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Compact SUVs – are they just six one way, half-dozen the other? Not so, if this bunch of newly-released and ultra-popular models are anything to go by. The top-selling Mazda CX-5 brings a new petrol engine to battle the class-favourite Volkswagen Tiguan, while the all-new Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander and Honda CR-V add fresh competition. Let sand fly… Words: Daniel DeGasperi. Photos: Easton Chang.

Four brand new compact SUV models have launched in Australia in the past four months. The Mazda CX-5, the top selling car in the segment, has just been given a larger engine. The Volkswagen Tiguan, long the class leader, has just been given more standard equipment. The Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 have switched to all-new generations, box fresh for the new year. Together, these six models have collectively snared almost half of all compact SUV sales in the first two months of 2013.

Time, then, to ask the big questions of the family car favourites Australians are laying down their hard-earned cash for.

We’ll assess which circa-$35,000 compact SUV is the most fully equipped for the money and the most practical. We’ll measure rear-seat legroom and boot space, and assess comfort on a long freeway run to see which is the best touring car. We’ll drive them on bumpy country roads to discover which has the best handling and the most competent active safety systems, before turning to the sand dunes to see which is best for a spot of light off-roading. After 600km, the half-dozen contenders will be re-filled with unleaded to see which is the most economical. This is the most comprehensive test of six family cars.

We requested entry-level all-wheel-drive models to test. All six contenders are available for between $32,000 and $36,000 in that basic specifcation, yet it’s important to note that if light off-roading isn’t required then all these manufacturers except Subaru offer two-wheel-drive versions for less than $30,000.

Despite similar prices, this group are separated by what they offer as standard equipment. All base models here include cruise control, power windows, keyless entry, stability control and front, side and curtain airbags as standard.

The Honda CR-V VTi tested is the cheapest car on test, and is one of the most generously equipped. At $32,790 it gets a reversing camera, alloy wheels, and steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters for the five-speed automatic transmission.

For just $90 more, the $32,880 Mazda CX-5 Maxx AWD matches the Honda’s reversing camera, and adds a 5.8-inch touchscreen interface and keyless push-button start. But it only gets steel wheels, not alloys. It’s important to note that Mazda could only supply a CX-5 Maxx Sport for this test, however, but it drives identically to the base Maxx.

For another $110, the $32,990 Subaru Forester 2.5i gets a reverse camera and steel wheels like the CX-5 Maxx, but uniquely adds single-zone climate control. Neither can quite match the value equation of the Honda.

Middle of the pack are the $33,990 Mitsubishi Outlander ES AWD and $34,490 Toyota RAV4 GX AWD. Neither score alloy wheels, but at least the Outlander includes single-zone climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, neither of which are found in the sparsely equipped RAV4. Both get reversing sensors, but no reversing camera. Both are the only two models to feature a ‘proper’ four-wheel-drive locking system. Not coincidentally, the Mitsubishi and Toyota proved to be the most capable off road (more later).

Mitsubishi, like Mazda, could only provide a mid-spec model to test, but the LS AWD drives just like the base ES AWD. If you want stuff like fog lights, a touchscreen interface, and even an extra pair of seats, the tested Outlander LS AWD requires a $38,990 outlay. Likewise, the CX-5 Maxx Sport tested gets you satellite navigation, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloys and fog lights for $36,620.

The Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Pacific is the most expensive ‘entry’ all-wheel-drive model, yet it is also one of the best value. For $35,990 it adds, over its five base rivals, headlights and wipers that automatically turn themselves on or off, fog lights, and dual-zone climate control. It even parks itself, with front and rear sensors that sense if the Tiguan will fit into a parking spot. The car then automatically steers itself into that spot, requiring only braking modulation.

With similar pricing, servicing costs may decide which is actually the cheapest overall. Only the Mitsubishi Outlander and Volkswagen Tiguan have 15,000km or 12-month servicing intervals, which is great from a convenience perspective – all other rivals here need six-month check-ups, with Forester every 12,500km and the RAV4, CR-V and CX-5 every 10,000km.

