There was a time when the formula for building an SUV was rather straightforward. Take a pickup chassis, put a wagon body on top of it, raise the ride height and you're good to go. Nowadays, we have SUVs of all shapes and sizes, thanks to the phenomenon of the car-based crossover.
This brings us neatly into one of the booming segments of the crossover. With their compact sizes and reasonable prices, the B-segment crossover market is fast becoming one of the most competitive in the world today with automakers releasing these raised hatchbacks as quickly as possible. One look at the buyer's guide and it's reflected here too, with at least 15 to choose from. Yes, there's a wide selection but we've narrowed it down to ten models, each with seats for five and two-wheel drive.
The newest entry into the B-segment crossover fold is the all-new Suzuki Vitara. This fourth-generation model presents a radical departure from the past models, ditching the ladder-frame chassis for a lighter, car-based platform. Also new this year is the Hyundai Creta, the brand's second attempt in the small crossover market following the i20 Cross Sport. Three of its contemporaries meanwhile have received a significant update, namely the Chevrolet Trax and Mitsubishi ASX. But it's not just the refreshed contenders one could consider.
Ford's Ecosport has long been a stalwart of the B-segment crossover market for a good chunk of the decade. Nissan on the other hand has the funky-looking Juke with its extroverted design, inside and out. Honda meanwhile offers the sensible HR-V, combining the versatility of its hatchback counterpart with a bit more ground clearance. The Ssangyong Tivoli brings in an interesting value proposition while the Mazda CX-3 aims to deliver a sporty drive.
Under the Hood
Unlike their bigger siblings, the C-segment crossover, these B-segment offerings have a much simpler choice of engines. In fact, all the cars here only have one engine specification in all their respective variants. All are powered by four-cylinder gas engines and send their power to the front wheels, but that's where the similarities end.
The Peugeot 2008 is unique as it has the smallest engine at 1.2-liters but it has the most torque at 205 Nm with horsepower rated at 110 PS. Also taking the turbocharged route is the Chevrolet Trax with its 1.4-liter engine producing 142 PS and 200 Nm of torque. All the rest of the cars are naturally aspirated.
Mazda and Mitsubishi went for the old-school approach in making power: bigger displacements. At 2.0-liters, the CX-3 and ASX each have the largest engines in the group. The Mazda makes 148 PS and 198 Nm of torque, while the Mitsubishi makes 150 PS and 197 Nm of torque. It's worth noting that the turbocharged cars have the most torque while the large-displacement cars make the most horsepower.
Despite having 200cc less than the Mitsubishi and the Mazda, the Honda HR-V comes in at third when it comes to the horsepower race and the middle of the pack when it comes to torque. From its 1.8-liter engine, it produces 141 PS and 172 Nm of torque.
Four cars in the group come with 1.6-liter engines, namely the Hyundai Creta, Nissan Juke, Ssanyong Tivoli and Suzuki Vitara. The Tivoli makes the most out of its engine size with 128 PS and 160 Nm of torque. The Creta makes five less horsepower for a total of 123 PS and a respectable 151 Nm of torque. With 116 PS and 154 Nm of torque, the Nissan Juke slightly edges the Suzuki Vitara in horsepower but not in torque. The Suzuki makes 115 PS, one down from the Juke, and 156 Nm of torque, up by two from the Nissan. As for the Ford Ecosport, it has the smallest, non-turbocharged engine in this spec check. With its 1.5-liter engine, it makes 110 PS and 142 Nm of torque, tied with the Peugeot for the least power and the group's lowest torque figure.
Running the numbers on each car, it is interesting to point out that non of the crossovers here measure beyond 4,300 mm, or 4.3 meters, long. There are, however, two that come within millimeters of that. At 4,295 mm, the Mitsubishi ASX is the longest of the bunch but just one millimeter behind is the Honda HR-V at 4,294 mm. It's practically a negligible difference. However, it is worth noting that the ASX is the only one here based on a larger, C-segment sedan (the Lancer) while the rest of the cars (except the Tivoli) are based on B-segment cars.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the shortest of the nine-car group. The Nissan Juke is the most compact in terms of length at 4,135 mm long and, 24 mm longer is the Peugeot 2008 at 4,159 mm. The size difference between the longest and shortest car is a noticeable 160 mm, or a little over six inches.
The widest car in the group is the Hyundai Creta at 1,780 mm. Chevrolet Trax and Suzuki Vitara are tied for the second widest at 1,775 mm each while the narrowest here is the Peugeot 2008 with a width of 1,739 mm.
As for height, it's the Ford Ecosport that stands the tallest, being the only one going past the 1.7 meter mark at 1,708 mm. Conversely, the Mazda is the shortest, measuring in at a car-like 1,535mm. That's a half-foot difference between the two.
Surprise and delight
While these cars are small on the outside, they're packed to the brim inside. The newest kid on the block, the Vitara, comes out swinging with automatic climate control, cruise control, stability control, hill hold control and keyless start. Move up to the top of the line model and a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights with automatic function, larger alloy wheels and a whopping ten-inch Android-based infotainment system.
Honda takes the practicality and safety conscious route by making stability control, emergency stop signal brake lights, multi-view reverse camera, brake hold, stability control, programmable door locks and hill start assist standard on all variants. There's also the flexible and novel ULT seats and cruise control. Opt for the top-spec model and it gains side and curtain airbags.
Like the Honda, the Chevrolet Trax offers a host of standard safety equipment, plus a comprehensive infotainment system. It's the only one in the group with a tire pressure monitoring system, meaning you no longer have to guess if your tires have enough air. There's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too, again, the only on in the bunch.
Mazda is adamant into injecting sportiness into this otherwise sensible segment. The clever front differential, dubbed G-Vectoring Control, allows sharper turn in and more secure handling. It's complemented by a host of safety features. Also, it's the only one with an all-wheel drive option.
The Ssangyong Tivoli has the lowest price entry point at Php 785,000* for the SX M/T variant, and rises to Php 1,080,000* for the Sport R. At Php 795,000*, the Ford Ecosport in Ambiente M/T trim has the second-lowest base price and goes up to Php 1,008,000* for the Titanium. Hyundai's Creta is the last of the B-segment offerings in this group with a manual transmission. Prices for the Creta starts at Php 918,000* for the 1.6 GL M/T to Php 988,000* for the 1.6 GL A/T. Serving as the base variant of the Suzuki Vitara is the GL+ and that starts at Php 938,000* and goes up to Php 1,048,000* for the GLS. The final car with a base price under Php 1,000,000 is the Nissan Juke and it only has one variant priced at Php 980,000*.
First breaching the one million peso mark is the Chevrolet Trax LS, which starts at Php 1,123,888* while the top of the line LT is priced at Php 1,358,888*. Prices for the base Mitsubishi ASX GLS start at Php 1,215,000* and the GSR bumps it up to Php 1,325,000*. As for the HR-V, it starts at Php 1,260,000* for the E variant, all the way to 1,480,000* for the EL. The Mazda CX-3 is about Php 30,000 more than the Honda at Php 1,280,000 for the PRO. Php 1,380,000 gets you the top spec two wheel drive Sport model while the all-wheel drive Activ is at Php 1,500,000*. The crossover with the most expensive base price is the Peugeot 2008 and the lone variant, the GT, starts at Php 1,490,000*.
Note: Prices stated above are as of January 4, 2018.
*pre-excise tax pricing