First, I would first like to appreciate the good work you are doing.
I’m looking to settle for a nice SUV that’s worth driving to work daily and one that can be pushed to the limit. I currently drive a 2006 Prado and it has served me quite well I feel a more modern SUV would be better. I am planning to get a top-spec version of the Everest (Titanium) or Fortuner (Crusade). I would appreciate your take on the two.
1. Both are heavyweight SUVs with good suspension but which ride is smoother on highways (for the queen not to be uncomfortable with the body rolls).
2. Tank capacity; I would prefer a larger capacity tank that can cover a greater distance.
3. Ride comfort and luxury.
4. Better off-roader
5. Better seats seven, especially the third row
Also, I’ve seen a couple of Mustangs around but I’m more of an American V8 muscle Dodge Challenger admirer; is there a Dodge showroom in Kenya? The references I get of one on Mombasa Road haven’t yielded anything so far. Maina
1. Well, well, well, what have we here? A query on two cars whose recent iterations I have not driven: the Toyota because Toyotas sell themselves and they don’t need any auto journos criticising them, and the Ford because Ford Kenya (the car outfit, not the political party) for some reason doesn’t want me in their cars at all. That being said, we can make some clever deductions, especially on suspension since both have their suspensions as standout characteristics.
Both vehicles are derivatives of 4WD double-cab pickups. Last week I pointed out that the Ranger is more comfortable than the Hilux because their legs are optimised differently.
The Ford is slightly softer for comfort but the counterweight is handling that can feel a bit marine on tarmac.
The Hilux (and the previous model Fortuner that I did, in fact, drive) have gnarly, crashy and very harsh ride qualities that can you can lose a tongue to if you get particularly aggressive on a rough road and forget to roll back your tongue away from your teeth.
The Hilux/Fortuner is not necessarily “smoother” on tarmac, it is less wallowy, but then again, the stiffness is such that every little imperfection will be felt and the car tends to wander quite a bit.
It is like driving a slammed, stanced, lowered street car on race coilovers. Even a simple sojourn on the smoothest road still feels like driving over a Braille board.
If the queen is averse to body roll, then perhaps the Fortuner is her lot.
2. Both cars come with the same tank size: 0.08 m3 or what we call “80 litres”
3. See 1 above
4. Either will do what the other can, but only with expert drivers. From a novice point of view, the Ford wins. It comes with unique, full-time 4WD gubbins beneath its frock and terrain management software that governs throttle control, traction control and transmission shift points; it actually is not entirely dissimilar to Land Rover’s iconic and game changing Terrain Response II system. The Toyota, on other hand gets part-time 4WD and.... yeah, that’s it.
5. Yes, there is a Dodge showroom in Kenya. It’s at DT Dobie. However, you won’t be finding any Challenger-style muscle cars in there; the closest you can hope for is a Dodge Journey, a seven-seat SUV-shaped pseudo-minivan that err... has no V8 in it. Only a 3.6 litre V6. You also won’t be finding any RHD Challengers anywhere, unless aftermarket conversions have been performed; and these cannot be vouched for with 100 per cent certainty.
The Mustang is as American V8 muscle as the Dodge is, but only if you opt for the 5.0 litre. Around here they sell what they call the “EcoBoost”, a 2.0 litre 300hp version that is all mouth and not enough trousers. I guess this kind of comment is why Ford maintains a certain radius from yours truly, but it is the truth.
It is not exactly limp-wristed with its turbo and 300hp, but the raison d’être of a muscle car is cubic inches. There is no replacement for displacement. Buying the Ecoboost instead of the V8 is like eating egg whites and tossing out the yolk. How vegetarian can one get?
The thing with Imprezas, Premios, VWs ... and the heavy matter of reliability
First, let me take thank you for your in-depth analysis on matters cars. I read your articles regularly.
I’m a resident of Mombasa and would like to buy my first car. Considering safety, consumption, maintenance, comfort and availability of spare parts, which should I consider between the Volkswagen Beetle and the Subaru Impreza? Is there a better option? If so, please feel free to share.
Safety: Impreza with 4WD. Secure handling in a shouty package. The Beetle is not a wild car to drive; far from it, it is a safe understeerer just like a million other FWD cars, and it might be available with 4Motion in higher specs, which will cost more, so the Impreza still wins. As for crash safety, try not to hit anything.
Consumption: the Beetle takes it, but only just. The differences are marginal but there is a temptation to drive an Impreza harder than usual, especially if it comes with a rumbly tailpipe, so by sheer psychological force the Beetle edges forward.
Maintenance: see my earlier comments about German cars and Subarus. They apply here as well.
Comfort: neither here nor there, to be honest. A bog standard Impreza is cushy enough for most tastes; the Beetle is German, which sometimes is synonymous with “comfortable”.
