The Holden VF Commodore SV6 was named Australia's Best Cars large car of the year,
The Holden VF Commodore SV6 was named Australia's Best Cars large car of the year,

Australia's Best Cars 2013 awards revealed

HOLDEN'S VF Commodore, the Mazda6 and Renault's pint-size Clio are among the big winners at the annual Australia's Best Cars awards.

The awards are run by Australian Motoring Clubs, including NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT, with a 12-strong judging panel evaluating a range of criteria, including handling, safety, security and value.

The VF Commodore trumped The Peugeot 508 diesel and Toyota's Aurion to land the large car title. Ford's Falcon didn't make it into the top three.

In Australia's biggest selling small car segment, the Hyundai i30 Active was named the victor - with the volume-selling Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla both failing to make the final shortlist.

But Mazda was celebrating the result in the medium-car segment. The new Mazda6 Touring sedan trumped the Toyota Camry.

The Mazda6 was also voted the car the panel of 12 judges were most likely to buy from a field of 45 finalists in the 15 awards categories.

There were some surprises among the results, with the recently released Renault Clio claiming the win in the light car segment.

When it came to the performance realm, the new Volkswagen Golf GTI reigned supreme in the sports cars under $50,000 segment. The German hot hatch proved too good for the Ford ST Fiesta and Focus pairing.

For those with deeper pockets, the BMW 1 Series M135i was named best sports car over $50,000 ahead of two Mercedes-Benz pocket rockets - the A 45 AMG and the A 250 Sport.

And for the first time the awards included four-wheel drive dual cabs, where the Ford Ranger XL proved triumphant ahead of its twin under the skin, the Mazda BT-50.

Here's the top results:

LIGHT

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Renault Clio TCe120 Expression           880

2.    Hyundai Accent Active                                870

3.    Ford Fiesta Ambiente                                  864

The last time Renault won an Australia's Best Cars award was in 2002, in the then named Small Car category, with its Clio Expression. This year, it was the new, 1.2-litre Clio Expression TCe120 that wowed the judges with a combination of performance, standard features and value for money, beating some big name and popular brands in the process.

A standout is the car's ability to interact with its driver and passengers via an easy to navigate, 18cm (7-inch) touch screen display, mounted within easy reach. The screen connects the user to the hands-free Bluetooth and audio streaming functions, as well as a media navigation system supported by a dedicated web interface to make it easy to update mapping information - a coup for vehicles in this category.

On-road is where the Clio also shines, with surprising flexibility and performance from the willing 1.2-litre engine and six-speed auto. Its handling, poise and ride, for a vehicle in this price range, are exceptional.

Individuality is assured with the Clio able to be customised with roof graphics, exterior door mirror covers, rear panel skirting and grille bars. The interior can also be changed with different coloured door panels and upholstery fabric.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $22,772

Criteria out of 10 - Renault Clio TCe120 Expression

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

5C

Safety

6C

Performance

8M

Depreciation

6M

Environment

10C

Ride

9M

Running Costs

9H

Comfort

9M

Handling

9M

Fuel Consumption

9C

Space

6L

Braking

8H

Warranty and dealer access

7H

Practicality

6M

Smoothness and Quietness

9L

Insurance

5L

Ergonomics

8M

 

 

Standard Features

8H

Build and Finish

8H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SMALL UNDER $35,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Hyundai i30 Active                                   880

2.    VW Golf 90 TSI Comfortline                       812

3.  Kia Cerato Si                                               800                             

Small cars are now Australia's most popular, outselling most other segments by more than two to one. And the winner again this year is Hyundai's base model i30 Active.

The i30 has proven to be a solid, value-for-money package that has the right ingredients to satisfy the majority of small car buyers. Its competitive insurance and maintenance costs are well supported by a low starting price, generous five-year/unlimited km warranty and a broad dealer network.

The i30 is particularly easy to drive and live with on a daily basis and Hyundai's growing reputation for a high standard of build and finish is evident throughout the car.

