Choosing a pocket-friendly, multi-purpose vehicle

Wednesday October 24 2018

The interior of Honda Stream.

The interior of Honda Stream. PHOTO| COURTESY 

BARAZA JM
By BARAZA JM
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Hi Baraza,

I'm torn between Mazda Premacy, Toyota Wish and Honda Stream. I know they are all spacious being seven-seaters but I need to know which has the best engine performance.

Which one feels most comfortable to drive? Which one has superior build? Being minivans, I don't bother about the shape.

Kindly let me know your take considering the most recent in each case. Patrick

Hi Patrick,

The Premacy had for a while been the definitive go-to MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), dislodging the Toyota Previa as the family-hauling MPV. The Wish is inferior to the Previa, so you could easily surmise that this is a losing battle for the Toyota from the outset. So now:

Best engine performance: this could swing either way between the Mazda Premacy with its SkyActiv witchcraft or the Honda Stream RSZ which looks like it was meant for competition drivers to bring their families along to a race. Nobody in their right mind memorises the power figures of minivans and I am no exception.

Comfortable to drive: The Premacy, again. The differences are not that major across all three cars but Mazda has a way of building cars that provide the right sensations and tactile feedback for the driver.

I am yet to drive an RSZ (or any Stream for that matter), so this is yet another factual tie between the two but we'll give a subjective victory to the Mazda.

Superior build: This has to be the Honda, engine-wise. Or maybe the Toyota. The Mazda is the prettiest and looks very well made but I have found Mazdas to be a little thin-skinned whereas Toyotas take a fair amount of beating before anything gives. That the Wish is a PSV in some corners says enough about its mettle. It takes the win here.

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Go for the Honda Stream, it won't disappoint you, less headache

Hello Jim,

I was going through your article (September 5, 2018) and I thought I should consult you. I am planning on getting a car. I am just above the average Joe when it comes to cars. I am looking for a seven-seater, 1.8 litre car.

My fancy is directed towards the Honda Stream for technical and aesthetic purposes over any other of its class, for example, the Wish.

I don’t want to get caught up and join the "Toyota Club" bandwagon because any monkey with half a brain knows the longevity of a car depends on how well you treat it (servicing and driving habits) and I don’t want to end up "donating" car parts that end up at River Road and become the envy of every carjacker. Besides all that, the Wish doesn't look as sportier as the Stream.

Mind you, I am not a car dealer so I am not looking at the resale value. The car I am planning to get is going to be around for a long while.

I have researched on the VTEC vs VVTI engines and as much as each has its own merits and demerits, I can compromise on the VTEC.

I am hoping spares aren’t much of an issue because I see lots of Hondas around nowadays and they must be getting spares from somewhere. What’s your professional take on this?
David

Toyota Wish.

Toyota Wish. PHOTO| COURTESY

Hi David,

My "professional" take is you seem to have your mind made up already. You want the Stream, you have settled on the Stream, so get the Stream. I have one or two things to point out, though.

The longevity of a car is based on how well it is treated, yes, but it also depends on how the car was built. Some brands that shall remain unnamed are notorious for corner-cutting during production and as such their hardware is prone to failure simply because they exist.

No amount of TLC is going to banish electrical gremlins or peeling trim or warping frames if the hardware in question was not well put together in the first place.

Toyota is known for its fastidiousness in motor vehicle assembly and that is why it enjoys unparalleled popularity among car buyers.

To your advantage is the fact that Honda is not too far behind on the build quality front, so it won't give you too many headaches down the road.

***

With exhaust leaks, your car is literally a death trap

Dear Baraza,

I own a Toyota Carib which has served me very well. The only issue I have is that when the windows are down, exhaust fumes get in which make driving uncomfortable and unhealthy.

When the issue first came up (which is a while back) I thought the fumes were seeping through the back door but I discounted this because when all the windows are up, no fumes get into the car.

I have asked several mechanics but they do not seem to know what is causing this. What could be the problem? Anthony

Exhaust pipe of a Toyata car.

Exhaust pipe of a Toyata car. PHOTO| COURTESY

Listen Anthony, I'm not sure what is causing the exhaust fumes to seep into your car either. Perhaps you have a leak somewhere.

Has someone looked at your exhaust system for a line breach? Whatever you do, have the problem fixed. Not only is it uncomfortable and unhealthy, it can become a lot more uncomfortable and unhealthy for you if you pass out behind the wheel after inhaling too many exhaust fumes of which oxides of carbon form a considerable part.

Don't be like most Kenyans who believe they can "handle" any situation, most noxious vapours cannot pass an olfactory inspection or what I call a "smell test", so do not assume that just because you cannot smell the exhaust fumes they are still not getting into the car.

Ironically, you may be better off driving with the windows open to allow more circulation of air at the expense of a fresh ambience, but that aside, I will have to insist that you cease and desist from operating that motor vehicle until the source of the exhaust fumes in the passenger cabin is determined and dealt with. For the time being, your car is a death trap.

***

Isuzu Wizard is great for an off-road enthusiast on a shoestring budget

Hi Baraza,

Kindly give your opinion on Isuzu Wizard based on availability of spare parts, reliability of the turbo engine, performance and fuel economy. I have information that the model production stopped around 2004 but I want to upgrade from my Hyundai Accent which is very fuel efficient compared to the Wizard. Thanks in advance. Edward Ngunjiri

Yeah, the Isuzu Wizard was not very good when new and now it should be even worse. The MU name (an alias of the Wizard) actually stands for "Mysterious Utility".

