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2019 Toyota LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The big, boofy, brawny, LandCruiser GXL. It’s one of a four model range, however at the time of writing (April 2020) there are five. The GX starts things off, then the GXL tested, VX, Sahara and Sahara Horizon, a special edition model. That last is a cosmetic item and commemorates the vehicle’s 60 years of production.

The GXL, although the second of the range, still packs enough equipment to ensure it’s user and family friendly. And there is that legendary off-road ability that is standard fitment and has been for sixty years. the vehicle tested is a seven seater, with the same fold sideways third row seats as seen in the Fortuner albeit with a different method of releasing.How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a solid hit to the wallet for the unprepared. Toyota lists the GXL at $99,352 drive-away as of April 2020. That’s with Glacier White; select a metallic and it’s $18 shy of $100,000 even. $91,980 is the recommended retail price, before on-roads.

Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s hairy chested 4.5L V8 diesel. 200kW is the peak power, but it’s the near Supercar 650Nm of torque (split 49;51 front to rear) that makes the LandCruiser a great on- and off-road performer. It’s a low-stress, easy delivery of torque too, with that 650Nm on tap between 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. Drive goes to all four corners via a six speed auto, an area sure to be addressed when the 300 Series gets its release. There is a transfer case, operated through an electrically activated system and switched through a dial in the console. Towing is rated as 3.5 tonnes.Economy, not surprisingly, is not strong point around town. Toyota quotes only a combined figure and that’s 9.5L/100km. Out city cycle was 12.3L/100km at its best and over 15.0L/100km at its worst. A tank size of 138L, a 93L main and 45L secondary, helps dull that pain somewhat. The VX we tested late least year (A Wheel Thing VX LandCruiser) saw an overall average of 11.5L/100km.

On the Outside It’s: Big. A Kerb weight of 2,740kg equates to 4,990mm length, 1,945mm to 1,970mm (model dependent) in height, and 1,980mm in width. There is 2,850mm in wheelbase and a track of 1,640mm and 1,650mm, meaning a huge footprint and presence. The review vehicle had an air intake snorkel fitted, adding a little more to height. This is standard on GX, optional on GXL.

The GXL has self leveling headlights, with LED low beams, and LED fog lamps wrapped in a chrome surround. The rear has LED lamps. Up top, roof rails are standard on the GXL onwards. Side steps are a standard fit. Wheels are simple five spoke alloys with a semi-matte sheen, with rubber from Dunlop. They’re from the Grand Trek range and are 285/65/17 in overall size.On The Inside It’s: As roomy as expected. Front and centre leg room is capacious, and the third row is decent enough also. Head and shoulder room shouldn’t be a problem for anyone up to six feet in height. It’s less luxury oriented than the VX we drove six months ago, but it also doesn’t lack for comfort. The seats are cloth covered, they’re comfortable enough, and because of the velour covering, don’t need heating or cooling. The front seats are manually operated however the lumbar support has powered adjustment.The dash is blocky, segmented, yet functional because of it. There is no sense of haphazardness, everything is in its place and for a reason. The dash is dominated by the central section, itself a blocky look and this houses the 6.1 inch touchscreen and aircon controls. The radio screen is perhaps the weakest link, specifically ion accessing DAB stations. The look is something that Toyota should look to Hyundai and Kia for in the ease of use stakes.The car came to the garage with DAB stations not based in Sydney. A reset of the stations failed to provide local access and it took some research to find that the way Toyota has programmed this head unit required some fiddling in order to access Sydney’s DAB network.

The aircon controls are dual zone and rocker switch in operation. They’re simple to operate and effective in usage. That’s the same for the driver’s information screen and it’s also easy to read. As expected, the steering wheel controls for accessing info and for using the audio are easy to use.What’s baffling is that the headlight switch isn’t Auto sensing; rather, it’s an Off (never a good thing, all headlights should be Auto and NOT offer an Off setting) or On. This is a safety factor and ably demonstrated by any drive through a traffic tunnel.

On The Road It’s: Solid, massive, even ponderous at times. But it’s also nimble, easy to move around, and thanks to that diesel V8’s torque, quick enough when required. Thanks to the snorkel, there’s a raspy snarl near the driver’s right ear, a muted V8 growl up front, and a muted grumble from the exhaust. A standing start and hard press has the LandCruiser GXL launch hard and confidently. And quickly. Straight line performance is indecent for such a large machine, and many who haven’t experienced its prowess come away with ear-to-ear grins.

It’s ponderous because physics. 2.7 tonnes is a goodly amount of mass for a passenger vehicle and even with that straight line oomph, 2.7 tonnes isn’t easy to get moving at low velocities, and it’s also not easy to stop suddenly. It’s our thinking that the 300 Series should address what we feel is the 200’s weak spot: braking. The bit is there but it’s not a hard one, it doesn’t feel as if it’s holding on tight enough to pull up the LandCruiser GXL. There’s not enough overall confidence even with 340mm and 345mm discs.Underneath is independent double wishbones up front, with a coil spring, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The rear is a 4-link coil rear suspension with Panhard rod, coil springs, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The Kinetic Suspension system that allows even more flexibility for getting dirty is available as an option. In the Drive system is Crawl Control with steering assist.

The sheer size of the LandCruiser can count against it as forward corner vision is…well, it’s kind of hard to completely accurately judge where the corners are. BUT it’s also the kind of vehicle that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds an innate understanding of how to muscle the big machine around. That’s something which comes in handy in off-roading and car parks.

