Category Archives for "Family Cars"

January 15, 2017

2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid Atara SL Review

2016-toyota-camry-hybrid-atara-sl-review

Well-loved by many owners, the 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid Atara SL is a middle-sized sedan able to seat five passengers with a great deal of comfort in their extra-wide seats.  This latest model has been enhanced in many ways including in size.  It also ranks in the middle when it comes to looks.  It’s not an eyesore but there’s nothing in its design to distinctly set it apart from the rest.  It’s still sleek and handsome with a more aggressive-looking though unobtrusive face.

What specs does it offer?

This Camry carries a 2.5-litre petroleum engine and an electric motor.  Considering its size, its fuel efficiency is superior compared to its other rivals, 5.2 for every 100km.  Maximum power is about 151Kw at 5,700 rpm and regarding transmission, it’s a CVT automatic with a front-wheel drive.  The safety features are excellent as well and do not lack for anything with head airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags, a reverse camera,  adaptive cruise control, a warning when you stray off your lane and even blind spot monitoring.

How does the interior fare?

With their leather trimming, the front seats have an almost luxurious feel and this design is also matched by the steering wheel’s leather accents and well-laid out interior.  It is clear that first-rate materials were used in this car for durability and quality.  This car also has practical features such as climate control air conditioning with dual temperature and for storage and convenience, you have bottle and cup holders aplenty.

There are bottle holders on the front doors, holders for cups on the rear doors, a couple of cup holders in between the front seats, another pair of cup holders in the middle of the back seats, plus the usual storage bins and door pockets both at the front and at the back.

Despite being a mid-size sedan, the headroom and legroom are more than enough for anyone.  Boot space is massive as well.  You can store your luggage and all of your children’s school things, making it an ideal family car.  With this vehicle, your daily trips and long journeys become a truly comfortable experience.  You can adjust the seats into several positions to give you the best comfort, with the driver’s seat especially equipped with electronic adjustment.

One of its downsides, however, is the infotainment system which could do with a few more upgrades.  The standard tech like the satellite navigation system and streaming capabilities do a decent job but other competitors are already able to offer more responsive systems and more features.

How is its performance?

Being a hybrid does make a difference in this worthy vehicle.  The engine with its electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery can give you the force you need when accelerating although this vehicle is not exactly the most powerful.  It does maneuver roads and highways fairly easily and without too much trouble.  Take note that you don’t have to plug the batteries to charge them, they’re charged by the engine as you drive.

Acceleration is fluid and responds admirably as opposed to its steering performance.  In terms of handling, the Toyota Camry presents no major problems but it could still do better.  However, speed is not something you’d expect much of from this kind of vehicle.  The brakes execution is typical.

The cabin is well able to block most noise, insulation being one of its strengths, and the engine runs relatively quietly, too.  You might hear some wind and slight sounds from the larger than usual alloy wheels but nothing that can really be considered noisy or distracting.  The suspension is terrific at keeping passengers steady and comfortable inside.  Slight bumps and uneven city roads won’t jog you and are, in fact, hardly felt.

So, if you prefer a noise-free and comfortable ride with adequate speed and handling, the Camry should be among your top choices.

 Conclusion

All in all, the 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid Atara SL is a top-notch option for families considering something smaller and more maneuverable than an SUV for driving around urban areas.  Driving and handling are pleasant but not its forte.  It shines in its fuel economy, comfort and space in its interior and trunk.  If you’re not too picky about your car and you value efficiency over mere aesthetics, the Camry may be your dream car.

Also read: 2017 Tesla Model S 7d Review

December 9, 2016

2016 Mazda BT50 Review

2016-mazda-bt50-review

The 2016 Mazda BT-50 is a pick-up that looks car-like and edgy but feels more road-friendly than many of its rivals. It may not appear as different as some people may have hoped, but its macho look is definitely worthy of everyone’s attention. To this day, the BT-50 is still one of the most competitively-priced models in the segment. It goes head to head with the likes of the Holden Colorado and the Isuzu D-Max.

Pricing

The new Mazda BT-50 ute has 23 variants. It consists of three body types: freestyle-carb, single-cab, and dual-cab. The pricing for this range has not changed much, from $25,570 to $53,790. The BT-50 has historically done better in the two-wheel drive version than in the four-wheel drive in terms of sales. In 2015, the 4×2 models have had 3,474 units in sales or 12.9 percent of the market share. The 4×4 variants, meanwhile, have taken only 6.8 percent of the market share.