Anyway, the original Wizard MU went into production 30 years ago, at a time when turbochargers were not very common in cars. Most were still in the experimental stage. So don't expect the reliability of the tin snail to be very good.

I don't expect spare parts to be that common either but most of the running gear in the MU was shared with the TFR Tougher pickup, so you may need to befriend a few "Ask-For-Transport" entrepreneurs to find out how they keep their cars running.

There was a second generation car that died off 14 years ago but it wasn't much prettier than the first, and it wasn't that quick either … in fact it wasn't quick at all, despite the availability of two V6 engines in the line-up.

Fuel economy has never been good for SUVs, SUV derivate or anything brick-shaped and built on a truck chassis. The Wizard is no exception. It is a bit absurd to compare it to a Hyundai Accent which is a much lighter car with a smaller engine and better aerodynamic profile.

I mean, one has a tiny 1300cc four-cylinder engine lugging around a compact saloon body, the other is a lorry with a 3.2-litre V6. Comparing apples to rocks, are we?

Would one buy one? Yes. I see how contradictory my statements look but give me a minute. The Wizard is not much loved, which means used examples can be had for cheap.

One thing I didn't mention earlier is the Wizard's off-road prowess. It is very good off-road, and its cheapness is what gives it this superiority.

A Range Rover can do a lot more than a Wizard, but a Range Rover will not do a lot more than the Wizard because nobody in their right mind will take their eight-figure car on an early Sunday morning tour into the clag like my friends and I did some weeks ago.

You need something cheap. You need something disposable. You need a Wizard MU.

This makes the Wizard a very handy weekend tool and a place to vent your pent up hobby energy. Buy a Wizard as an off-road enthusiast on a shoestring, don't buy it to "upgrade" from a Hyundai Accent. Keep both cars.

***
Dear JM,

I enjoy reading your columns in the Daily Nation.
Kindly let me know where in Kenya I can find a replacement engine for my Peugeot 406 D8. Chassis no. VF38BL6A280359944. Year of manufacture 1997. Victor.

Hello Victor,

You will find this engine on the Internet. This is the fastest and least expensive way because the only other option is to go from shop to shop in Industrial Area asking who sells Peugeot engines. I don't think many people do, so it may be quite a search, or maybe it won't; but either way, try the Internet first for speedy progress.

***

For a farmer and contractor, Isuzu D-Max is a great buy

Hello JM,

I am an avid reader of DN2 and can’t miss the Wednesday paper. Thank you for the nice and kind advice you give to people like me.

I have been using a Toyota Hilux double cabin old model for two years and some of my friends are really pressing me to try the Isuzu D-Max version. I need to upgrade to a single cabin pickup and I am torn between the two.

Kindly help me make a decision considering stability, fuel consumption, resale value, comfortability, price, durability and endurance of the two models.

I am a small-scale farmer and a contractor meaning sometimes I carry one or two machines (to rough terrains) and farm implements. Please advise on these models as I intend to upgrade before the end of the year. Be blessed. Maritim.

Isuzu D-Max.

Isuzu D-Max. PHOTO| COURTESY

Hi Maritim,

The Isuzu DMAX your friends are pressing you into is not half bad. It is a wise investment, especially in value for money terms.

Stability: The D-Max infamously starred in a heart-stopping piece of newsreel whereby a pickup ferrying a large number of standing individuals wiped out in spectacular fashion on camera, spilling its human cargo all over the tarmac. The D-Max was that pickup.

That, however, was the old model; the current model was updated with stability control for the double cab version. I'm not sure if this technology spilled over to the single cab, pun intended.

The two pickups are quite similar in construction and layout, so there isn't much to split them.

Fuel consumption: This depends on which era of pickup you are referring to, but the Hilux should win here. The new GD engine family has improved everything: power, torque, NVH, economy, emissions, you name it. The D-Max on the other hand has always been agricultural, its effectiveness being a result of its crudeness and simplicity.

However, for maximum fuel economy, crude and simple is not really the answer. You need a raft of palliative technologies to assist the driver's right foot in teetotalling. The D-Max loses this round.

Resale Value: The Hilux. I don't need to explain anything here.

Comfort: First of all, "comfortability" is not a word. Also, would you believe it, the D-Max swings back and knocks down the Toyota. The Isuzu has surprisingly soothing ride for a commercial vehicle whereas the Hilux is stiff and bouncy when unladen.

Price: The D-Max takes another win here. It is cheaper and overall better value for money if you ignore resale value. If you factor in resale value, then the Hilux is better.

Durability and endurance: Both pickups are hardy workhorses that will not die easily.

It's hard to say which will outlast the other, so for this aspect, the driver you employ if you don't do the driving yourself is the one who will determine how long your vehicle lasts.

As a small scale farmer and contractor, perhaps a D-Max is a better start based on the price of admission alone.

The Hilux really is pricey (and with good reason), and even though it may recover most of its value upon resale, it is a big boy's implement. So, strange as this may sound, I'll have to say: Get the D-Max.

Having car trouble? Write to [email protected]

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