We gave the GXL some space to stretch its legs and it’s as easy to drive off-road as it is on a straight lined open highway. Handbrake on, select Neutral, rotate the drive selector dial to 4WD Low Range, and a second or so later select Drive. That rev range then makes crawling up and down and around as second nature as it comes for the LandCruiser. Having a well weighted steering that allows fine control off-road as easily as on tarmac certainly helps in piloting the GXL in close quarters.What About Safety?: Toyota says it comes with the Toyota Safety Sense, made up of Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Active Cruise Control if you buy the Sahara. The GXL doesn’t have these. There is a Reverse Camera, front and rear park sensors, Hill Start Assist Control, driver’s knee bag, first row and second row curtain airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: All Toyotas bought from January 2019 have five years warranty. Service costs for the first four services, at every six months or 10,000 km, is $300.00.

At The End Of The Drive. Toyota’s LandCruiser range is in a huge need of a ground up update. And we know that it is on the way, complete with a hybrid drive-train option. It needs a rethink of the interior and that’s coming. We know the exterior will be sleeker but it’s fair to assume to it won’t weigh much less. A refinement of the suspension will help handling and we’d hope the feature and safety list will improve.For now, what we have is big. It’s boofy. It’s fun. And that still counts for something.

2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s forgotten SUV. The Fortuner is a seven seater based on the HiLux, much like the Pajero Sport is a derivative of the Triton. There are three trim levels being GX, GXL, and the range topping Crusade. It’s exclusively diesel and auto, going up against the Kluger to provide the oiler option in the mid-sized SUV segment for the brand. First released in Australia in 2015 a manual was available in the GX and has since been dropped. The vehicle’s history goes back further, with an initial release of 2005 and for the South African market to start.

How Much Does It Cost?: $50, 322, $55,387, and $63,262 are the prices listed on Toyota Australia’s website. These are drive-away prices as of March 30, 2020. Add metallic paint over the standard white and the GX goes to $50,952, whilst the GXL is $56,017. $63,892 is the metallic paint price for the Crusade, which was in Crystal Pearl for our review vehicle. The tow bar, tow ball, and 7 pin wiring harness are a $751.43 option. A third party supplied the electric brake controller system.Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s well proven 2.8L diesel, with 130kW and 450Nm. The latter comes in from 1,600rpm and rolls of at 2,400rpm. The auto has just six ratios, leaving the Fortuner somewhat off the pace in this respect. It also means economy is off the pace, with an urban figure (rarely quoted by companies lately) of 11.0L/100km. Combined is 8.6L/100km and on the highway Toyota says 7.3L/100km. On our 80/20 urban/highway cycle, we saw a best of 9.2L/100km. Towing is rated as 2,800 kilos braked. Starting weight is 2,135kg for the Crusade.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged since the initial release. It’s an awkwardly shaped profile; there’s a sharp, angular front, an odd kickline to the darkened privacy glass rear windows that starts in the second half of the rear doors, and blacked out C and D pillars. An insert to the rear bumper has a placing for the towbar. From the front it’s a narrow headlight structure with LED driving lights incorporated but only in the Crusade.

The Crusade has splashes of chrome for that upmarket look. The broad face is mirrored by the tail lights and feature a similarly angular shaped design. Underneath, the Fortuner Crusade has Michelin Latitude rubber, and are 265/60/18 on 12 spoke alloys. Sidesteps were also fitted and are standard across the three tiers.Overall length puts in firmly in the same ballpark as its competitors. It’s 4,795mm and rolls on a 2,750mm wheelbase. Width in total is 1,855mm whilst height is 1,835mm. The rear track is slightly wider than the front, at 1,555m compared to 1,540mm. It’s pretty much the same size as its stablemate, Prado.

On the Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be if you’re in the front row. The vehicle supplied had a dark brown leather trim, a shade not far off a cocoa or chocolate. As is the norm, the front seats were powered and heated. The tabs for the heating are almost invisible, being placed at the bottom of the centre stack. The steering column has paddle shifts for changing and are largely unused.What’s noticeable about the whole design of the dash and console is the replication of the Toyota logo. From either side horizontally is an elongated oval shape, whilst the centre stack has a pair of vertical pillars to mimic the vertical bar in a T. Inside is a four layer design, being a pair of air vents, touchscreen, aircon, and drive mode dial next to the heat switches and auxiliary sockets. These sit ahead of a pair of cup holders and these are somewhat awkwardly placed for usage.

There is no HUD for the driver and the driver’s display screen, save for the now standard centre section, is fully analogue. Backlighting is a deep electric blue. The tiller is standard Toyota with the tabs for information access on the right, audio on the left. Trim material in the Crusade are soft touch, well stitched, and of a high quality to look at and feel. The sound system has JBL speakers and added in on the upper surface of the dash. The tuning system Toyota uses in their touchscreens is not as user friendly as others, and demonstrably so in the Crusade. The preset stations in the DAB tuner were not Sydney based, and to re-initialise them took some time. There are also no apps for extra connectivity.The key interior feature of the Fortuner is the fitment of a pair of third row seats. The HiLux chassis underneath doesn’t appear to allow a proper floor mount, with the pair side mounted and designed to fold down. The actual strap to release is easy enough to undo but the weight of the seats can make them difficult for some to use. These are accessed via a powered tailgate door. There’s 200 litres of cargo room with the third row seats in place, and when the third row is folded there is 716L. All seats folded yields 1080L. This also corresponds to head and leg space, where they’re adequate but just adequate.The rear seats get a separate climate control set of switches and a 220V socket as well. Spread throughout the cabin are three 12V sockets. In the vehicle supplied, rubber floor mats were supplied.

