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So Much for Fuel Savings….

It’s no secret that a concerted effort has been made in many quarters of the automotive industry to push motorists towards more ‘sustainable’ cars that run leaner in terms of fuel consumption. Take a look at some of our favourite V8 models, which have slowly but surely been ‘downsized’ to a more efficient (turbo) four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. Then, consider the prominence of hybrid or ‘eco-oriented’ vehicles, not necessarily here in Australia, but across the world.

However, what’s being overlooked from much of the discussion is the trend seeing more and more motorists step into SUVs all over the world. This is playing out in Australia as much as anywhere, with the segment now a clear frontrunner ahead of the once dependable passenger vehicle.

 

 

A closer look at the trend

On a global scale, it’s a trend the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken aim at, citing the shift in buying preference as “the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010”. Surprisingly, that’s even more than ‘heavy’ industry, which is taken to include production of iron and steel, cement and aluminium.

The fact that SUVs, on average across all makes and models, consume more fuel than passenger cars will hardly surprise anyone. That’s long been a well-known consideration, even among many car buyers. But the broader picture, with such a shift towards ownership of SUVs, is not just offsetting ‘consumption reductions from increasingly efficient passenger cars and the growing eco fleet – it has wiped out those savings altogether.

In more specific terms, the IEA says “SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly”. At their current rate of growth, SUVs could add another “2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars”.

 

 

Where to from here?

These points make for an interesting outlook. On the one hand, many manufacturers are promoting their future vision for an electric and ‘efficient’ future, yet on the other hand, buying trends point to a picture where motorists are moving in a different direction. The clear absence of options in the electric SUV market further complicates the matter, with the majority of efforts to create efficient cars being angled at the passenger vehicle segment.

If we’re serious about addressing vehicle emissions, what’s the actual plan going forward? Sure, we each have our own ‘needs’ and preferences as far as the cars we drive, but what will be required to drive a collective effort to cut fuel consumption across the board?

Mitsubishi Expands Triton Range.

Mitsubishi has added two lifestyle driven models to the Triton range. Dubbed GSR and GLX-R, the titles are a mix of evocative history and a nod to the future. Companies are realising that for those that buy the big four wheel drive and off-road capable utes, they’re not necessarily being used for…off-road driving. They’ve become a lifestyle choice and the introduction of the pair mirrors that desire from a fickle market.

The GSR is perhaps the more visually worked over of the two and definitely leans towards the lifestyle, trend driven, marketplace. The wheels are black painted alloys and a diameter of 18 inches. The Mitsubishi “Dynamic Shield” is blacked out to provide a subtle, menacing, look. The headlight surrounds, skid plates, door mirrors, handles, and sidesteps are also all blacked out.

Inside there is the addition of a “Multi Around Monitor” with an activation switch on the steering wheel. The powered and heated front seats have leather trim, as do the steering wheel and park brake level &shift knob. There is an colourful option in the form of a tan orange highlight package. This will feature on the seats, console storage box, and console knee pads. Accessorising the GSR will be simple with the choice of three tonneau covers. There will be a soft, hard, and rollable cover available. A blacked out sports roll bar and tub liners will also be available.

The cost of the soft tonneau package is $2,699 (RRP) with the hard and roller style priced at $4,699 and $4,999 (RRP for each) respectively and also includes floor mats across the range.

Sliding into the gap between GLX+ and GLS will be the GLX-R. This is more restrained in finish, with 18 inch alloys also, fog lamps, and chrome finishes for the grille. door mirrors and handles, front bumper, and will be aimed at the driver that likes a more sophisticated look for their 4WD ute.

Pricing for the pair starts at $39,990 for the GLX-R with a six speed manual. A six speed auto kicks off at $42,490 and they’re both drive-away prices. The GSR is $50,990 without tonneau, whereas the soft cover starts at $52,990, and $54,990 for both the hard and roll cover versions. Premium paint is included on the GSR at a $740 value and prestige paint can be optioned for just $200.

Chat to your local Mitsubishi dealer or contact them via the Mitsubishi Australia website.

VFACTS Releases January 2020 Sales Figures.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has today released the new vehicle sales figures for the month of January 2020. This has been done for the first time with an updated reporting system.