Mazda Australia’s managing director, Martin Benders, said the company received rejections from the small business and fleet buyers – which is more than what they needed. Benders said it did not turn off the private buyers. He added that the changes should appeal to business and fleet buyers, and will not detract from private ones. He believes that it was where the company got the growth opportunity.

Features

There is a host of new standard equipment for all models apart from the changes done on the cosmetics. The company has given importance to 4×2 models and has decided to spend more time in the entry-level 4×2 XT single-cab variant. This entry-level model is run by a four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine with a torque displacement of 375Nm and power of 110kW. The automatic version has a starting price of $28, 815, plus the on-road costs. The diesel engine runs from 1,500-2,500RPM, and revving it up can get quite loud inside because the XT variants lack the engine cover that helps lessen the cabin noise.

The six-speed automatic transmission behaves quite well. It swaps between cogs smoothly, and you get to pick the right gear without hassle. There could be times, where driving through steeper hills will make you wish for a quicker downshift, but this is just a minor issue. The BT-50 XT variant is ready for the rough work, but the auto model has a Hi-Rider body that is 30mm higher when unladen and stretches to 65mm when laden. It also betters the manual two-wheel-drive version’s payload by over 205kg.

The XT’s interior has two bucket seats, instead of the three-seat bench in the Hi-Rider guise. It also features driver’s seat height adjustment, new interior highlights, and a new cloth trim. These are all done in gunmetal gray finish, instead of the usual shiny silver. There is now a lockable glovebox, as well. Mazda retained the small dash-top screen on all XT models, including the many buttons underneath. The company did not adopt the touchscreen media system because it is fitted to the GT and XTR models.

Handle and Steering Like SUV

The Japanese brand tuned the steering and suspension similarly to that of an SUV. Unlike the Ford Ranger where its steering system was upgraded to an electronic rather than a hydraulic unit, the BT-50 still has its hydraulic system. This means the steering can be quite heavy but offers a nice linear response when driving at higher speeds. The vehicle is also competent when it comes to cornering, and is stable in bends as well.

The Tech Side

The GT and XTR models have a new 7.8-inch touchscreen. It features a simple navigation system that quickly responds. The Bluetooth audio, phone streaming, and USB playback are all usable through the glovebox. Mazda retained the dials, as well as the buttons and knobs, but the cabin now offers a practical space.

The back seat is impressively comfortable and quiet. It also now has a new fold-down armrest that comes with cup holders – perfect for longer driving. The door pockets are adequately positioned all-around, while there are bottle holders for you to enjoy as well. However, the BT-50 does not have any optional safety equipment, unlike in the brand’s passenger car models. It means there is no blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, or lane-keeping assistance. The model does have the standard requirement, which includes airbags.

There is a reverse-view camera in the GT and XTR models. It comes optional in all other trim levels. The servicing costs can be determined based on your chosen engine, but all models need maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km – whichever comes first. This is more regular than many of its rivals, where some brands only require maintenance every 20,000km. The 2.2-litre will average $428 for the first 50,000km, while the 3.2-litre will have $450.

Verdict: is it worth it?

The 2016 Mazda BT-50 remains to be one of the better choices in it class. It offers value-for-money, with comfort as one of its priorities for this model. This model still has competitively-priced variants that better many of its rivals in this segment.

The high-end versions offer more technological features, but the entry-level has everything you need for a smooth drive. It may have a more regular servicing at 10,000km or 12 months, but the overall satisfaction it gives make the effort well worth it. Moreover, driving the BT-50 feels more comfortable, even during longer travels. The fact that it looks more macho gives buyers a bonus.

Related post: 2016 Toyota Tarago GLI Review

November 15, 2016

2016 Toyota Tarago GLI Review

The 2016 Toyota Tarago GLI is one splendid transporter for families and large groups. Despite being a vast vehicle, it sports sleek and smooth looks which make it stand out. This eight-seater has received mostly positive reviews from its users and it’s easy to see why.

Let’s take a look at what’s great and not-so-great about this vehicle.

Specs and numbers

This massive vehicle can be relied on to move eight people with ease, plus it’s tough and built to last. You can choose between the four-cylinder petrol or the V6 engine but the V6 seems to be preferable. The Tarago is equipped with a 2.4-litre engine with a front wheel drive and automatic transmission. Regarding fuel efficiency, it tends to get a bit thirsty, about 14.3L/ 100 km in the city area.

Interior

The interior of the Tarago has several great features and is showing some notable improvements. It highlights a hefty cargo hold which can also be accessed from the back row. With the V6 engine version, additionally, you can free up more space by folding down the rear seats and detaching the cargo hold’s floor. Unlike some models where access to the last row is always an issue, this vehicle offers unbelievably easy entrance and exit to and from the rear seats with the aid of the sliding doors that open wide and can be moved in either direction.