But that doesn’t mean the Outlander and Tiguan are the cheapest to service. The Outlander and RAV4 are the only models here to get fixed-price servicing, but the Outlander costs $360 per service, the RAV4 just $170.

Over three years and up to 60,000km, the Toyota asks $1020 in maintenance for six services, the Mitsubishi $1080 if going by time, or $1440 if going by distance. The CR-V ($1804), CX-5 ($2124), Forester ($2164 on time/$1784 to 62,500km) and Tiguan ($1530 on time/$2530 over 60,000km) all cost more to service.

The claimed fuel economy figures – that other big running cost – for each model runs 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres for the Mazda CX-5, 7.5L/100km (Mitsubishi Outlander), 8.1L/100km (Subaru Forester), 8.5L/100km (Toyota RAV4), 8.7L/100km (Honda CR-V) and 8.9L/100km (Volkswagen Tiguan). Those results are from laboratory testing designed to imitate urban and freeway driving.

Our real world results, divided between freeway, urban and hard driving on sand, saw fuel usage rocket beyond those numbers. Yet the CX-5 maintained its lead, drinking 10.8L/100km on test, ahead of the Forester (11.4L/100km), CR-V (11.8L/100km), RAV4 (12.0L/100km) and Outlander (12.8L/100km). Unfortunately, an off-road mishap with the Volkswagen Tiguan prevented us from getting a real-world fuel number. The Tiguan is the only car here to require costlier premium unleaded.

Based on our results, if you were to travel 15,000km per year (the Australian average) and if unleaded costs $1.50 per litre, you’ll fork out $450 per year more to fill the Mitsubishi Outlander compared with a Mazda CX-5.

The economy of the Mazda CX-5 is best in the laboratory and in real-world testing, and its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is also the strongest engine on test. Smooth and refined, and teamed with an intelligent six-speed automatic, the newly re-engined Mazda offers the sweetest engine/gearbox combination.

Volkswagen finds a different path to power with the Tiguan 132TSI Pacific. It has a smaller engine of 2.0-litre capacity, but adds a turbocharger to boost its performance. The Tiguan is the most effortless performer, producing lots of torque low in the rev range, so if big miles need covering or mountains tackled, it’s the pick for overall driveability. The six-speed automatic always find the right gear.

The Toyota RAV4 almost matches the Mazda’s strength from its same-size 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. It pulls hard through the middle of the rev range, and offers meaty grunt on light throttle at low revs. The RAV4 GX AWD is 50kg heavier than the Mazda, however. But it is also 21kg lighter than the portly Volkswagen, which is the heaviest car here. It would be nice if the Toyota engine sounded as sweet as those two competitors when revved.

Ears will love the sound of the Honda 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine as it revs towards its redline. It revs harder than any car here. But it also lacks torque, or pulling power, the net result of which means more throttle needs to be used around town or on hills. Luckily the five-speed automatic is a clever unit, deftly picking lower gears at the right time, particularly in Sport mode.

The Mitsubishi Outlander gets a 2.4-litre engine, too, but it is the noisiest engine of the six cars on test. It also lacks low-rev torque, like the CR-V.

But the Outlander and Subaru Forester are the only cars to get continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) that don’t actually have set gears.

Instead, a CVT acts as a ‘slider’ to constantly adjust the engine revs. Think of a dimmer switch on your bedroom light, and you’ll get the picture. What that means is rather than going back ‘gears’ on a steep freeway incline, for example, the Outlander and Forester smoothly and quietly raise the tachometer needle until the desired revs to keep the set speed are found. It’s smoother than any five-speed or six-speed auto.

For meaty urge, the 2.5-litre Forester sides more with the CX-5, Tiguan and RAV4 than the slightly weedy CR-V and Outlander. It’s a gruff performer when extended, but at least delivers plenty through the lower and middle revs.

