Backing a win­ner

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - WHICH CAR? -

THE QUES­TION

I have been a Toyota driver for the past 26 years, Camry to Avalon to Au­rion — all great re­li­able cars. But I have de­vel­oped a mi­nor lower back prob­lem and am now look­ing for a higher-rid­ing ve­hi­cle for eas­ier ac­cess, with com­fort­able seat­ing and the boot space for golf clubs with­out the need for drop­ping the back seats. I am look­ing at the Volvo XC60, Subaru Out­back, Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger. Do you know when the new Kluger ar­rives in 2017?

Chester Ro­manowski

The Volvo is a smaller car than the rest and so will have a smaller boot. You’ll have no trou­ble fit­ting a set of clubs in the Out­back and that goes for the CX-9 and Kluger too, with the third row of seats down.

CHOICES

Volvo XC60 D4 Ki­netic auto, from $56,990

It’s the en­try model, with a 2.0litre turbo diesel that de­liv­ers 400Nm of torque and re­turns an as­tound­ing 4.2L/100km. The in­te­rior is well laid out with an Ikea feel to it. Con­trols are large and easy to use, al­though it re­quires a bit of dig­ging to find some items in the menu. We es­pe­cially like the cus­tomis­able dash dis­play with three styles to chose from. Our favourite is Sport with its large dig­i­tal speedo. Warranty is three years/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres. Ser­vice to­tals $2135 for three years/45,000km.

Subaru Out­back 2.5i auto, from $35,990

This one sure has changed over the years. Looks more like an SUV these days, rather than the orig­i­nal high-rid­ing wagon. The in­te­rior is more plush and for an­other $2500 there’s the op­tion of a fuel sav­ing diesel. The petrol model is rated at 7.3L/100km. Subaru’s CVT is among the best but these trans­mis­sions are not to every­one’s lik­ing. Warranty is three years/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres. Ser­vice to­tals $2202 for three years/75,000km.

Mazda CX-9 2.5 Sport auto, $42,490

A fi­nal­ist in our Car of the Year, it’s a big seven seater and per­haps too large for your pur­poses. The cabin is quiet, with lit­tle road noise but it’s all generic Mazda. Shame you can’t get a diesel, be­cause it’s thirsty, as was its pre­de­ces­sor. The turbo four claims 8.4L/100km but is more likely to re­turn about 13.0L in real world driv­ing. Warranty is three years/100,000km. Ser­vice to­tals $2027 for three years/50,000km.

Toyota Kluger 3.5 GX auto, $42,190

An­other large but prac­ti­cal seven-seater, also com­pro­mised by its thirsty petrol en­gine. The up­side: it goes like a scalded cat with 201kW and a six-speed auto. A facelifted Kluger is ex­pected at the end of March, with an up­graded en­gine with di­rect in­jec­tion plus eight­speed auto which in tan­dem should im­prove the fuel fig­ures. Warranty is three years/100,000km. Ser­vice to­tals $1080 for three years/60,000km.

THE VER­DICT

The Out­back gets the nod. Not too big and not too small, it will have all the room you need, costs less than the oth­ers and comes with plenty of safety gear in­clud­ing au­tonomous brak­ing.

VOLVO XC60

MAZDA CX-9

TOYOTAKLUGER

SUBARU OUT­BACK

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