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Old 09-12-2004, 16:00   #1 (permalink)
PaulV
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Had a quick visit with the family to a few dealers yesterday as I need to organise a new car to lease - 1 car isn't enough for the family now:-)

At this stage it was just a tyre-kicking exercise to ensure that my selection criteria were sorted out right. I'm not particularly biased for or against any manufacturer and have enough brains to read through the magazine reviews properly (which I found were quite poor in hindsight).

My vital stats (which did matter) are that I'm 6'1" (which isn't really that tall these days) and I've got a wife and 2 kids. So we're looking for a family car that's comfy, can do a bit of everything, drives properly (so a 6 was the minimum) and is well kitted out.

The short list was...
Kluger - because there were some good reviews
Outback 3.0 - for the build quality plus a v6
XR6/Fairmont - big family car basic/luxury
Territory TS/Ghia - Set up for families who want a bit of everything basic/luxury
SV6/Calais - big family car basic/luxury

Popped into the dealers in Castle Hill - so I didn't get to look at the Outback.

Looked first at the Fords. The XR6/Fairmont disappointed - very chunky inside, not as much room as expected, huge centre hump, very high dashboard. Didn't really like Fairmont Ghia interior either. Maybe I'm not old enough:-)

The Territory was an instant hit with the family - VERY well laid out. I don't think enough credence is made for the differences between tha falcon and the Territory. They are extremely different despite being the same in many ways. The space available is massive by comparison 3 cm wider, 4cm more max legroom for the driver, 16cm more max legroom in the rear. For my height I had no probs getting comfy in ANY of the seats. The rear seats were much better than I'd read about in reviews. Everything worked really well and seemed clean and un-cluttered. Very good first impression so this car will definitely get a further look - looked at TX 5 and 7 seat models and TS 5 seat. My wife likes the non body-colour bumpers so that changes pricing a bit.

Went then to the Toyota dealer. Looked at the Kluger. Definitely appeared smaller. Lot's of little storage spaces - mostly useless. Some nifty design ideas and better execution than Territory - arm rests, drinks holders in rear, drinks holder covers. Daggy dashboard - what is it with Toyota interiors?? The I sat in the back seat - too low for me, not fun. Then I sat in the driver seat, moved it back and whoops "Is that as far as it goes?". I don't fit in a Kluger and I'm only 6'1" - what's the go with this?? This has never been mentioned in any review I've read. This is clear proof that the reviews are not up to scratch. Stuff that I spot in 15 minutes doesn't get a mention in an in-depth review. The Kluger is off the list now for something real simple :-(

Went to Holden. No VZ SV6 or Calais but they did have a number of other VZ's to look at. Since I was only looking at the interior this wasn't an issue. Much more comfortable in the Commodores than the falcon, although too many buttons. Drivers legs slightly to the right - have to see what that's like when I drive it. Very clean interior otherwise but still not 100% on the black headlining in the Calais. Leather seats nice though. Commodore's still on the short list.

So now my short list is Territory TS/Ghia and SV6/Calais. Plus I need to quickly look at the Outback although having seen bigger cars I think it may not make it to my short list.

Summary then. Forget the magazine reviews were they compare completely different vehicles - they're completely meaningless. Get in the cars and do normal things with it like getting in and out, putting stuff in the back, sitting in it and touching buttons. You'll be surprised at how different car companies design stuff.

The Territory was MUCH better than I expected although driving the thing could change that - it is big. The Falcons were not as workable as a family car as I expected. The Kluger was an oversized Corolla 4WD. It looked cheap in places and the luxury model was hideous inside. And still designed for Japanese sized people. The Commodore was quite neat and will definitely warrant another look - very different however to a Territory which seemed like a very new design - very open and airy inside which I like.
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Old 09-12-2004, 16:34   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulv
.......
The Territory was MUCH better than I expected although driving the thing could change that - it is big.
.......
Paulv,

Glad you liked the Territory so far.

I think you'll love it even more after having a drive. I was pretty well researched regards what it offered and what Ford were promising but actually driving one is what really impressed me (and my wife) on the car. She actually insisited I just GET ONE!

It'll be here in about 2 weeks (TS AWD).
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Old 09-12-2004, 17:32   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Good to see you have sourced and tested out your options...as opposed to people who buy for the brand. As long as you get a car that suits your needs and you are happy with then congrats.