Total new vehicle sales were 71,731, a decrease of 10,263 sales compared to 2019. Of that number, passenger vehicles numbered 20,494, whilst SUVs made up 35,393, and LCV (Light Commercial Vehicles) 14,035. Passenger cars were down by 7,556 sales, and SUVs down by just 547 for the same time last year. LCVs saw a drop of 1,774. In percentage terms these equate to drops of 26.9%, 1.5%, 11.2%, and and overall drop of 12.5% for January.

The FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said: “Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year.”

Japanese giant, Toyota, topped the ladder with 14,809 sales, making Toyota have a 20.6% share of the market. Mazda slid into second with 6,695 for a 9.3% share. Hyundai was nipping at the heels of Mazda with 5,443 and 7.6%. Mitsubishi made 4th with 5,108 sales or 7.1% whilst Kia snared 5th with 4,705 sales and 6.6%.

Toyota’s Hilux, with 2,968 sales, took out the number 1 sales position. Ford’s Ranger claimed 2nd with 2,624 sales. Toyota also grabbed 3rd thanks to the Corolla, with 2,370 sales. The RAV4 from the same maker was 4th with 2,290 sale, followed by the Mitsubishi Triton with 2,075 sales.

Mr Weber said of the updated VFACTS reporting system: “VFACTS is the most accurate source of data for the automotive industry. The updated VFACTS system is working well and automotive brands have welcomed its release. The benefits of the new system include improved data accuracy and more timely reporting lines.

2020 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport and SX Sedan: Private FleetCar Review.

This Car Review Is About: The updated Toyota Corolla sedan range. It’s possibly one of the longest running nameplates and styles in the Australian market. Lookswise the rear has been mildly massaged whilst the front takes on the appearance of the hatchback, released late in 2018. There’s some changes to the inside and a freshen-up to the ride. There’s also a change in location for manufacturing, with the Corolla returning to Japan after formerly being built in Thailand.There are three models to choose from, with the Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR. Engine choice is a “normal” 2.0L petrol for all three or a 1.8L hybrid for the Ascent Sport and SX. Transmission choices are a manual or CVT in the Ascent Sport, and CVT for the other two. We drove the Ascent Sport and SX 2.0L.

What Does It Cost?: $23,335 and $28,325 for the cars tested and these are prices before government and dealership charges. Driveaway charges vary around the country with variances of just a few to a couple of hundred of dollars. With the SX clad in Celestine Grey and the Ascent in a pearl white, there’s a bump of just over $500.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.0L petrol engine in the cars reviewed. There is a 1.8L hybrid package available for Ascent Sport and SX, but the ZR stays with the 2.0L only. Peak power is 125kW, with peak twist 200Nm and that’s on standard pump unleaded. Toyota claims 6.0L/100km for the fuel economy and we matched that in the Ascent Sport, whilst the SX threw out 7.4L on a slightly more urban based drive. Tank size is 50L. The transmissions are the now conventional CVT for the 2.0L with the mechanical first gear cog for quicker off the line acceleration. The Ascent Sport can also be specced with a six speed manual and the hybrids have the cogless CVT.On The Outside Is: A mild tweak to the rear lights, with a resemblance to Holden’s Astra. In profile there’s more definition to the wheel arches whilst the front end is completely restyled and now shares the look, with slimmer headlights and deeper air intake, with the hatch. Eyecatching LED driving lights sit above a bumper with subtle differences to the hatch. It’s a good size overall, with a length of 4,630mm just 300mm shorter than the Camry. Boot space is bigger than the hatch too, with 470L swallowing up a family’s groceries or baggage with ease.