On The Road It’s: Decently quick, a very good handler, and nicely weighted in the steering. Standing start acceleration should please anyone seeking almost petrol like performance from a diesel. This applies to overtaking however anything from around 2,500rpm has the Fortuner Cascade easily running out of breath. It’s perhaps here that an extra pair or trio of cogs wouldn’t go astray for better driveability.

For a diesel it’s comparatively quiet too. Even at revs between 3,000rpm to 3,500rpm is there much noise, rather, it’s a semi-muted chatter and not excessively intrusive. Underway the transmission backs the engine up nicely, with mostly smooth shifts. There’s more than the occasional jolt as ratios change, and there’s also some backlash in the rear diff every now and there. Downhill and the engine braking system comes into play, and holds the gear just that little bit too long. A flick of the paddle shift is needed to go down a gear.Going off-road in the Fortuner is as easy as twirling the centre stack dial. 4WD high range can be done of the fly, whereas for low range the gear selector must be Neutral to engage the transfer case. There is also a rear diff lock switch. Going back to 4WD high and 2WD needs a little more patience, otherwise the system effectively locks in low range. Select Neutral, go to 4WD high, and there’s a few clunks before the transfer case disengages. This then allows the next move to 2WD. If getting dirty then decent approach and departure angles are required, and here Toyota’s Fortuner offers 30 degrees and departure angle of 25deg. Breakover is 23.5deg and ground clearance is 225mm. It’ll get wet at up to 700mm.

The brakes, for our tastes, need a little more bite, but they will haul up the Fortuner well enough for most drivers. There’s also a little steering rack shake, and again it’s fine enough for most drivers. Bump-steer was noticeable on occasion as well. On road manners have good response from the steering under normal driving.What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which features their Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert, High-Speed Active Cruise Control and Road Sign Assistance, is standard across all three. Downhill Assist Control and Trailer Sway Control are also standard, as are seven airbags. However Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alerts aren’t fitted, nor is Lane Change Assist.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years is the warranty, and for service costs it’s capped at $250 for the first four on a six month or 10,000 kilometre cycle.

At the End Of the Drive. In comparison to the competing product driven the week before, the Fortuner Crusade has more pepp, more zip, more dynamically usable driving. It’s an unusually styled vehicle but it suffers most from invisibility. It’s overlooked in the overall scheme of things, especially within the own family situation. One has to wonder if a solid refresh wouldn’t be a bad thing…

We liked it however there’s just something holding it back, so check it out here.

2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Mitsubishi’s in a revamp phase and the Pajero Sport, once known as Challenger, is now into its second generation under that name. There’s been some mild updates to the exterior at either end and a little bit of a tickle inside as well. It’s a three model & four trim level range, with a five seater GLX, five or seven seater GLS, and seven seater Exceed, all with a diesel engine and eight speed auto transmission.

How Much Does It Cost?: There’s a spread of fourteen thousand dollars with the GLX starting at $45,990 drive-away, with the Exceed at $59,990 drive-away. The range has seven colours, including the White Diamond pearlescent on the Exceed tested. The RRP (before charges) price for the Exceed is $57,190. The White Diamond paint is $940, and this vehicle was fitted with a Front Protection Bar, towbar, and electric brakes for anything towed. Mitsubishi Au confirmed the front bar is $3,513, with the towbar and ball at $1,299, plus brakes at $685. With those accessories and paint the final d/a price was $65,687 as driven. Side steps are standard.Under The Bonnet Is: 133kW and 430Nm of power and torque from a 2.4L diesel. 8.0L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle is the quoted figure for consumption, which indicates a higher figure around town. That’s how it worked out with a variance of consumption, from 9.0L to 12.5L around town. As is the wont for Mitsubishi’s on-board consumption figures, highway runs bring the figures down and we saw a best of 8.0L/100km on our last highway run.

On The Outside It’s: A refreshed nose and a tidy up of the much maligned rear lights. These have the vertical stripes shortened and now stop at the horizontal shut line in the powered rear door that matches the join line of the bumper. The front end sees a slim-down of the shield grille and headlights, and it’s a tighter, cleaner, design. A higher bonnet line also adds to the cleaner presence. The tailgate is powered and now features a hands-free, kick operated, sensor to open.The 18 inch alloys fitted are available as an option on the other vehicles, and have Toyo 265/60 Open Country rubber. These sit nicely in the large wheel wells.

On The Inside It’s: Been given a new display for the driver and a new smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) system via the 8.0 touchscreen includes TomTom navigation for the Exceed model only, and utilises both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A newly developed Mitsubishi app can pair the vehicle to the app, which remotely allows power tailgate operation and engine shut-off.Some interior changes have added to one key feature and appeal level: family. There is now a proper Australian specification power outlet at the rear base of the centre console along with a dual USB port, There are a pair up front plus a HDMI port for playback on the touchscreen. A subtle redesign for the centre console has been done and provides a look more in keeping with society’s keen eyes nowadays. An under-seat tray has been installed for the passenger seat and there’s been extra padding added throughout the cabin.The driver’s display has been given the most visible overhaul. This is also an 8.0 colour screen in the Exceed, and a steering wheel tab provides two similar but different screens. One has the rev counter encircling the speedometer reading and the other has a traditional speed look. It’s modern, upmarket, and flanked by temperature and fuel gauges it has a measure of class as well.Front seats come with heating, no venting, and aren’t the best going in respect to support. They’re a bit flat, a bit slabby, and aren’t the first word in support. That’s disappointing given the Pajero Sport has off road driving ability and a grab handle isn’t quite enough.

