If there is one segment that has been steadily growing and continuously getting better, its the crossover SUV class.
Combining the ride of a car with the practicality and versatility of the sport utility vehicle, the crossover quickly became one of the most popular and highly competitive segments in the industry. That's why many manufacturers are quick to develop their own models to compete in the class.
In this part of AutoIndustriya.com's Best Buys for 2011, below are some of our picks in this ever growing class, offering what we think could very well be the best bang for our hard earned buck.
Isn't this interesting? In the perceived hierarchy of Japanese cars, Subaru has always been at the high end of the spectrum. However, the Japan-made Forester, in 2.0X trim, presents unusually great value in the compact SUV class. It may not have as many of the bells and whistles (and power) of the 2.5XT model, but it's definitely one of the best value cars in the segment.
MAKE & MODEL: Subaru Forester
PRICE: PhP 1,388,000
Why the CX-7 you may ask? We've driven it a few times, and we like its combination of comfort, size, design and features. The engine, a 2.5 liter inline-4 has decent power and surprisingly better economy than expected. It's a steal for PhP 1.5M, and makes sense for those who wish to get the next level higher in the SUV range while still staying at compact crossover prices.
MAKE & MODEL: Mazda CX-7
VARIANT: 2.5L AT
PRICE: PhP 1,533,000
This comes as no surprise. Since its launch in 2009, the Tucson has become the hot item in the compact SUV segment. It's easy to see why, especially as it gives what many want in a crossover. It drives like a car, looks stylish, and has plenty of features and a high degree of quality for its price. The top of the line model is already quite pricey, but does include some nice features like that panoramic roof while the efficiency and power of that CRDI engine is a definite plus. The best value for the range is the model in the middle, the 2.0 liter gasoline engine with the 6-speed automatic.
MAKE & MODEL: Hyundai Tucson
VARIANT: 2.0L GLS 2WD AT
PRICE: PhP 1,158,000
In essence, the new Kia Sportage is practically the same as the Tucson from big brother Hyundai; same platform, same engine, same transmission, even the same (ish) audio system. The execution of the car is different though, with an edgier look both inside and out (thanks Peter Schreyer). We drove the four wheel drive version, and it was very good indeed, though it does lose out a bit on fuel economy. Like the Tucson, the pick of the range has to be the front wheel drive version.
MAKE & MODEL: Kia Sportage
VARIANT: EX D-CVVT 4x2
PRICE RANGE: PhP 1,158,000
While it may not have the most impressive feel or fit and finish in this company, having 7 seats is its ace in the hole, especially in this crowd of 5-seaters and in a country known for big, extended families. The 4-wheel drive variants cost a bit more, so our pick has to be the FWD models. In front-wheeler trim, its petrol engine gives a decent drive, though the efficient and more powerful VCDI diesel version is definitely the way to go.
MAKE & MODEL: Chevrolet Captiva
VARIANT: FWD VCDI
PRICE: PhP 1,385,000
THE ALSO-RANS (and why they didn't make the list)
In terms of price, the CR-V has the makings of a good deal, but its stiff ride is a bit of a let down. The new model is due soon.
For a 10 year old platform, the Ford Escape is still a good model. Ford has also made the Escape much more affordable with many promos and discounts via their various sales event, but, in the end, it's still a 10 year old car.
It's the cheapest one in the class, but there is a reason. The Tiggo isn't a bad drive, but it really is a case of you get what you pay for.