Both have alloys are they’re 16 inches in size, with the SX sporting a slightly different sheen in the alloy’s finish to the Ascent Sport. Rubber is from Bridgestone’s Ecopia range and are at 205/55 in size. There is otherwise no visible difference between the two, with the Ascent Sport lacking…something sporty to back up the name.On The Inside Is: Some subtle differences between the pair. The SX has a dual zone climate control versus the Ascent’s single zone, with corresponding changes to the design of the controls. Apart from a push start/stop button the SX and Ascent Sport have identical dash designs, down to the speedometer dominating the display for the driver. The display has the 4.2 inch LCD screen over to the right side, rather than centrally located like, well, just about everyone else.The design of the dash’s material is clean, unfussy, with the texture pleasing to the touch. There’s high gloss piano black around the aircon controls, and above them is the 8.0 inch touchscreen, complete with DAB (SX standard, optional in Ascent Sport, as is satnav), Bluetooth streaming, and bespoke Toyota app connection called myToyota. The screen’s look and layout is something some other manufacturers should look to for their screens. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, plus there is voice recognition, Siri eyes free, and Miracast. The SX has a wireless charge pad, a good feature in a mid-spec car. There are also four cup and bottle holders. Seats are manually adjustable in the two. All pews in both are cloth covered and none were heated or vented. There is a 2,700mm wheelbase on the sedan which is 60mm longer than the hatch. This provides crucial extra legroom for the rear seat passengers.

On The Road Its: Not much different from one to the other. The SX felt as if it had a slightly softer rear to the Ascent Sport, however there is a commonality for the two. the Ecopia rubber drums and drones on harsher tarmac, and the front end lacks confidence on wet roads. Entry speeds in corners had to be drastically reduced in the wet due to push-on understeer compared to driving the same in dry conditions.

Steering both is light with a touch of feeling artificial in heft. Brakes were mostly up to the job with a reasonable amount of stopping performance in the dry, and only a touch less in the wet thanks to the rubber. Ride quality in both, apart from the perceived softer rear in the SX, was excellent, with well controlled damping, high levels of absorption of bumps, and minimal body roll. Dry road cornering is competent and confident too, with dynamics sure to please anyone with a modicum of driving ability.

The first gear cog in the CVT makes a world of difference in getting off the line. Response is zippier, sharper, and blends nicely into the CVT’s own mechanism without issue. Rolling acceleration is improved too, with highway driving and overtaking easier to perform without issue. Downhill drives have the CVT hold and work as an engine brake and it’s all nicely integrated. The engine itself is muted for the most part, and really only aurally intrudes at the higher end of the rev range. There is a Sport button in the centre console and is pretty much superfluous in usage.What About Safety?: Toyota could be said to lead the way when it comes to safety packages. Lobbed under the umbrella name of SafetySense, the range features Active Cruise Control (ACC), Pre-Collision Safety System (PCS) with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Auto High Beam (AHB) plus reverse camera with fixed guidelines are standard in the SX and ZR. Driving is assisted by the usual traction aids including Hill-Start Assist, plus Active Cornering Assist. This is a system that gently applies brakes to the front driven wheels if required in cornering at speed. Seven airbags are common to both.

And The Warranty?: Simple. Five years and unlimited kilometres. And by ensuring the car is serviced as per the service schedule, Toyota will extend the engine and driveline warranty from five to seven years. Servicing is capped price, at $180 for the first four services at a 12 month or 15,000 kilometre spacing.At The End Of The Drive: In 2.0L and CVT spec there is a question mark for the Ascent Sport and SX differentiation. A retail price difference of $5,000 is a substantial ask for a car that in essence only has digital audio, satnav, and a wireless charge pad over the model below. The wheels and tyres are the same, the body is the same, driving performance is the same. It’s a curious question and one only a buyer can answer when in the showroom. You can compare the specs here.

What to Look For During a Test Drive

When we jump behind the wheel of a car we’re familiar with, we often take for granted the number of things that contribute to our driving experience. In part, this is because we become familiar with all the facets everything that makes it run like clockwork.

But what about when we are shopping for a new car? A new vehicle is a completely difference experience, after all. As is often the case, we start to notice subtle differences – ones that may even shape our purchasing decision. With this in mind, as you start drawing up your shortlist of cars to check out, here are some of the key things to look for during a test drive.

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Features and amenities

Decide which features you need in a vehicle, and distinguish them from those considered ‘luxuries’. For example, you may wish to evaluate the importance of the vehicle’s: drive system, fuel system, climate control, upholstery, entertainment system, aesthetics, paintjob, airbags, GPS, cameras and sensors, as well as the inclusion of other safety-focused technology.

Depending on your needs, prioritise and rank these amenities in order of importance so that you are prepared to compromise on something if need be. You’ll get a better idea as to which features matter most from your commute around town, but also think ahead as to what driving conditions you will encounter most of the time in your day-to-day driving.

