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Mazda Launches Their First Hybrids

Mazda Australia has recently provided details of their new Skyactiv-X M-Hybrid powertrain. It will be available in August with the Mazda3 (the 2020 World Design Car of the Year) and in the CX-30 from September, with that car also a finalist in the WCOTY. It will, for the moment, be available only in the top of the range Astina, dubbed X20, for each trim level. Pricing for the Mazda3 X20 Astina starts from $40,590 with it being available in both manual and auto, and the CX-30 X20 Astina starts from $46,490. Both are before dealer delivery and government charges at the time of writing.

SkyActiv hybrid 1

The powerplant is a continuation of Mazda’s search to improve power, torque, and fuel consumption. The new engine is the world’s first mass production unit that combines compression ignition like a diesel, the torque of a diesel, and the free revving ability of a petrol nature.

Mazda has developed a proprietary ignition system. It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, or SPCCI. The engine can fire via a compression or traditional spark ignition. This is how Mazda says it works: “In SPCCI mode, a split injection process creates separate zones of fuel-air mixture inside the combustion chamber. First, a very lean fuel to air mixture is injected into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke, then a zone of atomised fuel is precisely injected directly around the spark plug during the compression stroke. The small injection of atomised fuel directly around the spark plug builds a richer core. When the spark fires, it ignites this core of fuel and air. This increases pressure in the combustion chamber to the point where the lean mixture rapidly combusts.”

SkyActiv Hybrid 2

Vinesh Bhindi, the managing director of Mazda Australia is excited by the new engine. “With every customer’s circumstances being unique, we need to offer a variety of ways to reduce vehicle emissions to suit individual needs and lifestyles. Skyactiv-X offers customers a lower emission engine option, while retaining the same joy of driving that Mazda vehicles have always offered.”

Contact your local Mazda dealer for more details.

(Pictures courtesy of Mazda)

Mercedes-Benz GLB Ready To Roll For Australia.

Mercedes-Benz has released to the Australian market the GLB. For the brand, it’s the first compact vehicle they manufacture to include a third row of seats. There’s enough space, by the way, for anyone up to 1.68 metres to suit the rear two seats. Conveniences such as a pair of drink holders, storage, and USB ports will be fitted, plus the seats will fold flush with the GLB’s cargo floor. These can be accessed by a 40:20:40 split fold centre row that moves by up to 140mm.

There will be three models available, the GLB 200, GLB 250, and GLB 45 Matic. Both the Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 and the GLB 250 4MATIC are available to order now. Deliveries are expect for July as a starting point. The manufacturer’s list prices are: GLB 200 from $59,900 (MRLP) and GLB 250 4MATIC from $73,900 (MRLP). The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4 MATIC will be priced at $88,900 (MRLP) when it arrives in Australia later this year.The Mercedes-Benz GLB 200 sees 120kW and 250Nm from a direct injection turbocharged 1.3L four cylinder. A dual clutch automatic with seven ratios sends drive to the front wheels. The GLB 250 amps that with a 2.0L engine that produces 165kW and 350Nm. Transmission is the 8G-DCT eight-speed auto, and grip comes from the 4MATIC all wheel drive system.

AMG step in for the GLB 35 4MATIC and have waved their wand over the 2.0L petrol engine. 225 kW and 400 Nm power down via AMG’s SPEEDSHIFT DCT eight-speed auto with their Dynamic Select drive system. There will also be the AMG exhaust system, their bespoke braking system, plus their Sports suspension called Ride Control with electronically controlled damping. AMG’s power steering with speed sensitive adjustment is also on board.Mercedes-Benz have their highly regarded MBUX multimedia system as standard and the front seat occupants will be able to access infotainment via a pair of side by side 10.25 inch screens. Keyless entry, remote tailgate and engine start, the THERMOTRONIC climate control system, and “Comfort” seats will be standard. The door sills will be internally illuminated, and again convenience is standard thanks to satnav, smartapps including the Mercedes-Benz Me Control app and a charge pad, auto wipers, 19 inch alloys, and aluminuim roof rails. PARKTRONIC parking assist is backed up in the safety stakes with Blind Spot assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Traffic Sign Assist. Active Brake Assist with semi-autonomous braking is standard as are nine airbags.

The GLB 250 factors in a sunroof, powered memory front seats with heating, twin spoke 19 inch alloys and an adjustable suspension. Steering is aligned with the all wheel drive system with Sports Direct-Steer, and even a form of off-road suspension. Downhill Speed Regulation and the cornering lamps come into play as well, with the lights on each lower corner coming into play at speeds of up to 50kph. There are a few extra touches for the GLB 35 4MATIC, such as an AMG steering wheel with Nappa leather, Lugano leather on the seats, brushed stainless steel AMG foot pedals, and Carbon Structure interior trim. Outside is AMG’s Night Package trim, 20 inch diameter five spoke alloys, AMG body additions and dark tinted rear window glass.
The arrival of the GLB brings to six the number of models in the Mercedes-Benz compact car portfolio, which includes the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class, CLA Coupé and GLA compact SUV. Says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales: “Every third Mercedes-Benz is now an SUV, every fourth a compact car. So a compact SUV such as the GLB blends all the success factors of our two highest-volume segments.”

Car Review: 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed PHEV.

This Car Review Is About: A vehicle from a mainstream car maker that provides a technology still all too rare. Hybrid tech of its own right is becoming widespread, however the plug-in part is still uncommon. The Outlander from Mitsubishi is an all too rare opportunity to sample an option in drivetrain tech that perhaps could become a little more common with time. In PHEV form it’s strictly a five seater too.

How Much Does It Cost?: The Outlander falls into the medium SUV category. There are three PHEV variants, being the ES and ES ADAS (higher trim levels) and the Exceed. This starts from $56,390 plus on-road costs. At the time of writing, a drive-away cost of $60,390 was advertised.Under The Bonnet Is: The opportunity to drive, theoretically, up to 54 kilometres on a battery only run thanks to a pair of electric motors, one front, one rear connected to a single speed transmission. Otherwise there is a 2.4L petrol engine that charges the battery, and backs up the electrical drive in uphill runs or when the battery is low on charge. There are two charge ports on the right rear quarter and a separate charge cable that plugs into the standard home plug outlet. When the PHEV was first released five years ago it came only with a 15A cable. Thankfully Mitsubishi listened. There is also an app that allows a driver to monitor charging progress and set charging times.The petrol engine produces 94kW and 199Nm, with the electric engine adding its own 60kW and 70kW via the front and rear mounted motors. Consumption is rated as 1.9L/100km and the tank size is 45L. Our overall figure finished on a creditable 5.8L/100km, and most of that was from charging on the go. The battery itself is of a Lithium-ion mix, with a 13.8kWh capacity, voltage of 300, and 80kW maximum output for the generator. Charging time (80%) on the DC fast charger is is 25 minutes, with seven hours on the cable for home charging.On The Inside It’s: Time for an update. We’ve reviewed three PHEVs and the Outlander platform is aging. Gracefully, yes, but aging. The ergonomics are no longer suitable and the look and feel is obviously older compared to its opposition. There’s been barely any changes since the last model and that’s minor tweaks to the centre console around the fore and aft drive selector, a rejig of the touchscreen and the way the seat material is laid over the frames.The dash is a slab, there are buttons hidden by the steering wheel including the Start/Stop and information button, and it’s all just a bit out of step with the competition. Faux grey coloured carbon-fibre is laid on the passenger side of the dash, the centre console and underneath the aircon controls. There is the usual assortment of cup and bottle holders, plus auto headlights and auto wipers.Cargo wise there is 463L of space, down slightly on the normal five seater. This is thanks to a slightly higher cargo deck that sits over the battery and houses a compartment for tyre goo in the case of a puncture, plus the plug-in charger cable and indicator box. The rear axle houses a motor also, and this contributes to the height as well. There is a 12V outlet for this area though and the rear door is powered.Five seats is what the Outlander PHEV packs, and they’re also in need of an update. This is more to the material used as padding, as there’s more a sense of sitting on, not in, the pews.
On The Outside It’s: Getting closer to the angular shape of siblings AS, Triton, and Pajero Sport. There’s still the rounded, slightly bulbous shape that’s wrapped Outlander for well over a half decade now, but the nose has the look of the rest of the team. One would expect that the next update will drop the ovoid look and bring it more into line with the others.

Wheels are high gloss alloys and of a 25 spoke design. Rubber is 225/55/18 and from the Toyo Proxes range. Access to the two charging ports is via a flap on the right rear quarter, with fuel on the left rear.On The Road It’s: A good mix of electric propulsion for, as it turned out in the real world, around 45 kilometres. The driver’s display has a graphic that shows the charge level of the battery and any regeneration charge being fed back in. It’s a push button start system and there’s a couple of faint clicks and whirrs as the system gets ready. A flick of the drive selector to the right and a fore or aft movement for Reverse of Drive, and that’s as complicated as it gets.Unless the right foot is super heavy or heading uphill, the PHEV is a purely electric vehicle. There’s virtually no noise from the drivetrain, but plenty from the rubber, even on smooth road surfaces. As the charge level drops and heads towards maybe 10%, the petrol engine kicks in and tops up charge ever so gently. On the fly a driver can press a console tab to charge or use a Save Battery mode which entails the petrol engine kicking in and out as required. The swap-in and swap-out is almost seamless, with bare hints of vibration and a dull background drone the indications of the change.