Interior space is family friendly. 1,022mm head room up front and 1,067mm leg room for the front row starts the party. 880mm and 695mm leg room for rows two and three are enough for most families and passenger carrying. At the rear the cargo goes from 131L with all seats up to a very handy 1,488L with the centre and rear rows laid flat. The rear seats are typical Mitsubishi, by the way, with that superbly simple pull-strap system for raising and lowering them. Staying with the family friendly theme is having six cup holders and four bottle holders distributed around the cabin for easy access.One niggle, however, was the windscreen wiper spray mechanism. There are just four jets and they’re not quite efficient. An arm mounted mechanism would be a better option.

On The Road It’s: Sluggish to get going, sluggish in overtaking, and overall somewhat disappointing, considering it’s no lightweight nor is it a heavyweight at 2,110kg dry. The easiest way to describe its driving prowess is to say the handbrake was partially on, or it was towing an anchor. It came as a surprise that it wasn’t as spritely as expected, and the very first thought was tyre pressures. Given the exceedingly professional nature of the staff that prepare the vehicles to be reviewed, it was no surprise that these also were fine.

The engine was surprisingly chattery, and in comparison to the vehicle swapped into, and to be reviewed next, the overall driving experience didn’t live up to expectations. The transmission was perhaps a standout, with super slick down-changes, excellent holding of gears on downhill drives, and was quick to respond to throttle change requests.

Steering feedback was a little vague yet response was quick. It’s got enough weight to require a little bit of “Armstrong” yet will allow moving the Pajero Sport around the shopping centre car park a relatively pain-free experience. Ditto for the brakes; they’re a little iffi-ish initially but provide more bite and feedback as the pedal travels south.

Actual off-road performance comes courtesy of the Super-Select system with high and low range four wheel drive, complete with locking centre and rear diffs for true mud-mauling, rock-climbing ability.What About Safety?: A “Multi-Around Monitor” as Mitsubishi calls it, which is a 360 degree camera view, along with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System (UMS), and the usual alerts for Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spots are standard. Airbags are seven including driver’s kneebag.

What About Warranty And Service?: At the time of writing, Mitsubishi Australia are offering seven years or 150,000 kilometres warranty. This particular offer expires March 31, 2020. Servicing details can be found on the Mitsubishi Motors Australia website.

At The End Of The Drive. The 2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed is most definitely a family oriented vehicle. That’s made obvious by the features such as the USB ports, bottle holders, easy access for the rear seats, and more.

However, the drive experience lacks and more than expected. It really did comes as a surprise and having driven the previous version and when it was known as Challenger, we’d have to suppose there was something with this particular vehicle and not indicative of the range.

Organise your own test drive by contacting your local Mitsubishi dealer via their on-line contact form.

 

Korea Progression: 2020 Kia Sorento

Korea’s Kia has loaded up and fired broadsides in the battle to win a buyer’s heart in the thriving SUV passenger vehicle segment.

Kia Sorento.
Currently scheduled for an Australian release sometime mid-year, the updated Sorento has been given a substantial makeover. Key changes are to the exterior, particularly to the rear lights, front lights, and sheet-metal. There is a re-interpretation of the signature tiger nose grille, with a wider design that encompasses the headlights. The headlights have also been re-imagined with what Kia calls a “tiger eye” LED DRL, said to evoke the lines around a tiger’s eyes. The lower air intake is bracketed by a pair of wing shaped intakes that assist in funneling air around the sides of the 2020 Sorento.Kia’s added 10mm to the width taking it to a flat 1,900mm. It’s also longer by the same amount taking it to 4,810mm. The overhangs have been trimmed to give an impression of extra length and this has been helped by an increase in wheelbase length, up to 2,815mm from 2,780mm. Those changes hide the small 10mm increase in total height. Visually, the A-pillars have been pushed back making for a longer bonnet and a character line that draws the eye rearwards to the completely new rear lights. These are a more vertical styling and echo those seen on a premium U.K. brand, particularly with a three bar vertical theme. Underneath is a valance insert that gives the appearance of quad exhausts.Recognisable Sorento design cues and new ones are here. There’s the broad D-pillar at the rear, the poly-carbonate clad wheel arches, and the more modern “shark fin” window insert on the C-pillar. Sharper body mould crease lines also feature. Australian spec Sorentos will have a choice of seven exterior colours and four wheel sizes, from 17 to 20 inches in diameter.

Head inside and Kia’s designers have gone up a notch here. There’s an ultra-widescreen look for the driver and infotainment system, with a 12.3-inch digital driver instrument cluster paired with a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system. The engineers have placed a new haptic feedback system to assist in controlling some key features including the climate control. A new look has been applied to the centre stack too.Ambient lighting is now part of the mood-setting system for the interior. There is downlighting from underneath the dash and inside the door trims. Bose supply the sounds and smartphones have a wireless charge pad. Metallic look trim complements and contrasts with Nappa leather, embossed black cloth, or cloth and leather trimmed pews for a higher quality, more luxurious feel.

