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Buyer's Guide: Size matters when picking an SUV
By Jack Biddle • 05/12/2015
Barry and his wife are considering a new SUV. The number of small high-riders in showrooms is increasing so the question is: are they better than traditional midsize SUVs?
The kids are off their hands so they are thinking it’s now more about them, and they seeking adequate rather than copious amounts of space for extra passengers or excess luggage.
Buyers need to remember that most smaller SUVs are basically built around a small-sized sedan, so they shouldn’t expect high levels of handling or even comfort. Small wins when most of the driving is around town, tight spaces need to be negotiated or when passenger numbers are limited. For those with a little more time on their hands, the occasional road trip over a few days is often a great way to enjoy their newfound freedom, so thought should be given to making travel as enjoyable as possible.
(GSX $34,695) 109kW/195Nm — claimed consumption 6.1L/100km The order books are apparently full for most of the model range so that’s a clear indication this car has hit the mark for many. Hard to beat in terms of styling and specifications, which include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, reversing camera and navigation. It does have that slight “tight squeeze” feel about it once belted in, and rear space especially is not its greatest strength. Styling and high specification levels will overcome any practicality issues for some.
($34,200) 105kW/172Nm — 6.6L/100km The HR-V is a welcome addition to the Honda range. Nobody makes better use of interior space but it struggles to match the CX-3 in overall specification levels at this or any other price point in the range. A very clear dash cluster is a definite strong point, as is an interior that creates the feeling of openness. Practicality and roominess will help overcome any let-downs in specifications for some.
(Ltd 2WD $32,990) 86kW/156Nm — 6.0L/100km The all-new Vitara should not be overlooked for those looking for a solid value-for-money package. Pay an extra $800 and upgrade to a sporty two-tone exterior paint job, which helps lift the appearance. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, 7-inch touch screen with built-in navigation, climate air conditioning and reverse camera. A centrally mounted analogue clock even gives a touch of high class to the interior. It’s not a small SUV in the true sense of the word, but it may fill the bill for those looking for a good all-rounder. The use of hard plastics is a compromise some will need to accept in return for the reasonably high specification level at this price point. It’s worth the effort to let a Suzuki salesperson walk you through all the features and to take one for a drive. The 1.6-litre engine is enhanced by a six-speed auto but overall performance is still not overly exciting. Value for money is where sales will be generated.
Take it from me: once you don’t have to compromise on fitting in all the kids’ gear, you tend to spread your own luggage out. Think through overall size very carefully.