The steering is leaden, heavy, and as the drive indicators don’t show torque split, it feels as if it’s a heavily front wheel drive oriented machine. The suspension is also super tight, with most of the smaller road surface niggles absorbed by the tyre sidewalls, not the suspension. The brake is also numb, a curious sensation given the regenerative ability of the system itself.

Acceleration is somewhere between not bad and slightly leisurely. A dry weight, befoer passengers etc, of just under 1.9 tonnes would have that effect… Even when the petrol engine kicks in, it’s an easy-going, unhurried affair. The single speed transmission does a sterling job too, coping admirably with the demands of either or when it comes to switching between the two power sources.

What About Safety?: Ultrasonic misacceleration Mitigation System is standard in the Exceed, as are Blind Sport Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Adapative Cruise Control with a simple push button to adjust, and a 360 degree camera system are also standard. Seven is the count for airbags.

What About Warranty And Service? Warranty is five years and capped price servicing applies. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000kms. Conditions and further details can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. Mitsubishi deserve accolades for their PHEV push. Hyundai have the Ioniq, itself an attractive proposition with electric, hybrid, and PHEV, variants Toyota doesn’t offer a PHEV. And with a real and usable range of around 40km, the Outlander PHEV is absolutely ideal for city running, and with the occasional dip into the petrol tank by using the engine to charge on the go, an easy 60+ , more than enough for most users, it’s perfect. But expect that on any other route consumption will increase.

There are other areas of mild “concern” too. The steering has no life, the dash is really showing its age, and the exterior is now the only member of the current Mitsubishi that lacks the truly hard edged “shield grille” design. And at $60K, buyers will look towards newer and competitively priced products, irrespective of fuel savings.

Outlander PHEV details are here.

Points On The Dial: 2021 Jeep Compass Released.

Jeep has announced release details of their forthcoming Compass range, complete with updates and a new entry-level model. There are also changes to the back of house procedures for service.

Models and Pricing Structure.
The Night Eagle is the new addition and kickstarts the revamped range. Power comes from the 129kW 2.4L TigerShark four, driving the front wheels via a six speed auto. It’ll start from $36,950 (plus ORC) and has optional Premium paint at $645. The same engine will power the Limited via a nine speed auto and all wheels will be spun. $42,950 (plus ORC) is the starting price. A black roof will be available at $545.

The S-Limited comes in next with the same drivetrain and starts from $45,950 (plus ORC) and will have the black roof and a dual-pane sunroof at no charge. the levels trim out with a diesel powered Trailhawk at $49,450. Peak power here is 125kW and it’s the tried and proven 4×4 system. The sunroof is a $1,950 option. The Premium paints are listed as: Vocal White, Brilliant Black, Grey Magnesio, Mojave Sand, and Minimal Grey.Night Eagle comes well specified for an entry level vehicle. It will feature Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection. There will also be, as standard, Forward Collision Warning Plus, and Jeep’s Parksense Rear Park Assist System. There will also be a ParkView Reverse Parking Camera. Wheels are 18 inch alloys, there will be seven airbags, digital radio and Android & Apple apps.

Limited ups the ante, with an even more comprehensive list. The drivetrain has the Jeep Selec-Terrain Traction Management System and will roll on 19 inch alloys. Leather pews will seat the passengers, with the driver having a 8 way powered unit whilst looking at a 7.0 inch display screen, and sound will come from a premium 9 speaker setup including a punchy subwoofer. Engine ignition is via a Start/Stop system, with extra safety coming from front and rear park sensors. Driver assistance is from the Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist. Exterior changes also see Bi-xenon headlights and LED rear lights, plus the rear tailgate is powered.

Head to the S-Limited and there is 19 inch Granite Alloys, and Granite Crystal exterior highlights. Inside there will be black leather seats and stitched in Tungsten Accent. Exterior choices can be from the standard Colorado Red or choose from the Premium paints listed earlier.Trailhawk has the fabled Trail Rated badging, and will feature Jeep’s Active Drive Low 4×4 System and the Selec-Terrain with Rock Mode. In order tp deal with getting dirty, there is the Off-Road Suspension with Raised Ride Height. It will have bespoke fascias for each end and the black anti-glare bonnet decal. The tow hooks are hi-vis red. Getting dirty doesn’t mean pain is a given, so Jeep ensure a return journey by fitting four skid skid plates and Hill Descent Control. All weather floor mats and a reversible cargo mat are also standard.

For peace of mind, Jeep has realigned its service rates. A Capped Price service list is now standard, with each new Jeep model purchased having the first five services set at $399 when serviced at Jeep dealership.

Head to the Jeep website for more details.

Toyota Doubles Down On Updates: HiLux And Fortuner Facelifted.

Toyota has made some noise in the first week of June 2020 in respect to the facelifted and upgraded HiLux. Quietly though, their “forgotten” SUV, the Fortuner, has also been given a makeover and received the power/torque upgrades as well.


Front and rear are where the exterior changes have come to play, and definitely moreso up front. The headlights have been given a restyling that brings them a sharper, narrower look, but also mimics the sharper and narrower styling found on Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport. Underneath is a pair of broader airvents that first appeared on the Lexus LX570. In the middle the air intake is now a deeper Vee shape, with the whole look more like that found on HiLux from a couple of years ago. Overall, it’s a cleaner and less invisible look.

The rear brings the same bumper extensions and have hints of roundness, rather than heavy angles. The rear lights have changes in the internal look, with the top of the range Crusade gaining LEDs, whilst the rear window line remains unchanged. Unfortunately.

Behind the nosejob lies a rejigged diesel engine. Like the HiLux, there are now 150kW and 500Nm (auto only) which are increases of 20kW and 50Nm, and a change to the economy. Toyota says up to 17% is the improvement in urban driving. Towing has increased; it’s now up to 3,100kg. Inside the infotainment screen has been upped to eight inches from seven, and now has the smartphone apps as standard, as are satnav and DAB audio. The range is still a three level layout, being GX, GXL, and Crusade. Contact your local Toyota dealer for pricing and availability.HiLux.Toyota have also waved the update wand over their best selling HiLux. The engine has the same upgrades (150kW, 500Nm for auto transmissions, up to an 11% increase in economy) and the exterior also has been updated. Late August is the ETA for arrival on Aussie shores. Here’s what’s been done.

The HiLux sports a large trapezoidal grille which Toyota says “dominates the front design and incorporates more pronounced horizontal elements”. Depending on the level chosen, the surrounds will differ in look. The headlight clusters have been reconfigured for a more slimlined and edgier appearance and the upper levels will be LED lit. The lower bumper corners have a restyled look that brings a stronger “jut-jawed”, almost bulldog appearance that builds upon that seen on the RAV4. In profile though, some subtle restyling on the flanks and a creaseline for the doors has been added to join front and rear.

Inside HiLux also gets an update, including the increase to an eight inch, not seven, touchscreen that includes DAB and smartphone apps. The driver’s display now has a full colour 4.2 inch display, bringing the HiLux into line with Camry and Corolla, for example.
Motorvation comes from a 2.7L petrol, 2.4L and 2.8L diesel. 4×2 and 4×4 drive modes remain available depending on model. The three body styles of single, extra, and double cab remain as do the five trim levels: Workmate, SR, SR5, Rogue and Rugged X. Pick-up and cab-chassis options are both available.

Underneath, the HiLux range has been made over as well. The suspension has had the shock absorbers retuned and mounted to new bushings. The leaf sprung rears have been refined and provide a more comfortable ride without losing handling ability. So have the technological abilities been increased, with a new traction control feature redistributing torque in the 4×4 models when 4×2 mode is being used. The Downhill Assist Control uses sensors to provide an almost 4×4 like split of torque on demand in wet, muddy, or grassy conditions. Towing for the auto 4×4 variants is now up to 3,500 kilograms, and the 4×2 versions are upped to 2,800kg. That’s an increase of up to 300kg.

Toyota’s Sean Hanley, the Vice President for Sales and Marketing, said: “More than ever, Australia’s favourite ute will inspire go-anywhere confidence for customers who rely on it as a load-carrying and trailer-towing workhorse for doing their jobs. Equally, the latest changes will advance HiLux’s credentials among customers who demand the handling, ride comfort and convenience of an SUV.”