The infotainment system, meanwhile, has its high and low points. There’s a 6.1 inch touch display that’s fitted with Bluetooth and streaming features but the screen is not exactly user-friendly or easy on the eyes. The dashboard and navigation system may be lacking in impressiveness but it’s complete with the standard tech necessary for a well-controlled drive. The six speakers are a plus point and there’s a climate control system which can be accessed as well from the back of the vehicle.

The cabin is able to shield the passengers from most of the external and engine noise. Even though the seats and space have been maximized to accommodate eight, careful though has obviously gone into the design of the seating as it does not lack for anything in comfort. Seats are well-cushioned and a pleasure to sit on and they look attractive enough though not exactly at the forefront of style. The passengers can relax and enjoy the ride in comfort with a modicum of facilities such as handy cup holders, fan controls and first-rate air conditioning which extends all the way to the back thanks to the vents strategically located all around the interior.

Storage is adequate with sizable door pockets and a few storage bins here and there. If you have younger children, this van should be among your top choices as it carries seats with ISOFIX seatbelt system, to keep your little ones comfortably but securely strapped in.

Performance and Handling

If we talk about the performance of the Tarago, it’s safe to say it has some positive points and a few downsides. Steering and handling are quite decent and though you may get off to a slightly rough start, you’ll soon find your journey pleasant. Shifting gears may take more effort than what you’d expect, but the van provides a fluid response in general. From the immense size of this van, driving it may seem like a daunting task. You’ll find however that the weight is thankfully not a concern when you’re steering, plus the van’s power helps you refrain from pushing the engine too much.

Electrically assisted power steering also makes it easy for any driver to keep this van in control. The drivetrain is strong and superb as well while the suspension system performs its job admirably shielding you from all but the worst of rough and bumpy roads.

In the area of safety, the Tarago scored well with a rating of five stars from ANCAP. These safety features include the anti-skid braking system, reversing camera and seven airbags. Two of the airbags are facing the front row, some more are at the side and curtains, plus one more is covering the driver’s knees. All the seatbelts utilize the three-point system for the best protection without sacrificing comfort.

Conclusion

On the whole, the 2016 Toyota Tarago GLI certainly pulled out all the stops when it comes to its space, legroom, headroom and seating capacity. This may not be for you if you’re looking for a speedy ride, but for taking many passengers around town while sitting back in comfort, this remains a go-to vehicle.

All-new Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Source: http://www.chevrolet.com/2016-cruze/

New generation vehicles are introduced by major car manufacturers. Chevrolet launches Cruze in Australia and other popular global destinations. However, the exact launch date in Australia is not yet revealed. You can have some expectations based on the revelation made in USA. The new car is designed for users who prefer three box models. The car is more efficient and comes with highly sophisticated design. The car has great prospects to become the best-selling global car. (All I want for Christmas is Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE)

Targets younger generation

The new Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE is targeted to attract young generation. The car comes with new MyLink infotainment system. It is updated to be compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thus, the smartphone integration is done in a very efficient manner. With the 4G Wi-Fi hotspot connection capability, you will be able to connect up to seven devices to the hotspot.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Overview Source: http://www.chevrolet.com/2016-cruze/

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Overview Source: http://www.chevrolet.com/2016-cruze/

The new version is more comfortable than the earlier version. Drivers as well as passengers will be able to have great comfort. You can take advantage of the new interior design. Depending upon the model, you will have 4.2” color screen as well as 7.0” media screen to enhance your entertainment proportion. The safety of the car is further enhanced through the inclusion of 10 air bags system. There are some optional features such as blind spot warning, lane-keeping assistance and forward collision mitigation system.

Rigid and light design

Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE is rigid and light in weight. The stiffness of the body increased to the extent of 27%. It has become lighter to the extent of 24%. The weight is reduced to the extent of 113 kg. You will enjoy a dynamic driving experience.

The car is fitted with 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces 113kW of power and 240Nm of torque. You can go for manual or automatic speed control system. It can zoom to 100 km/hr in just 8 seconds. The fuel consumption is 5.9 liters per 100 kilometers. The diesel version will be released in 2017. The length of the car is 68 mm more than the current version. However, it is 25mm shorter in height than the earlier version.

Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE is available in four specifications. These specifications include L, LS, LT and sporty Premier. There are unique grilles, fascias, splitters, panels, wheels and spoilers. If you go for top specification model, there will be higher performance levels. You will find different kind of suspension and larger wheels. The model is available in hatchback and sedan version.

