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Driving in Australia

Hybrids, EVs, and the City Environment

With the big push for clean air and protecting the environment, running a new hybrid vehicle is one way to make the gradual change from fossil fuels to electric more affordable and realistic as we head into a future of EVs.

A gradual change is key, so that everyone can adjust their budgets and business direction accordingly.  And making the change gradual ensures that EVs can become more affordable to the masses.  Have you heard of the ‘trickle-down effect’?  This term refers to the reality of fashion trends flowing from the wealthy (e.g., politicians, mayors, doctors, directors, engineers etc.) to the less well-off or the working class (e.g., factory hands, beneficiaries, shop assistants, cleaners, farm workers, etc.) in society.  This trickle-down phenomenon can be related to any new consumer product, especially when these products are first introduced into the market.

At the product’s initial introduction into the marketplace, it is costly and only affordable to the wealthy, but, as the product matures, and as time goes on, its price begins to fall so that it might become more widely affordable and thus adopted by the general public and the working class.  One would assume that pure EVs will follow this kind of trend.

Right now, EVs are expensive to purchase new, especially when you want to have one of the EVs with all the status (e.g., Tesla, Porsche, Mercedes Benz).  There are some cheaper options like the MG ZS EV, Hyundai IONIQ electric, the Nissan Leaf, and the Hyundai Kona electric.  These cars can generally be had for less than $60k.

Currently, owning and operating a 100% EV would be an ideal option if you just wanted to hop between addresses inside the city boundary or maybe commute short distances to and from the urban jungle.  However, throw in some intercity travel or long country drives, and the EV is simply left wanting.  I’m aware that EV manufacturers are working hard to change this, to make their EVs capable of travelling much longer distances between recharges, as well as making the recharge time much quicker than it commonly is.  As it stands today, Australia’s recharging infrastructure is in its infancy, and beyond the city boundary, even inside, it still has a long way to go before becoming seamless and brief.

If you live in and mostly travel inside one of our lovely Australian cities, owning or operating a vehicle that is capable of running on electric power for all or at least some of the time (more depending on you commute or travel patterns) would surely be an option if you aren’t doing so already.  This would instantly help to improve the air quality of the congested city environment.

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy breathing cleaner air inside a city’s boundaries?  We all would, right?  But I can’t afford an EV because (a) it’s not practical and (b) you can’t afford one?  If you relate to either of these truths, then you aren’t alone and are currently in the majority.  So, what about a Hybrid then?  Right now, hybrid vehicles do make a lot of sense.  They are able to use their small electric motor for 20–30 km of inner city travel, thus making the city air cleaner and the environment better for all city dwellers and workers.  However, when the commute includes distances beyond the city boundary, the petrol motor will happily take over transport duties and to get you where you want to go, recharging the electric motor’s battery in the process.

Of course, a bicycle or even walking is another option for inner city travel, particularly when it isn’t raining.  If you are wanting a Hybrid vehicle or even an EV, then do have a look at some of our Hybrid and EV reviews or talk to some of our sales staff to see if there is a likable and affordable option out there for you.

Is there Still Space in the Market for Sedans?

Like a slow motion replay, the scene has been unfolding for some time. In fact, go back a couple of years and the writing was on the wall. Australians are obsessed with SUVs. But it’s not just here either, with many other countries following the trend, none more evident than the United States and China.

It has reached the point now where local SUV sales are far and away outperforming sedans, and have blown past 50% of all new car sales. On the one hand, the rise of commercial vehicles like utes has also helped to skew the numbers away from sedans, but the prominence of the SUV category is no statistical anomaly.

With such an evident trend appearing to be set in stone, it does raise questions over the future viability of the sedan format. In particular, will sedans still have a place in the market as SUV sales soar?

toyota-3830433_640

An evolving landscape

Cars have always been redefined by the technological progress that accompanies them. That doesn’t just extend to what’s under the bonnet either, nor what’s inside the cabin. It also extends to the shape of the body. We’ve seen an evolution as far as new formats like crossovers, liftbacks and many other identities.