 

Supportive front seats with a good range of adjustment, and height and reach for the steering column, mean most people will find a comfortable driving position. In keeping with the car's size, rear head and leg room is adequate, rather than abundant.

 

Its on-road ability is not class-leading, but has been tailored to suit the requirements of everyday driving. The 1.8-litre petrol engine produces a useful 110kW of power and 178Nm of torque. It is an engine that likes to rev and the six-speed auto is set up accordingly, so the i30 is rarely found wanting. Fuel economy is 7.1 litres/100km (combined ADR average).

 

Indicative Drive Away Price: $26,404

 

Criteria out of 10 - Hyundai i30 Active

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

7C

Safety

7C

Performance

7M

Depreciation

8M

Environment

9C

Ride

8M

Running Costs

9H

Comfort

8M

Handling

7M

Fuel Consumption

7C

Space

8L

Braking

8H

Warranty and dealer access

9H

Practicality

8M

Smoothness and Quietness

7L

Insurance

7L

Ergonomics

7M

 

 

Standard Features

5M

Build and Finish

8H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SMALL OVER $35,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Audi A3 Sportback TFSI COD                902

2.    Mercedes-Benz A 180                                866

3.    BMW 116i                                                   856

Audi has introduced a new cylinder on demand (COD) model to its A3 Sportback range. COD has the car operating on four cylinders in most driving conditions, but drops it to two when only minimum power is required.

So, when cruising along on flat, straight highways or country roads, it does just that - cruises. Which is how the A3 COD comes to score an official figure of 4.7 litres/100km, making it more efficient than all other petrol-turbo vehicles in this class.

While its score falls down ever so slightly against competitors in running and repair costs, the COD technology means owners save money as they drive. And for those who turn over their cars regularly, the A3 also holds its value well. Then there's Audi's attention to build and finish, and this model is no exception.

It is also top in class for ergonomics. All instruments are legible, easy to use and understand, and well positioned.

The seats are comfortably supportive and, despite being a small car, the A3 also has useful cabin space. The 1.4-litre, turbo-petrol four-cylinder performs well and awards judges were impressed by the A3's ride and handling. It also sits securely on the road and is compliant and comfortable over most road surfaces.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $43,346

Criteria out of 10 - Audi A3 Sportback TFSI COD

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

8H

Safety

7C

Performance

8H

Depreciation

9M

Environment

10C

Ride

9H

Running Costs

6M

Comfort

8M

Handling

9H

Fuel Consumption

9C

Space

8L

Braking

8H

Warranty and dealer access

3H

Practicality

7M

Smoothness and Quietness

8L

Insurance

3L

Ergonomics

8M

 

 

Standard Features

5M

Build and Finish

9H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

MEDIUM UNDER $50,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Mazda 6 Touring Sedan             836

2.    Toyota Camry Hybrid H                830

3.    VW Jetta 118 TSI                        824

Redesigned from the ground up and incorporating significant improvement, the new Mazda 6 Touring Sedan proved unbeatable in this year's awards, taking both its category and being named the Judges' Choice.

It excelled particularly in the areas of design and function and on the road where, with a tranche of class-high scores, it was deemed by judges to be a standout.

Inside, the design, quality and sheer plushness of finish are good enough to compare with more expensive European vehicles. You get plenty for your money, including push-button engine start, leather seat trim, satellite navigation and powered leather front seats (which are comfortable and supportive).

The new model is 130mm longer (now 4865mm), and 45mm wider (now 1840mm) and, as a result, there is enough leg-room to comfortably carry four adult passengers. The 438-litre boot is particularly spacious.

Under the bonnet is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine that showcases Mazda's SKYACTIVE fuel saving technologies, resulting in an ADR combined fuel average of 6.6 litres/100km. While not designed specifically as a sporty car, the Mazda 6 is delightfully nimble with plenty of power and a smooth six-speed auto.

