READER QUESTIONS: Should I buy a Toyota 200 Series, or wait?
I'm interested in a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series. The current model has been around a long time with only minor updates. Do you know whether Toyota is considering a new model and when it might be released?
Peter Miilard, email
Not much on the jungle drums suggesting a major model update for the veteran 200 Series, no doubt because it's such a popular and competent vehicle, despite being with us since 2007. There was a minor update last year but it could do with some modernising of the infotainment, which is sure to come soon enough. There are whispers of a new model in about 2020-21 but for now it's a case of "if it ain't broke …"
NOAH'S ARK NEEDED
I need to replace my 2006 Holden Commodore SVZ, which has been fantastic. An elderly lady with two knee replacements must be able to easily get in and out and it must take two adults, three cat cages and two small-medium dogs at the same time. Fuel economy and safety are important. My budget is $10,000-$15,000.
Quite the menagerie to accommodate there, Kelly. I'd suggest a mid-sized SUV because getting in and out, plus lifting cat cages, will be easier in a higher-riding vehicle. For your budget, consider a 2013 Hyundai ix35 or Kia Sportage, or 2012 Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander or even a Mazda CX-5 - my pick if funds allow. Diesel versions (where available) of the above will give most economy but even petrol versions will be less thirsty than your Commodore. As you loved your Holden, don't discount a five year-old VF Commodore wagon for your needs if you can all fit in and your knees don't mind.
NO MAZDA JOY
Re last week's Which car column advising on a small vehicle with boot space to fit two bales of hay. None of the small SUVs listed could do this. Your verdict was the Mazda CX-3. I own one of these and although it is a great SUV it would be virtually impossible to carry a bale of hay. Must be very small bales.
Ray Mudie, email
We've had a Mazda CX-5 but found it too large for our needs so replaced it with the smaller CX-3. However it's proved too small and not quite high enough. What might be just right?
Among other suggestions, the Toyota C-HR and Mitsubishi ASX may suit. My wildcards? Sample the Peugeot 3008 - it's gorgeous - or Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross if funds permit.
My 2010 BMW 320i has done 46,000km. Last month my navigation and park distance control stopped dead. The BMW dealer told me there's a problem with the software, which has to be deleted and reinstalled, but this runs the risk of corrupting the on-board computer, for which BMW says it won't be responsible.
John Loi, email
Sounds risky, so I contacted BMW Australia. A spokesman says: "We do not delete and reinstall software. The diagnostic platform looks at what is loaded and only overwrites out-of-date or faulty software. So, a full diagnostic via the last servicing dealer is required." There is a gap in your service history, which they imagine was servicing outside the BMW network. So, you'll have to pay for the diagnostic check but, on the positive side, I was assured "deleting and reinstalling is not pursued by the BWM dealer network".
Re the gripe with SUVs taking over car parks. There's special parking for disabled drivers and parents with prams, so why not SUVs? Bung them all at one end and leave the rest of the parking spaces for us ordinary motorists.
Patricia Woolcock, email
I feel the SUV pain, too. My fix is to reverse into spaces so I can creep out and stop if need be.
Lisa "Lancer" Butcher, email
In undercover car parks, if you open your windows before venturing out of your space, you should hear whether a vehicle is coming (with the exception of hybrids and bicycles). In other car parks, you could always approach a friendly-looking person (a mum with kids) and ask them to look out for you. I'm always happy to help anyone who needs assistance. For what it's worth, I reverse in - I figure it's safer to drive out of a spot, rather than reversing.
David Stockman, email
Motoring writers continue to bag Fiat's Dualogic automated manual gearbox but as an old baby boomer I must say my 500C is ideal. It has good seat height and door size to get in and out, has paddle-shifters to change gears and there's no clutch pedal for a boomer's crook left knee to deal with. Plus, my Bambino gets all the attention at the inner-Brisbane cafes.
John Dobinson, email
So much happiness from your little 500 cabrio - this pleases me no end, John. They're such funky little things. Yes, the Dualogic clutchless manual gets criticised. Testing them annoyed me as gear selection took an age. There is an art to it so you must have mastered the gentle and timely throttle inputs required.
Re the Mercedes-Benz X350d. I can't believe that your reviewer "forgave" Mercedes for making a substandard expensive item on the basis of "they need to make money" but it's OK to capitalise on a reputation to do so. There is enough rubbish in the world without encouraging more.
Craig French, email
Yes, it's expensive. No, it won't rival an S-Class for proper "Merc-ness". Given Benz's long history of commercial vehicles, though, the X-Class makes perfect sense. Australia's gone bonkers for utes, not least "premium" ones. I hugely rate the X-Class's ride and handling, considering it's a truck at heart. Is it a "substandard expensive item"? The market will be the judge of that.
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