Although vehicle sales in Australia have declined dramatically in recent months, in May 2020 the HiLux commanded a full 25.5% share of the pickup/cab chassis market, selling 90 for each day of May.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai Motor Company’s long awaited revamp of the Santa Fe was unveiled in the first week of June. There are clear signs of exterior change and a freshen up for the interior brings higher level of passenger comfort and convenience.What could point the way to a new design ethos for the brand is a new grille shape and look. There’s a heavier emphasis on the diamond styling in the grille itself, with the LED “eyebrow” driving lights slimmed down even further, and the headlights changed in shape and brought towards a more even line on either side of the grille. A pair of driving lights fall down from the eyebrows in a sweeping curve and form a bisecting line for the main lights in a T-shape.

Down in each bottom quarter the air intakes have also been reduced in size. This brings a more elegant and stylish look to the whole front end presence. There’s also elegance in the side profile, with a line drawn from the the DRLs to the leading edge of the rear lights. This runs over enlarged wheel arches which house 20 inch wheels. The rear lights have been given a subtle makeover, with a more defined arrowhead look on the outer edges, and are now joined by a bar located on the tailgate. There is also a T-shape inside the rear lights turned 90 degrees.

Inside and Santa Fe has been given more space and comfort with a higher level of use for soft-touch materials. The centre console has been raised in comparison to the front seats, giving an impression of the front occupants sitting more in a comfortable armchairs. There’s a more balanced, a more symmetrical look to the centre, with the touchscreen, centre airvents, and aircon & auxiliary controls in a more integrated cluster. It looks more intuitive and includes a removal of a sliding gear selector. Hyundai has moved to a push button drive selector thanks to the implementation of a drive-by-wire throttle input.Although the Santa Fe has been seen as an off-road capable vehicle, until now it’s never actually had a drive-mode selector for getting dirty. This feature includes unique modes for sand, snow and mud, as well as eco, sport, comfort and smart modes, the last of which automatically recognises the driving style and selects a mode so the driver does not have to. Hyundai’s HTRAC all wheel drive system should be standard across all, if not most, of the range.

The redesign of the centre console allows for a larger touchscreen, which is now 10.25 inches. It should includes the smart apps, satnav, digital audio, and camera views.

“We modernised the new Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value,” said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and head of Global Design Centre. “The bold lines that extend from one side to the other and from front to back give Santa Fe a rugged yet refined look that SUV customers want. Besides, we’ve added numerous features and functions to create a truly family-focused SUV that is a pleasure to drive.”

Hyundai expects to release the Santa Fe to the Australian market in the third quarter of 2020.

New Vehicle Sales Continue The Downward Slide.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has released the new vehicle sales statistics for May 2020. Unfortunately for the Australian new car market, it shows a continued decline in cars finding homes. Compared to May 2019, which saw 92,561 vehicles sold, May 2020 had a reduction of 35.3 per cent, down to 59,894. VFACTS says this is the largest drop in sales since recording of sales began in 1991.

Victoria saw the biggest drop, with over 11,000 fewer vehicles sold in May 2020 compared to May 2019. It dropped from 26,136 to 15,366. New South Wales dropped by a similar margin, from 29,654 to 19,403.

In the overall market share, once again it was Toyota that lead the pack, making up 20.2% of total sales in May. Kia (11.6%) and Hyundai (10.7%) took out 2nd and 3rd. Mazda was 4th at 9.9%, with Volkswagen taking 5th at 7.6%. Key to Toyota’s success were the RAV4 and Prado, with 24.9% and 23.5% (2,345 & 1,358) in the medium and large SUV categories. In the SUV segment Toyota was a clear leader at 22.5%, well ahead of Mazda’s 12.0%.

Toyota held a narrow lead in the 4×4 Pick-up category, selling 2,800 HiLux 4×4 vehicles for a share of 25.5%. In comparison the 4×2 HiLux moved just 727. Ford’s Ranger moved 2,499 or 22.8% of the category. Volkswagen’s 4×4 Amarok found 512 new homes. Toyota completely dominated the Light Commercial Vehicle sector too, with 5,221 vehicles sold in May for a market share of 35.3%. The second place was Ford with 19.2%, selling 2,882.

Inside the sub-$70K large car market, Kia’s Stinger sold 93, down from 157 in May 2019. Holden’s still clearing Commodores, with the once dominant nameplate selling just 40. BMW took home the gold in the plus-$70 sector, selling 57 5-Series, ahead of the 29 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. For the still comparatively lively people mover sector and under $60K, Kia’s soon to be updated Carnival had 190 sales for a 50.5% share, tripling the Hyundai iMax at 68 (18.1%). The recently released Granvia, the people mover version of the HiAce, just pipped the Mercedes-Benz V-Class, with 19 to 15.

In the models sold, Toyota had the Corolla sell 1,626. Kia’s Cerato sold 842, whilst the Hyundai 130 cracked the thousand, with 1,191. From Mazda, the Mazda3 had 1,052 new buyers with the CX-5 almost double the CX-3 with 1,479. Ford’s all-conquering Mustang continued its winning ways, selling 257 in the sub-$80k market for 53.4%. 2nd place went to Toyota’s 86, with 40 sold for 8.3%, just ahead of Hyundai’s just updated Veloster and BMW’s 2 Series Coupe/Convertible. Both sold 38 for 7.9%.

Going to the plus-$80K market, Mercedes-Benz had 75 C-Class coupes and convertibles sold, for 34.6%. The BMW Z4 was a clear second with 39 and 18%.

For May 2020, the passenger car segment was 13,836. That’s a substantial dip from May of 2019 where there were 28,890 sold. In comparison, the SUV sector saw 28,652, down from 40, 937 last year.

Tony Weber, chief executive of the FCAI, said the automotive market has been under pressure for some time. “May 2020 is the 26th consecutive month of negative growth for the market, and the causative factors are well documented – droughts, floods, bushfires, tight lending conditions, unfavourable exchange rates, and political uncertainty. Now, we add to that the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three months. While COVID-19 is primarily a health crisis, it has brought about an economic crisis as well. These are difficult times for the global and domestic economy, and this of course has repercussions for the local sales sector, including the automotive industry,” Mr Weber said.

He added: “And finally, brand End of Financial Year campaigns have started, meaning the opportunity to snare a bargain has increased significantly. So if you are in the market for a new vehicle, now’s the time to visit your local dealer.”

2020 Subaru Forester Hybrid – S Hybrid & XV Hybrid – Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Two new Hybrid vehicles for the Australian market, courtesy of Subaru. The Forester is the brand’s best seller, and along with the XV sees the company launch their first forays into the hybrid arena.

Each come with a varying trim range. The Forester Hybrid comes in Forester Hybrid-L and Forester Hybrid-S trim, and is available in four “normal” levels; 2.5i, 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium, and 2.5i-S. XV is available in XV Hybrid AWD, and 2.0i, 2.0i-L AWD, 2.0i Premium AWD, and 2.0i-S AWD.

How Much Does It Cost? According to the pricing matrix on the Subaru Australia website, the entry Forester is $39,322, Forester 2.5i-L Hybrid starts at $44,731, with the 2.5i-S at $51,031 drive-away. XV kicks off at $33,546 in entry level trim, and $40,239 for the sole XV Hybrid.

Under The Bonnet Is: Where the changes lie. A 2.0L boxer four in the Forester replaces the normally fitted 2.5L The battery is located in the rear. The XV has the same layout, and also comes with a 2.0L petrol engine. The Forester and XV have a 48L tank. That’s down from the normal 63L. There are no changes to the Subaru signature all wheel drive platform otherwise.The spec sheet lists the peak power for the Forester and XV Hybrid as 110kW at 6000rpm, and 12.3kW for the electric motor. Torque is rated 196Nm at a typical 4000rpm, and 66Nm for the electric motor.

Economy for the Forester Hybrid, says Subaru, is 6.7L/100km combined, 7.5L for the urban, and 6.2L for the highway. For the Forester, we finished on 7.7L/100km. This was on a drive loop of 80% urban and a hilly backroads remaining 20%. XV Hybrid is rated as 6.5L/100km for the combined, 7.5L for the urban, 5.9L/100km for the highway and also finished on 7.7L/100km. Required fuel is 91RON. Both are heavier than their non-hybrid siblings, with the Forester at 1,603kg dry and XV at 1,536kg. Both are around 90kg heavier thanks to the battery pack.Transmission is a seven step CVT in both with manual mode. Torque vectoring is standard as well.

On The Outside It’s: Moreso a badge denoting the hybrids drive-train with E-Boxer than any wholesale changes since the cars were facelifted two years ago.Forester is much like the Outback. Both look like station wagons yet are SUV sized. Forester is 4,605mm in length, and stands an impressive 1,730mm to provide that SUV presence. It’s clever design work from Subaru in this area as compared to other brands, it simply doesn’t look like an SUV. The XV is 4,465mm, and is actually a little lower than the non-hybrid XV, standing 1,595mm, 20mm down on the roof-rail fitted non-hybrids. The XV is more a hunchbacked style visually though, thanks to the extra ride height it has over the Impreza hatch it’s based on. Ground clearance for both is 220mm. Wheelbases are almost identical, with a mere 5mm separating the pair at 2,670mm and 2,665mm respectively. Wheel and rubber combos for the two tested were 225/55/18s on the Forester S Hybrid with Bridgestone supplying the rubber. The XV has Yokohamas and 225/60/17s. There are eight paint colours for the Forester, including the deep aqua blue on the Forester Hybrid and a shade of aquamarine on the XV. It was a colour remarked upon by many as being a lovely colour.The C shaped LED lights in the front and rear clusters bring a model and brand defining look, as it’s common across the range Subaru offer. The Forester has self leveling front lights and they’re steering sensitive. The XV doesn’t get these features in Hybrid trim.