It won the Judges' Choice not only for emotive appeal, but also because it ticks the boxes that make it a benchmark car in its class and one that will influence the direction of competitors. To be considered for this award, it must have the highest safety score, low fuel consumption with a green vehicle guide rating of 3.5 stars or more and be priced below the luxury car tax threshold.

It must also be the most complete package, delivering desirability in its style and presentation, along with innovation in its engineering. It must be reliable, with smart functionality, good driving dynamics and it has to be affordable.

Finally, it must be the obvious response to the inevitable question posed to any credentialed motoring critic: 'What car would you buy?'. For the Australia's Best Cars judges, this was it.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $41,200

Criteria out of 10 - Mazda 6 Touring Sedan

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

5H

Safety

6C

Performance

9M

Depreciation

4M

Environment

8C

Ride

9M

Running Costs

4M

Comfort

9M

Handling

9H

Fuel Consumption

7C

Space

9M

Braking

9H

Warranty and dealer access

4H

Practicality

7M

Smoothness and Quietness

8M

Insurance

5L

Ergonomics

9M

 

 

Standard Features

7H

Build and Finish

9H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

 

MEDIUM OVER $50,000

Winners                                                                    Score

1.    BMW 3 Series 320i                                               1050

2.    Lexus IS 300h Luxury                                             1032

3.    Mercedes-Benz C Class C250 Avantgarde 1014

BMW has always positioned itself as a car for the driver and it was in the on-road performance area that the 320i had the edge on the other contenders.

Its balanced handling over a wide range of conditions, albeit with a slightly firmer ride than some, made the rear-wheel-drive 320i one of the best in class.

The quality of materials and finish is world class and, although it is priced competitively, the only shortcoming of the 320i is the level of standard features. They are off the pace compared to the 'no boxes to tick' approach of Lexus.

The 320i's frugal 6.0 litres/100km fuel consumption is best in class, but it also manages to be up front of the pack on performance from the 2.0-litre, turbo petrol four-cylinder matched with smooth, eight-speed auto.

Eight airbags, brake assist, cornering brake control, traction control, stability control, safety body shell and active protection (which provides belt tensioning and closes windows if a crash is imminent) combine for top marks in safety.

Some people will buy a BMW for the badge and bragging rights, but with the 320i, the virtues of good space, power, handling and fuel economy also present a compelling case.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $66, 339

Criteria out of 10 - BMW 3 Series 320i

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

7H

Safety

7C

Performance

8H

Depreciation

7M

Environment

9C

Ride

8H

Running Costs

6L

Comfort

8H

Handling

9C

Fuel Consumption

8H

Space

7M

Braking

9C

Warranty and dealer access

3H

Practicality

9M

Smoothness and Quietness

9H

Insurance

6L

Ergonomics

9H

 

 

Standard Features

3H

Build and Finish

9C

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

LARGE UNDER $60,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Holden Commodore VF SV6                  1056

2.    Peugeot 508 Hdi Allure                               1044                           

3.    Toyota Aurion AT-X                                    1004

The 'ultimate evolution' of a range that started in 1978 has elevated Holden's Commodore VF - in the form of the SV6 sedan - to an Australia's Best Cars win for the first time.

An improvement over previous generation Commodores in just about every area, the VF earned a class-leading score for ergonomics and finished equal top for warranty/dealer access, safety, environment, build/finish quality, performance, handling and braking.

A sports body-kit, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Sportec/cloth combination seat trim underpin the SV6 moniker, but it's what's out of sight that adds street cred.

Holden's 210kW, 350Nm 3.6-litre V6 is a responsive unit, particularly when paired with a six-speed auto that shows improved kick-down response and shift smoothness.

The SV6 boasts the FE suspension of its big brothers, the SS and SS-V. Set firm, it endows the SV6 with a handling competency that belies a car of this size, though the trade off is in ride quality that is not as supple as the best in category.

Inside the SV6 is a comfy, accommodating place to be, particularly for the driver. The front sports seats have powered adjustment, including lumbar, and are compliant yet supportive. 

