Towing, Toyotas and Tesla talk were three of the most topical points on the Chasing Cars website this year. Let’s round up our ten most popular stories.
This week between Christmas and New Years, when you’re not exactly sure what day it is, is round-up season – including here on Chasing Cars. In an exciting year of reopening after a pandemic greatly deteriorated our ability to cover the automotive industry in-person, we had countless exciting stories, videos, reviews and guides to offer.
It’s no surprise to our cadre of editors, writers and photographers that 2022 was Chasing Cars’ most successful year on record for traffic, and we hope you enjoyed what our talented group of content creators had to offer this year.
So, before we step into 2023 – another year of excitement (and some uncertainty) in the automotive industry, let’s look at the top 10 car stories on Chasing Cars that resonated the most with readers in 2022.
Make sure to check out our separate article on the top 10 most popular Chasing Cars car videos of 2022 next.
Our signature piece of content for 2022 was our comparison of more than 10 midsize SUVs, which we conducted in and around the regional NSW city of Goulburn – and at the nearby Wakefield Park for safety and performance testing.
For those of us who have spent months (and thousands of kilometres) piloting the latest-generation Toyota RAV4 hybrid – Australia’s most popular SUV – it wasn’t a surprise when the ultra-frugal and decent-to-drive Toyota romped home to victory in Cruiser form.
That said, the gold-star result for the Toyota was cold comfort to Australians waiting 1-2 years for a RAV4 – and we covered waitlist stories exhaustively in 2022 as well.
The dynamically-excellent Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line placed second in the midsize SUV megatest, while the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S came third. Our judges awarded an honourable mention to the Mazda CX-5 Akera turbo.
As Australia’s monthly new car sales figures made clear at most points in 2022, that love affair between Aussie families and the Toyota RAV4 continues to blaze, with the model routinely the best-selling non-ute vehicle in the country.
So, it was no surprise that our reviews of two of the key variants of the facelifted-for-2022 RAV4 hybrid placed so highly in our traffic this month.
In fact, traffic was within a few hundred clicks on both. Technically, our review of the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser hybrid just pipped the slightly more ruggedly-styled RAV4 Edge hybrid review for overall clicks.
Speaking of the RAV4 Edge hybrid, we’d tracked its progress to Australia over a period of months this year, well ahead of any official announcement that the vehicle would come to this country.
Manufacturers who don’t take towing ratings seriously in Australia tend to suffer: while most of the time, Aussies drive around unladen, towing capability (even if it’s just the idea of it, for a future dream road trip), is critical to success for many SUV and ute models.
So it was no shock that our guide to SUV towing capacities was the third-most popular piece of content on the Chasing Cars website this year, earning the bronze medal.
Rumours are circulating rapidly now about what shape the next-gen Toyota Land Cruiser Prado will take.
The larger 300 Series ‘Cruiser has now been in the Australian market for more than a year – if you haven’t seen one yet, that is because the 4WD wagon is very tightly affected by supply, which has allowed the Nissan Patrol to easily beat it on sales.
This year, we dedicated resources to discussing whether the Prado – which we expect to be renewed in 2024 – will get a turbo petrol-hybrid engine, similar to what Toyota uses for its Tundra and Sequoia US-market off-road vehicles.
It turns out that old-school vehicles continue to have massive charm in Australia. While our readers were hugely engaged in the topic of a turbo-hybrid Land Cruiser Prado, others turned to the elegant simplicity of the Land Cruiser 76 Series, which is delivered in Australia only with a single turbo diesel V8 manual powertrain.
We reviewed the Land Cruiser 76 Series wagon in 70th Anniversary trim early in 2022. It only received a 5.5/10 – but with a huge caveat that to its fans, the wagon may well be the perfect vehicle, as it is fit for purpose.
The status of the Toyota LC76 is unclear in Australia. There was smoke when we reported that Toyota dealers had started telling Australians to expect four year waits for orders of a new 70 Series wagon or ute – and the company later appeared to suggest that it had closed order books.