 

Ride quality and feel

It’s standard procedure for test drives to last a short period of time. While certainly better than nothing, this often falls short of providing an adequate ‘feel’ for the vehicle. As such, try asking for a lengthened trial, where you might be able to experience the vehicle in different weather conditions, and to assess whether it fits in your garage. Some dealers will even let you borrow the car for a weekend, but this is subject to availability and certain conditions.

Importantly, take the vehicle on roads that you would normally travel on. Not only does this familiarity help lower the chance of becoming distracted, it will assist you in making an informed and balanced assessment on the vehicle’s handling and ride comfort.

As part of the test, try operate the vehicle under differing road conditions – light traffic, heavy traffic, on a freeway, roundabouts, and sharp corners. Meanwhile, put climate control and other technologies through their paces – this is an area where some vehicles still encounter teething issues, and there are few things more frustrating in a vehicle than a GPS system which doesn’t recognise your voice!

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Some of the key things you’ll want to look out for include:

  • does the suspension feels soft and cushion-like, or hard and uncomfortable?
  • does steering feels light and precise, or requires a greater exertion of effort?
  • does the engine offer enough punch and acceleration to meet your needs?
  • is there a sense of balance and poise in terms of handling on the road?
  • does the car operate with low noise?
  • is it easy to maneouvre and perform three-point turns in the vehicle?
  • if it is something you desire, does the car feel as though it would be up to the task in off-road settings?

 

The Ride Environment

While all the bells and whistles might be tempting, step inside the vehicle and familiarise yourself with its layout. How is the visibility from the driver’s seat? Is there clear access for the driver to reach controls and dials? Is it an intuitive and user-friendly layout? Are passengers, especially those in the back seats, provided adequate space for a comfortable ride? Are the seats able to be adjusted and folded down? Is there a suitable number of storage compartments or space in the boot? How does the general build quality of the vehicle rate, both internally and externally?

 

At the end of the day, if you’re unable to find the right vehicle, there’s no harm in continuing to test drive other vehicles beyond your shortlist. Follow the above considerations and the process will be a whole lot easier


Best And Worst Exterior Paint Colours For Resale

We’ve all heard those jokes about people who seem to be more concerned about what colour a car is rather than its practical performance (fuel economy, towing ability, safety specs, luggage space, etc.).  We’ve also probably tossed out a flip comment about go-faster red and go-faster stripes over the years.  Paint colour seems like just a matter of personal choice and preference.  However, if you’re buying a brand new car and you know that you are going to sell it off some years down the track, then you may need to bear colour in mind, as some car paint colours are better for resale than others.

Good paint colours are popular ones that don’t go out of style quickly. This means that it’s going to be quicker and easier to sell them in five or ten years’ time because they’ll still be in style. With a bad colour – which might be a fashionable colour – it could be a bit harder to sell the car later on because potential buyers may look at it and go “eww – that’s so 2020”, which may mean that you will have to let the car go for a lower price than you may have got otherwise.

The leading authority on car paint colour is the paint manufacturer Axalta. This company has complied stats on car colours for over 60 years and has tons of resources available (the most recent free annual car stats are from 2016) and there is plenty to keep any motoring trivia enthusiast happy for hours at their website.

By a quick look at some of the material available from Axalta without wasting time down too many rabbit trails, it seems as if good car colours, in terms of resale, are like good suit colours for guys or the little black cocktail dress for gals: simple, basic classics that don’t shock or startle. Honestly, when it comes to car paint colour that hold its value, conservative is the key.

The most recent (freely available!) stats from Axalta show that the most popular car exterior paint colours worldwide (and therefore the ones that are likely to have the best resale value) are as follows:

  1. White: 37% of new cars sold in 2016 were some shade of white; white has been #1 for quite some time now
  2. Black: 18%
  3. Grey: 11%
  4. Silver: 11%
  5. Red: 6%
  6. Navy blue: 6%
  7. Beige and brown: 6% (apparently, Russian sales made up most of these)
  8. Yellow and gold: 3%
  9. Green: 1% (again, mostly Russian sales)

The most popular colour for vehicles in the Asia-Pacific region (which includes us here in Australia) has been either white, silver or grey since 1973 – and it looks like this trend isn’t going to change soon!