The new Sorento is based on Kia’s new third-generation ‘N3’ midsize SUV platform, providing superior space for people and cargo through more intelligent packaging. That platform is classified as a large car platform for Australia, by the way. The result is one of the most versatile and spacious cars in its class. It also allows a new range of engines including hybrids to be fitted to the engine bay. A PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, will also be available.

“Smartstream” is the name given. It will be a 1.6L turbo petrol engine, with a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack and 44.2 kW electric motor. The new platform has the battery pack located under the floor below the front seat passenger. Peak torque is rated as 350Nm. Power is rated at around 170kW. Part of this power comes from Kia’s new Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. This works on regulating valve opening time according to driving conditions, instead of operating on a fixed opening time. This boosts performance at low-to-mid engine speeds by between 2 and 3%, and enhances fuel efficiency by up to 3%. A diesel will be available for European markets and is currently yet to be confirmed for Australia. Transmission for the hybrid is a six speed auto and an eight speed for the diesel.

The new chassis has given more cargo space as well. Kia says an increase of 32% for the seven seater version and with all seats in use, up to 187L or 179L for the diesel or hybrid versions. There is also extra head, shoulder, and leg room. There’s more slide room for the second row, with an extra 45mm, and the third row armrest now has a smartphone tray.

Details and pricing will be confirmed closer to the expected release date.

2020 Nissan Patrol Ti: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissans largely overhauled Patrol. The big machine has two models, a refresh inside and out, and comes only with a petrol V8. That’s an interesting move given its legendary competitor, Land Cruiser, is diesel V8 only now. Patrol has Ti and Ti-L as the models available. There’s a distinct sense of which market this car is intended for and it’s not millenials or baby boomers…We pilot the Ti for a week.

How Much Does It Cost?: It’s cheaper than what you may think. $75,990 for the Ti and $91,990 for the more upmarket Ti-L. They’re the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail price. The Nissan website at mid-March 2020 says $85,606 as a starting point on a drive-away price, with the Ti-L from $102,646 drive-away.

Under The Bonnet Is: a massive 5.6L V8 producing 298kW and a hefty 560Nm of torque. That latter figure comes at 4,000rpm but there is no lack of urge below that. Exploit that urge and you’ll easily exceed the quoted (combined) figure of 14.4L/100 from the 140L tank. On our typical suburban drive loop it’s been hovering around 15.5L/100km. There’s a simple reason for that. Tare weight, the weight before adding passengers, fuel, etc, is a whopping 2,715 kilograms. That’s marginally heavier than the Land Cruiser with a diesel engine.Not unexpectedly there is no manual transmission, rather Sir or Madam can specify a seven speed auto or…a seven speed auto. It’s cogged perfectly to deal with the rev ranges for peak power and torque. And for those that can afford the petrol, towing is 3.5 tonnes.

On The Outside It’s: Big. The proverbial block of flats on wheels, to be precise. You step up and across to the seats, and it feels as if the head is ten feet above the surrounds. The external revamp has the front end virtually brand new yet, oddly in our opinion, doesn’t have the Nissan face as seen on the company’s other vehicles. That means no angular headlights and chromed Vee grille. Actually, that’s not quite true. There is a Vee but as it has to spread across a wide space it’s nearer a U with a flat bottom. Overall width is 1,995mm with a height close to that at 1,940mm for the Ti. Add another 15mm for the Ti-L. Length? 5,175mm and a wheelbase of 3,075mm. Wheels on the Ti are 265/70/18 with rubber being Bridgestone’s Dueler.The restyled front lights are the same basic shape as the chromed Vee (or U), flipped ninety degrees though. LED powered they make for a clean white light and crisp amber indicator. The rear lights are redesigned and have a classy look. The body itself is squared off, blocky, a three cube design if you will. It’s an imposing sight especially when coated in a deep Hermosa Blue.

On The Inside It’s: As roomy as you’d expect from the exterior dimensions. And not only is there plenty of centre row leg room, (yep, that’s right, centre row) it’s an eight seater. That in itself is unusual given most vehicles of the sort pack seven. And it is is with the Ti-L, by the way.The seats are leather clad but neither heated nor vented. For a premium vehicle and priced accordingly that’s a shocking oversight. The next hit to the nerves is the realisation that digital radio is not supplied in the Ti either. In order to source a digital station one must use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Or Bluetooth streaming. Otherwise there’s old school AM/FM, and a CD player. That’s in keeping with the woodgrain trim that is inserted into the two arches ahead of driver and passenger. It also emphasises a little more the sense of marketplace the Patrol Ti has in mind.

For the driver it’s a pair of analogue dials in a binnacle that has the tabs for accessing the various information sets. However the screen used is a tiny one and in black and white, not colour. That’s a complete 180 degree switch from expectations.The starter button is high up on the left side of the steering column, and easily spotted. That’s a good sign. The layout of the buttons for audio and aircon are easy to read and follow. The design and layout shows thoughtfulness here as it’s elegant and smart. The 8.0 inch touchscreen is similarly planned with good layout, a map screen that reads like the “old” paper versions, and a 360 degree camera display that’s crisp and clear. In the centre console is the drive mode selector. There’s a specific on-road tab, along with Sand, Snow, Mud, and a jog switch for low and high range. Hill Descent Control is here also.Although the audio system in the Patrol Ti is not DAB, it’s better than good enough. There’s enough low and high end to ably complement the mid-range vocals. The aircon is the same. The four vents up front had backup with a centre and rear seat vent system, and there are separate controls for the centre seat passengers, meaning an all-round balance is easy to achieve.

