A fun, safe, practical and solid car!
Front under car plastic shield lost a mounting screw, making it fall down at speed... easily fixed.
Water pump replaced at 100,000km.
Rear plastic light strip on the boot has cracked with exposure and collects water, which it deposits on your head when the boot is opened. A replacement part is $600, so I put up with it.
I bought this car from my Grandmother to replace my 1992 model. As such I know its full history, and how it has been driven and looked after its whole life.
The car has been 100% reliable in both city and country driving, completing multiple 1000km plus trips faultlessly.
One of the reasons this car appealed to me was it's 4 star safety rating, 5 headrests and 5 lap sash seat belts to make it safer to have passengers.
The 2L engine is not overly powerful, but easily copes with normal driving; however load the car with 5 people and a boot load of luggage on a hot day with the aircon pumping, and it does start to struggle.
Overtaking performance is alright if you plan ahead. Much better from below 90kph when the transmission will kick down to 2nd gear and hold it to 110kph... if you try from even 91kph, you only get third gear and rather less acceleration. Changing manually doesn't help either.
Also, the transmission is set for economy rather than performance in town, and can sometimes try to hold 3rd gear at roundabouts, giving an unnecessary jerk when accelerating out of roundabouts, or a distinct lack of power when aiming for a gap in traffic. This is solved using the power mode on the transmission or changing manually. Country hills are easily taken in stride with the transmission changing down to 3rd. The larger 2.5L engine in higher models would solve the power struggle.
Cruise control makes for relaxing country cruising, and you don't need to stress about hills when the car does the thinking for you! The engine is incredibly smooth at all revs, and sounds absolutely wonderful when wrung out in the lower gears.
Visibility in all directions is exceptional. The front pillars are thin, preventing the blind spot common in newer cars. The center rear headrest occludes rear vision when in place, but you learn to look around it, and it does block the headlights of the car behind at night which can be handy!! There is storage for it when not in use (put it in upside down).
Economy is good but not exceptional. 8L/100km in the country regardless of load (ie even with 5 people and a full boot and aircon) and 10-11.5L/100km in town depending on load, aircon and traffic.
Services can be expensive; budget about $250 for a minor service and $500-1000 for a major service (like 100,000km)
The cabin is spacious and comfortable for 4 adults, but the middle seat in the back is a tad narrow. Ample leg room though, better than the next model. The outer rear seatbelts have a clever feature that when fully extended, they ratchet the whole way back in to hold child seats in place better. Unfortunately they are not too long, and larger passengers find that they regularly lock when they lean forward, trapping them in the seat and getting progressively tighter with every movement. This can be fixed by removing the seatbelt and retracting it, then putting it back on, but this can be dangerous whilst driving.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive over long distances, if a tad flat and lacking in rearward travel for people much over 6 foot.
The boot holds heaps of luggage and is sensibly shaped for fitting large items. The seats fold flat (with complicated head rest removal) to fit wardrobes or beds in the back. A single mattress just fits with the front seats moved slightly forward. The interior ambiance is peasant, light and airy. The wood grain dash adds a bit of class.
The stereo is fantastic with very clear sound, but the aerial incorporated into the back window is not good at finding reception in the country.
The car handles exceptionally well on bitumen and dirt roads and the ride is always smooth. Large bumps are absorbed without fuss, and heavy loads don't unduly affect the ride or handling.
The AWD system is perfect for beaches and dirt roads, but the lack of ground clearance means you can't attempt anything more challenging. The nose is prone to scraping on steeper driveways.
The car is very stable at speed and not susceptible to cross winds. It is maneuverable at all speeds and particularly fun to drive on twisty roads.
It is quite narrow making parking a breeze, even in tight spots, and the turning circle is relatively tight for the size of the car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd May, 2010