(If you want the latest stats, broken down by region and by body style – yes, it makes a difference –then you have to pay to get the download. I’m tempted…)

To find the least popular colours, all that some bloggers and researchers do is to flip this popularity list upside down. However, you, like me, have probably noticed that some colours don’t even feature on this list.  Because cars with unpopular colours don’t sell as well, it’s hard to compile meaningful stats on them, as it’s hard to track what isn’t selling because there’s nothing to see or record.  Nevertheless, the following have been proposed as the worst car exterior paint colours for resale.  They’re not in any particular order, but you may notice that all of them are very distinctive and associated with particular decades!

  • orange: any shade of orange; this colour is only popular with die-hard Dukes of Hazzard fans
  • turquoise: metallic turquoise in particular is soooo 1990s
  • maroon: very 1990s and dated, which is weird for a shade of red
  • green (unless you’re Russian): olive or pea green from the 1970s is especially bad, followed by the vivid treefrog greens of the early 2000s
  • brown (again, unless you’re Russian): British Leyland. Enough said
  • pink: in fact, Ferrari has banned pink from its list of possible car colours coming out of the factory door, even for superstars paying megadollars for a custom paint job (if P!nk wants a pink supercar, she has to get a Lambo, which doesn’t mind what colour you pick if you’re willing to pay).
  • purple: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a purple vehicle that wasn’t a commercial tradie vehicle in company colours that had been custom-painted

The only exception I’d make to this list is the case of British Racing Green for Jaguar.  This is a tradition and it’s such an iconic colour for Jaguar that it holds its value better than other off-the-wall unique colours.  Can you imagine a Burberry in any colour other than beige?

However, if you are in the market for a second-hand car, you can make the car colour thing work in your favour. If you believe that a good horse is never a bad colour and that the same applies to cars, then you may be able to pick up a good reliable set of wheels that’s in an unfashionable colour so is going for a fraction cheaper than something mechanically identical in a “good” colour. I’ll never forget my tradie friend who picked up a metallic rose-pink trade van at a bargain price because of its colour – he downright owned that pink van and it certainly made him stand out from his competitors with ordinary white vans. OK, you need some serious cojones to pull off a pink tradie van, but it certainly worked for my friend!

The Commodore To Be No More.

December 10th, 2019, will be the day that Australia was told of the passing of an icon. This is the complete PR release from Holden.

Holden is today announcing a modified portfolio dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said the focus of the portfolio was consistent with customer preferences, with the Acadia, Trailblazer, Equinox and Trax rounding out a comprehensive SUV portfolio; and the Colorado tackling rivals in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.

“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments. So far this year SUVs and Utes have increased to 76 percent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing,” he said.

The company has elected to retire the ZB Commodore and the BK Astra in 2020.

At its peak, the large car segment in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. This year it is projected to come in at about 8,700 units.

“The SUV segment is approaching half a million units, and LCVs over 200,000 units. That’s where the action is and that’s where we are going to play,” Mr Aquilina said.

The new Holden boss also paid tribute to the Commodore nameplate and its place in the Australian automotive industry over time.

“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he said.

“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.”

Sales and deliveries of Commodore and Astra will continue through 2020, albeit with diminishing model availability as part of an orderly runout.

Existing Commodore and Astra customers can be assured that Holden will continue to back warranty and roadside assistance commitments, with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future.

In addition, all MY19 ZB Commodores and MY19 BK Astras ordered or delivered from today onwards will be subject to Holden’s market leading seven-year free scheduled servicing offer.

All arrangements for accessing warranty, servicing and spare parts for Holden’s entire model line-up via the Holden’s national dealer network remain the same.

Holden will be launching the MY20 Equinox in the first quarter of 2020 followed by a significant MY21 upgrade to the highly regarded Colorado to launch in Spring. Holden will also lodge production orders to GM’s Bowling Green factory for the highly anticipated mid-engine right-hand-drive Corvette next year.