On The Inside It’s: Definably Subaru. There are the three screens, one in the dash binnacle, the touchscreen in the centre (smaller in the XV at 6.5 inches against the 8.0 screen in Forester S Hybrid), and the very useful info screen perched up high. Audio is DAB enabled however none of the information normally available such as artist and song could be accessed. The Forester had a Harman-Kardon supplied speaker system. There is also a CD player in each.

External views though, as part of the safety system, can also be accessed here, such as the left hand side when reversing and showing in crystal clear clarity the angle of the car in relation to the kerb. The steering wheel has a pair of tabs on the lower left arc, at around the seven o-clock position, and a flick back or forth is what changes the information on the dash display. The Info button on the spoke changes the info on the upper screen, and includes angles of incline, economy, and drive distribution when underway. Centre console rocker switches for the front seat heating sit close to the X-Drive control knob (chromed in the Forester, a tab in the XV) and they warm the seats quickly in the Forester. The XV has leather appointed cloth sports style seats and no heating is fitted here.

The driver’s seat is powered and has memory positioning. Leather trim is found on the Forester’s seats, cloth for the XV Hybrid. Cargo room is 509L to 1,779L in the Forester, 345L to 919L in the XV, showcasing the differing rear roof lines plus the higher cargo floor in the XV.

The dash design is classy bar one small niggle. The USB ports up front and well and truly buried in a niche that requires unnecessary fiddling to access. There’s some crouching down required in order to first sight the ports then actually insert cables. Ancillary controls for the driver are smartly laid out and visible above the driver’s right knee. There are a couple of acronyms in the pair; SRH is Steering Responsive Headlights and AVH is Auto Vehicle Hold, the braking mechanism on slopes.What About Safety?: From the Subaru website: Subaru’s Vision Assist technology featuring: Front View Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Braking, Side View Monitor. There is also the Driver Monitoring System – Driver Focus3 featuring distraction and drowsiness warning. There is an icon on the driver’s dash display and warning tones aplenty of it reads the face and feels the eyes haven’t been looking forward. airbags are seven in number.On The Road It’s: Surprising in a couple of ways. In the case of the hybrid system in the Toyota range, the cars start in a fully electric ready to go mode. The cars then will reach 20kph before the petrol engine switches in. In the case of the Forester and XV, the petrol engine is rotating from the get-go. Select Drive, gently squeeze the go pedal, and there’s plenty of urge as both battery and petrol get the cars underway.There is an EV icon in the driver’s display area, and this appears moreso when the cars are cruising on the highway, and the petrol engine is barely ticking over. There’s a fair bit of engine noise when really pushing it, such as going up hills, and this was where the Forester really suffered in economy. That smaller tank didn’t help as just after 260 kilometres covered the gauge said it was half empty. The XV had more kilometres on the petrol engine and felt noticeably perkier, looser, more spritely.

Certain sections of the acceleration curve felt more linear, less stressed than the Forester. However, no matter what, compared to the system in Toyota’s range, the petrol engines here felt more “always on”, and engage the EV system far less than Toyota’s. The Toyota setup is definitely EV up to 20kph, the Subaru setup says it should but doesn’t. Even on very light throttle pressing on the highway, the petrol engine is still engaged.

Also, the CVT isn’t bad, but there’s still that sense of energy sapping depending on how the throttle is used. Under hard acceleration there’s that constant sense of slipping however more a snese of gears changing. Lighter throttle pressing seems to have better response and more a traditional CVT feel with revs rising and motion increasing.The attached image shows Subaru’s intent. In real terms the engine package is the only difference in how they drive. The brakes have a slightly more responsive feel, the steering is quick and light to the touch, and there is little to quibble about in regards to the roadholding abilities. With the all wheel drive grip levels and torque vectoring facility, both cars can be pushed into turns and corners with plenty of confidence. On longer sweeping corners there is a distinct lack of need to constantly adjust the steering as well.

What About Safety?: Both cars have a five star rating. Both have Subaru’s much vaunted Eyesight safety system. There is a Driver Monitoring System that literally watches the driver’s face. There is facial recognition and looks for drowsiness and distraction cues. Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic, Reverse Braking for when sensors pick up an object in a reversal path, Forward Collision Warning (which can be a bit overly sensitive), and seven airbags round out a very solid package.

What About Warranty And Service?: Like most hybrid makers, it’s a little mixed. The main range comes with a 5 Years/Unlimited kilometres warranty period, with the Subaru New Vehicle Warranty period on high-voltage batteries for Subaru Hybrid vehicles is 8 years/160,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. It seems unlikely that drivers would do less than 160,000 over eight years.

Servicing costs for the hybrids are the same. The first checkup after one month is free, with the Forester S Hybrid and XV Hybrid on a 12 month or 12,500 kilometre cycle. The first service cost $350.25, followed by B’ Service 24 months or 25,000kms at $588.31, and then the ‘C’ Service 36 months or 37,500kms is $354.83. The final two are ‘D’ Service, 48 months or 50,000kms, $784.77 and ‘E’ Service 60 months or 62,500kms at $354.86.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s mixed feelings. Given Subaru’s own fuel consumption figures, and that we recently got 5.0L/100km from a Camry Hybrid, loaded with four adults, some baggae, and a mid sized pooch, they fall short of expectations. They’re not big cars, they’ve been driven in urban areas, yes, but with one aboard for pretty much most of the drive cycles. There is no question about the rest of the package, with the interiors largely up to the very high standard seen in Subaru vehicles, and the technology seen for some years now. But in a hybrid sense? More work to be done, we suspect. Pick your Subaru here.

Looking Smart: 2021 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo.

BMW has the wherewithal to build a car for all segments, potentially even a segment or two that don’t exist. The 6 Series Gran Tourismo could be considered to be a segment creator. An update has just been released and here’s what we know.

Outside there has been a redesign of each end. BMW’s fixation on enlarging the kidney grille, its signature part of the frontal view, has been applied here. Slimmer headlights accentuate these, making them look even larger. On either side are new Adaptive LED Headlights with matrix technology fitted as standard, and latest version of BMW Laserlight can be ordered as an option.There are new exterior colours and additional BMW Individual paint finishes to allow personalisation. There is a M Sport package with new parts, particularly a striking front apron and large diffuser element at the rear. Optional M Sport brakes now with a choice of blue or red-painted callipers. These will sit inside 18-inch light-alloy wheels fitted as standard on the most powerful petrol and diesel engines, and there are new light-alloy wheels in 19- and 20-inch formats available as an option.

BMW offer their optional Integral Active Steering which now offers greater assistance in low-speed manoeuvring. There is rear-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling fitted as standard. Also available as an option: adaptive two-axle air suspension, adaptive suspension, and BMW’s Executive Drive with active roll stabilisation.

Two petrol and three diesel engines will be available. All engine variants now come with 48V mild hybrid technology and there is more rapid response and greater efficiency thanks to 48V starter-generator that provides up to an extra 8 kW/11 hp to boost the combustion engine’s power and ease its workload. All diesel engines now arrive with two-stage turbocharging. All four- and six-cylinder petrol engines now comply with the Euro 6d emissions standard. Power hits the ground via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission which is standard for all model variants. BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system is either standard or optional for three engine variants.BMW’s excellent Live Cockpit Professional is fitted in the new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo as standard. The BMW Operating System 7 optimises intuitive operation, and opens up a wealth of new application and connectivity possibilities. BMW also fits their Intelligent Personal Assistant digital companion and now has extended functions with optimised interaction that uses new graphics in the Control Display. There is also now the premiere for BMW Maps. This cloud-based navigation system enables extremely fast and precise calculation of routes and arrival times whilst updating real-time traffic data at short intervals. The human touch comes from a free choice of words to select navigation destinations. A vivid 3D visualisation of the surrounding area shows traffic situations and possible inputs from driver assistance systems in the instrument cluster. BMW’s Optional Parking Assistant with additional reversing assistant is available and the BMW Drive Recorder shoots up to 40 seconds of video of the area around the vehicle.
Model variants at launch are: BMW 630i Gran Turismo with 2.0L four cylinder petrol engine. There are 190kW and 400Nm with a 0-100 time of 6.5 seconds. Consumption will be around 6.0L/100km.
BMW 640i Gran Turismo with 3.0L six cylinder petrol. Peak power is 245kW, peak torque is 450Nm between 1,600 to 4,800 rpm. 0 to 100 is 5.5 seconds and consumption is around 6.9L/100km.
BMW 620d Gran Turismo packs a four cylinder diesel with 140kW and 400Nm between 1,750 to 2,500rpm. 7.9 seconds is the time to 100kph from zero and will average around 4.5L/100km.
BMW 630d Gran Turismo runs with a six-cylinder in-line diesel engine, mild hybrid technology,and has 210kW plus 650Nm of torque between 1,500 to 2,500rpm. Economy is 5.0L/100km.
BMW 640d xDrive Gran Turismo goes up a notch with 250kW and 700Nm. That’s between 1,750 to 2,250rpm and sees a 0-100 time of 5.3 seconds. Consumption is 5.5L/100km.