For driveability, overall, it’s a clear win to the Mazda and Volkswagen, with Toyota a close third.

The tables are turned if you’re headed for some light off-roading. On the sand dunes we drove across, the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan have the least capable four-wheel-drive systems.

At one point, the Mazda dug itself a hole in the sand at the front end and got bogged – the rear wheels barely helped out. Likewise the Volkswagen struggled with distributing power between its wheels, and lacked ground clearance.

Over one undulation that the others took in their stride, the Tiguan bottomed out severely, bashing its engine cover and knocking off the air conditioning hose, allowing compressed air to leak. It then had to hobble home.

At the other end of the scale, the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander have the best four-wheel-drive systems.

Both have a ‘lock’ button that essentially divides power equally between the front and rear wheels at all times – the Mazda and Volkswagen mostly send drive to the front, with power only going to the rear wheels when the computer detects it should.

The Outlander ultimately gets the gong off-road, because its stability control can be completely turned off, where the RAV4 stability control can get confused and intervene too much.

That’s the downfall of the Subaru Forester – a stability control that just won’t quit. It grabs a front brake, only to upset the rear end, then tries to fix the problem it has created. Otherwise, the Forester is just as capable as the RAV4 and Outlander, and offers class-leading ground clearance.

The Honda CR-V has long been criticised for having a slow acting four-wheel-drive system that puts too much power to the front wheels and not enough to the rear wheels. But that accusation is now pointed at Mazda and Volkswagen.

The CR-V’s system – although it doesn’t have any ‘lock’ modes – thinks faster than before and is keener to distribute drive to the rear wheels. Call it a decent fourth place off-road.

On the road, the tables switch in favour of the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan. For steering precision and handling agility, these two compact SUVs remain the leaders.

The difference is in their flavour – the Tiguan is the quietest and most comfortable car on test, soothing urban and country road bumps, where the CX-5 offers stunning handling.

In fact the CX-5 is the hot hatchback of SUVs, and handles better than most small hatchbacks, so if you love driving but need to default to an SUV by domestic necessity, the Mazda CX-5 is your only choice. It handles both tasks with ease.

The CX-5 and Tiguan allow families to feel safe in the knowledge that they have the most finely judged stability control systems in the class, too, and their handling benefits extend to the safety front – if you need to swerve around a kangaroo, or a child who runs onto the road, the CX-5 and Tiguan are the best equipped to maintain control.

The Mazda CX-5 has a slightly too-firm ride around town, just like the Honda CR-V, which handles well but lacks steering connection.

The Honda isn’t as quiet as the Volkswagen Tiguan, in particular, but it balances a trio of steering, ride and handling well enough to get a bronze medal for dynamics.

The Toyota RAV4 doesn’t quite hit the dynamic highs of the front runners, but it has no major flaws except for an overly intrusive stability control system and steering that is delayed just off the centre position. Crucially, like the Toyota 86 and Corolla, the RAV4 is now a fun car to drive in the bends. It is also smoother than the Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru around town.

While the RAV4 has a good blend of abilities, it lacks a standout dynamic virtue.

The Subaru Forester is the most car-like to drive. Occupants don’t feel as though they’re sitting high and ponderous in an SUV – it feels like a small wagon. But the Forester has similar steering issues to the Toyota, proving vacant on centre and slightly notchy in its movements.

The old Forester’s smooth around town suspension has also been stiffened to improve control over larger bumps on country roads. But Subaru hasn’t found the comfort trade off that Mazda, Volkswagen and Toyota have. It now handles all surfaces well, however, and keen drivers will enjoy adjusting the Forester by lifting the throttle during the middle of the corner and feeling its nose tuck in – although it isn’t quite as keen to dance as the superb-handling Mazda in this regard.

The Mitsubishi Outlander lacks a bit of comfort in its natural habitat – around the pot-holed and lumpy urban backstreets. Like the Forester, its suspension has lost its sheen that made the previous model supremely comfortable. But the Outlander now handles far better than before, and is actually enjoyable to drive.