In many respects, there is no reason to believe this won’t continue as means to continue fuelling the sedan market. Design changes may be subtle, but incorporating the feedback we’ve come to expect from those who prefer things like superior room, ride height, visibility and off-road versatility that comes with an SUV. Not to mention, with electrification and autonomy on the way, designs will inherently continue to transform, gradually shifting our taste in vehicles too.

car-1796389_640

The value proposition will dictate future sales

For now, sedans are still posting sales numbers that are nothing to sneeze at. Sure, they may be declining, but the choice for SUV models has risen astronomically to provide more options than ever before. Motorists’ preferences may have changed but in some ways, historical data may have been otherwise pointed to higher levels of SUV sales – and lower sedan sales – had drivers been afforded more choice at an earlier stage.

It is also a challenge that manufacturers should embrace. They will not only be faced with the task of streamlining their sedan range – as many have done already – but also going about reinvigorating a value proposition into the category to drive sales.

SUV sales may offer auto-makers fatter margins, however their higher prices and at-times polarising looks will still be a barrier to pushing sedans out of the market. So if sedans are then here to stay, car manufacturers must add value in the form of new technology, amenity, efficiency and performance to compete for the shrinking pool of buyers. And it’s many of these criteria that sedans have historically held the upper hand.

Fuel Prices: New Car?

It’s unfortunate to see that the prices for fuel in Australia have been on the steady increase across.  Retailers suggest that the increase in the cost of fuel has come about through record oil prices and new logistical challenges for acquiring the fuel.  It’s definitely worth shopping around to ensure that you can get the best price on your fuel at the pump, as prices do differ from retail outlet around town and across States.

Just recently, regular unleaded petrol (91) had a national average of $2.14 per litre, yet the cheapest was found in Carnarvon, Western Australia, where it was sold for $1.59 per litre.  The most expensive was located in Derby, Western Australia, where (91) was seen being sold for $2.42 per litre.  The same trend is occuring for (95), (98), (E10), and Diesel.

As for how long these high fuel prices will continue to last, fuel industry analysts say that it’s anyone’s speculation at the moment.  Peter Khoury, NRMA spokesman, recently said: “These prices are completely off the scale, more than twice what [motorists] were paying in April 2020… We have no idea where we would set the ceiling at this point.”

It begs the question: Should a motorist that has to do quite a few kilometres each week look at purchasing a more fuel efficient car?  The answer, I guess, is up to you.  It depends on how tight your budget is.  If you can afford a new car, or at least a second car that’s extra-miserly on fuel, then I’d say go for it – particularly if you’re having to do high mileages.  Then again, if you are not travelling far each week, say to the shops and the occasional trip elsewhere, then staying with the car you have and keeping your travel to a minimum is probably the way to go at this stage, and we’ll sit tight and see where/when all this price rising will come to an end, revising it again in another few months.

You might be a motorist who needs to upgrade for various reasons including the rising fuel costs.  In this case, being in the market for a new car and wanting to purchase a vehicle that delivers the best fuel-efficiency has to be a pivotal point of purchase for you.  Here is a list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in 2022 across numerous categories, something that you might find useful right now.

Note – Where “Diesel” hasn’t been mentioned after the model, assume that it’s “Petrol” version…

Small cars (Hatchbacks):

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Hatchback                                        3.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Hatchback

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Hatchback                                    4.2 litres/100 km

Toyota Yaris Hatchback                                                       4.9 litres/100 km

Mazda 2 Hatchback                                                              5.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Corolla Hatchback                                                  6.0 litres/100 km

Mazda 3 Hatchback                                                              6.2 litres/100 km

MG3 Hatchback                                                                     6.7 litres/100 km

Hyundai i30 Hatchback                                                       7.4 litres/100 km

 

Family & fleet (Sedans):

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan                                             4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

Toyota Camry Sedan                                                             6.8 litres/100 km

 

Small-Med SUV

 