Engine features

The strength and refinement is enhanced through the presence of Aluminum bedplate. The efficiency is increased through variable flow oil pump. There will be optimal performance through the piston cooling oil jets. The weight is saved through the presence of dual overhead-cum-cylinder head which is integrated with exhaust manifold. There will be very low noise through premium inverted tooth camshaft drive chain.

The new engine family was developed by using the latest computer simulation and modeling techniques. Other basic components were tested through modeling and simulations. The testing took place to check temperature, friction, emissions, efficiency and other performance parameters.

The car comes with 5-star safety rating. The maintenance cost of the vehicle is lowered through the improvement in design and implementation of latest technologies.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Interior Leather Source: http://www.chevrolet.com/2016-cruze/

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Interior Leather Source: http://www.chevrolet.com/2016-cruze/

Advantages

  • More comfortable
  • Refined interior design
  • Lighter and rigid construction
  • The engine has start-stop feature to save fuel in traffic
  • Secure handling
  • Big trunk space
  • Built on cutting edge technology

Disadvantages

  • The straddling of two segments should be done very efficiently.
  • Expensive

Conclusion

It is described by General Motors as ‘larger and lighter’. The new Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE comes with bold looks. You can expect more than that you can get from the compact car. The interiors are refreshed. There is a great technological enhancement. You can get sporty presence on road. There will be space for everything in the new car. There will be more fun when you drive the car. The performance is very much enhanced with Chevrolet 2016 CRUZE. The response rate is good with the presence of Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) system, Traction Control System (TCS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP). You can connect your smartphone and it will be integrated in a perfect way.

2016 Lexus GS Review

Lexus GS 2016 Source: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS

 

New looks and upgrades feature from Lexus GS 2016

In the sedan type, ‘Lexus GS’ lands in Australia with new looks and upgraded features. There are few changes in its mechanism. The old engine GS250 is replaced by GS200t. it is a turbocharged engine. It comes with styling changes in the front. There are new headlights and daytime lamps as well. The tall new fog lights will ensure that you will be able to drive the car very safely in frozen areas as well. It has new RC Coupe-inspired tail-light internals. Rear bumper and exhaust finishers have revised looks. (Other available models are the GS F SPORT and GS HYBRID)

Host of changes

Lexus GS 350 2016 Overview Source: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS

Lexus GS 350 2016 Overview Source: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS

There are many minor changes through which the style of ‘Lexus GS’ is enhanced. The changes are made in the cabin as well. The steering wheel is revamped. It got a new look. There are special looks on high-grade vehicles. You can find a new clock retrofitted. The central air vent surround is arranged so that there will be better ventilation. Through metal headlights, there will be better visibility. There are remote touch switches, door trim switches, updated shift lever knob and centrally positioned rear lamp.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine produces 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission is used to send power to rear wheels. The fuel consumption rate is 8 liters per every 100 kilometers. The earlier model used to consume 9.3 liters per 100 kilometers of a journey.

Engine features

GS 200t of Lexus GS has 10-way power front seats with driver memory, 12-speaker audio system, 12-speaker audio system, third generation Lexus Remote Touch Controller, 1600kg braked towing capacity, three-mode drive mode select, eight-inch navigation display screen, electrochromic interior mirror, electronic park brake and electrochromic interior mirror.

You can monitor the engine condition and overall vehicle condition very easily through the enhanced features. It has sensors through which the tyre pressure will be monitored. The seats will be heated and ventilated to enhance your comfort level. Rain sensing wipers will ensure that you will have visibility without fail under all kinds of circumstances. 17-inch alloy wheels will give great driving experience. Automatic heated exterior mirrors with memory, smart entry and start with a smart key card, LED headlamps with automatic high beam, LED daytime running lamps and LED front fog lamps will give you great visibility.

Safety features

Lexus GS 350 2016 Interior Source: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS

Lexus GS 350 2016 Interior Source: http://www.lexus.com/models/GS

Lexus GS comes with enhanced safety features. The driver and passengers will have smooth riding experience.

All speed active cruise control, back guide monitor, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, clearance and rear sonar and lane keeping assist are some worthy features which will help the driver exercise better control on the vehicle. The driver will be stress-free by using the latest arrangements.

Climate, audio, phone, and navigation controls can be exercised in a better way with the new Lexus GS. There are various models in GS. You can select a model as per the budget and features required by you. Some options can be customized as per your needs.