Indicative Drive Away Price: $42,066                                                                  

Criteria out of 10 - Holden Commodore VF SV6

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

9H

Safety

7C

Performance

9H

Depreciation

8M

Environment

8C

Ride

7H

Running Costs

5H

Comfort

8C

Handling

9H

Fuel Consumption

3H

Space

8C

Braking

8H

Warranty and dealer access

5H

Practicality

7H

Smoothness and Quietness

9M

Insurance

5L

Ergonomics

9M

 

 

Standard Features

5H

Build and Finish

8H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

LARGE OVER $60,000

Winners                                                                    Score

1.    Lexus GS350 F Sport                                          1064

2.    Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid                  1052

3.    Lexus GS 450h Sport Luxury                                  1044

Where the rubber hits the road at the premium end of the large car segment, the Lexus GS350 F Sport has fought off the European brigade to claim consecutive Australia's Best Cars titles.

Around town, the F Sport displays impeccable road manners and class-leading ergonomics. Passengers are treated to premium, leather-wrapped seats, with front occupants enjoying heated and cooled seats with multiple electric adjustments offering great support.

A standard Heads Up Display provides digital speed readout and directional arrows when the navigation system is programmed, allowing the driver to remain focused on the road ahead.

Leaving the boardroom and the city behind, the Lexus shows its other side. With adjustable adaptive suspension, dynamic rear steering and paddle-shift operated six-speed auto driving through the rear wheels, the F Sport turns into a bend-loving beast.

Powered by a 233kW, 3.5-litre direct-injection V6 that delivers a racy induction snarl when provoked, the GS350 would satisfy all but the most hard-core sports car drivers. A larger brake package is standard.

Safety and standard features are extensive.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $106,923

Criteria out of 10 - Lexus GS350 F Sport

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

4M

Safety

8C

Performance

9H

Depreciation

4M

Environment

8C

Ride

9C

Running Costs

6L

Comfort

9C

Handling

10H

Fuel Consumption

2M

Space

7H

Braking

9H

Warranty and dealer access

5H

Practicality

7M

Smoothness and Quietness

8C

Insurance

4L

Ergonomics

9C

 

 

Standard Features

7H

Build and Finish

9C

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

PEOPLE MOVERS

Finalists                                                        Score

1.    Hyundai iMax                                            926

2.    Toyota Prius V                                         916

3.    Peugeot 5008 Active                                894

No winner has been named in the People Mover category in 2013. The iMax topped the score sheet, but is unable to be crowned the winner because its safety rating is below what's expected from Australia's Best Cars.

The Hyundai has won the class five times before, but it only has a four-star ANCAP safety rating, preventing it being awarded a trophy in 2013 due to new, more stringent criteria that requires a five-star rating.

The iMax meets the objectives of functional and practical transport for the larger family and at an affordable price.

It makes easy work of seating all eight occupants, yet is still able to swallow plenty of luggage while maintaining good head and leg room. Three child restraint anchor points are provided in the middle row of seats, but none for row three.

The 2.5-litre turbo-diesel with five-speed auto is the best choice, offering extra torque and better fuel economy (9.0 litres/100km) over the petrol version. On-road, the iMax's physical size starts to count against it, mustering only an average score for handling and the bulk will also be noted when it comes to parking.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $47,614

Criteria out of 10 - Hyundai iMax

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

5H

Safety

5C

Performance

7M

Depreciation

6M

Environment

5C

Ride

8H

Running Costs

8H

Comfort

9C

Handling

6M

Fuel Consumption

3H

Space

10C

Braking

7H

Warranty and dealer access

9H

Practicality

8C

Smoothness and Quietness

7L

Insurance

6L

Ergonomics

9C

 

 

Standard Features

2H

Build and Finish

7M

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SPORTS UNDER $50,000

Winners                                                        Score

1. Volkswagen Golf GTI                               812

2.    Ford Fiesta ST                                            796

3.    Ford Focus ST                                            764

Just when you think the current Golf can't be bettered, Volkswagen goes and releases a new generation - number seven.

