Q: I have a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser with petrol engine and I have received conflicting advice as to how to best use the power selector. I have been told by one dealer to simply leave it in ‘Economy’ all the time. Another to leave it in ‘Normal’ all the time and others who say to swap it around depending on the driving type. I live in Victoria and I mainly do local driving but also short runs of 15-20 minutes on the freeway a couple of times a week. I never use the ‘Power’ mode as it just doesn’t seem necessary and I am confused as to how to best manage ‘Economy’ and ‘Normal’ modes.
A: The answer depends on how you drive, when, and where. And you should be prepared to switch modes to get the best from the car. Normal is the default and best for day-to-day driving, then switch to Economy on the highway. Normal will give slightly sharper response away from traffic lights or overtaking. It’s often worthwhile to go to Sport for overtaking if you need to accelerate briskly in a line of traffic at highway speeds.
Q: I am wondering your thoughts on hybrid SUVs based on the fact that I drive approximately 40,000 kilometres a year. My concern is how long do these batteries last and is it worthwhile for me to consider one based on replacement battery cost and higher price for these hybrid-based models? What are your thoughts on diesel engines for being around long enough with the push to electric engines/hybrids? Also need your advice on the following SUVs that I am looking to purchase: Hyundai Palisade, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Subaru Outback (I currently have one).
A: Battery life is difficult to predict in the latest generation of hybrids because there is not enough data, but there were many stories of the original Toyota Prius covering more than 300,000 kilometres as taxis without a battery change. The big advantage of a hybrid is when you do a lot of city-and-suburban travel, where you get an electric advantage but still have petrol power at higher speeds and over longer distances. The Hyundai Palisade is an excellent vehicle, if you need all the space, but otherwise the new Outback is as good or better than anything in your list.
Q: I want to know if I can fit four-wheel drive tyres to my new Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed PHEV 2023. The advice has been conflicting We want to be able to go off-road but mostly will be doing town driving. Would you recommend changing the tyres or stick with factory-supplied tyres?
A: Unless you are going seriously off-road for a long distance – which does not include gravel roads – then stick with the factory tyres. They are a compromise but it’s one developed by Mitsubishi engineers and not just local off-roader enthusiasts. Remember, too, serious four-wheel drive rubber will be much more noisy because of a chunky tyre pattern. If you’re only just dabbling in off-roading you’re likely to run out of bravery before the tyres run out of grip – but don’t try to match any mates with a serious off-road vehicle.
Q: I’m hoping you may be able to give me some information regarding the current-model Volkswagen Tiguan. Is there any reliable information regarding the long-term durability of their DSG transmissions? Also any other issues? Are they going to be reliable for 200,000 kilometres or so, as I am used to my current and previous cars (not VW) both having over 400,000 with no major issues. My cars are regularly serviced by the book.
A: The days of DSG troubles on Volkswagens are nearly a decade in the past. They made a huge effort to get things right and I’ve not heard anything negative for years. The Tiguan is also a good thing and gets The Tick from me.
Q: I am needing some advice on a car for my daughter. She is wanting to spend no more than $30,000 on a secondhand car for her and her two young children. It will be the family car, so running around in suburbia mainly, but they do go camping at least four times a year, so also wanting a vehicle with good boot space and that can be driven on gravel/dirt roads and can tow a trailer.
I have said to her she needs a reliable car, one that doesn’t guzzle up fuel and service/repairs and parts are not very pricey.
A: A Kia Sportage will do the job and there are plenty around, as the nameplate has just celebrated its 30th birthday in Australia. Aim for less than 160,000 kilometres and as recent as possible, to get a modern safety package. Always go for a vehicle with a complete service history and get your local motor club, such as the RACV, to do a pre-purchase inspection to check condition before you buy.
Q: You gave me some great advice many years ago on my BMW 125i that I’ve always remembered. I didn’t end up keeping this car just for the four years I planned but I still have it today and I have loved every minute of driving it. In fact, I think it’s spoiled me as I’ve driven other cars along the way and don’t find much that compares to the drive of this. As with all things time-related, circumstances have changed and I need to get into a slightly larger four-door car but don’t want to give up all the performance of my BMW. I’ve just driven a 2023 Volkswagen Tiguan R and really enjoyed it. To save me driving every car under the sun, do you have any other suggestions on cars I should take for a test drive? I’m not tied to an SUV and budget is up to $90,000.
A: If you love the Tiguan R then go for it. It’s practical with a bit of fun and gets The Tick from me. But if you want to continue in a car then the Skoda Octavia RS will be a belter, and also comes as a practical station wagon.
Q: I recently purchased a Toyota HiLux two-door 2023 model with 2.7-litre petrol and they have a six-month service interval.
Do you think is because they are a work vehicle and carry weight all the time or is it a engineering reason?
A: Heavyweight work or towing is an engineering reason, as it puts more strain on the driveline. The six-month intervals are common across much of the Toyota commercial range, from the HiLux to LandCruiser, and are also set because of the weather conditions in Australia.
Q: My wife and I are due to get rid of our seven-seat, 2020 Honda CR-V as the lease is finishing soon. We have two children but opted for the seven seats for kids sports matches etc to carry the extra kids. We are also going to get a caravan – likely a Jayco Swan or similar, so nothing over 2000 kg. We are looking around the $50,000 mark and would prefer seven seats without having something huge like a Ford Everest. We have been told there are significant tax breaks with getting electric vehicles, with all payments to be taken out pre-tax, so wondering if it’s worth looking at something like a Toyota Kluger and whether it will be ok to tow the caravan? Or is it better to look at an Isuzu MU-X or similar?
A: The Kluger is bigger than a CR-V but will do your work, and the tow rating for the hybrid fits the bill. The big difference from something like an Everest or MU-X is that it is not based on a pick-up.
Q: The third generation Volkswagen Tiguan R line is not far off early in 2025. With all features available with the chips reinstated. Would it be wise to wait for its arrival or purchase now?
Do you think the 2024 Skoda equivalent is similar and just as good?
A: The next-generation Tiguan is still a long way into the future, with no real details on what’s coming. So if you’re keen to switch, now is as good a time as any. Comparing Volkswagen to Skoda, the Czech contender is just as good or better, and usually better value. The best way to know is a back-to-back test drive.