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 2WD                                                  4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD                                                  4.8 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-3 2WD                                                                   6.3 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-30 2WD                                                                6.5 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 2WD                                                                 6.5 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-5 2WD                                                                   6.9 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 AWD                                                                7.3 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-5 AWD                                                                  7.4 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Outlander 2WD                                                7.5 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Outlander AWD                                               8.1 litres/100 km

 

Large SUV

 

Toyota Kluger Hybrid AWD                                                4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger Hybrid AWD

Hyundai Santa Fe AWD Diesel                                          6.1 litres/100 km

Kia Sorento AWD Diesel                                                     6.1 litres/100 km

Toyota Prado 4WD Diesel                                                  7.9 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-9 2WD                                                                   8.4 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger 2WD                                                               8.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger AWD                                                              8.9 litres/100 km

Toyota LandCruiser 300 Diesel                                        8.9 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-9 AWD                                                                  9 litres/100 km

Kia Sorento 2WD                                                                    9.7 litres/100 km

Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD                                                        10.5 litres/100 km

Nissan Patrol Y62                                                                   14.4 litres/100 km

 

Ute

 

Nissan Navara STX 4WD Diesel                                        7.8 litres/100 km

Nissan Navara STX 4WD Diesel

Toyota HiLux SR5 4WD Diesel                                          8 litres/100 km

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Diesel                                            8 litres/100 km

Isuzu D-Max XT 4WD Diesel                                              8 litres/100 km

Mazda BT-50 SP 4WD Diesel                                             8 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ 4WD Diesel                               8.6 litres/100 km

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Diesel                                            8.9 litres/100 km

LDV T60 Max 4WD     2.0L Diesel                                      9.2 litres/100 km

GWM Ute 4WD           2.0L Diesel                                      9.4 litres/100 km

Toyota HiLux Workmate 2WD                                          10.9 litres/100 km

Ram 1500 DS Limited                                                           12.2 litres/100 km

Ram 1500 DT Express                                                          12.2 litres/100 km

Chevrolet 1500 LTZ                                                               12.8 litres/100 km

 

Van

 

Hyundai Staria Load van Diesel                                        7 litres/100 km

Hyundai Staria Load van Diesel

Ford Transit Custom van Diesel                                       7.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Hiace LWB van Diesel                                           8.2 litres/100 km

LDV G10 van Diesel                                                               8.2 litres/100 km

LDV G10 van                                                                            11.1 litres/100 km

 

Toyota’s Hybrid vehicles, if they suit you needs, top their classes with fuel bills that were roughly half their nearest rivals.  The Hybrid versions of the Toyota Yaris Hatch, the Toyota Corolla Hatch, the Toyota Camry Sedan, the Toyota RAV4 SUV, and the Toyota Kluger are the ones I’m talking about here.

Motorcycles

There are those of us who just don’t do motorcycles.  The thought of hurtling along the motorway with a massive engine between your legs sounds downright alarming to many people, and I get that.  Considering that a motorcyclist does have less protection than most road users does put a lot of people off riding a motorcycle.  However, a careful and skilful rider can manage the risks and keep well out of harm’s way.

Maybe you already ride a motorbike.  You might even be wondering about getting your motorcycle license.  If you haven’t experienced riding a motorcycle, then the chances are you’ll enjoy the thrill of riding a motorbike safely.  Safely being the important word.  Once you’ve mastered the skill of riding a motorbike safely, travelling about Australia on two wheels instead of four can be a fun and exciting experience you’ll enjoy for years to come.  Out in the open, taking in the sights and smells, experiencing the elements, being one with the machine as you lean through the corners and feel the response are all reasons why many people love riding motorcycles.

As a tool to combat rising fuel prices, the motorbike could be a useful option.  Whether you’re single or married, the motorbike can combine with your other means of transportation to get you where you need to go.  They use a lot less fuel than a car and have the size (or lack of size) that enables them to slip through congested areas and park in tight spaces.  If emissions are an issue for you, then the motorbike generates less of an environmental impact than a car does.

