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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
Best People Mover Hyundai iMax CRDi, $42,490 Driveline: 2.5 litre, 4 cyl, 5-speed automatic Fuel economy: 8.5L/100km. Diesel Safety features: ABS, ESC, TCS, DFA ANCAP: GVG: This is one category where consumers are spoilt for choice and for the second year running Hyundai iMax has beaten strong competition from an upgraded Honda Odyssey and a newcomer to this category, the rear-wheel- drive Ford Territory Ghia. When it comes to people movers, they don't get much bigger than Hyundai iMa x, which can comfortably seat eight; in fact, iMax scores a perfect 10 when it comes to space, along with a nine for comfort. Surprisingly being able to seat even seven passengers is not such an easy task in this category, as we found out during the testing. There are now three distinct sub-categories within this segment: large vans such as iMax, small people movers like Honda Odyssey and seven-seat SUVs like Ford Territory. The three finalists for this year all sit at the top of the tree in each sub-category. It's not all rosy for the iMa x. Due to its working class origins, it scores a little low in areas such as standard features, and its seating arrangements and versatility are somewhat limited compared with many of its purpose- built competitors. The big drawcard for iMa x is its enor mous space, especially the luggage space behind the third row that makes it one of the class leaders. Driver's comfort is aided by height-adjustable seats and tilt- adjustable steering, and all passengers get comfortable, well-padded seats with the safety of three-point lap/sash seatbelts. A downside for parents is the single seat access to the third row is on the right hand side, so parents will need to manoeuvre the larger double seat to access the third row from the safer, footpath side of the vehicle. The second row seating adjustment can also be a little stiff and difficult for younger passengers to operate. The dashboard layout in iMax is straightforward, with all controls and switch gear close at hand and easy to use. For some, the radio and heater controls may be a bit of a stretch due to the size of the cabin. And the first option to consider when purchasing an iMax would be reversing sensors or even a reversing camera to help with parking. Build quality throughout the Hyundai range is improving in leaps and bounds and iMax is no exception, although its commercial heritage still keeps it a point behind the Honda and various Toyotas. Improvements since last year's model include a new four-star ANCAP safety rating, steering-wheel audio controls, front seat armrests and a new designed soft aerial. Hyundai has successfully created a stylish, modern-looking large people mover that's spacious and user-friendly, and when backed up by Hyundai's strong reputation for value for money, low operating costs and one of the best warranties in Australia, it's a deserving winner for a second year running. 2nd -- Honda Odyssey Luxury 3rd -- Mitsubishi Grandis VR-X Best Recreational 4WD Subaru Outback 2.5i, $37,990 Drivetrain: 2.5-litre, 4cyl, CVT Fuel economy: 8.4L/100km, ULP Safety features: DFSA, CA, KA, ABS, TCS, ESC ANCAP: GVG: Subaru had been a regular winner in Australia's Best Cars over the years, and after a short time out of the winner's circle, the eagerly-awaited fourth- generation Outback has it back on the top of the podium. The new arrival has ousted strong European rivals with its class-leading design and functionality, which is what recreational 4WD buyers dem and. Based upon the newly revised Liberty, Outback enjoys much more space than the previous model, a refined drivetrain and additional equipment. Remarkably, this has all been achieved without the need to increase the price. Outback's list of features is impressive, making the price of this 'weekend warrior' even more competitive. Outback shares the worthy car-like characteristics of its Liberty sibling but it's also very capable off-road, where its 10/10 ride characteristics are particularly needed. This is augmented by class-leading handling. The combination of reasonable power, CVT transmission and 213mm of ground clearance ensured the 4WD Outback was virtually unstoppable on the test course. The evolved 2.5-litre Boxer engine achieved these improvements in performance while using more than 1.0L/100km less fuel than the previous model. One of the greatest attributes of the new Outback is the extent to which it has grown-up from the previous model. Rear leg and head room are exemplary. The interior finish has rated very highly, in contrast to other vehicles whose interiors and layout are fussy and complicated. Safety has been one of Subaru's core brand attributes for years, and the maximum five-star ANCAP rating has helped it stay at the top of the safety rankings in a vehicle category where the other manufacturers are quickly catching up. Security in Outback is excellent and the use of DataDots to assist with vehicle security has helped it achieve a perfect score in this segment. In any good family wagon, storage and a functional interior are vital and Outback provides numerous cargo boxes and trays for the whole family. The outside has become a little more fussy on the way to being bigger and better than the previous model. The key changes, however, are on the inside, with more cabin space and higher equipment levels than before. The manufacturer whose name is synonymous with recreational 4WDs has done it again with Outback, creating a class-leading soft-roader that drives like a car and yet performs more than adequately in off-bitumen situations. Well done, Subar u. 2nd -- Volkswagen Tiguan 103TDI 3rd -- Audi Q5 TDI December 09 / January 10 42
October November 2009
Feb March 2010