Pricing for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed.

Large SUVs you can buy in 2020

So let’s have a look at the large SUVs we can buy in Australia this year.  A large SUV is a big vehicle offering stacks of space and comfort, and there are a number of really nice vehicles in this bracket with gob-smacking luxury, and then there are some that are decent all-round big SUVs that deliver plenty of comfort and technology without going overboard.


Audi Q7

Two models of Audi are available, both of which have superb build quality.  You’ll find in the Audi Q7 and Audi Q8 brilliant technology for the cabin with nice touchscreens and a superb digital driver’s display.

The Audi Q7 has space, comfort and status to offer its new owner.  Out on the road the Q7 delivers smooth, quiet performance, and the ride is fabulous.  A V6 TDi Quattro with 160 kW is the base model that’s available.  This is a five-seater model with the nice shifting eight-speed auto.  Masses of torque (500 Nm) has all the pull you’ll need for towing the caravan.  Five-star safe and an average fuel economy of around 6 litres/100 km; and life in the Q7 is pretty good.  There is also a higher performance engine that uses the same V6TDi, except with this one you get seven seats, 200 kW and 600 Nm to get you down the road.  An SQ7 TDi is the seven-seat Q7 flagship, with the ‘S’ standing for Sport.  Prices start at around $85k with the SQ7 boasting 320 kW and 900 Nm – figures that would make any Roadster envious!

Audi Q8

Audi’s Q8 AWD is a sleek large SUV showpiece.  It looks more dynamic than the Q7.  The new Audi Q8 also boasts Audi’s ‘vorsprung durch technik brilliance’ underpinning the sharp handling skills on this SUV.  A base model 3.0 TDi Quattro has 210 kW and 600 Nm, around 7 litres/100km economy and an eight-speed auto.  The powerhouse 4.0 TDi engine with 320 kW and 900 Nm is the flagship model that scampers through the 0-100 km/h dash in around 5 seconds.  Petrol fans will go for the 3.0 TFSI version with 250 kW and 500 Nm.  This V6 is very smooth and can get pretty good economy for a large SUV (less than 10 litres/100 km).  All Audi Q8s have five-star safety and five seats.



There has to be a BMW in this segment and, sure enough, we find the BMW X5 and X6.  The X5 is probably the most popular big SUV made by BMW, and for good reason; you get plenty of variants to choose from, plenty of kit on-board as standard with heaps of options available, and then the Motorsport variants with stiffened suspensions and sporty styling raise the bar.  The dashboard has twin digital screens, there is quality trim throughout, and for the models that come with leather the quality is exceptional.

The BMW X5 range starts with the X5 xDrive25d which lands at just below $100k.  Power comes from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel that makes 170 kW and 450 Nm.  It gets along nicely via an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive system.  BMW claims a 7.5-second sprint to 100km/h.

Another newbie for 2020 is the BMW X5 xDrive45e which you can buy at around $129k, and it is the first plug-in hybrid to be offered in the new-generation X5 range.  With a new 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol, inline six with an electric motor and 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, you are good to go with 290 kW and 600 Nm.  The BMW X5 PHEV can hit 100 km/h from a standstill in around 5.6 seconds.  The maximum EV driving range is around 65km per charge.

The new 2020 X5 flagship model is the BMW X5 M50i xDrive (available from around $151k).  This model boasts 390 kW of power and 750 Nm of torque from its 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol, enabling the big SUV to scamper through the 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds.

All new BMW X5 variants are five-star safe and run with smooth eight-speed automatics.  The standout for me is the PHEV.


A new BMW X6 fills the niche that the X5 won’t, in that it is a bit more exotic and out there in terms of its purpose and styling.  Loads of performance is offered in the X6 xDrive 30d and M50d which are both diesels, and deliver loads of refinement which makes for a special drive.  Both are five-star safe, eight-speed automatics and can achieve around 8 litres/100 km.  The x30d models start out at around $110k and the M50d at around $140k.

Two X6 petrol variants stand out: an X6 xDrive 50i 4.4-litre V8(330 kW/650 Nm) with its colossal performance and its pricing starting around $140k, while the X6 xDrive 40i 3.0-litre (230kW/450 Nm) runs with smooth running gear and quick performance with its price starting at around $115k.


Ford Endura

Ford is making some excellent large SUV vehicles, the smaller of the two being the Endura which comes in three variants: Trend (FWD), ST-Line (AWD) and Titanium (AWD).  Very affordable, the tidy Endura is a slick, roomy SUV that can go anywhere and perform its tasks easily thanks to a grunty 140 kW/400 Nm, 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel engine.  You should be able to achieve an average fuel consumption of less than 7.0 litres/100 km.  It has five-star safety, 800 litres of boot space, runs with an 8-speed auto and boasts a comfortable interior.  These start from around $45k.

Ford Everest

A new Ford Everest is the flagship Ford large SUV that is available in Australia.  It comes ready loaded with impressive features, luxury and infotainment systems.  Comfortable for the long haul, this is a standout performer if you need a seven-seat SUV, awesome off-road ability (Titanium) and power and economy to boot.  Luggage space in the boot is between 450–1050 litres.

Running with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 157 kW and 500 Nm it’s not short of breath.  You can opt for the 147 kW/470 Nm 3.2-litre single-turbo, five-cylinder diesel with a six-speed auto, as well.  Drive for the 2.0-litre auto is put through a smooth 10-speed auto.

A 2020 Everest starts from around $50k for the Ambiante RWD and $73k for the Titanium AWD.  RWD and AWD are offered alongside four grades (Ambiente, Trend, Sport and Titanium).  A new Ford Everest gives you plenty of space, seven seats and five-star safety.  Very nice!


Holden Acadia

Two big Holden SUVs are available, and the first is a magnificent offering known as the Holden Acadia AWD.  It’s an American built machine and rides sumptuously with comfort.  Inside, the luxurious cabin is roomy and the boot cavernous.  With all seven seats in place the Acadia has 292 litres for luggage, but fold that third row down and the boot space is 1042 litres.

Towing is a breeze with the trusty and familiar 3.6-litre petrol motor offering plenty of performance and pulling power (231 kW/367 Nm).  Boasting 5-star safety, three models to choose from (LT,LTZ, LTZ-V), a smooth automatic and the ability to cruise well under 10 litres/100 km, this is a stylish large SUV that has plenty of road presence for a decent price (around $44 – $70k new depending on model).  It’s hard to beat as a complete package, though it could do with a diesel…

Holden Trailblazer

The other big Holden SUV is the Trailblazer.  Only the one model is offered, the LTZ AWD, but it has all the bells and whistles and it comes with a decent 2.8-litre, diesel engine (147 kW/500 Nm).  Running with a six-speed auto and a low-range box, the new Trailblazer can average around 9 litres/100 km and tackle any off-road work with ease.  This large SUV is based on the Colorado Ute and brings a tough, go-anywhere talent.  You can tow heavy loads and it comes with seven seats.  As well as being 5-star safe it rides on-road with solid skills and a comfortable ride.  LT-Z models come loaded with everything, though the base model LT has plenty of goodies.  If you want a more sporty flavour, then the top of the range Storm or Z71 will be the models for you.  Expect to pay between $45k and $55k for a new Trailblazer – that’s pretty decent!


Hynudai Santa Fe

A new Hyundai SUV is quite a common sight on our roads, and for good reason.  The most popular SUV for Hyundai is their large Santa Fe.  This is a stylish new roomy SUV (boot measures 547 litres with five seats in place) with superb 5-star safety features and technology, and though the 2.4-litre petrol with 138 kW of power and 241 Nm of torque is a smooth, solid unit, it is the diesel that is a standout, refined performer.  Averaging around 8 litres or less per 100 km for its fuel consumption, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel also packs stacks of creamy torque (147 kW/440 Nm) throughout the engine revs and is very easy to drive smartly over any road.  There is a bigger 3.5-litre petrol with 205 kW and 336 Nm should you like the thought of this alternative ULP variant.  All Santa Fe models have AWD or 2WD options and use an eight-speed automatic – including the petrol models.  There are three variants in total, the Highlander being the flagship model.  Pricing is around the $43 – $60k mark.