I was interested with your comment re: the dash being high on the Falcon...I am short and never noticed anything like that in the few I have been in.
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Old 09-12-2004, 18:35   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Re the dash height - I spent 13 years in a VL commodore and the last 6 in my horrible TR Magna (family heirloom unfortunately) and the overall dash height is fairly low in both cars. You can see all of the bonnet from a normal seating position without a big chunk of plastic in front of you. In the Falcon the top of the main dash, ignoring the instrument cowl, is very high. It doesn't affect your line of sight but gives a more claustrophobic feel.

From earlier Territory write-ups I seem to remember that the seating height was raised by more than the dash height which means that from the front seats the dash is lower. Sitting in a Territory I was real comfortable with the position of the dash, sitting in a Falcon was VERY different in feel. If anything I'm in the lower-is-better school, like the earlier Honda's (eg the Prelude) that had a very low dash - The front windscreen was completely visible. Sitting in the back of the Falcon you see a letter-box view out the front - not real comfortable even though I don't have claustrophobia. This is stuff that just doesn't get mentioned in reviews.
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Old 09-12-2004, 19:07   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Paulv,

Next step.. Book a Terri for sleep over at your place.

I was a Commodore owner, no regrets with the new TS Territory..

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Old 09-12-2004, 20:50   #6 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

As everybody says, just drive it Paulv. It is one incredible motor car, very chuckable (I grew up on Minis and the motor industry so I know a chuckable car), smooth as silk, dead quiet, glides over dirt tracks, well appointed. I used to own a Rangie and I would rate the Terri better than it (as a car, not as an off-roader of course!). The worst thing about the Territory is that my wife used to be happy for me to drive her around in the Commodore, now I can't get her out of the drivers seat in the Terri. (Fortunately the other seats are great - I'm 6'3" - so its pretty good being a passenger too.) Its that sort of car, very friendly, very forgiving and great fun to drive. If you need a family waggon nothing under a hundred grand comes near it. Don't hesitate, get on the waiting list.
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Old 09-12-2004, 22:05   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Good comments guys. I'd like to see a Ghia before I get overly committed though. Maybe I can get the Ghia RWD as a test-drive. The local dealer has noted that the Ghia has been extremely popular - hence the reason he had none in the yard. The ghia looks like very good value over the TS for the items it has included. The TS fabric in the car yard already looked a bit grubby. I've had light coloured fabric seats before and they do get rather grubby - and cannot easily be cleaned. Leather may be the way to go and that's only avail in the Ghia.

The main intent of the tyre-kicking exercise was to make sure that I was comparing apples with apples (from my perspective of course) which was succesful in identifying a range of issues that you cannot read from company web sites or magazine reviews. The exercise was a success then in trimming our short list for test drives and better understanding our needs. So for very little cost either in $ or time I will make a better purchasing decision down the track.
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Old 09-12-2004, 22:22   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulv
So for very little cost either in $ or time I will make a better purchasing decision down the track.
Nice to get an objective review from someone not particularly brand loyal...and from my own test drive, its the driving which is even better...
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Old 09-14-2004, 19:50   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulv
Re the dash height - I spent 13 years in a VL commodore and the last 6 in my horrible TR Magna (family heirloom unfortunately) and the overall dash height is fairly low in both cars. You can see all of the bonnet from a normal seating position without a big chunk of plastic in front of you. In the Falcon the top of the main dash, ignoring the instrument cowl, is very high. It doesn't affect your line of sight but gives a more claustrophobic feel.
Fair enough..I obviously haven't been taking notice in other cars/or it doesn't affect me.
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Old 09-14-2004, 21:19   #10 (permalink)
PaulV
 
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Thumbs up Re: Tyre-kicking First Impressions

Just an update - got a call from Power Ford today re my online query. Really good chat by a normal human being. I sort of expected an aggresive salesman but instead got a rational thinking person. I'm a bit cynical about car salespeople at the best of times :-)

Good chat about TX/TS/Ghia comparison and answered one question without me asking which is Leather on the TX/TS. They do an aftermarket leather that works out quite cost effective - ie TS with leather and some accesories is still quite a bit cheaper than Ghia which may be an option for me.

Also he was very open about stock and general operations of their business. Not quite a total open-book business but MUCH more than I've experienced from other dealers. All-up a very positive experience - which also helps in the purchasing decision - after all if you get treated like s**t at a dealer then you are not very likely to purchase there.
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