These sentences have sparked furious debate between supporters and detractors, with one common theme being “why didn’t they call the Commodore something else” after local manufacturing ceased in 2017. Then there are comments about a lack of relevant marketing for the ZB, indifferent dealership service, lack of support for just-out-of-warranty issues, balanced against “it’s not a real Commodore” due to the lack of V8, ute and wagon, and the shift to front wheel drive. Toss in a mix of “football, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars” as Australian made before the inexorable slide to very little of the VF actually being manufactured in Australia, and the anger and frustration levels of people becomes ever more evident.

What will remain is also divisive. The ZB Commodore was a bloody good car. But it was also never given a real chance at survival for a number of reasons. Ignorance and bias are two, and more’s the pity as it’s fair to presume detractors that decried its front wheel drive layout would not have taken the time to test drive it, and find out it actually drove like a Commodore.

Holden Commodore. Born 1978. Died painfully in 2020.

Are PHEVs Set for a Boost?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEV for short, have been pushed to motorists as a more ‘sustainable’ driving option. Boasting an on-board engine and generator that can power a rechargeable battery, advocates have argued that they offer emissions benefits and potentially lower operating costs for drivers.

Not everyone remains convinced however. Popularity for PHEVs has largely meandered along in recent years, despite this growing push for ‘eco-friendly’ driving. Although the category is starting to account for a larger proportion of electric passenger cars, if you ask many motorists, one of the prominent concerns for the technology has been limited driving distances (range).

In what could be welcome news for some, one development may see an improvement in this area.

 

ZF EVplus concept

The ZF EVplus concept was unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, incorporated within a BMW 330e. Having stripped the existing 7.6kWh battery, ZF installed a 35kWh replacement unit to provide power to the vehicle.

As you might guess, this corresponds with a decent bump up in power, but also a marked increase in the vehicle’s driving range when placed in all-electric driving mode. The jump takes it from approximately 30km range to more than 100km, which is a sizeable improvement, particularly considering this incorporates real-world operating conditions.

This new driving range is said to exceed the sort of performance milestones achieved by some of the latest competitors, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, as well as other electric models from the Mercedes-Benz and BMW stables.

 

 

Will it make driving more practical?

This is ultimately the million dollar question. Although 100km might not sound like an extensive driving range, let’s not forget this is when the car operates as an electric vehicle. PHEVs still have an internal combustion engine that can work as required, which is not the case for fully battery electric vehicles (BEVs). On top of that, most drivers don’t actually commute these sort of distances each and every day, or at least without an opportunity that they might be able to plug in the vehicle to top up its range.

So with either option to fall back on, for most motorists, some would say the concerns are overblown, and driven by behavioural conditioning. That is, we’ve become accustomed to driving the way we do, so we’re reluctant to change that to other methods.

This sort of development opens the way for a new era of PHEVs to enter the market in the not too distant future. However, the key obstacle for manufacturers’ lies with breaking through perceptions, and creating affordable PHEVs. If motorists cannot understand nor appreciate the appeal and attractiveness of PHEVs, then it is naïve to think that such cars can command the price premium they currently do.

2019MY Jeep Wrangler Overland: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A slightly updated version of the overhauled Jeep Wrangler range that Australia received in mid 2019. That change occurred between December 2018 and early 2019 in the manufacturing process, and it was the addition of a forward facing sensor for anti-collision technology. The range itself covers the Overland in the middle, Sport S at the beginning, the range leading Rubicon. The Overland tested was also given the coveted “Trail Rated” badge. Jeep says this means: “The new Jeep “Trail Rated” badge indicates that every Jeep 4×4 has been designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories, including Traction, Ground Clearance, Manoeuvrability, Articulation and Water Fording.”How Much Does It Cost?: The list price is $63,950 plus on road costs. That’s as of November, 2019 for the MY19 version. Check with Jeep for the 2020 spec. The Wrangler range comes in a two and four door for the Sport S and Overland.