Room wise, well, that massive body and wheelbase ensure plenty of head, shoulder, and leg room for the first two rows, with the third row perhaps a compromise for the legs. Due to the ride-height, 273mm by the way, passengers step up and there’s no need for anyone under six feet in height to duck the head. That extra height and wheelbase allows for a departure angle of 26.3 degrees and an approach angle of 34.4 degrees.What About Safety?: Heated wing mirrors are a smart safety choice for cold days. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is standard and a full suite of other features such as Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Lane Intervention add to the package. Lane Departure and Blind Spot Warning shake hands with Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention.

On The Road It’s: A sheer experience, an expression of what was expected didn’t eventuate. The Patrol has double wishbone front and rear suspension, but it’s the addition of Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Control that makes moving the Patrol Ti around in a suburban environment a far better than expected experience. To say it’s nimble is an understatement. Yes, it has a big turning circle but it’s not a “heavy” car to drive. The steering is as light as a system in a car half the size, the ride quality on tarmac, its natural home, is excellent, and acceleration is surprisingly rapid.

It’s expected that a four wheel drive capable vehicle would be spongy, roly-poly, and soft in the absorption. The Patrol Ti is the complete opposite. It’s tight, and one could equate the ride to almost sports car like, such is the tactile feel the driver experiences. Handling is set so the mass, and it’s noticeable in some circumstances, feels less that what it actually is. It was on wet roads that the front end felt as if it may nose away, even with that off-road suitable rubber. That was when that mass made itself felt, and on one particularly notorious downhill left-hander, the superb brakes were utilised to ensure just the right velocity was driven at.Getting the Patrol Ti underway is as easy as blinking. The usual start procedure of foot on brake, press starter has a quick whirr of the starter and a whiiish as there’s an injection of fuel. There’s a muted but noticeable V8 rumble from both ends. Engage Drive and a gentle squeeze has the machine slide away without fuss. Need to get a hustle on? No problems here. The engine and transmission mesh perfectly, and the 100 number appears in a time that has to be somewhere around the six second mark.

Around town it’s a quiet experience, and one easily controlled by the gentle press of either pedal. The brakes, as mentioned, are superb, and allow a finely tuned judging of where the pedal needs to be in relation to hauling up 3,000 kilos. That light steering is a miracle worker in tight spaces such as car parks for shopping centres, and the thought quick driveline makes it easier to readjust when a second in/out to correctly align is needed. And that body control means that it’s stable, confident, sits flat where it should.We regret that circumstances precluded a proper off-road test. We’ll take it as said it would be fine.

What About Warranty And Service?: 24/7 roadside assistance is part of the warranty package. There is capped price servicing for the first six which are required at every 10,000 klicks or six months. The rate ranges from $376 for the first to $860 for the fourth. Nissan now offers a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty.

At The End Of The Drive. The 2020 Nissan Patrol Ti’s revamp makes a blocky and solid machine look less intimidating that what it could be. The changes to the front end particular visually remove what the mind perceives as mass and heaviness. It’s also a far more elegantly styled front end to boot. It’s in profile that a true sense of its “bigness” reach out and slap the eyeballs. Then there’s the opening of the doors and seeing that TARDIS like space whilst realising it’s roomy because it’s big.What came as a pleasant and welcome surprise was just how easy it was to drive. Yes, there were times where an eye on the mirrors or cameras were required thanks to the length and cornering requirements, but there’s some serious hustle, some adept handling, and that background V8 tone to tickle the eardrums. For us, the lack of DAB audio isn’t a deal-breaker but it’s a surprising omission, as were the seat heaters/vents. The woodgrain trim isn’t to everyone’s taste either. And the monochrome driver’s info-screen is at odds with the rest of the presentation too.

Our lasting impression is that the Patrol Ti is not a vehicle for millennials, nor is it one for baby boomers. It gave us an impression that it’s one for people that live in rural areas and have a certain amount of income, to be polite. Although it proved it can live in the urban jungle, the Patrol Ti, like Land Cruiser, is better left to roam the wild outside of cities. More on the 2020 Nissan Patrol can be found here.

2020 Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s C-HR. It’s a five door SUV/hatchback styled machine and complements the RAV4 offerings nicely. In late 2019 the two tier range was given a light refresh and now offers a hybrid drivetrain. That, however, is only available in the top of the range Koba, the best seller by the way. The entry level is either a 2WD or AWD, with the Koba adding the Hybrid 2WD as well. It’s a car that Toyota has built to a market and succeeded well in that respect.

