27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: In your opinion, how far down the track will it be before the electric equivalents to the Isuzu MU-X and Ford Rangers be able to tow the loads they do now on diesel and go for a range of 300-plus kilometres before you need to charge the battery?

Is there a possibility that they may go hydrogen for commercial vehicles?


A: It’s going to be a long time, probably not this decade, before there are genuine battery-electric alternatives to today’s line-up of popular pick-ups. Independent testing of the Ford F150 Lightning in the USA shows its range drops by two-thirds with a heavy towing load.

Q: I have been looking for a mid-to-large size four-wheel drive SUV to replace my 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

I do very little off-road driving, however tow a 2-tonne fully-loaded boat, so there is a specific need for the 4WD.
My wife is not confident driving the larger higher SUVs like the Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X, so something mid-range is the ideal with a seven-seater also preferable to transport our grandchildren on a needs basis.
I see the new Nissan Pathfinder gets a very good wrap. I have also taken a test drive and was quite impressed.
Have you any specific views on the Pathfinder when compared to its market competitors?

Peter K

A: Nissan has made massive improvements to all of its latest SUV models – Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder – in a welcome return to form. After a recent drive in the Pathfinder I’m impressed, and you are unlikely to face the long waiting time for popular Kia, Hyundai and Toyota SUVs. It definitely gets The Tick from me and is also good value.

Q: I am genuinely interested in the new 2023 Nissan Qashqai ST-L model.

I have test driven it and it feels super comfortable and inviting to me.

I currently drive a 2007 Honda CR-V and am looking to buy a smaller size SUV.

Can you recommend anything else similar as I have also test driven the new Mazda CX-5 but feel that it’s a little too boring and safe for me. I prefer a more sporty looking car and as I’ve waited so long for a new one, a newer style is the better as I drive on the freeways towards regional Victoria and too and from work, an hour each way most days.

I would have considered another Honda, however, I don’t like the current shape of the HR-V.

Amanda S

A: The Qashqai is definitely a good pick and, like the new Pathfinder, is a huge step forward from the previous model. It’s definitely recommended, but if you want to have some fun – depending on budget – also have a look and a drive at the Ford Puma, which is a cross between a baby SUV and a hot hatch.

Q: I am wanting to update my Toyota Corolla Sedan which you advised me to buy back in 2012.

I have been happy with it, would like to replace it with a newer one, but I’m finding them and the Volkswagen Polo and Golf too expensive.
I have looked at the Kia Rio SX as I am comfortable with the size, so would really appreciate your advice again.
My Corolla has done 89,000 kilometres from which new and has always been serviced from that dealer and has been looked after by me as I am the only driver.

Bernadette Halder

A: If you like the Rio, and it fits your budget, it will be a good choice. Kia, like Hyundai, has taken over the mantle of affordable compact cars once dominated by Toyota. Your Corolla should also bring a very good price, but check at www.carsales.com.au for the right valuation against similar cars, before you go to a trade-in at a Kia dealership.

Q: Can you help me make a decision to buy either a new Toyota Corolla Cross or Kia Sportage, both hybrid – or should I go petrol.

I have always had Toyota Camry Sports top-of-range models from new and my current car is a Camry Altara SX Sport from 2017 with 93,000 kilometres.

What do you think, or what else do you think I should look at?

Louisa R

A: A hybrid will save you money on short city and suburban runs, but for longer trips the regular petrol engine is better. Toyota is the benchmark for hybrid vehicles of all sorts and the Corolla or RAV4 would be the right choice, especially if you’re a long-term member of the Toyota family. But the RAV4 hybrid has one of the longest waiting lists in Australia at the moment, so you need to push hard for help from the dealership – including a good trade-in deal for a car which sounds like it will be a gem for the next owner.

Q: I am looking to buy a hybrid SUV under $50,000.

My preference is Toyota RAV4, however the waiting period is 18+ months.

So do you recommend any good cars with shorter waiting period or should I pay a deposit and wait as I am not in a rush as I only need it for Sunday Uber driving and I’m currently driving my 2013 Camry hybrid which has been very good to me.

Mahmoud A

A: If you can afford to wait, then it’s definitely worth delaying until you can get a RAV4. There are other hybrid choices, with the Haval Jolion working on value and the smaller Honda HR-V a very smart move, but the Toyota is still the benchmark and that’s one of the reasons for one of the longest waiting lists today.

Q: I am currently in market search looking for an SUV and I have come up with a few on my shortlist.

They are the Toyota Kluger Hybrid Grande, Lexus RX 350H, Hyundai Palisade AWD diesel and Ford Everest Platinum diesel.

All of them have some great features and modern machines, but I need your advice on which one to pick as an overall winner.

I am leaning toward a Hyundai Palisade as a 7-seater with captain’s chairs in the second row.

Vu H

A: You’re going the right way, as the Palisade is big, plush and good value. It’s proof of how much Hyundai vehicles have improved in recent years, with a real luxury feel and those excellent individual captain’s chairs to spoil the youngsters – or anyone else in the back.

Q: I was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on three secondhand cars I am considering.

They are a 2013 Peugeot 5008, 2014 Proton Exora GX FZ and 2014 Holden Captiva.

Jude I

A: Honestly, and being blunt, I would not go for any of them. Proton is a bargain Malaysian brand that failed in Australia, the Holden was nicknamed ‘craptiva’ for good reason, and Peugeots have always been a quirky choice with unproven reliability over the long run unless properly serviced and maintained. Pushed to pick one, I would go for the 5008.

Q: I need your expert advice as I have an 18-year-old daughter who is a first car buyer.

She has up to $25,000 and prefers a small SUV for both business and private use in and around Melbourne.

Which would be the best buy?

Natalie T

A: She needs to test drive the Hyundai Venue and Kia Stonic, from the same South Korean conglomerate, as they are good value, drive well and will be good for work use. But if she wants a bit of style as well as a fun drive, then she should consider stretching a little for the Ford Puma. The best idea would be to test drive the Stonic and Puma for a proper comparison, but also remember there are big waiting lists for Kia and Hyundai models.

Q: I’m looking to buy a four-wheel drive ute but I don’t have the Toyota budget.

What is your opinion of the LDV Max T60 and the Mitsubishi Triton Ute?

I’m not a Ford fan, so the Ranger is out, but could you recommend something else in this range?

Steve B

A: The price of the LDV is good, and the brand is doing well in Australia as a new Chinese arrival, but the Triton is still the smart choice. It’s not as costly as a Toyota HiLux but it will do the job for you with good value, both as a purchase and at secondhand time. Just to let you know, the Ranger is actually best in class at the moment.

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

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