Slow steering, and the fact it can feel top heavy and not particularly sharp in the bends, prevents it from challenging the front runners, however. That ‘slow’ steering essentially means more arm-twirling when trying to manouevre it in a shopping centre carpark.

It’s no surprise the Mitsubishi Outlander feels a bit big and ponderous, though, because it is the largest car here, stretching 4.66 metres long – 100mm and 200mm further than the next-longest Toyota RAV4 and shortest Volkswagen Tiguan, respectively . That translates into a benchmark 330 millimetres of rear legroom in the Outlander, according to our tape measure.

But it doesn’t get rear-seat air vents and, further back, its 477 litres of cargo space rates third after the particularly capacious CR-V and RAV4. It also gets a higher loading lip than those rivals, meaning more effort to lift a pram up and into the boot.

At least a proper, full-size spare wheel lives underfloor, helping avoid the possibility of getting a puncture and limping home on an 80km/h-rated, ultra-skinny tyre of which marketing departments optimistically call ‘space savers’.


Above: Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander is also the only car available with seven seats; not in the base model ES we wanted, but the mid-spec LS tested here.

You’ll need $38,990 to get the LS AWD with the extra two kids-only seats, but it’s an option Mitsubishi provides that the the others don’t.

The Outlander also shows off the nicest interior we’ve seen in a Mitsubishi product in years, with soft-touch plastics over the whole dashboard, and a neat blend of piano black and silver trim.


Above: Mitsubishi Outlander

The Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan come within a few millimetres of matching the Outlander’s rear-seat legroom figure.

But the Subaru seat is too low, forcing a knees-up seating position for long-legged rear occupants, and the bench is the skinniest of the lot.

If three passengers are required to fit in the rear, look to the Outlander and RAV4, in particular.


Above: Subaru Forester

The Forester also lacks rear-seat air vents, and its interior in base model trim is … well, very basic. The mish-mash of trim textures, and mis-matched screen colours, contrasts with the monotonous grey tones throughout the cabin.

But the driving position is the lowest and most car-like of the pack, as the styling suggests.

Further back, the Subaru Forester has one of the smallest boots in the class (at 422 litres) plus a high-loading lip – like the Outlander – affecting practicality. At least there’s a full-size spare tyre underneath the floor.


Above: Subaru Forester

The Tiguan wins the rear-seat gold medal because it offers just as much rear legroom as the Outlander and Forester, but has a deeper, more plush rear bench, air conditioning vents, and even a 12-volt outlet standard.

In terms of interior class and perceived quality, the Volkswagen Tiguan feels a cut above all its competitors.

It makes the Forester and RAV4, in particular, seem bland and cheaply finished.


Above: Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen’s rear seat folding options are also among the most flexible, with a choice of a ‘ski port’ hole in the middle seat, or folding the backrest, which splits 60:40, and both folds and reclines.

But the Tiguan also has the least impressive cargo space. Blame the stubby 4.43 metre-long body, which is 100mm shorter than the Mazda CX-5 and 200mm shorter than the Mitsubishi Outlander.

The 395-litre boot is the smallest here, which affects its pram-swallowing capability significantly. The boot cavity itself is both shallow and not particularly wide, while a space saver spare resides underneath the load cover.


Above: Volkswagen Tiguan

For outright cargo carrying capability, however, the Mazda CX-5 is similarly disappointing. Its 403 litres makes it the second-smallest here, and it gets only a dreaded ‘space saver’ spare wheel.

What the numbers don’t reveal, however, is the useability of the cargo area. It’s easier to load things in the CX-5 than in the Tiguan and Forester, because the loading lip is lower.

The cargo area itself is also reasonably wide and therefore more accessible.


Above: Mazda CX-5

Interior quality and comfort rivals only the Volkswagen Tiguan for outright honours.

The Mazda CX-5 interior is classy, cohesive and thoughtful, with excellent ergonomics, seat comfort and trim textures.