The all-new 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol four-cylinder churns out an impressive 162kW and 350Nm - that's an improvement of 7kW and 70Nm. The new model is also faster than the old but, importantly, it's also more efficient. Official fuel consumption figures drop by a litre to 6.2 litres/100km for the six-speed manual.

On the open road, the engine delivers its best in effortless fashion, powering the GTI along at highway speeds without raising a sweat. Around town, the Golf is equally at home. Turbo lag is imperceptible, there's no hesitation or jerkiness from the DSG, and the braking capability is way beyond what the average driver will ever need.

The suspension and handling have a real track-tuned feel, and ride can be a little harsh over really nasty surfaces, but that's the trade off for such composure and balance when you up the ante.

Standard features and ergonomics scores are class leading. The cabin is - as expected -right up at the pointy end of the class, too. VW delivers that signature feeling of solidity and build quality with near faultless ergonomics and comfort.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $46,092

Criteria out of 10 - Volkswagen Golf GTI

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

2M

Safety

7C

Performance

8C

Depreciation

5L

Environment

9C

Ride

9M

Running Costs

4M

Comfort

8H

Handling

8C

Fuel Consumption

7M

Ergonomics

9H

Braking

7C

Warranty and dealer access

4H

Build and Finish

8H

Smoothness and Quietness

8L

Insurance

6L

 

 

 

 

Standard Features

8H

 

 

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SPORTS OVER $50,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.      BMW 1 Series M135i              870

2.      Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG                   854

3.      Mercedes-Benz A 250 Sport                 834

Such is the competence of its design and function qualities and on the road prowess, that the M135i, metaphorically speaking, took the chequered flag after starting towards the back of the grid as an average to below-average value for money proposition.

The M135i is absolutely single-minded in the way it goes in pursuit of peak power of 235kW at 5800rpm and beyond to a 7000rpm redline. An optional eight-speed sport auto works intuitively in extracting the best of the silky-smooth, turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Peak torque is a brutish 450Nm, administered across a broad spread of 1250-5000rpm. Claimed 0-100km/h is 4.9 seconds.

Driving Experience Control enables adjustment of drivetrain settings: select Sport Plus mode for pursuit of fastest lap at a track day, Sport to enjoy a sinuous mountain road, Comfort when highway cruising, or EcoPro when commuting to work.

The concept of putting power to the ground through the rear wheels, leaving the fronts to simply point and steer, might be simple, but in cars like this it makes for the purest of driving experiences.

Retardation from the standard M Sport brake package is strong and indefatigable.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $71,721

Criteria out of 10 - BMW 1 Series M135i

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

6M

Safety

7C

Performance

10C

Depreciation

7L

Environment

8C

Ride

9M

Running Costs

2L

Comfort

10H

Handling

9C

Fuel Consumption

5M

Ergonomics

9H

Braking

9C

Warranty and dealer access

3H

Build and Finish

9C

Smoothness and Quietness

9L

Insurance

5L

 

 

 

 

Standard Features

6H

 

 

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SUVS UNDER $40,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Subaru Forester 2.5i                                926

2.    Kia Sportage Platinum                                 912

3.    Mazda CX-5 Sport Maxx 4x4                       902

In 2000, the Subaru Forester won the Best Recreational Vehicle category in our Australia's Best Cars awards and went on to take honours again in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

This fourth generation Forester was launched in early 2013 and designers looked to enhance and build on the model's strong foundations of safety, everyday drivability, and on and off-road prowess. The result is equal class leading scores for practicality and environment and an above average score for space.

Our winner is powered by Subaru's larger 2.5-litre boxer petrol engine matched to a CVT transmission, which delivers an ADR combined average fuel consumption of 8.1 litres/100km. Smaller 2.0-litre petrol and diesel versions are available for those seeking the absolute best in fuel economy.

