26 September 2023

Ask the Doctor

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By Paul Gover.

Q: My wife and I have three boys – aged 7, 5 and 2 – and our VE Holden Commodore has become very small, very quickly.

What is the best seven seat option for us?

Most of our driving is around metro Melbourne but we love road trips to NSW and Queensland once a year, when Covid allows.

Our budget would be about $50,000 but obviously the lower the better.

Simon C

A: There are many seven-seater SUVs but they are all a compromise between seats and luggage space. You would really be best with a Kia Carnival, especially as those boys grow, but since most people don’t want a family van you should look on the SUV side at the Kia Sorento for its combination of family-friendly design and good value.

Q: Just hoping you can give us some advice on two cars we are looking at buying.

They are both 2021 models, the Hyundai i30 Elite hatch and Kia Cerato Sports Plus.

Jo-Anne M

A: That’s a simple one, as they are the same car. Under the skin the Cerato and i30 are twins from the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate in South Korea, so the differences in Australia are the suspension tuning, price and warranty. Best to test drive before you commit, but the Cerato is likely to be slightly better value.

Q: I’ve just bought a 2018 Toyota LandCruiser VX 200 Series for towing my caravan, which is around 3100 kilos, and have found it shifts up and down the auto when towing.

The result is I’m using a lot of fuel, which I did expect, but I’m averaging around 22-23 litres/100km.

I’ve been investigating having the transmission control unit recalibrated to change gear sooner and hold in gear longer and wondered what your thoughts were on the subject.

Steve H

A: The quickest and easiest solution is to drive it as a manual, picking the right gears yourself. That should give you a better measure on the fuel economy, too. If you get a marked improvement then you have the right information to be investigating a re-calibration.

Q: I have a 2001 Holden WH Statesman Caprice 2001 with V8, leather and sunroof, two owners and 344,000 kilometres.

Am I correct in the understanding that this model may be valued now between $15-30,000 as a collectible car?

Also, do you have suggestions for a cheap SUV which will tow a caravan should that be required?

I have seen Jeep Grand Cherokee models around 200,000 kilometres, diesel and petrol, which seem appropriate.

Or could a Hyundai Santa Fe do the job.

John M

A: The price of the Caprice will definitely have improved, but the best way to check the value is to go to a specialist like Shannons. If you already have a Santa Fe and the caravan is below two tonnes then it will do the job without having to spend on a replacement.

Q: My wife and I are considering updating our vehicles from a 2019 Holden Trax and a 2010 BMW 230d.

Ideally, we would like a vehicle similar in size to the Trax with the quality of the BMW.

We like the look of the Audi Q3 but haven’t inspected one, and have very little knowledge about the Audi, and we think there may be a BMW or a Mercedes or some other vehicle that might suit our purpose.

Gary W

A: If you like BMW, then the 1 Series will probably do the job. The Q3 is nice, but really a dressed-up Volkswagen for considerably more cash.

Q: I currently have a 2014 Toyota corolla ZR sedan and I’m thinking about trading it in for the latest one.

My car has very low mileage and I was told I could trade it in and buy the new one for an extra $ 15,000.

Can you tell me if the new ZR is any good? What are the differences between both?


A: The difference between any 2104 model and a 2021 will be huge, from economy to safety. The latest Corolla is fine but, unless you are going to a hybrid, there are cars that are nearly as good but far better value. Before you make a final decision, take a test drive in a Hyundai i30.

Q: I currently drive a Holden Epica that has done over 420,000 kilometres.

It’s been a great car but needs replacing, but I’m reluctant with today’s pricing and backlogs.

I’d like an SUV but not sure which one. I’m 55 with grown kids so they are rarely with me these days. I also travel from Geelong to Parkville in Victoria for work.

I’m looking at Toyota RAV4 and Kluger, Subaru Outback or Forester.

I’d really like a hybrid but realise they are expensive and not necessarily as beneficial with my driving.

Jan G

A: It’s definitely time for the Epica to go, but a hybrid will not work for you with so much time at highway speeds where they run on petrol power. From your list, the Forester will be the best choice between comfort and economy, driving more like a car than an SUV, and will have enough space for you driving on your own.

Q: I am tossing up between the Toyota RAV4 hybrid and starting to lean heavily towards a Hyundai Tucson highlander with 1.6-litre turbo petrol motor or equivalent Kia. Also my partner’s heart is set on a Venue for herself, is it recommended?

Mike B

A: The Tucson is excellent and so is the Kia Sportage, which will be easier to find if you move quickly. The RAV4 Hybrid is good for short trips but costly and with a giant waiting list. The Hyundai Venue is definitely recommended.

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

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