The CX-5, meanwhile, gets the least rear legroom and no air vents, but it is by no means cramped. Only the lanky will notice the 50mm rear legroom deficit compared with the front-running Outlander.


Above: Mazda CX-5

If boot space is an absolute priority, then choose the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.

The RAV4 gets a class-benchmark 577-litre capacity, although if you tick box for the $300 optional full-size spare wheel that drops to 506L.

Only that ‘space saver’ is standard.


Above: Toyota RAV4

The Toyota lacks rear-seat air vents, but it gets a wide rear seat with plenty of legroom (320mm – or just 10mm adrift of Outlander) and headroom. The rear seat also drops at the pull of a lever mounted in the cargo area, folding neatly into the floor.

Despite having a completely new interior design, the RAV4 misses the soft-touch cabin plastics found in the Outlander, Forester, CX-5 and Tiguan.

The Toyota cabin is more obviously brash and almost retro in its design, but the fake-carbonfibre trim and fake stitching is a bit much. The very basic audio system is also disappointing.


Above: Toyota RAV4

The RAV4, as-tested optioned with a boot-reducing proper spare wheel, allows the CR-V and its 556 litre capacity to steal the boot space win.

The Honda gets a full-size alloy wheel standard, which doesn’t limit boot space.

It also gets a similarly clever rear-seat folding mechanism that flips up the rear seat base onto the back of the front seat, flips the rear headrests down, then folds the backrest neatly into the floor to create a flat load area.


Above: Honda CR-V

The CR-V also presents a much cleaner, more cohesive interior design, though hard plastics dominate and there are some ergonomic irks.

It gets 290mm of legroom, less than the Toyota, but counters with standard air vents.

Still, seat comfort is excellent, and fit and finish superb, as you’d expect from a Honda.


Above: Honda CR-V

These are six very different compact SUV models, and depending on priorities a case could be made for each.

The Subaru Forester, however, fails to preach to a particular buyer and stand out in any single regard. It is functional and competent, but lacks boot space, cabin polish and drivetrain sophistication.

The Mitsubishi Outlander is a standout for its off-road capability and seven-seat availability, so if they’re crucial selling points, it’s a worthy option. But it isn’t as refined or finessed as others contenders.

The Toyota RAV4 also stands out for its excellent cargo carrying capability and strong drivetrain, two big ticks for all compact SUV buyers – not just those who need extra seats or venture off road.

In fact the RAV4 shares the lower step of the winner’s podium with the Honda CR-V because its ultra-cheap servicing helps offset its comparatively high purchase price.

The CR-V is cheap to buy, but more expensive to maintain; offers more handling verve, but lacks the Toyota’s ride quality; it has a sweeter-sounding engine, but the performance isn’t quite as strong as its rival’s. So it goes on.

If cargo carrying capacity is an absolute priority, then choose the Honda or Toyota over the Volkswagen Tiguan. But the Tiguan has many consistent virtues. For its value equation, interior quality, back-seat comfort, performance, and driveability, the Tiguan firmly deserves a silver medal.

The Tiguan’s only other problem besides boot space is the Mazda CX-5, which wraps all its virtues into a blindingly brilliant handling package.

The CX-5 is the most versatile SUV in every sense of the word, and that’s why it wins.

Honda CR-V
Price: $32,790
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 140kW at 7000rpm
Torque: 222Nm at 4400rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
0-100km/h: Not supplied
Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km claimed (11.8L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 201g/km

Mazda CX-5
Price: $32,880
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 138kW at 5700rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 9.4 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7.4L/100km claimed (10.8L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 172g/km

Mitsubishi Outlander
Price: $33,990
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 124kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 220Nm at 4200rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-100km/h: Not supplied
Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km claimed (12.8L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 174g/km

Subaru Forester
Price: $32,990
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 126kW at 5800rpm
Torque: 235Nm at 4100rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 8.1L/100km claimed (11.4L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 187g/km

Toyota RAV4
Price: $34,490
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 132kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 233Nm at 4100rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-100km/h: Not supplied
Fuel consumption: 8.5L/100km claimed (12.0L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 198g/km

Volkswagen Tiguan
Price: $35,990
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 132kW at 4300rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 1700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-100km/h: Not supplied
Fuel consumption: 8.9L/100km claimed
CO2 emissions: 209g/km



  • Iggy

    just to point out as I did many times before, CX-5 services are 6 monthly @ $309 per service which brings it to $1854 for 3 years.

