27 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: We just had the 15,000-kilometre service on our 2022 Toyota Kluger and the dealer said they rotated only the front wheels.

In the 35 years I have been getting cars serviced I’ve always seen all four wheels being rotated.

Is it normal to only rotate the front wheels?

Michael P

A: The whole idea of ‘rotation’ is to even the wear, both side-to-side and back-to-front on a vehicle’s tyres. Nothing has changed. The dealer could argue, if your Kluger is front-wheel drive, it’s about spreading the wear across the front axle, but it’s a tenuous argument. Go back and get it done properly.

Q: I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on the new Lexus RX which I believe is now only a four-cylinder vehicle.

Having had the six-cylinder version many times would I notice much difference in power and performance?

Also the new model has no CD, so are there many equivalent models that have a CD that I should look at?

Roger W

A: You cannot get hung up on the number of cylinders in the engine, as modern turbochargers – and also hybrid drivelines – have changed all the rules. Look instead at the power and torque numbers, definitely compare torque to your six-cylinder, and remember a turbocharged four-cylinder will have much better economy when you’re not using all the performance. On the CD front, they are dying out rapidly and most cars now have Apple CarPlay for streaming of music. Remember the tape deck? It’s a similar story.

Q: I am trading my manual Toyota Yaris very soon and upgrading considerably perhaps to a brand-new car.

I still want the size of the Yaris, also automatic, but I like something a little quirky and was slightly captivated by the Suzuki Ignis, though reviews are not very favourable.

My son and his wife have a 2022 Suzuki Swift and love it. What are your thoughts on what I should be looking at in my upgrade?

Kerrie T

A: Quirky is never a good reason to buy a car – any car. If you like the boxy look of the Ignis then maybe consider the cute-little Jimny, although there is a bit of a waiting list, but otherwise the Swift is a better car than the Ignis and a better car to buy. In a similar size, also take a look – if only for comparative purposes – at the Hyundai Venue.

Q: We would still like your thoughts on the 2023 Toyota RAV4 hybrid.

Another question we have, is do the electric motors drop out at highway speed?

Is there any possibility that the batteries can catch fire?

We know that there is quite long waiting time for one, about nine months we have been told, but we are prepared to wait if it’s a good, safe and reliable vehicle.

What else would you recommend for us in the same category to please.

Ken and Jen R

A: Toyota hybrids become pure electric above about 80km/h, which is why they are so good for economy in stop-start driving in the city and ‘burbs. The waiting list is crazy and you will pay a big premium for a RAV4, so take a test drive in the Nissan Qashqai e-Power model. It is a hybrid, too, but the petrol engine is only used to charge the battery which drives the car at all times. Nissan has done a great job on the all-new Qashqai and the waiting list will be way shorter than anything with a Toyota badge. I have not heard of any hybrid battery fires.

Q: I am currently driving a 2016, model year ’17, Subaru Outback 3.6R and am very happy with it.

My only complaint is possibly the seats could be a bit more comfortable on longer journeys, but it is now time to move on and pamper myself.

My budget is a retail price up to $100,000 and the preference is for a small to mid-sized SUV.

I am not yet ready for a full electric vehicle.

I’ve driven the Volvo XC40 Ultimate Dark AWD and Volvo XC60 B6 Ultimate Dark, the Audi Q5 45 TFSI Quattro which drove nicely, but when I priced the S line with the Technik package it was nearing $120,000. The good thing about the Q5 was that stock was available over the next few months.

I was not that keen on the Mercedes GLC, and thought the BMW X3 optioned-up would be too expensive and I am not overexcited about the look.

The cars I really liked were the Lexus NX F Sport which felt very luxurious as well as the Genesis GV70 2.5 AWD Sport Luxury.

Problem is Lexus NX350 AWD Hybrid F Sport lead time is now out to 30 months, and the NX350 AWD F Sport Petrol lead time now out to 12 months.

The Genesis GV70 2.5 AWD Sport Luxury lead time now out to 12 months.

Martin S

A: You sound completely confused, so choose between the Genesis and Lexus. The NX is not as good as the GV70, which is also great value. Right now, anything with short delivery times is likely over-priced and not that popular. For me, it would be the GV70 for sure.

Q: I’m in the market for a new SUV and I’ve looked at the Hyundai Tucson and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

I would like your opinion on the Haval H6 petrol.

I know the resale price is not the best, but I’m 74 year old and I think it will be my last car. The price is very attractive, only not sure of performance.

I’m trading in a 2019 Honda Civic 1.5 turbo with 27,000 kilometres. Thinking of selling its privately and what do you think is a fair sale price?

Loris L

A: Why get rid of the Civic since it’s barely run in and will easily last for another 10 years. The downsides are safety and access. So, looking at SUVs, the Haval is fine as regulation transport. As yet, no-one knows the resale value but that might not be a problem. It’s was not nearly as classy as a Honda when I drove an H6 back-to-back with the new Honda HR-V. Best way to check a price for your Civic is to go to www.carsales.com.au and compare it to similar vehicles with similar low kilometres.

Q: Is the Isuzu MU-X a good option as a 3-tonne tow vehicle?

And is it comfortable?

Keith and Sharyn L

A: The MU-X has a great reputation for towing, but has been significantly eclipsed by the all-new Ford Everest in comfort and equipment. Remember, too, that the MU-X is based on a ute and the comfort will be a long way short of a dedicated SUV family car.

Q: I’m after a five-seater car.

We like the Toyota RA4 but wondering if there is something better and also the wait times are horrendous.

Also I have a 12-year-old Toyota HiLux. Is there anything better or just as good these days that I could purchase or is the HiLux still the way to go? It pulls a gardening trailer every day that weights about 700 kilograms.

David R

A: Toyota still makes fine vehicles, but many have been overtaken by rivals – and definitely on value. Right now, after a massive re-vamp, Nissan is the benchmark for family SUVs and the X-Trail should be your first stop. The Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are both better than the RAV, but also have long wait times. The HiLux trails both the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max in the ute class, and also costs too much just for a Toyota badge.

Q: What would you suggest to replace Lexus IS250?

It’s for a mid-50s nanna with three grandchildren occasionally in the car.
Not suburban driving, so my thoughts are a hybrid would nearly always be in combustion mode.
Too early for electric.

Jack M

A: So the big question is – SUV or sedan? The IS is great but more people turning to SUVs for access. Right now, depending on the size she needs, the two sedans to test drive are the Skoda Octavia and Genesis GV70. Skoda is cheaper, a great car from the VW stable, Genesis is a very good prestige brand with better value than the ‘regulars’.
On the SUV front, there are literally dozens. So it depends on her taste and budget. Again, a Skoda will be great value, the new Nissan Qashqai is wickedly good, otherwise Kia and Hyundai – twin brands – but with big waiting lists. So test drive the Octavia and Qashqai, to settle on the type of vehicle, then Genesis as the stretch target.

Q: My wife has a 2013 Nissan Micra ST-L with the 1.5-litre four-speed auto.

She’s loved it but wants to upgrade to something similar in size and power. Any ideas?

Brod S

A: There are fewer and fewer baby hatches, and nothing that will approach the value of the Micra in its day. Best to look at the Toyota Yaris as a benchmark, but also the Kia Stonic and Hyundai Venue as a baby SUV. Otherwise, if she really wants to stay in a baby car, look at the Suzuki Swift but definitely not the MG3.

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

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