Isuzu MU-X

A 2020 Isuzu MU-X will be a dependable, tough SUV that is built on the rugged D-Max Ute’s platform.  You get seven seats, an automatic gearbox, and premium luxury and comfort.  Inside the MU-X it’s modern and comfortable with all the goodies like climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen, 18-inch alloys, a nice audio system and plenty of electrics to enjoy.  You also get 5-star safety.  The 2020 Isuzu MU-X range now kicks off from around $43k for the entry-level 4×2 LS-M, and runs through to around $58k for the flagship 4×4 LS-T.  All six variants use the grunty 130kW/430Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, which is linked to the Aisin-sourced six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.  4×2 and 4×4 options are available across the stylish SUV’s three grades (LS-M, LS-U and LS-T).  With five seats in place, the MU-X offers 878 litres of cargo space.  Fold all the seats flat and boot space grows to 1830 litres.


Jaguar F-Pace

You can get yourself a new luxury SUV with decent space and plenty of pace.  The 2020 Jaguar F-Pace models are special SUVs to drive, and if you go for the insanely quick (and expensive) SVR model you get a V8 petrol engine with 405 kW and 680 Nm.  This model does not muck around, sounds magical and can hit 100 km/h from a standstill in just over 4 seconds!  A top speed of around 280 km/h ensures there aren’t many SUVs that will stay with you when you let all these horses loose.

There are other models, however, that are equally as delightful to drive but for different reasons.  The base model 20d uses a sweet 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that can offer its owner peppy performance and an average fuel consumption around 5.5 litres/100 km.  You still have 132 kW of power and 430 Nm to play with.

R-Sport models use a range of quick engines (25d, 25t and 30t) with plenty of torque (400-500 Nm).

Two V6 models are available: The S version with a petrol 3.0-litre offering 280 Nm and 450 Nm, and an SD version with a 3.0-litre Diesel offering 221 kW and 700 Nm (yes, that’s correct).

As you can see, the Jaguar F-Pace is a driving enthusiast’s SUV with excellent performance and AWD handling and grip.  All models come with a 5-star safety rating and deliver quite remarkable economy given the level of performance on offer.  Style, luxury, performance and space (up to 1740 litres of boot space) make a Jaguar F-Pace highly desirable.  In fact, some say it’s Jaguars most practical sports car!

Prices range from between $66k – 166k.


Jeep Grand Cherokee

Big and impressive, a new Grand Cherokee always looks good for any occasion.  These are superbly comfortable, roomy SUVs that are 4×4 excellent if you need a pure off-road beast.  Equally at home on the tarmac, the Grand Cherokee rides handsomely and safely, and all the family will love the high tech infotainment systems and luxury features.

If you love seriously hot performance, there is a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk model which is arguably the quickest SUV in the world.  It boasts a 6.2-litre, V8 petrol that’s loaded with 522 kW and 868 Nm – enough to send it from a standstill to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 290 km/h!

Serious off-roaders will like the 4×4 trail-ready Trailhawk and Overland models.  There is 457–782 litres in the boot with the rear seats in place, and then with the rear seats folded flat the boot is massive.  All new Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs come with AWD, automatic gearboxes, big towing performance and 5-star safety.  Depending on the model, prices range from between $47-135k.

Jeep Wrangler

You can also grab yourself a funky Jeep Wrangler with spectacular off-road capability and loads of practical features.  Two and four door variants are available.  The Wrangler two-door has a boot capacity of just 197 litres with the back seats in place, but if you only have occasional rear passengers you can fold the seats forward to create a 587-litre load bay.  The four-door has a handier 533-litre boot; this extends to 1,044 litres when the seats are folded down.  Safety is good, but isn’t as good as some SUVs out there.

Three Wrangler model trims are presented, all using the 3.6-litre petrol engine boasting 209 kW and 347 Nm.  Automatic gearboxes with low-range and 4WD are standard on all models.  Expect at least 10.5-litres/100 km fuel consumption when driven sedately, but if you own one of these you probably won’t mind – because you’ll love the rugged 4×4 action!


Kia Sorento

Another very good go-to large SUV that ticks all the handy boxes is the 2020 version of the Sorento.  A new Kia Sorento is a seven-seater offering high levels of specification, boasts an excellent 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine (147 kW/441 Nm) across the range, has an eight-speed auto, and five-star safety which can detect rear seat occupancy.  A 3.5-litre petrol version is also available with plenty of refined power and creamy torque.  You also have the option of going 4×2 if you want; otherwise 4×4 variants deliver excellent traction off-road, making it quite a good buy for adventure enthusiasts.  Its rugged platform copes well with towing duties, as well.  Keep the third row of seats in place and there’s 142 litres of boot space, but folding them down and up to 605 litres behind the second row of seats is nice space.

This is an SUV at the right price that is hard to beat.  Pricing is between $43–$60k.


Lamborghini URUS

You’re probably more familiar with Lamborghini offering formidable supercars.  You’d be right there; they do.  Some farmers will also know that they build tractors.  But did you know that Lamborghini offer the URUS 4WD SUV?  The Lamborghini URUS is a 5-door SUV model packed with performance (478 kW/850 Nm).  It’s five-star safe, has a beefy and thirsty V8 petrol engine, full-time AWD with Torsen-type limited slip-diff wizardry, 4-wheel torque vectoring, rear wheel steer and plenty of luxury.  You pay around $390k for the four-seat version and $403k for the five-seater, which makes it a pricey SUV.  But, hey, you’ll be a rare sight on the road – for sure!

Land Rover

Land Rover Discovery

As you would expect, Land Rover has some very nice large, luxury SUVs for those who need one of the best in the business.  The Discovery and Range Rover Sport are roomy SUVs that will seat seven comfortably while providing awesome interior tech and premium safety.  They also offer the go-anywhere 4×4 off-road ability Land Rover is renowned for.  These are about as good as you get in luxury 4×4 SUV motoring.

The latest Land Rover Discovery has legendary off-road ability, and you can get the latest 2020 model with two premium turbo-diesel options.  The first is a 2.0-litre with around 180 kW of power and as much as 500 Nm of torque.  This is impressive and is available standard in the least expensive SD4 S model.  A larger 3.0-litre with 225 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque is also available to the buyer, and it’s so strong in all conditions.  Remarkably, the big diesel sips fuel pretty slowly and can return around 8 litres/100 km.  Both engines are linked to the excellent 8-speed automatic with low range and crawl control.  Five-star safety with a huge boot makes life very nice owning a new Disco.  Expect to pay between $74 and $127k.

Land Rover Range Rover

The Land Rover Range Rover Vogue SE SDV8 offers us a more upmarket five-seater SUV that’s loaded with luxury, technology and 4×4 capability.  The 2020 models are more dynamic on-and-off the road.  Running with an eight-speed, V8 supercharged Diesel you have 250 kW of power and 740 Nm of torque, and you should be able to get down to 10 litres/100 km fuel consumption.  Buy new, and it comes with a 3 year 100,000 km warranty.  Boot space is a massive 909 litres – even with the rear seats in place!

Range Rover Sport

Range Rover Sport models have a wide range of options and trims.  Both the Sport and Velar variants lead the way in maximum luxury and opulence, and the 4×4 capability, five-star safe, seven-seat space and high-tech kit give these desirable big SUVs loads of street cred.

There are 2.0-litre 221 kW UPL engines, 294 kW Hybrid engines, a 386 kW V8 UPL engine, a 423 kW V8 UPL engine, 183 kW and 225 kW 3.0-litre Diesels, and a 250 kW 4.4-litre Diesel engines that are available for the Range Rover Sport models.  Prices for the Sport range are between $98k – 240k with loads of options to choose from.  The latest model is lighter, faster and more fuel efficient than ever before.

Range Rover Velar

Velar models are nice five-seater SUVs with excellent space, comfort and technology.  These are based on sister company Jaguar F-Pace models and their new smooth lines are easy on the eye.  Velar variants boast awesome luxurious interiors with all the mod-cons and infotainment features you’ll want.  Boot space is a healthy 632 litres with the rear seats in place.  Of course, with a luggage wall in place you can fill this space right up to the roof making it great for the family get away.  Current prices range from $70 – 177k range for the base model Range Rover Velar P250 (184kW) and the Range Rover Velar P550 SV A/B Dynamic (405kW), respectively.  Five-star safety, and petrol and diesel options give plenty of choice to the 2020 Velar buyer.


Lexus RX

Lexus offer the striking new RX SUV which is a medium/large size SUV with petrol and hybrid power plants.  These are luxurious and sophisticated machines, and 2020 models come with the latest Incorporate Lexus Safety System +, active cornering assist, the Bladescan light enhancement system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Qi wireless charging for enhanced connectivity.  They offer the buyer a class-leading design that is eye-catching and practical.  Toyota running gear makes these one of the most reliable SUVs on the market and they are solid vehicles with five-star safety.  Ride quality is excellent, the handling nimble and direct, and the interiors comfortable and quiet.  Boot space in five-seater models with the split-fold second row seats in place is around 539 litres.  Seven seater versions are also available.