    • Iuty

       But their pricing was for four years not three so that would bring it to $2472.

      I suspect someone has not added up the costs properly. The Mazda3 article said 4 years servicing was $2200 which is in line with what I’ve heard from Mazda3 owners.Why would the CX5 be significantly cheaper to service as CA is claiming here?
      Also surprised as the CRV prices, they have 6 monthly intervals so four years is 8 services – 8 Honda dealer services for just $1804? $225 a service? Owners have told me a typical Honda dealer service is $300-$500.

      I suggest CA re-check the prices.

      • Daniel DeGasperi

        Iuty, all prices have come from a major Sydney metropolitan dealer, based on the official manufacturer ‘recommended’ servicing costs. It is correct that Honda charge on average $225 per service. Cheers,

        • Iuty

           So it’s correct that the 4WD 2.5 litre Mazda CX5 is a fair bit cheaper to service than a FWD 2.0 Mazda 3?

          I suspect you’ve got the CX5 (and probably CRV) prices for a direct 60,000kms – ie 6 x 10,000km services, however this won’t get you to 4 years, as you need a minimum 8 services regardless of mileage to get to the 4 year mark.

          • Daniel DeGasperi

            You’re spot on about the CX-5, luty, but it’s no fault of the figures. Rather it’s a typo that should read three years or 60,000km (now fixed in the copy). The Honda figure is correct, but the Mazda should read $2124 over that period (also fixed). Appreciate the pick-up. Cheers,

          • Iuty

             Well thanks for fixing, but the Tiguan “on time”/”over 60,00km” prices are the wrong way around. Also if the Honda average service price is correct at $225, it shouldn’t add up to $1804.

          • Daniel DeGasperi

            Breakdown of CR-V servicing: 

            1.    
            $256 – 10K

            2.    
            $268 – 20K

            3.    
            $256 – 30K

            4.    
            $500 – 40K – throwing the average out

            5.    
            $256 – 50K

            6.    
            $268 – 60K
            Otherwise quite reasonable.

    • Rocket

      A Falcon is about $700 for the first 3 years so looks like these SUVs are a rip off!

      • Rocket

        I should also add a Falcon has better fuel consumption in real life but don’t take it on the beach.

        • Karl Sass

          It’s probably better offroad than half of these anyway lol

          • Pro346

            Exactly! Seen plenty of falcons/commodores taken off road!

          • Karl Sass

            Yep, my VT has seen some ridiculous places for a sedan. Got to love these commercials showing SUVs driving on level gravel roads. Better buy a Landcruiser, there’s a leaf on the road!

          • petron

            You are not wrong there. Been there, done that.

          • petron

            Always was before the advent of “softroaders”.

    • Piquet

      Good point, was also going to mention you only need to service the Tiguan and Outlander 3 times over 3 years if you only drive the Australian average of 15k a year, thus servicinging not as big a difference as the article stated. Also I know I’m more than happy to pay a small premium to cut my trips to the dealership in half.

  • Crazy n00b

    None of these SUVs should be driven in the sand except the Suzuki GV. Low range is needed when driving in the sand else the transmission and torque converter will be under too much stress or overheat.

    • Jkfg

       Use a manual then. I’ve never heard of a manual gearbox overheating.

      • Noddy_of_Toyland

        Yeah just lower the air in the tyres, and fit a manual gearbox, before attempting sad driving.

