27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: I’m keen to get your opinion on the Toyota CH-R Koba hybrid.

I have just started looking for a hybrid vehicle, like most of the population with fuel costs rising so high, and it fits my budget at around $42,000 for two-wheel drive.

Is there anything else I should be considering? I am very tall, so that will affect my decision

Nicola K

A: Toyota is the long-term leader on hybrids in Australia so the CH-R will do the job, but if you need more space then also look at the bigger RAV4.

Q: My daughter is looking to purchase either a Hyundai Kona or a Toyota CH-R hybrid.

We test drove both cars and I was impressed with the Toyota.

Which car would you recommend?

Mick K

A: Both are good and if she wants a hybrid it’s an even better choice, but she should be prepared for a long wait.

Q: I am about to take delivery of a Kia Sportage GT Line and wondering which fuel to put in on a regular basis.

Do I use Premium, Regular or a combination of both?

I hear talk of this but have not taken as much notice as it didn’t concern me at the time.

Susan W

A: You should always use the fuel grade specified in the owner’s manual. In the case of your Kia it’s pretty simple, as the diesel-engined model takes diesel fuel and the 1.6-litre turbo is recommended for 91-octane regular unleaded.

Q: I’m very interested to compare the Toyota Yaris hybrid and Ford Puma hybrid.

My goal is to save petrol, as I am 71 and currently driving a 2012 Ford Focus Titanium which sucks petrol.

What is the current situation when buying a vehicle, are we still able to barter or is that out?

Angela D

A: There is no hybrid version of the Puma in Australia, although its economy is still very good at an official 5.3 litres/100km thanks to a 1.3-litre turbo three-cylinder engine. But it also takes 95 octane fuel. So it looks like the Yaris hybrid for you, despite a price close to $30,000 and a waiting list. Because hybrids are in high demand you are highly unlikely to get any sort of worthwhile discount.

Q: Our 2020 Volkswagen Golf is a 1.4-litre turbo and goes well

It says 98 fuel in big letters and 95 in small.

Is it ok to use 95 while fuel prices are so expensive or is it dangerous?

Robin C

A: This is another job for the owner’s manual, but the Australian government’s Green Vehicle Guide lists your Golf with 95-octane fuel. The octane rating of fuel, or its resistance to the dangerous ‘knocking’ from pre-ignition that leads to engine damage, is particularly important in high-performance turbo engines and during hot weather.

Q: My daughter wants to upgrade her 2010 Mazda3 to a safe car big enough to carry her young nieces and was looking at the RAV4 hybrid, specifically the XSE.

She only considered a hybrid because of ‘the environment’.

I decided to look at other options and went to a Subaru dealership because I have a Forester.

The only person free happened to be the used car manager who also races cars. He said there was no advantage to a hybrid unless you did 40,000 kilometres a year, a number I think that was in relation to the cost of the car versus fuel cost. He also said they had more things that could go wrong.
My gut feeling is she would be better with a normal fuel car; do you think the hybrid technology is worth it?

Bill C

A: If she is doing mostly stop-start driving around the suburbs then the hybrid will give her a worthwhile improvement in fuel economy. The car will cost more but there is no proven research on the payback time, especially with fuel prices rising all the time. There is no reason to think there is more to go wrong. If she wants a hybrid for green reasons, and she’s prepared to join the long waiting list for the RAV, it’s one of the very best hybrids. Subaru also has a ‘mild hybrid’ in the Forester but the benefits are not as worthwhile as those from the Toyota.

Q: I bought a 2017 VF Series 2 SS Holden Commodore wagon for my 50th birthday last year.

With the My Link software that runs the Sat Nav and head unit, is the latest version something I need to purchase from a dealer to upgrade or is this actually free and something I need to ask for at service time?

This is by far the best car I have ever owned.

Sharyn J

A: Upgrading the Satnav comes at a cost, so before you spend anything you need to check how up-to-date it will be. Most manufacturer systems lag, typically by a couple of years because of the work to map and update the software, so it could be easier and cheaper to rely on the App system on your smartphone.

Q: I’m looking to buy a new car, sedan or wagon.

I know you recommend the Toyota Camry but I find them a bit bland.

So would like to know your thoughts on the 2022 Hyundai Sonata N Line?

And any other recommendations.

Rob B

A: The best car for you is the one you like, provided it is a good car. The Sonata is not a big seller now because Hyundai has so many excellent SUVs, but it’s fine. To give you a benchmark, also test drive the Mazda6 before you commit.

If you have a question for the Car Doctor, send an email to [email protected]

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