Even with the recent global health concerns and restrictions on our daily lives, over the last couple of years the motorcycle has enjoyed an increase in sales throughout Australia.  Over the 2020 period, new motorcycle and scooter sales in Australia were up 6.2% from the previous year, showing a strong demand for individual mobility transport options, of which the motorcycle is the best.  And throughout 2021, the growth trend mushroomed with an increase of 16.6%.  That equated to a total of 102 new units sold, the highest level for 15 years.

Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki claim the biggest chunks of the market share, while Suzuki, KTM, BMW, and Harley Davidson deliver strong motorbike sales.  All motorcycle manufacturers have enjoyed the stronger consumer demand for motorbikes, resulting in better sales figures.

Many people find motorcycle riding a relatively easy task but riding out on the road still comes with a fair share of risk.  Lack of experience and recklessness are often key areas associated with motorcycle accidents.  Damp and slippery roads need to be recognized and ridden over with care.

Allowing plenty of space between you and other road users is a must, and as you ride be aware of other people’s actions, intersection dynamics, any oncoming cars, and any car (whether moving or stationary) in front of you as you ride.  If you are reading the other road users well, reading the road conditions right, and keeping your distance, then motorcycling is relatively safe.

There are plenty of nice sport bikes out there like the Buell Hammerhead, Ducati V4 or the Yamaha YZF-R7.  These are great bikes for a fast ride over a short distance.  They can make useful commute bikes as well.

Buell Sportbike

The touring bikes and dual purpose-bikes are better set up for a comfortable seat and long distance ergonomics.  These are swift bikes and can handle two-up and luggage no problems.  They also make a decent commuter.  Bikes like the Triumph Tiger 1200, MV Augusta Turismo, KTM 1290, Kawasaki Versys, Honda CB500X and BMW 1600 GT are great options in this class of bike.  They are a heavy bike, so not ideal for learners and the inexperienced.

MV Augusta Turismo

Scooters and smaller bikes like the Honda Navi, BMW CE O4 Electric Scooter, and Honda CB300 are handy inner-city commuters and great or a learner rider.

BMW Electric Scooter

A Roadster like the Harley Davidson Street Glide ST, Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, Indian Chief, and Triumph Bonneville Bobber are all about the wow factor and looks.  These are sexy bikes, but some people also find their relatively relaxed riding position, which includes arms and legs pointing forwards, nice for cruising on longer rides.

Harley Davidson Forty-Eight

An FCEV for Our Environment

With the rising concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, the development of ammonia fuelled vehicles as environmentally friendly cars would have to look rather promising.  A car running on NH3 – now what’s not to like about that?

Many scientists believe that it is urgent to reduce CO2 emissions because of the global warming effect that the gas has on the climate around the globe.  Despite CO2 in the atmosphere being great for plant growth (some of the edges of the earth’s deserts are greening up again with increased CO2 in the atmosphere), and the earth’s water cycle playing a pivotal role in governing the earth’s temperature, the drive to create taxing emission standards and expensive alternatives continues to drive government policy worldwide.  What if we gradually changed over to another source of energy so that everyone in the world could afford the switch, allowing people to maintain a higher standard of living?

Using CO2–free fuels to reduce the level of CO2 emissions could be a viable option in the current climate.  So, what about ammonia?

An internal combustion engine (ICE) burns a fuel.  Basically, you can convert an engine to run on any fuel such as fossil-fuels, hydrogen and ammonia, and there are many ways to do so.  ICE engines are very good in combination with battery and hybrid systems.  It would be a perfect solution to make a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle with hydrogen that has been cracked out of ammonia and stored in the vehicle.  The ammonia would then be used to drive the electric propulsion system because an electric propulsion system is highly efficient.  That would be a perfect vehicle.

The battery system in this model would not need to be anywhere near the size of a pure EV and anywhere near the weight.  For instance, in a Tesla, the whole EV platform under the car is a battery pack that is massively heavy.  A clean-burning ICE producing heat-waste from the combustion process could use this heat-waste to warm up the cabin’s interior on a cold day, cool the cabin down via a heat exchanger, and could also be used to cool and heat the battery accordingly for optimum battery operating temperatures.