Under The Bonnet Is: 209kW and 347Nm of 3.6L V6 Pentastar petrol engine. Only the top of the trio Rubicon has a diesel option. Transmission in the Overland is an eight speed Selec-Trac auto and there is no manual available in the range. All Jeeps have a transfer case that offers 2WD, 4WD Auto, and high and low range. Our final economy figure was 11.7L/100km which worked out to be better than Jeeps quoted 13.0L/100km for the urban cycle. Tank size is 81L. That’s for the Sport S and Overland four door body. the two door versions have a 66L tank.On The Outside It’s: Oh so familiar with the round (and LED powered) headlights, squared off guards and stance, plus that seven bar grille. The doors, roof, and windscreen are removable and foldable in the case of the front screen. The driving and rear lights (in the traditional squared off housing) are also LED for the Overland. The rear gate is different in that the bottom door opens horizontally and has to be opened first to allow access to the top door. The wheels on the Overland at 18 inches in diameter and are wrapped in Bridgestone Dueler H/T 255/70. Big, solid looking, strong plastic steps run between the front and rear wheels. The black on the review vehicle contrasted nicely with the brushed satin alloy look og the wing mirror surrounds, driving light surrounds, and subtle enhancements to the grille.

What’s somewhat surprising about the Wranglers is just how small they are. Small in the context that they’re just 4,334mm in length, and pack inside that a 2,459mm wheelbase. Height is what makes the Wrangler look bigger, especially in the deep metallic black the review car was covered in. 1,839mm is the number here, and from the front the 1,894mm is obvious. The front has a very obviously American spec front bumper, protruding forward like a caricature’s chin. There is still 35.8 degrees of approach angle however. Departure is rated as 31.2 degrees, and breakover is 20.4. Wading depth is 760mm.On The Inside It’s: Far from the spartan look and feel once reasonably expected of a dedicated off-road capable vehicle. The overland has superbly supple black McKinley leather and an embossed Overland logo. The seats are beautifully comfortable, but are manually adjusted. That’s no bad thing though. Naturally there are grab handles for the front seat passengers, and the Wrangler Overland stays true to its basic roots by having a strong cloth strap as the door’s restrainer, not a mechanical option in the hinges.

It’s a beautiful and elegant design to the dash. and a highlight is the use of “old school” rotate and flip” airvents. This simple design allows airflow to be sent to any direction by twirling a circular and slotted design. Effective and ridiculously so. Front and centre is an 8.4 inch touchscreen that is also ridiculously simple to use. Climate control, satnav, and an beautifully tuned Alpine nine speaker DAB audio system are stars, and the audio is possibly the second best for depth, clarity, and stage presence, that we’ve heard. The materials used on the Overland’s dash look and feel premium, and it instantly said “welcome to your new home”. This gets backed by a 230V socket for the back seat, plus USB and USB-C plugs, and remote starting to get the aircon up and running.For the driver, it’s a design that can only be described as smart, clever, historic, and, yes, elegant. There is an LCD screen that shows multiple forms of information, but a small section on the left is cleverly blanked into a separate display to show which actual drive mode the Wrangler is in. A Jeep logo also shows briefly on the screen. A nice little touch is the compass information built into the rear vision mirror. It shows N, S, NW etc in a simple backlit font. A not quite so nice touch is the fact all four power window switches are one touch for down, but have to be held for the upwards travel. They’re also located in the centre of the vertically oriented dash, not in the driver’s door. The front guards aren’t also visible from the driver’s seat so sometimes it’s a bit “guessworky” to gauge where the fenders are.