How Much Does It Cost?: The range starts at $29,540 plus on roads. The Hybrid Koba starts from $36,440 plus ORC. In basic yellow the C-HR has a driveaway price (at the time of writing, March 2020) of around $33,185. Move to the Koba Hybrid with metallic paint and black roof, and we’re looking at $38,700.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.8L petrol engine and battery pack. The C-HR’s entry level has a 1.2L turbo four. Transmission is a Constantly Variable Transmission, with a low range style gear shift change via the drive selector. The petrol engine is rated as 72kW on its own, with the electric part supplying 53kW. However they’re downgraded to 90kW when combined. Peak torque is 142Nm. Economy, says Toyota, is rated as, on 91RON fuel, 4.3L/100km for the combined cycle. We achieved a best of 4.6L/100km.On The Outside It’s: A nosejob, headlights, tail lights, and new wheels. You’d need to side-by-side the former and current models to really pick the exterior differences. One that is visible is the change to scrolling indicators, not merely flashing. The Koba supplied had the black roof which minimises the almost hunchbacked cockroach look it has in profile. The Nebula Blue is a deep, rich, metallic shade and highlights the sharp creases on the front and rear doors plus really emphasises the big wheel arches. Rubber is Bridgestone Potenza’s 225/50/18 wrapping machined black painted alloys. The tailgate is manually operated and the space saver spare is placed under the cargo floor. There’s a smallish 318L here with the second row seats up.On The Inside It’s: Subtly different here too. The touchscreen in the C-HR Koba is larger, up to 8.0 inches from 6.1 inches. Unusually there is no DAB audio but Toyota has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is in line with (our guess that) Toyota is marketing this car for a certain group, a group happy to use technology that is handset based, either single or a couple, or a couple with a small child. Call it a gut feeling on that point.Otherwise it’s virtually unchanged. The Koba has leather trimmed seats, with minimal electric adjustment for the driver. There is plenty of piano black plastic in the centre console and centre of dash where smartly laid out aircon controls reside. The driver’s display incorporates, oddly, a G-Force meter along with power generation/distribution, expected range, consumption and more. The roof has the same embossed lining and the door trims are black plastic and charcoal cloth.The interior packaging is such that the rear seats sit higher up than the front seats. The rear door’s creaseline rises sharply, and with darkened glass it makes for a somewhat claustrophobic experience for rear seat passengers. babies, toddlers, small children would have no issue though.On the Road It’s: A typical CVT for driving, a decent chassis for the ride, and sorted well enough for the handling. The CVT saps power initially and with the hybrid system the engine kicks in at 20kph, just like the other hybrids in Toyota’s fleet. It will, however, get up to around 50kph before the petrol engine assists if using a very gentle right foot. Where Toyota excel in hybrid systems is the smoothness in switching between the engagement of the petrol and electric drives. Sink the slipper and there’s virtually no sense of anything mechanical moving with or against something else. Even at the nominal cut-in point of 20kph there’s a faint sense of something changing in the engine area but it’s so well modulated for most people the change wouldn’t be noticed.Highway driving showcases the best of the hybrid drive. It’s quiet, unobtrusive, and smooth in how it delivers to the front wheels. The dash display has Eco, Charge, and Power rather than a rev counter, and in cruise mode the needle hovers between Eco and Charge. Acceleration is enough for those that don’t expect sports car performance and it’s quick enough to suit those with some sporting pretensions. Thanks thanks to the on-tap torque an electric motor has and it ably backs up the petrol engine’s performance.

The engine revs easily but noisily, and perhaps the engine bay needs extra insulation. Watching the charge icon from the corner of the eye is enlightening too, as it dances between battery and engine power. Cruise along and the battery may be the primary source. Make a pass and watch the icons change as the petrol engine feeds power to both wheels and battery. the speedo needle responds in kind, and backing off the throttle sees the power needle gently sink back into Eco.

Steering is light enough to be twirled with one finger however there is also enough weight when required to give a sense of feedback. A sense only as it’s an isolated, numb, wheel otherwise. That’s in contrast to the adept suspension in the C-HR Koba. For all but the more unsettled surfaces the Koba does a decent enough job, and again won’t upset anyone other than its target market. And of course the brakes are spot on, as they should be for a hybrid system’s regenerative capability.

What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package is standard across the range with Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam, All-Speed Active Cruise Control and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian detection. There is Forward Collision Warning, Brake Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking, plus Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot alerts. Along with a reverse camera there is also a Panoramic View mode for the Koba. Airbags number seven and for the family there are three anchorage points.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres as standard for the warranty. An extra two years can be supplied if the car is serviced through a dealership. Do that and Toyota will cover the battery for up to ten years. There can even be seven years roadside assistance. Servicing is up to five years depending on model.At The End Of The Drive. We’re of the opinion that Toyota’s marketing team and their R&D team sat down at lunch one day and thrashed out a car that would appeal to the masses. But the masses would be of a certain age group and lifestyle. We’re talking a group born in the 1990s, single or a couple, and with either no children or a toddler, no older. Why? The C-HR Koba Hybrid isn’t a big car, will seat no more than four and with an enclosed style rear passengers would be non-adult.

With app connections for audio, rather than a DAB tuner it caters to the tech-savvy, and allows a broader range of sourcing music and navigation applications. It’s a green car with a hybrid drive system and it’s economical to run as well, another appealing factor.

Dynamically it rides and handles well enough to deal with people that will readily admit to knowing little about cars and see the C-HR as something a little out of the ordinary.

Make up your own mind by taking one for a test drive and checking it out here.

2020 Volvo S60 Momentum: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A newly added car to Volvo’s distinctive sedan range. There are three models: Momemntum, R-Design, and Inscription. Each has their own body tweaks and the R-Design has an optionable hybrid drive-train. We spent an enjoyable week with the entry level Momentum.