The new version combines the pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. As a matter of fact, Lexus Enform Safety Connect has become a standard in all Lexus vehicles. The snow plow feature is incorporated through the new grille design. If you are new to Lexus versions, you can find many new features. With best fuel consumption and enhanced driving conditions, you will be able to make the most of your investment.

Pros

  • Enhanced mileage
  • Better ventilation
  • Driver-friendly features
  • Better visibility
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Safety features are very much enhanced

Cons

  • Enhancement add-on is an additional cost
  • The front end design (grill area) is chilling

Conclusion

Lexus GS comes with better interiors. The engine efficiency is increased. Hence, you can expect better mileage than ever before. You will be able to make the most of your time, effort and money. The car has great features so that it can be driven very safely. The driver will enjoy the stress-free driving experience. It is a great vehicle for Australian terrain. With the best grip and command on any kinds of weather and driving conditions, you can look forward to a relaxing travelling experience. Each drive can be customised as per your needs with the available five drive mode assist.

Best 7-Seater Cars to Buy in 2015

Best 7-Seater Cars to Buy in 2016

[This list of Best 7-Seater Cars for 2016 have been updated recently!]

Large families especially need seven seater cars to accommodate every member comfortably, and they are also ideal if you require carrying extra passenger space occasionally or if you are looking for a vehicle with a larger interior. There are several 7 seater cars on the market each offering unique style and functionality, and while they might not be sports cars, long gone are the days of clunky people carriers, modern seven-seaters are both stylish and highly functional. There are a huge array of vehicles to choose from, and selecting which model that best serves your needs can be daunting. Here then is a succinct guide to the best 7 seater cars on the Australian market for 2015.

Audi Q7

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(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audi_Q7)

The Audi Q7 is an elegant seven-seater SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) offering luxury, comfort and performance. It is an excellent choice if you are also considering a car that enhances your image, and the Audi Q7 comes in diesel and petrol engines that are both highly fuel-efficient. It also offers and environmentally-friendly fuel option to lower the emissions of nitrogen oxide, and features decorated interiors with a multi-media interface for better control on the road. The Audi Q7 may be a pricier option but is well worth considering.

 

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

1024px-Citroen_C4_Picasso_front-2

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citroën_C4_Picasso

The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is an excellent choice if you are looking for extra load space in addition to seven seats. It has near van-like space inside while avoiding the bulky image that many vans have. It has a futuristic design with eye catching features that have made it a popular choice for car buyers, and comes with a fuel efficient diesel engine with significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre than most standard 7-seaters. All its passenger seats are foldable should you need space to carry large loads, which is impressive considering it has capacity for over a thousand eight hundred and fifty litres.

Kia Carnival

The Kia Carnival is perhaps one of the few 7 seater cars Australia has really fallen in love with. It is an affordable model and has low costs of operation and maintenance, which places it a notch higher than most of the other competing models, yet retains a spacious feel and is a reliable, comfortable and easy to drive. It also offers an extra seat bringing the number of seats to eight should you need it. The Kia Carnival is an excellent choice if you are looking for one of the most affordable yet reliable 7 seater cars on the market.

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers style combined with comfort. It comes with a 2.2 litre diesel engine, and the manual transmission model can reach a maximum of 47 mpg with its automatic counterpart managing 41 mpg. The car is one of the most affordable 7 seater cars for sale on the market today and is a serious contender for any 7-seater purchasing decision. The Santa Fe also comes with a five-year warranty which offers additional peace of mind, one minor flaw customers have commented on is the slightly less space for the rear seats which comes into play especially if travelling longer distances. Otherwise though the Santa Fe for everyday family transportation is a solid option.

Nissan X-Trail

The Nissan X-Trail is the only Nissan brand seven-seater SUV after the Nissan Qashqai was discontinued. It comes with a 128bhp, 1.6 litre diesel engine that reaches up to 60mpg, however the car is quite heavy and would have been better with more power. The Nissan X-Trail’s forte is it boasts a large interior space with a massive 445-litre boot remaining after all seven seats have been put in place, enough for even the most demanding space requirements of your 7-seater car.

BMW X5

The BMW X5 is a luxury end 7-seater SUV that has been well received across Europe and Australia. The car is sleek, well-engineered and reliable, and its latest version released in 2014 is longer and wider than its predecessors. It is also stable and contains premium luxury features synonymous with the BMW brand. There are three engine options from which you can choose. If you are a speed enthusiast, its turbocharged diesel engine can reach a 100km/hr from starting in a matter of 6.9 seconds, with the vehicle’s off-road performance being equally impressive. The BMW X5 is an upper market choice and represents an enviable combination of style and function.