Availability of parts: you people really need to stop asking this. Then again, Beetles are not that many. It might contain the underpinnings from the Golf, but the bodies and interiors are different. You spoke about safety up there, which implies that you are worried about crashing, which in turn implies repairs and replacements of body panels, glasses, lights, bumpers, maybe a dashboard as well when the airbags deploy.... in which case forget the Beetle and consider the Impreza. There are very many of them in salvage yards so parts can be sourced on the cheap. You might have to import a Beetle dashboard or fenders when one of those indisciplined Mombasa matatus does the unthinkable.
I am looking forward to rewarding myself with a car in about three months’ time. I am deeply in love with the Subaru. I need a car with a lot of power, so I don’t mind fuel consumption of up to 2500 cc. But I am very concerned about maintenance costs. Kindly advise on the best option.
Then get a new age Impreza STi. It is a Subaru to start with. It comes with great power and engines of up to 2500cc capacity. Time and again I have said Subarus are made from adamantium and it will take a lot to put one down, so maintenance costs will centre mostly on servicing (OEM spark plugs are a bit pricey) and clutch replacements if you get easily excited by traffic lights or you like to hunt Evos and that one Scirocco that I have heard mentioned once or twice. If you go down the modification path, expect to spend more on maintenance, but you don’t really need to, unless you plan to show up at one of my events with a chip on your shoulder and a point to prove.
I would like to settle for a Subaru Legacy, Toyota Premio or Nissan Teana.
Inky pinky ponky.... Subaru Legacy. You don’t say what exactly your priorities are in a car so I will recommend the same make and model that I drive. The Premio is cliché and unfairly priced, the Teana tries too hard and the Legacy shows that you are a fearless man who defies convention and disregards unjustified Internet opinions and, therefore, Subaru is life.
More objectively, as I said above, Subarus are hardy. Teanas are not.
The Legacy is infinitely more practical if you opt for the longroof, which you must: it drives better and is more exciting overall than the other two Uber taxis.
How come my Premio has no dipstick?
I have a Toyota Premio model 2010 and the vehicle does not have a dipstick to enable me to check the transmission fluid level like in the older models. How do I know if the transmission fluid level is correct and how do I check its condition?
The reason there is no dipstick is because the gearbox is sealed for life, what we call “maintenance-free”... That doesn’t mean that maintenance costs nothing; it means that if it packs up, replace, don’t repair.
Thank you for your valuable advice to readers. I drive a Toyota Caldina 2005 and I have two questions:
1. When are oxygen sensors due for replacement?
2. Sometimes there is a sulfur gas-like smell; what does it mean?
1. Replacement is due upon failure.
2. It means the catalytic converter is due for declogging/replacement.
I want a fuel-efficient German car, if possible
I’m a doctor at Kenyatta National Hospital. I got employed early this year and I live relatively near my workplace. I make about Sh300,000 but after taxes and paying bills I’m left with Sh190,000 net.
Now, I would like to buy my first car and I don’t know much about cars but I know I want a classic, fuel-efficient car, if possible from Germany, that won’t drain me as I have just started life and I want to get married next year. Please advise me on the best option.
I see full disclosure of one’s economic status is quickly becoming a trend along this street, despite my advice against it. Well, since we are already in it...
For the love of all that is turbocharged, do not go German, please. Not when you are less than a year old in the job market (doctor’s salary notwithstanding) and your disposable income is even less than that of the Range Rover-loving UN employee from a fortnight ago. German cars can become expensively unpredictable with age, and age is what you will be dabbling in on the tax bracket you occupy, since you cannot afford anything new with that kind of change in your pocket.
Or can you? On October 4, I concluded my analysis of a German car by declaring unequivocally that I would buy it in a trice once my money sits right.
And on closer inspection, so can you. An initial deposit of Sh180,000 gets you a brand new car, after which you endure a monthly payout of Sh36,000 for the next five years. This you can live with, quite easily, can’t you? You do intend to be a doctor for a while, don’t you?
The icing on the cake is the car also comes with a three-year warranty, so maintenance — the bane of all German cars of age — is a foregone conclusion. Once the warranty runs out, hold on for the next two years until you finish your payments then you can sell off the car if you want. By then, hopefully, you will have accrued a few raises from your administrator or opened your own successful private practice and can thus afford something flashier; something fancier than the locally assembled Volkswagen Polo Vivo Maxx I am so enamoured of. Sweet little car... And flashy the replacement car will be because I have several doctors in my close circles, two of whom are fellow directors on the board at Time Trial Motorsports, and would you know, they both drive German. One has a fetching and highly photogenic black Mercedes-Benz W124 in E320 guise that once featured visually on this very page.
The other drives a Mk 5 Volkswagen Golf GTi in silver. I don’t know what their pay packets look like but they have been doctors for a-minute-and-a-half longer than you have, so they must have all their green bottles lined up neatly on the wall, with plenty to spare should one accidentally fall.
Like I said, owning German is akin to playing Russian roulette with your wallet.
Good luck on your anticipatory nuptials. There is a common belief that the running costs of a significant other can easily trounce that of an unreliable German, but this has yet to be proven scientifically...