Build quality for the body was tight, with no squeaks, rattles, or other extraneous noises that shouldn’t have been there. That included the removable roof panels, with a flick-twist lever to lift off. But there was a glitch with the driver’s seat belt mechanism. Seatbelts have a safety mechanism, one that tightens the belt before an impact. They also have a mechanism that allows a passenger to pull the belt out to buckle in. In this car, the mechanism simply refused, on numerous occasions, to release the belt to strap in.On the Road It’s: Somewhat spongy in the ride and loose in the steering. The sponginess comes from the high profile dual purpose rubber, and the steering….well. It really could do with being tighter for our market. What also needs tightening is the tolerance for the brake pedal. It’s one of the longest we’ve had for response and grip. Long, in the sense that there’s well over an inch of travel before bite, and it goes longer down the path before grip really improves. It’s these two areas that detract, and unfortunately quite a bit, from an otherwise engaging and enjoyable drive experience. Acceleration is decent enough, and there’s a satisfying rort and snort from the engine and exhaust. The off-rad capability is access via a lever on the left of the gear selector, and it’s a simple to use system. Neutral, select, go. And there’s no doubting the agility of the Overland thanks to that Trail Rated badge.What About Safety?: It has a good package. Front and rear sensors, airbags all round, plus Rear Cross Traffic Detection and Blind Spot Monitoring. Trailer Sway Control and Forward Collision Assist are there too. Tyre Pressure Monitoring is an essential item for vehicles such as this and this proved its worth thanks to an invisible nail in one tyre. the Reverse Camera is handy and the touchscreen’s HD capability makes reversing easier due to the clarity. Unseen is the high tensile strength steel that underpins the chassis rigidity and side panel strength.And The Warranty and Service?: Jeep offer a five year warranty on their range. Servicing costs are capped and here Jeep recommends contacting a dealer for your specific pricing.At The End Of The Drive. The Jeep Wrangler Overland delighted. That in itself was unexpected, and yes, that can be seen as damning with faint praise. Loose steering and spongy ride aside, it’s a delight to drive, and the ambience of the interior makes being in it to drive an enjoyable experience. It’s a long way from the sparse and spartan interiors, and indifferent build quality of years gone by. The tech features, comfort level, and the well proven off-road ability from its heritage made the time the Wrangler spent with us thoroughly engaging and drew a wry grin from a family friend who’d bought the same model, but just prior to the Forward Collision Warning system being made available. The Jeep Wrangler range and information can be found via the Jeep website.

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan Is Here.

Toyota has released details of the forthcoming Corolla sedan. Due to be released by the end of November, the range and pricing is as follows. Ascent Sport petrol manual: $23,335, Ascent Sport petrol CVT: $24,835, Ascent Sport hybrid CVT: $26,335, SX petrol CVT: $28,235, SX hybrid CVT: $29,735, and the ZR petrol CVT: $33,635. All prices are manufacturers recommended and not inclusive of government and dealer charges.

All CVT equipped models will feature a solid safety package. Lane-trace assist with steering assist, plus lane-centring functionality and all-speed active cruise control, with the manual Ascent Sport featuring high-speed active cruise control and lane departure warning that has steering assist. Rear camera and seven airbags will be across all models, whilst the SX has Blind Spot Monitor and the ZR will received a Head Up Display. Toyota’s SafetySense package is standard. This includes autonomous emergency braking pre-collision safety system with daytime and nighttime pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, auto high beam, and road sign assist.The Corolla Sedan will feature, for the first time, a hybrid drivetrain. This will be available on the Ascent Sport and SX versions. A new 2.0L petrol engine can be specced for all three trim levels, with a six speed manual or a CVT with ten preset manual shift points in the Ascent Sport. It will be connected to the CVT as standard in the SX and ZR. Maxiumum power is rated as 125kW and peak torque is 200Nm. 6.0L/100km and 6.5L/100km for the CVT and six speed manual respectively.

Choose the hybrid and the petrol side is a 1.8L engine and what Toyota call a e-CVT. Power is rated as 90kW. It’ll drive the front wheels, with all four corners to have low rolling resistance rubber. All up, Toyota quoted 3.5L100km. Emissions are rated as just 81g/km.

Toyota will add dusk sensing LED headlights, rear lights, and daytime running lights to all versions. Alloy wheels and climate control will be standard across the range except for the manual Ascent Sport. This will have manual aircon. For those that use them, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will now be standard and accessible via an 8.0inch touchscreen. Bluetooth and Siri eye-free functionality will also be standard. Go hybrid and it’s a keyless Start/Stop.

The SX Corolla sedan will have a new three-spoke tiller with paddle shifters. Wireless smartphone pads are standard in the SX along with DAB and satnav. The ZR goes up a notch with a full glass roof, 18 inch alloys, and the front seats will be heated. Again, Australia misses out on venting, an oversight for our climate in summer. The driver’s seat will be 8 way power adjustable and audio is via a JBL 9 speaker system.Outside is a restyle that brings the sedan’s look closer to the needle nosed hatch, whilst the rear has been refreshed as well.

Servicing costs have been aligned with the hatch, meaning every Corolla has capped price servicing that costs just $175 per service with 12-month/15,000km intervals. Contact your Toyota dealer to book a test drive.