Land Rover Discovery 4

The Land Rover has also always been popular with families seeking maximum seat and storage space, and the Discovery 4 model combines this history of excellence with comfort and power. The interiors are spacious and all; the occupants have an excellent view of the road and long gone are the days of Land Rover’s still memorable box-like design. Slightly unfortunate is the choice of 3.0 litre diesel engine which isn’t as powerful as it could, however the engine is strong enough to give the Discovery great off the road capabilities. It is a great car for long distances and has towing capabilities that few SUVs can match.

Ford S-MAX

The Ford S-MAX combines sports utility with sleek luxury to create a car that is fun to drive. It has a unique shape; a hidden chassis and a lean body cut. However, the sporty styling reduces much of the interior space and makes the third row noticeably more cramped than most of its competitors. It also has direct steering making it easier to navigate twisty roads. There are several engine options that you can choose from, and all in all it is a pretty quick model on the road and a good choice for those who are after a good-looking 7 seater car.

Volvo XC90

Volvo’s XC90 was introduced in 2003 and has changed little over the years, a fair decision as it holds an excellent record of performance year after year, and has set the pace for new competing seven seater cars introduced later. It is stable, comfortable, and ideal for long distances. There is ample room in the back for the third-row seats and an enormous boot for the luggage. The seats are supportive and comfortable, and tt retains its legacy of being extremely safe and stable on the road. One drawback is its 2.4 litre D5 engine which only reaches up to 34.4 mpg, which for 2015 is on the sluggish side, and similarly it has a poor economy rating. A new XC90 model is on the way and is expected to have better capabilities.

Renault Grand Scenic

This Grand Scenic is the eagerly awaited improvement of the Renault Scenic, featuring added interior space to carry seven people against five for its predecessor. It has a spacious total area of 2,063 litres when the rear seats have been folded down, and its 1.5 litre diesel engine has powerful capabilities of up to 68.9mpg. It has a solid build quality and is great to travel in. The only thing some buyers may think twice about is if you are looking to beat the free road tax, in which case the Renault Grand Scenic may be a less practical choice for you as it has carbon dioxide emissions of over 100g per kilometre. It is also often reported to be less practical and reliable compared to many other 7 seater cars for sale.

 

Electric Cars Australia: Fuel Efficient Car Guide

Introduction to Fuel Efficient Cars: Electric and Hybrid

The future of the automotive industry has arrived in the form of electric and hybrid vehicles.  In a time of awareness to the environmental threats of the classic combustion engine, these alternatives have been widely adopted.  There was a time when Hydrogen Cars seemed poised to enter the market, but it did not experience the same success.  This guide will help you understand the difference between electric and hybrid vehicles and also tell you the best option in each category.

The most fuel efficient cars are electric vehicles.  They are powered by electric motors using energy stored in batteries.  The concept of electric cars began in the 1880s but they were not widely accepted until the early 2000s.  The potential for this technology came with the invention of the rechargeable battery.  The number of mass produced highway capable electric vehicles is nearing 50 and they are disrupting the market.  Many countries are offering benefits to citizens who purchase these vehicles as pollution and resource consumption is becoming a looming issue.

 Hybrids were widely adopted sooner than the all electric vehicles.  They contain a dual transmission that is capable of running an electric motor or a combustion engine.  The car is able to seamlessly alternate between the two options depending on the demand that is placed on the vehicle.  Hybrid vehicles commonly offer a 20%-40% efficiency advantage to standard vehicles.  Hybrids do not yield the same environmental benefits as electric.

Best Electric Car

Tesla Model S, A$96,208

01-2012-tesla-model-s-fd-1347336745

The Tesla Model S the crown for the best electric car.  No other electric car in Australia was even close in this race.  It is manufactured by Tesla Motors in California.  Don’t think of this car as an electric tree-hugging vehicle.  It is more of a luxury sports car that just happens to be electric.  It delivers world class performance with un-matched handling and jet-like acceleration.  The ride is comfortable, offering 5 seats and an optional third row for small children.  This allows the car to sit 7 in total.

The Tesla grabs your eye from the beginning.  The flush aluminum door-handle welcomes you with a touch causing them to pop-out and welcome you inside.  Once you enter the interior you are drawn to the 17-inch display that houses all of the controls.  With a simple push to start you now in control of one of the best sports cars even built.