Subaru's CVT one of the better versions going around and the new Forester scores well for smoothness and quietness, normally the Achilles heel for this type of transmission.

On road, the Forester has always been a standout and its strengths lie in its car-like feel in ride and handling. That hasn't compromised its off-road ability and, with 220mm of ground clearance, the Forester can tackle off-road scenarios that would stop many in their tracks.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $36,805

Criteria out of 10 - Subaru Forester 2.5i

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

5C

Safety

7C

Performance

8M

Depreciation

5M

Environment

9C

Ride

8M

Running Costs

6H

Comfort

7H

Handling

8H

Fuel Consumption

5C

Space

7M

Braking

8H

Warranty and dealer access

4H

Practicality

9H

Smoothness and Quietness

8L

Insurance

7L

Ergonomics

8H

Off-road ability

9M

Standard Features

6M

Build and Finish

8H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

SUVS OVER $45,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander AWD      942

2.    Kia Sorento Platinum                                   918

3.    Ford Territory TX 2WDm                            904

The key to Santa Fe's appeal is that it is consistently good in almost every aspect of the buying process, long-term ownership and general driving ability. It's an attractively styled, practical medium-size seven-seat SUV that is well suited to normal family duties.

The Highlander's long list of standard luxury features includes leather trim with heated front and centre row seats and dual-zone air-conditioning with rear vents and separate fan-speed control for the third row. There is plenty of versatility, with a myriad of seat folding and sliding combinations. The simplicity of the third-row seat folding at the pull of a lever is impressive, as it stows flat to extend an already useful cargo space.   

The 2.2-litre, turbo-diesel engine pumps out a useful 145kW of power at 3000rpm, but even more importantly it develops a hearty 436Nm of torque at a relatively low 1800rpm.

Coupled with an efficient six-speed automatic transmission, Santa Fe pulls strongly from low speeds for smooth and progressive operation around town, while it cruises comfortably on the highway and does a good job off-road. At the same time, it's still relatively fuel efficient, with an ADR combined figure of 7.3 litres/100km.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $55,989

Criteria out of 10 - Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander AWD

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

6H

Safety

6C

Performance

8M

Depreciation

5M

Environment

6C

Ride

8M

Running Costs

6M

Comfort

8H

Handling

8H

Fuel Consumption

6M

Space

8M

Braking

7H

Warranty and dealer access

9H

Practicality

9H

Smoothness and Quietness

8M

Insurance

7L

Ergonomics

8H

Off-road ability

9M

Standard Features

9H

Build and Finish

8H

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

LUXURY SUVS OVER $60,000

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI                  1140

2.    Mercedes-Benz ML 350CDI Bluetec           1122                           

3.    Range Rover Sport TDV6               1074

Volkswagen has done it again, with the Touareg V6 TDI eclipsing the field.

The electrically adjustable driver's seat ensures people of all shapes and sizes won't have any trouble being comfortable. There's plenty of adjustability built into the second row, too, meaning back seat passengers with longer legs can be accommodated easily, and luggage space can be increased or decreased as needs dictate.

The Touareg's cabin is quiet at any speed and controls are nicely laid out, with sensible access to their main functionality - a point reflected in its class-leading ergonomics score.

A comprehensive safety inventory ensures Touareg is a sensible and safe family hauler. Items include nine airbags, ABS (with off-road function), ESC, hill hold start assist and hill descent control.

Touareg is seriously capable off road. Its 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system is exceptional and the adjustable air suspension system delivers both comfort and clearance.

The V6 TDI engine is a powerhouse. There's 180kW on offer, along with 550Nm of peak torque delivered from a mere 2000rpm. It's fuel efficient, too.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $86,603

Criteria out of 10 - Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Pricing

8M

Safety

7C

Performance

8H

Depreciation

9H

Environment

7C

Ride

9C

Running Costs

4L

Comfort

9C

Handling

8H

Fuel Consumption

6M

Space

7H

Braking

9H

Warranty and dealer access

4H

Practicality

8H

Smoothness and Quietness

8H

Insurance

7L

Ergonomics

9H

Off-road ability

8M

Standard Features

7C

Build and Finish

8C

 

 

ALL-TERRAIN 4WD

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Land Rover Discovery4 TDV6                1108

2.    Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo dsI   1082

3.    Toyota Landcruiser Prado GXL                   974

Despite heightened competition, Land Rover's Discovery took home an Australia's Best Cars trophy for a record ninth time in 2013.