A turbocharged RX 300, the 3.5-litre V6 RX 350, or the technologically advanced RX 450h with Lexus Hybrid Drive are the powertrains on offer.  Powering the Lexus RX 300 variants is a 175 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine.  Powering the Lexus RX 350 is a 221 kW/370 Nm, 3.5-litre V6, petrol motor.  And, powering the Lexus RX 450h is a 230 kW/335 Nm, petrol/electric hybrid powertrain.  Want a five seater Lexus RX, then you’ll be paying between $72–110k.  Go for seven seats and the prices are between $85–111k.  Hybrid versions are the most expensive variants.

Lexus LX

Also available in the Lexus stable is the awesomely luxurious and refined LX 4WD.  It is an extra-large SUV with heaps of space (over 1500 litres boot capacity and seven seats are offered).  Running Toyota’s reliable gear, you can have the most luxurious of SUVs in petrol (V8, 5.7-litre, 270 kW, 530 Nm, approx – 15 litres/100 km), or diesel in some countries (V8, 4.5-litre, 200 kW, 650 Nm, approx – 10 litres/100 km).  Five-star safety is a given with some of the most sophisticated accident avoidance systems on-board the LX package.  Prices start from around $145k for the standard petrol model and around $170k for the S petrol LX.


Maserati Levante

Stylish SUVs don’t come much more-so than with Maserati’s new Levante AWD.  The Levante is a brilliant new luxury SUV with all the goodies, premium safety and performance to boot.  Petrol models get either the V6 3.0-litre motor in the Luxury model with 257 kW and 500 Nm, or the 321 kW V6 petrol motor with 580 Nm of torque.

Interestingly, the Diesel option in the Levante has you enjoying all the luxury of the other two engine variants but for over $10k less.  This might be the bargain you really want because this model also comes with 202 kW and 600 Nm, and can regularly run at less than 8.5 litres/100 km.  Top of the performance ladder, however, is the 3.8-litre, Twin Turbo, V8 petrol boasting 441 kW and 730 Nm (0-100 km/h in 4 seconds).

Maserati Levante SUVs are five-star safe, offer five-seats and offer 580 litres of luggage space with the second row seats in place.  Expect to pay between $125k for the base 3.0-litre petrol model and $330k for the Trofeo V8 Petrol.


Mazda CX-8

Another of the best two roomy SUVs you can buy; and with all the kit, decent space and nice comfortable interiors: Mazda’s CX-8 or CX-9 AWD SUVs.  Both of these are very good looking and sleek.

The CX-8 is a five-seater SUV and is exclusively diesel powered.  You won’t find a better handling everyday SUV on the market, and the performance is exceptionally smooth.  Under the hood is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with 140 kW and 450 Nm.  Fuel efficiency is excellent, with drivers easily capable of getting around 6 litres/100 km on average.  What more can I say: the six-speed auto is smooth and safety simply superb.  Pricing for the awesome Mazda CX-8 is between $47 and $66k, and there are both FWD and AWD variants for all four trims.

Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is a seven-seater SUV with loads of occupant space, comfort and elegant style.  Flick the powered tailgate open, and with all seven seats in place the luggage space is 230 litres, but knock the third row over and it grows to become a cavernous (1081 litres).  Powered by a 2.5-litre, SkyActiv turbo, petrol engine there is heaps of power on tap (170 kW/420 Nm) and economy sits at around 9 litres/100 km.  You’ll find it very hard to find a better family wagon that is occupant and driver friendly.  This is an SUV with all the right features.  Prices are between $46k and 70k, with FWD and AWD versions available; and all versions are five-star safe.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz GLE

Luxury car-maker Mercedes Benz has a nice large SUV on offer that’s known as the GLE AWD SUV.  This is Mercedes Benz at its best with build quality and materials of premium standards.  Luxury, comfort and space are the hallmarks of the GLE, and all variants are superbly safe.  Riding in the GLE is refined and effortless.  Practicality is aided by the fact that the seven-seater boasts 630 litres in five-seat mode, which expands to 2055 litres when the second row is folded away.  All models can scamper off-road no problems at all as they all have decent 4×4 capabilities.

Models start with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powered 300d (180 kW/500 Nm).  The 300d engine is a sweetie and packs plenty of power along with an average of around 7 litres per 100 km for fuel efficiency.  In between is a GLE 450 petrol (270 kW/500 Nm).  Currently, the top of the ladder model is the GLE 400d with a 2.9-litre turbo-diesel engine with 243 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque.  Remarkably, the bigger diesel still delivers around 8 litres/100 km economy.

For what you get, the GLE is a reasonably priced luxury SUV, where the prices are between $105k–125k.

Mercedes Benz GLS

Bigger can be better with a new Mercedes Benz GLS.  With massively spacious boot space (5-seats offers 890 litres and 7 seats offers 355 litres), the GLS SUV is Merc’s top-of-the-line seven-seater; and it is luxurious.  Supremely comfortable and stylish the new GLS is packed with technology.  On the road the ride is superb thanks to some of the most sophisticated suspension and damping technology.  Boasting AWD/4×4 capability you can go anywhere in one of these, too.  Five-star safety is a given, and the current price of a new one starts at around $145k and tops out at $154k.  For what you get this is one of the best extra-large SUVs on the market.

The 400d uses a 2.9-litre diesel with 700 Nm of torque and 243 kW of power, while the hybrid petrol uses a 3.0-litre with 500 Nm and 270 kW.

Mercedes Benz G-Class

G-Class Mercedes Benz SUV models are classy and superior off-road 4×4 vehicles with comfort, space and power aplenty.  Three diff-locks and low range gearing offer the ultimate traction in rough terrain and the refinement has gotten better and better with each new model.  A 3.0-litre turbo-diesel gets the job done and provides 400 Nm and 135 kW.  You can get into a new 300 CDI for around $110k.

Top of the range G-Class models lay on all the equipment and use a 180 kW, 600 Nm turbo-diesel motor.  You should be able to get around the 10 litres/100 km or better for any of the models when driven sedately.  Space for luggage starts at 454 litres and grows to 1941 litres depending on the seat configuration.


Mitsubishi Pajero

Mitsubishi know all about AWD and have been making really good, solid genuine 4×4 SUVs for years.  Perhaps under-rated and overshadowed by other good Japanese models, the Pajero (since 1983) has, nonetheless, been part of Australia’s greatest adventures.  Its revolutionary technology has been tested to triumph over and over again in the most gruelling conditions in the Dakar Rally, so whatever you put in front of the big Pajero 4×4, it will prevail.

2020 sees the latest Mitsubishi Pajero as a confident, elegant, tough and reliable large SUV, and with your 4×4 Pajero you have the confidence to take on the off-road world with ease.  This is now one of the few remaining hard-core 4x4s with a truly rugged ladder-chassis design, making it a superbly strong seven seater.  The Pajero gives you plenty of space, comfort and towing capability, along with all the latest infotainment and techie features for modern daily life.

Mitsubishi Pajero 4WDs boast a magnificent 7 year/unlimited km warranty.  Base models (GLX) come with the grunty 3.2-litre, intercooled DOHC turbo-diesel engine with 141 kW of power and 441 Nm of torque.  Averaging around 10 litres/100 km, sometimes less, the Pajero also has a smooth 5-speed sports mode automatic transmission with Super Select II 4WD, a rear differential locking system, Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA) and the full seven seats.  Five-star safety is part of the Pajero package.  You can get one for around $50k – which is a steal!

GLS variants add things like reverse sensors, automatic rain and dusk sensors, heated front seats, power front seats, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with auto levelling and headlamp washers.  You can get one for around $58k.

The top of the range GLS also has a ‘Leather Option’ which adds classy leather seats and leather trim into the mix.  Super nice, and you can get one for around $60k.  If I was on the hunt for a roomy SUV, 4×4 bargain, this would have to be on my radar – they are very hard to beat.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Also available is the new Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport which is a seven-seat or five-seat SUV based on the award winning Triton Ute.  With five seats in play, it has a 673-litre boot space.  Very up-to-date, the Pajero Sport is more streamlined and sportier than its standard Pajero brother and can be had from around $47k for the base model and $58k for the top of the range Exceed.  All are superior off-road performers and they ride on the tarmac very nicely too.  The one engine powers them all, and this is the very good and dependable 2.5-litre turbo-diesel boasting 135 kW and 437 Nm.  You should be able to get around 8.5 litres/100 km fuel economy, and they come five-star safe.

Featuring a modern interior with an 8-inch colour monitor, a power tailgate, remote central locking via your smartphone, an array of electronic driver aids, lane change assist and even rear cross traffic alert, the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport should be on your short list if you’re on the lookout for one of the best all-round SUVs in the market.


Nissan Patrol

Nissan has in its SUV armoury the legendary big Patrol with true off-road capability and 3.5 tonne towing power.  Two variants are available, and both boasting the very grunty 5.5-litre petrol V8 with 298 kW and 560 Nm.  That’s enough power to send the hefty Patrol from a standstill to 100 km/h in a little less than 7 seconds.  The only drawback is it’s a tad thirsty, averaging around 15 litres/100 km.  It uses a smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox with diff-locking and low-range ability for delivering the drive to all four wheels.