The Tesla battery puts the vehicle in a class of its own.  Unlike other electric cars, its range is in the hundreds of kilometers instead of the dozens.  The 85 kWh battery boasts a range of 502 km.  The range does vary in different temperatures as the cold dissipates the energy causing shorter ranges.  The battery can even plug into standard outlets, although the charges process is not as quick as the manufacturer’s recommended hook up. A full charge cycle takes 12 hours.  A full charge costs about $12 assuming the national average electricity rate.  This makes the running costs exceptionally low and the end result is one of the most fuel efficient cars ever.

The Model S powertrain is so silent that you will not believe it is produces the acceleration and torque that it does.  The car goes from 0-100km/h in just 5.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 225 km/hr.  The handling reacts just as you would expect it, not being too touchy.  The car comes standard with alloy wheels and air suspension.  The car also has 2 regenerative brakes that convert the braking energy into charge.  It has 2 settings for this brake.  One setting applies the brake as you take your foot off of the acceleration pedal.  The other setting does not automatically apply the brake.

 In addition to performance the Model S also delivers in safety.  The vehicle is equipped with knee airbags for the front seat in addition to standard front, torso, and curtain air-bags.  It delivered some of the best results in crash testing that have ever been recorded.  It received a 5-star rating and is the best car ever tested in America.

 The car comes with an un-matched 8-year, infinite mile warranty.  This covers the drive-train and battery.  In addition, Tesla guarantees re-sale value and will even buy the car back from you based on their depreciation calculations.  This means that you can completely understand your financial investment upfront if you have plans of trading in the car.

In summary, the Tesla is simply the best electric car available.  If you can overcome the price tag you will not regret this decision.

 Best Hybrid Car

Lexus RX 450h, A$84,600

2012_lexus_rx-450h_4dr-suv_base_fq_oem_2_500

The Lexus RX 450h is the hybrid counterpart of the more popular RX 450h.  It is a bold and stylish luxury SUV that will definitely turn heads.  It incorporates Hybrid Technology that increases its efficiency to a competitive level.  The hybrid engine does sacrifice a bit of performance relative to a pure combustions, but the tradeoff is worth it.

From the outside, the vehicle is nothing short of gorgeous.  Notably, the headlights boast a variable lighting system that automatically adjust to ensure they are pointing in the right direction.  The dramatic front grill is striking, composed from an aggressive mesh aluminum.  The car sits on-top of 19” alloy wheels finished in a dark grey.

The Lexus Hybrid Technology incorporates an electric motor and a 3.5 L V6 Atkinson Cycle Petrol engine.  The engine delivers a maximum of 183 kW of power at 6,000 rpm.  This is definitely not shabby and will provide you with more than you need from your hybrid.  To complement the power, the SUV is efficient.  With a fuel consumption of 6.3L / 100 km you will be hard-pressed to find less thirsty SUV.

The 50kW electric motor powers the electric four-wheel drive system (E-Four).  The E-Four saves fuel by only using 4-wheel drive when needed.  During acceleration it only drives the rear wheels.  If additional traction is needed the system adjusts to compensate for your needs.  The power train also features regenerative braking, meaning you don’t need to charge the electric battery.  The four-wheel system captures dissipated heat and converts it into power.

In terms of safety, the car delivers.  Front passengers are protected by front knee and side airbags.  Both front and rear passengers are also protected by curtain bags.  The vehicle also did well in American crash testing, but performed under the Model S benchmark.

The warranty duration is 48 months or 100,000 kms.  The warranty leaves more to be desired, especially considering that it is a hybrid vehicle.  Hybrids are more complex to repair meaning there is most likely higher costs incurred.

In summary, the Lexus RX 450h is the best hybrid car available.  Though it is not as efficient as electric, it offers more flexibility to the user without the hassle of a limited range.  If you need long-distance driving this SUV is for you.

 

February 20, 2015

Family Cars Guide: What Is The Best Family Car?

holden family car

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_Commodore

 

There is a huge range of family cars available to choose from today and the sheer number can make it  difficult to decide which to buy.  The goal of this post is to guide you through the process and help you find the best family car for you.

Questions To Ask Yourself

To ease this decision below are a number of questions to ask yourself to narrow down the possibilities.  This is followed by a summary of the pros and cons of each car type and a recommendation of specific models to consider.

How many children are there in the family?

Larger vehicles can accommodate up to 9 people, whilst smaller ones have a maximum capacity of 5 (or less in some cases where baby seats are required).  Also consider how long you will be keeping the car and whether you would potentially expand the family during that period.

What size car do you need?

Major factors when choosing a car will be the comfort and support given by the seats, as well as how good visibility is out of the windows at the front, rear and side. Also the size of the car will often have an impact on how easy it is to maneuver and park.  In addition if you would like help when parking, look for cars with parking sensors and/or cameras to assist you.