You can store accessible hydrogen in the form of ammonia (NH3).  Unlike hydrogen gas, which requires very low (cryogenic) temperatures to liquefy, ammonia becomes a liquid at –34°C.  Ammonia also does so at room temperature and at 9 atmospheric pressures, making it much more convenient to use as a transportation fuel.  Ammonia is comparatively inexpensive to produce, and the hydrogen can be separated out using catalysts without undue losses.

Essentially, you have a car with a combustion engine that is burning the hydrogen that is cracked out of the stored ammonia onboard the car to produce electricity.  The engine would have an alternator as an electric motor that would power the drivetrain with electricity at close to 99% efficiency.  This set-up is known as a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).

The FCEV above uses stored ammonia that’s cracked onboard the car to produce hydrogen to run the electric drive train – only emitting water vapour and warm air as exhaust, and is considered a zero-emission vehicle.  Now that sounds pretty smart, efficient and green to me!

It’s School Run Time Again!

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

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

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

Getting The Car Ready

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

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

Other things you might want to get ready include:

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

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

School Run Etiquette

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

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

An MPV – Great for School Runs!

S to Z of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

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

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

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

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

Skoda Kodiaq

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

Skoda Superb AWD Scout

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

SsangYong Rexton

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

Subaru Forester

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

Subaru Outback

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

Toyota

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

Volkswagen Touareg

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

VW Tiguan Allspace

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

Volvo XC60

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

Volvo XC90

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

K to R of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

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

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

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

Kia Sorento

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

Land Rover Defender

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

Land Rover Discovery

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

LDV D90

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

Mahindra XUV500 W10

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

Mitsubishi Outlander

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

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

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

Nissan X-Trail

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

Renault Koleos

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

A to J of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

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

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

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

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

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

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

Audi Q Wagons

 

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

Audi A6 Allroad

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

BMW X3, X5

 

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

Ford Everest

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

Haval H9

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

Hyundai Santa Fe

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

Isuzu MU-X

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

Jeep Wrangler

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

Jeep Grand Cherokee

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

Is it Time All Drivers Learn First Aid?

It’s a topic that rears its head every now and then, yet continually the issue has been overlooked by authorities.

We pay particular attention to the road toll, yet for some reason one of the efforts we could employ to mitigate this issue hasn’t warranted a national response. Why is first aid training not compulsory for every motorist, and should it be part of our licensing requirements?

When you put things into perspective, we spend a considerable amount of our lives driving from point A to point B. We may be lucky to escape accidents but the chances of seeing one, either take place or the result thereof, are far greater. And even though our cars have become a lot safer through technological innovation, poor driving habits and behaviours have crept into our society and created larger issues.

On that note, it’s time we also start to prepare drivers by training them to engage in reactive behaviour in the form of being a first responder. As it currently stands, the overwhelming majority of drivers and bystanders are ill equipped to administer first aid at an accident scene. In fact, in what should be viewed as a major concern, many wouldn’t even know where to begin. Even I know, that despite my former first aid training, it’s a moment you can never be entirely prepared for as shock sets in and time stands still.

Now let me clarify, bystanders and other motorists shouldn’t be expected to fill the void of professional emergency services personnel. However, in the event of an accident, every second matters. Early treatment can be the difference between life and death. And in the moments where emergency services personnel need to fight traffic to make it to the scene of an accident, those seconds are potentially ticking away.

Even in the absence of specific treatment, a bystander with composure to secure the scene, or calm the anxieties of those involved in the incident is an invaluable asset. These are specific elements to first aid training, which every motorist should be taught as part of their licensing requirements. Whereas drivers cover a gamut of issues concerning driving technique and etiquette, there is no reason why we shouldn’t all be equipped to administer first aid as a first responder in the event of an accident.

The course would be easy to include as part of our license tests, and it could also be renewed on a periodic basis along with our licenses. Several countries in Europe already adopt this approach, and if we want to keep up with the rest of the world, it’s time we start paying attention to the issues on our roads that really matter.