Will they ever be reopened for new Land Cruiser 70 Series orders? We’ll have to wait and see.
Chasing Cars got the scoop on Tesla Model Y electric SUV pricing in Australia many months before the American EV specialist announced costs for its midsize crossover.
The prices we reported were $67,990 for the rear-wheel drive Model Y base model, and $98,172 for the hotter Model Y Performance AWD grade.
Nearly three months later, Tesla Australia confirmed that the two SUV grades would be priced at $68,990 and $98,689 respectively, with some currency fluctuation and inflation occurring between the leak we received and Tesla’s eventual announcement.
We were pleased to have been correct – though mere days after announcing official pricing for the Model Y, Tesla then hiked the cost of the base grade to $73,200. Still, we found Model Y RWD good enough to award it a 7.5/10 when we reviewed it in mid-2022, even with the higher price.
Readers waited with bated breath for any update regarding the Toyota RAV4. That’s no surprise, as many Toyota dealers reportedly do not protect existing order prices for the many thousands of Australians stuck in the long queue for delivery of the midsize SUV.
That means mid-life updates can be a blessing and a curse. Our reporting on one such update this year – suggesting that a larger touchscreen and more safety technology would be added to the SUV later in 2022 – was very popular.
However, when such updates have arrived, they have almost always involved pricing increases that have to be absorbed by the customer. Not great news if you were happier with your existing price.
One of the most interesting stories of 2023 will be Mazda’s transformation from one of Australia’s darling mainstream automotive brands to a marque that straddles two worlds. It will maintain its existing models, like the popular CX-5 midsize SUV and CX-9 large SUV, but it will also add a range of premium models to sit alongside those familiar cars.
The first larger premium SUV from Mazda will be the CX-60. We travelled to Portugal earlier in 2022 to drive the powerful plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model. Later, there will be more new models added, including a flagship CX-90 that is set to be revealed in January 2023.
However, our most popular CX-60 story this year was a leak we received of engine details ahead of the official announcement of powertrain specifics.
That leak confirmed that Australia would receive two six-cylinder engines (a petrol and a diesel), plus the PHEV version we would later go on to drive. Earlier, the styling of the SUV had been spotted early while the SUV was deployed on a European film shoot.
Ford broke the internet earlier in 2022 when it confirmed long-sustained rumours that it would import its F-150 pick-up truck to Australia with factory backing – and, critically – a factory Ford warranty, despite the conversion work being done by an independent firm. Testing for the big ute is now underway locally.
Initial details were quite scant. We knew that Ford would bring the F-150 down under in a choice of XLT or Lariat grades, but we didn’t know the bed length. We were aware, though, that the sole engine (at launch) would be a 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, rather than a diesel or a petrol V8 motor, which are both unavailable, though an F-150 hybrid could join later.
The biggest F-150 question was the subject of our ninth-most popular car story this year: how much will the F-150 cost in Australia? Our writers calculated an entry price of between $85,000 and $90,000, with a top-shelf Lariat model expected to command a $110,000 price. However, there has been significant inflation in Australia since we wrote that article.
Perhaps the second-biggest question is that of when Ford will opt to bring its F-150 Lightning electric ute here. We went to Detroit to review the Lightning in mid-2022 – Ford’s media preview drive suggesting the all-electric pick-up is on the agenda for Aussie sales, perhaps with a smaller Ranger Lightning electric ute counterpart sitting on the same platform as the future Volkswagen e-Amarok EV.
Like we said at number 3 – towing is critical in Australia, and not all utes are created equal in the hauling department.
That said, just a few years ago there were only a small number of ‘midsize’ pick-up utes that were capable of towing a headline 3500 kg number. Now, most can – as our ute towing capacity guide makes clear – however the wisdom of doing so is up for debate.
The next big development for ute towing (with robust warranty backing) will be the coming arrival of the Ford F-150 — though converted American pick-ups are already far more adept than smaller trucks for towing heavy loads.
Toyota says it will charge Australians more under new emissions scheme in break from American position
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