What is your budget for the car?

The price of family cars varies tremendously from low five figures to over $100,000 and beyond. Make a realistic budget that you would like to put towards the car, so you don’t waste time considering cars that are above your set budget.

How important is fuel efficiency?

If it is important, be sure to check the fuel consumption figures, which will give you an estimate of how many fuel the car burns during journeys.  This can make a huge difference in terms of costs if you make long journeys frequently.

Do you often run out of space in your boot?

If you often carry luggage, pushchairs or other stuff, you will need to make sure the cars you consider have large enough capacity to accommodate your needs.  Test how easy it is to place and remove frequently used items such as pushchairs in the boot.

How many storage compartments do you need?

You can never have enough of these, even without a family.  But with a family, it is handy to have spaces for drinks, food, nappies, wipes, books and games.

Do you need to frequently drive for a large number of people?

If you are responsible for carpooling for school or work runs, you need to make sure the car has sufficient capacity to cope with the maximum number of passengers you usually expect.

How frequently do you need to drive off road or in poor weather (e.g. snow or ice covered roads)?

Review the features of the cars you are looking at, including whether they have four-wheel drive and/or other features that assist when driving in poor weather or on bad roads.

Types of Family Cars

Below are the various types of family cars including small cars, family sedans, SUVs and MPVs.

Small Family Cars

Ford Focus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Focus#mediaviewer/File:Ford_Focus_1.6_Ti-VCT_Champions_Edition_(III)_%E2%80%93_Frontansicht,_23._September_2012,_Mettmann.jpg

The fuel economy of a small car is very good, driving and parking is very simple, when compared to larger counterparts.  Unfortunately due to the smaller size of the cars, the interiors are small and there are also limited luggage areas.

Small cars are best for families with either one child or two children if they don’t require pushchairs.

Small family cars to consider: the Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1 Series and the Ford Focus

Family Sedan

Mazda6

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda6#mediaviewer/File:2010-2011_Mazda_6_(GH_Series_2)_Luxury_Sports_hatchback_(2011-08-17)_01.jpg

Family sedans offer plenty of space, excellent driving dynamics and a raft of technical features.  However the purchase price and fuel costs are frequently more than small family cars.  They make ideal cars for families that want decent boot space, make long journeys and are useful for families with taller children.

Family sedans to consider: Mazda6, Holden Commodore, Toyota Hybrid

SUV

Ford Territory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Territory#mediaviewer/File:2009-2010_Ford_Territory_(SY_II)_TX_wagon_01.jpg

SUVs offer a range of advantages including the versatility of being able to drive off road and in poor weather conditions, something which other car types would typically struggle with. The higher up position of the seats and front visibility also make driving easier.  But the higher ride can also cause issues due to the fact that this can in some cases compromise dynamics and make them more likely to roll.

Some SUVs offer a third row of seats, which is great for seat capacity, but be sure to check the space available, as the third row can have limited space, which may only be suitable for smaller children.

Also keep in mind, due to the larger size and engine of many SUVs, this does have an impact on fuel costs, so you can often find SUVs are more expensive than both sedans and small cars in this regard.

In terms of size:

  • 5 seat SUVs are well suited to 1-2 child families
  • 7 seat SUVs work well for families with 3 or more children.

Best Family SUVs: Peugeot 2008, Mazda CX-5, Ford Territory

Mult-purpose Vehicle (MPV)

 

Honda Odyssey Luxury van

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Odyssey_(international)#mediaviewer/File:2009-2011_Honda_Odyssey_Luxury_van_(2011-04-28)_01.jpg

Multi-purpose vehicles are designed to carry 7 or more people as standard, so there is no need to fold seats up or down, move forward or backwards or adjust seating configuration in any other way.  Access to all of the seats in the vehicle is simple and straight forward and due to the heavy use by families, the interiors are often child-friendly.  On the flip side, the larger MPVs can get expensive and can be trickier to drive, with more of a bus feel than a car.  Additionally aesthetics is often put below functionality in terms of priorities.

Overall the MPV is suited to larger families with 3 or more children or who frequently carry other passengers.

MPVs to consider: Honda Odyssey, Kia Rondo, Fiat Freemont.

Conclusion

Having reviewed all the different car types it is clear there is no ‘best family car’.  You need to assess what your family needs are and then match them with the car type that best fits them, whilst at the same time minimizing the disadvantages as much as possible.  SUVs and small cars are a very popular choice at the moment, but ultimately it should be your needs that dictate the car type and model you eventually decide to choose.