How Much Does It Cost?: the car supplied was in Ice White non-metallic paint. Volvo quotes the S60 Momentum as $54,990 plus on roads, and the car reviewed had the Technology Pack. This is $3,000 and includes Graphical Head-Up Display, 360 degree Camera, LED Headlights with Active Bending Lights, and Ambient Interior Lighting.Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged, petrol drinking, 2.0L four cylinder. It’s an AWD chassis and an eight speed auto directs drive to those four corners. 187kW and 350 Nm are the power and torque figures, with the torque on tap between 1,500 to 4,800rpm. Peak power is a typical 5,500rpm delivery and gets the S60 Momentum to 100kph in 6.4 seconds on its way to an electronically limited 240kph. Economy is quoted as 7.9L100km, and on our 70/30 urban/highway cycle we got to 8.2L/100km. The tank is 60L meaning a cruising range of over 700km is entirely possible.

On The Outside Is: An evolution of its bigger sibling, the superb S90. In profile it’s a beautifully balanced look, with the wheels having short overhangs and a cabin setting the driver slap bang in the middle of the length. The cabin itself is highlighted by the narrow window-line in comparison to the door side height, and bears a resemblance to the cabin line of Subaru’s pert Impreza sedan. The Ice White paint, by the way, is part of a palette of 13 colours. That white paint almost hides a scallop with a delineated lower section. It’s longer than it appears at 4,791mm, thanks to a height of just 1,431mm, and rolls on a wheelbase of 2,872mm. The vehicle driven had Michelin Primacy rubber on diamond cut alloys. Size was 225/50/17.

The rear lights are double “C” LEDs with bootlid inserts, sitting above a pair of chrome tipped exhausts. The front lights, as mentioned, are bending and LED powered. Naturally they include the “Thor’s Hammer” combined driving and indicator lights. The lower intake has a pair of sharply raked extensions that join the lower section of the bumper and form a surround for the small fog lights.On The Inside It’s: Got Volvo written large in luxury, features, and comfort. The Tech Pack has the aforementioned HUD and it’s intuitive to look at, as it should. The heart of the S60’s information provision is via the console touchscreen. At 9.0 inches in size and in high definition, it’s good to look at and, thanks to a simple swipe, simple to use. Sub-menus incorporate the controls for the driver’s dash (which is a full width LCD screen), the information shown in the screen, aircon settings, climate control, audio, satnav and more. It also houses a complete user manual as well.

The seats are supple with proper leather. Of course they’re heated, but again, non-vented. The driver has power operation and a dual memory position. The steering wheel is easily adjusted for reach and rake making for a very comfortable driving position. unfortunately for the rear seat passengers, there are no airvents from the rear of the centre console. There are a pair of 12V sockets and USB ports however. That centre console holds the rotary, not push, Start/Stop button and a rotating knob for the three drive modes which are Eco, Comfort, and Sport.There is no shortage of room too. The cargo area has a minimum of 392L to start with. Front leg room is huge at 1,074mm, with the rear seat 895mm. 1,425mm and 1,384mm are the shoulder room measurements and head room is also decent at 1,019mm and 945mm. Trimwise it’s full of soft touches and the Momentum has classy dark grey inserts in the dash and doors that contrasts beautifully with the alloy door handles.

What About Safety?: The driver’s dash screen shows a comprehensive list of safety features on start up. Direct from Volvo is this list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Adaptive cruise control including Pilot Assist, Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA).Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; Run-off road Mitigation; Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park Assist Front and Rear; Rear Parking Camera; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal power steering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency Brake Light (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash Protection System; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outer position rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS). We’d say that about covers it.
On The Road It’s:
Pure driving pleasure. Mostly. The front end is low and the plastic sheets underneath would scrape on driveways, speedbumps, five cent pieces…It’s a small niggle but a niggle nonetheless. However, the rest of the package is admirable. There’s a typical turbo lag, yes, a hesitation to engage first gear, yes, but they’re only at the beginning of the drive.

The torque comes into its own rapidly, and easily spins the eight speed auto through its ratios. The AWD and fat rubber take the torque and put it to good use, with plenty of traction. It makes curves straighten out and highway cruising as relaxed as it can be. A steering weight that is the automotive equivalent of Goldilocks’ porridge, an en pointe brake system and feel, and a ride quality that’s taut and terrific without compromising bump absorption endow the Volvo S60 Momentum with road chops to be admired. In essence, it’s a sporting sedan that doesn’t bignote or brag about its ability.Need to get past the slow driver in the wrong lane? Take a breath, you’ll need it as a press of the go pedal reels in the far distant horizon in a time measured in eyeblinks, not seconds. The numbers on the dash change rapidly. And there is never a hint of issue as the whole chassis comes together to heighten the experience. It’s as safe gold inside Fort Knox, (Goldfinger not withstanding) and has enough yahoo in it to scare a few more pricier sports cars.What About Warranty?: Five years and 100,000 kilometres is the warranty as of March 2020. Volvo also offers service plans, with the S60 starting from $1,595. This covers the first three years or 45,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. In a world seemingly overwhelmed by SUVs, Volvo, like its European counterparts, continues to offer sedans. The S60 is a standout in the sedan field, with excellent dynamics, a superb driveline, and plenty of class. It’s roomy, comfortable, and delivers what it promises. And for a buyer, that means getting a car that won’t disappoint in almost every aspect of its presence. Everything you need to know about this winner is here.

Subaru Unveils Updated Impreza and Hybridised XV & Forester.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford Updates Their Escape Plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact your Ford dealer for information.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk: Private Fleet Car Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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