design for the front, free flowing sheetmetal for the wheel arches, and an angled scallop that reaches rearwards from the middle of the front doors that lines up the door handles. The rear is the question mark of the design but sets the Eclipse Cross apart from its competitors. It’s sharply angled from the arrow head tail lights to the roof in profile and both end lights are joined by a horizontal bar through the glass that also blocks some rearward vision. Rolling stock is standardised at 225/55/18 with rubber from Toyo being more dry land and tarmac oriented.An interior highlight for the range is the addition of a trackpad device located in the centre console. It’s intended to backup the seven inch touchscreen but in practical use, with a drag and slide and push down to enter, it’s not really that effective. The touchscreen and trackpad themselves seem to be Audi inspired, as the touchscreen is now housed in a pod that stands proud of the upper dash construction. The aircon controls are buried under a ledge that houses the centre airvents and a pair of USB ports.The Eclipse Cross Exceed AWD has a Bose speaker system that’s clean, crisp, punchy, and takes advantage of the DAB radio that’s fitted to all three variants. The touchscreen’s interface isn’t hard to use but sourcing stations in the digital realm was tricky and not intuitive. Naturally there’s apps that can be selected via the touchpad that include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Alongside that is the variable information available on the driver’s dash display that gives you economy, trip, eco rating, but not speed.The cabin itself is spacious and airy in feel, thanks to an overall height of 1685 mm, a width of 1805 mm overall, and a wheelbase of 2760 mm inside the compact 4405 mm length. The black of the lower seat level section is contrasted by alloy plastic highlights, glossy piano black, and the roof lining in a cloth weave of an almost beige shade. The seats themselves are cloth with a sliver diamond motif in the LS and heated leather (no cooling, sigh) in the Exceed. The Exceed also has a Head Up Display that folds up from the binnacle. Although it’s easy to read and populates itself with information such as speed, crash alerts for the radar assisted cruise control, the screen itself is perhaps a couple of inches too low for ease of vision. Also, the rear tail gate in the Exceed AWD isn’t power operated, as expected. Cargo space is 341L to 448L and sits above a space saver spare. That capacity goes to 1136L with the seats folded.Where the Eclipse Cross claws back points is in the manners on road. The 1.5L needs a little bit of coaxing off the line when loaded up but once into its stride responds willingly enough. With one aboard it’s a sparkling performer, an adept handler, and a surefooted performer in ride quality. With four aboard and the cargo area full it’s less willing to get under way but still has some solid mid range urge. The multi-link rear feels tauter when not loaded up and the front is well balanced in comparison. Absorption of bumps and irregularities is smooth and progressive with even the short and sharp speed restrictors in shopping centres lessened in their crash into the cabin. Turn in is measured and precise, with no feeling of oversteer in the AWD and little understeer in the 2WD. Mass, or lack thereof, helps, as the LS and Exceed 2WD weigh 1490 kilos dry, the AWD 1555 kilos dry.The Eclipse Cross AWD was taken on a good country drive, from Sydney to Bega and surrounds and back, covering in all over 1600 kilometres. Some of that was through the soft, wet, coarse sand of a crossing at the Bega River. Although CVTs tend not to engage straight away when the accelerator is pushed, the development from Mitsubishi has lessened this to the point that engagement is quick and combined with the AWD system (which is switchable for Snow and Gravel) allowed safe, unhurried, and unconcerned crossings. Only rarely, too, did the 1.5L feel that more torque was required, and naturally this was moreso uphill and when overtaking. The CVT is smooth and well matched to the engine, and when the go pedal is pushed to the carpet, has a steady and progressive climb through the revs to 4000 where it plateaus.Safety is paramount here with seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking and radar cruise control. This needs some work as the braking is far too harsh and sudden. Modulation down to a more progressive stop would make this a far better experience. A full set of parking sensors is complimented by the reverse camera, 360 degree view on the touchscreen, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic alert.

At The End Of The Drive.
It’s somewhat of an oddity, the Eclipse Cross, both in name and looks. As a family car and a daily driver, it fits the bill. It’s fine for four but no more, isn’t unattractive, drives well enough to suit almost every application, and the AWD system is ok for some gentle soft-roading. But a few minor quibbles such as the way the HUD sits, the lack of showing speed in the driver’s display, and the compromised rear vision take some of the gloss away.

The LS is priced at the time of writing at %31,990 driveaway, with most of the paint options at $590. The gorgeous metallic red that Exceed AWD is clad in is $890 and tops out at $39,380 driveaway. Specifications for the 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross are available here: 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross specifications.