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.