The Discovery's overall build and finish quality was again best in class, continuing the company's long-held tradition of bringing the interior of a luxury car to one of the most capable off-roaders on the market.

The most important trait in a vehicle in this category is serious off-road ability. Here, the 'Disco' boasts a full-time, four-wheel-drive system that benefits from a central electronic differential and separate low range transfer case, as well as adjustable air suspension and proven Terrain Response drive mode system.

On road, the air suspension again comes to the fore, offering an extraordinarily supple ride that somehow also manages to keep cornering roll to a minimum. When you bear in mind that it weighs nearly 2.6 tonne, the Discovery's on-road composure and handling are astounding.

A smooth, eight-speed ZF automatic transmission - introduced in 2013 - brings out the best of the Discovery's twin-sequential, turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $75,469

Criteria out of 10 - Land Rover Discovery4 TDV6

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Off the Road

Rating

Pricing

5H

Safety

7C

Performance

9H

Eng. Gearing and Traction

10C

Depreciation

4M

Environment

5C

Ride

10M

Clearances and articulation

10C

Running Costs

4L

Comfort

10H

Handling

9M

 

 

Fuel Consumption

4H

Space

9C

Braking

8H

 

 

Warranty and dealer access

3H

Practicality

9C

Smoothness and Quietness

9L

 

 

Insurance

3L

Ergonomics

9M

 

 

 

 

Standard Features

8H

Build and Finish

9H

 

 

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

4X4 DUAL CAB UTES

Winners                                                        Score

1.    Ford Ranger XL                                        1142

2.    Mazda BT-50 XTR              1094

3.    VW Amarok Highline TDi 420                      1088

In planning its new Ranger, Ford took the opportunity to study its dual cab competitors in such things as shifting the center pillar position for improved vision and rear seat space, opening the rear doors wider for access, and incorporating multiple storage compartments.

The result is a more integrated and accommodating cabin.

A 3.2-litre, five-cylinder turbo-diesel mated to a conventional six-speed auto forms the backbone of the best performing vehicle in the dual-cab lineup. With 470Nm of torque on tap from just 1500rpm, it delivers more pulling power than Toyota's 70 series 4.5-litre V8.

The Ranger's hill climbing capability when loaded, smart 4WD (including switchable low range) and long wheelbase stability make it an ideal vehicle for towing. It has a 3500kg rated towing capability and includes electronic trailer sway control as standard.

In rough terrain, the Ranger also offers excellent ground clearance at 237mm, an 800mm wading depth and good wheel articulation for traction.

The official combined fuel economy figure of 9.2 litres/100km is consistent with the class average.

Indicative Drive Away Price: $52,783

Criteria out of 10 - Ford Ranger XL

Value for Money

Rating

Design and Function

Rating

On the Road

Rating

Off the Road

Rating

Pricing

6M

Safety

7C

Rated Towing

9C

Engine Gearing and Traction

9H

Depreciation

5H

Environment

5C

Payload

7M

Clearances and Articulation

8H

Running Costs

7M

Comfort

7H

Performance

9H

 

 

Fuel Consumption

3H

Space - cabin

 

8H

 

Ride

7M

 

 

Warranty and dealer access

5H

Space - tray

7H

Handling

8H

 

 

Insurance

8L

Practicality

7H

Braking

7H

 

 

Standard Features

7H

Ergonomics

7M

Smoothness and Quietness

7M

 

 

 

 

Build and Finish

8M

 

 

 

 

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.Australia's Best Cars 2013



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