You can buy a new Patrol Ti for around $77k, which is a really nice luxurious, spacious and comfortable large SUV in its own right.  Things like a leather interior and 3-zone climate control are standard features.  Step up to the Nissan Patrol Ti-L and things like exterior mirrors with puddle lights, a front cooled centre console box, heated front seats, a headlight washer system, intelligent brake control and a lane change warning system are part of the package.  Expect to pay around $93k for the Ti-L.

Tackling the tough turf in a 4×4 Patrol is a bit of a walk in the park, really.  This is meant for off-road business, and, if it’s a large 4×4 SUV you need, this has to be on your shopping list.  Five or seven seats play nicely with a massive boot – Nissan claims that cargo space is 468 litres in the boot with second and third row upright, 1413 litres with third row folded flat; and 2623 litres with second and third rows folded flat.  It’s has refined and relaxed highway cruising ability which makes this a very versatile vehicle.  It rides nicely, and you can do long hauls no problems in a new Nissan Patrol.

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan also offers the stylish Pathfinder SUV in FWD and AWD variants.  There are plenty of trims to choose from, the flagship models being saturated in luxury, modern technology and infotainment features.  These are very roomy and quiet, and the Pathfinder sits nicely on the road.  You get five-star safety features and plenty of boot space (453 litres) with the third-row seats up.  Fold the third row seats down and this grows to a huge 1354 litres.  Of course, you can gain even more luggage space by folding the second and third row seats down.

Petrol variants are powered by a 202 kW/340 Nm 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6, while hybrid versions combine a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor which is good for 188 kW and 330 Nm.  Both powertrains are coupled to a smooth CVT for getting the power out onto the road.  It can be a capable companion for when you want to explore off the beaten track, and for when you require a smooth open-road tourer for the family or just need to get all the kids to school, the Pathfinder is a great SUV.


Porsche Cayenne

Porsche has its hand in the SUV market with the luxurious, comfortable and quick Cayenne models.  These are five-seater SUVs with huge boots (650 litres behind the rear seats), so if practicality is a must then these are superb vehicles.  Obviously, you’ll need to hand over a bit more cash to own one of these German beauties but they are very stylish and rewarding SUVs to drive.  A wide range of engines, petrol, hybrid and electric are available; and given the performance on offer, and the temptation to use it lots, the fuel efficiency is not too bad.

The entry-level Porsche Cayenne Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor that’s boosted by a single turbocharger (250 kW/450 Nm) and it can waltz through the 0-100 km/h sprint in six seconds.

The middle of the range Porsche Cayenne S Coupe gets a smaller but more potent twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 (324 kW/550 Nm), and it can do the 0-100 km/h deed in 5 seconds.

The Cayenne Turbo Coupe 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (404 kW/770 Nm) has a top speed of 286 km/h, and its 0-100km/h dash takes less than four seconds.

You can also buy the flagship Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe variant, whose plug-in hybrid-boosted twin-turbo V8 powertrain packs a whopping 500 kW and 900 Nm.

Prices range between $128k and $292k, and they are all very safe 5-star rated SUVs.


SsangYong Rexton

Here’s another great sizeable SUV that ticks all the right boxes.  The Rexton 7-seater boasts the rugged ladder chassis design, which is the ‘bees knees’ when it comes to toughness for off-roading, which you can do often in the stylish new Rexton AWD.  It’s the perfect set-up with a frugal, yet powerful, 2.2 turbo-diesel that puts out 133 kW of power and a lusty, smooth 420 Nm.  Running with an excellent 7-speed automatic and part-time 4WD the big Ssangyong SUV wisps along smoothly and economically.  The 3.5 tonne towing capability should raise a few eyebrows, making this quite the versatile family wagon.

A 2.0-litre petrol engine with turbocharging is the other alternative.  It remains smooth and responsive with its 165 kW and 225 Nm.  The petrol version is called the EX model and it is 2WD and six-speed auto, only.  This is the model that sees you into a new Ssangyong Rexton at around $40k.  The ELX and Ultimate models are diesel and AWD, and you have the choice of going with the six-speed auto or opting for the seven-speed automatic.  Ultimate models cost you around $53k.

All models have a seven year warranty from new, which is very attractive.  Boot space is decent, with seven seats in place you can still get a big load of shopping inside.  Fold the third row seats flat and there is well over 640 litres on offer – as the second row seats are able to slide forward for even more room.

Inside the cabin you are made very comfortable and all the necessary technologies are on-board.  With the Ultimate model everything is laid on and the leather interior is sumptuous.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

Available in 2.5-litre petrol form with 129 kW, 235 Nm and an average fuel economy of around 7.5 litres/100 km, the new Subaru Outback is a five-star safe, roomy SUV that is a little more like a conventional station wagon than a bigger, boxier SUV.  It’s got nice handling, AWD, plenty of new features and boasts excellent reliability – you’ll enjoy this one.

In 3.6-litre, petrol form with 191 kW, 350 Nm, AWD and an average fuel economy of around 10.5 litres/100 km, this is the model that can really cover the ground quickly if you want to.

A 110 kW, 350 Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is a nice option for very frugal (around 6.5 litres/100 km), long-legged travel.  This one moves along nicely too.

Luggage space is decent, so for a family this is a pretty nice way to get out and see the country.  The boot opens to reveal a generous 512 litres of luggage space, and then, if the 60:40 split-folding rear seats are flattened, you have plenty of luggage carrying ability on tap.  AWD and FWD versions are available, and all come with CVT automatics.

Current prices range from $38k to $51k for the Outback 2.5i AWD and Outback 3.6R, respectively.  The Diesel models can be had for around $40k.  My pick would be the Diesel AWD, though the 3.6R is the one for the driving enthusiast who likes to press on.


Where there’s any market segment in the motoring world there will always be a Toyota, and it’s true when it comes to any decent large SUV alternative.  Toyota offers us the Fortuner, the Highlander the Land Cruiser Prado and the Land Cruiser 200.  Any of these vehicles have AWD, good ground clearance, excellent reliability and decent performance – whether you go for the diesel or petrol options.  They all ride very well on and off the road, are comfortable, practical and have plenty of space for the whole family.  Five and seven seaters are available, and all of them boast five-star levels of safety.

For those who want to head off-road in to the serious terrain, the Prado Land Cruiser is perfect.  This is a big, supremely capable all-rounder, but it is just as happy hopping curbs on the school run.

The biggest 4×4 SUV that Toyota can sell us is the awesome Land Cruiser 200.  Here we have a V8 Diesel with 200 kW and 650 Nm.  It’s brilliant on and off the road, and guaranteed to go the distance in any conditions.

Flagship models of all four variants, above, come extremely well appointed.


Volkswagen Touareg

The VW Touareg SUV has a strong following, and for good reason.  It’s definitely got the style, space and comfort to make it a superb SUV, and the Premium models are stacked with nice technology and provide a sumptuous interior.  Currently, VW Australia has gone for just the one 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine with 190 kW and 600 Nm, and it’s known as the Touareg 190TDI model.  The running gear uses an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission linked to a very competent AWD system.

You can get the new VW Touareg in two specification levels.  It starts off with the 190 TDI at around $80k and then you step up to the 190 TDI Premium model at around $86k.

The 190TDI Premium adds IQ matrix headlights, air suspension, seats with a higher grade of leather plus massaging and ventilation functions, 20-inch alloys and the option of a light-coloured interior.  For only an extra $5k this is worth it.

The new Touareg is a five-seater only, but you get a whopping 810 litres behind the rear seats for luggage.  This gets bigger as you flip the seats down flat.  It also provides decent five-star safety kit.


Volvo XC90

One of the best new SUVs you can buy is the Volvo XC90.  It is not only one of the safest large SUVs but it is also extremely comfortable, quiet and capable.

It comes with loads of modern style, safety and cutting-edge engine technology along with very good infotainment systems.  The audio systems are powerful, and you can fit loads of cargo on board an XC90.  Seven seats are standard, and you run with a very smooth 7-speed automatic, and even the base 2.0-litre Diesel boasts 173 kW and 480 Nm.  Fuel consumption with this D5 AWD is superb, allowing you to easily get down to a low 6 litres/ 100 km.

The D5 T6 is a petrol engine that runs sweetly and powerfully.  It too is a 2.0-litre but runs as a petrol engine.  A hefty 246 kW links with 440 Nm of torque to make this a superb drive for all occasions.

A new Volvo XC90 T8 AWD uses hybrid technology and petrol to make 311 kW and 680 Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo power plant.  This is swift, superbly safe and effortlessly comfortable.

Even with all seven seats in place, the new Volvo XC90 boot can hold up to 302 litres of luggage.  Folding down all the second and third-row seats frees up a huge 1,856 litres of cargo capacity.

They don’t come much better than this.  A D5 kicks off at around $90k for the Momentum model and they finish with the flagship T8 R-Design Hybrid at around $115k.