        • Henry Toussaint

           Or, if it has ‘Manual’ Mode on the Auto, leave it in that and It wont change unless you exceed about 6000 RPM or something..

          • Brayden Cresswell

            Crazy n00b you must not know much about cars if you think some sand will overheat these cars I have a manual Rav4 which frequents the beach most weekends and I have never been bogged once or had a overheating gearbox.

          • Crazy n00b

            Obviously the manual gearbox can’t heat up. But driving on soft sand requires a lot of drive shafts torque at low speed . Without low range is not good for the clutch and the engine. Unless it’s not soft sand. BTW I have driven on soft dry sand on the beaches and I know what it’s like. 

            Another note is that without low range in the manual and without slipping the clutch, the tyres got to spin a lot faster and that could bury into the soft sand at low speed.

          • Crazy n00b

            It’s the slipping torque converter that whips the fluid all over and the car’s moving very slowly, that’s what heating the torque converter/gearbox up.

          • Brayden Cresswell

            Correct I wouldn’t dare take a auto version of my car out to much to go wrong with that scenario but if you drive it right you wont bog the car I have had to stop in soft sand and get moving again in lock mode and it was fine its a decent offroader the Rav 4 with someone who knows a thing or two about 4wding

      • Hung Low

        The gearbox won’t, but the diffs will.

      • Johnny

        Ever heard of a clutch failing?

  • Martin

    Why does a Tiguan cost over $2,500 to service? That is terrible!

    • Kfg

       It is terrible pricing but it’s nothing compared to the Nissan X-Trail Diesel. $3438.62 for the first 4 years.

      • Iuty

        Too bad that’s not relevant, since the X-Trail was not part of this comparo.

        • Iuty

           It is relevant to anyone interested in this type of car and how much they cost to service.

          Your comment provides nothing useful at all.

          • Iuty

            You’re comment provides nothing useful at all, considering CA would’ve included the X-Trail or made reference to its service costs, if it were relevant. Everyone here knows you carry some chip on your shoulder regarding Nissan – you need to let it go.

          • Iuty

            How was providing servicing costs of a diesel-engined vehicle relevant, when none of the cars featured in the comparo were diesel-engined? If you really cared about relevance, you would have quoted the total servicing costs of a comparable petrol X-Trail model, namely $2501.18, which still puts it below the – to quote you – ‘terrible pricing’ of the Tiguan.

        • Hung Low

          Neither was any diesel engined SUV, compare the petrol engined Xtrail instead. In a diesel Tiguans case the service would include a cambelt (yes a belt driven diesel) change which is a $1100 service by itself, and the Vdud would be needing new disc and pads, another $1100 euro soft discs/pads consumable that is not included in standard in the service schedule. Plus at the 4 year mark no factory warranty and a reliability reputation that is pretty crud.

          • Iuty

            $2500 for the petrol X trail which like the VW is terrible.

            I just find it remarkable how everyone tries to hide Nissans huge service costs, yet they feel they must expose VWs, We can see your attempts Hunglow to hide it, by rattling on about what needs servicing in the Tiguan but ignoring the fact that the Nissan as just as bad & luty clone trying to say the X trail is not relevant when it’s clearly a direct competitor to all the cars in this comparo.

          • Iuty

            Who’s hiding Nissan’s huge servicing costs? No one. If the X-Trail was featured in this comparison, people would’ve bagged the servicing costs just as badly.

          • Iuty

            A diesel-engined car is a ‘direct competitor’ to six petrol-engined cars, many of which have diesel counterparts themselves? WRONG. If this comparo was about the diesel-engined version of the above vehicles, then sure, the costs for the X-Trail diesel would be relevant. But alas, the article was not about diesel-engined SUVs.

          • Hung Low

            I am not hiding squat, Nissan servicing is too expensive and their aftersales service stinks….how’s that? Does not excuse your avoidance to relate to the extra service consumables cost with the VW not reflected with the schedule If you want to get picky I could say the higher service cost of the XTrail is offset by it being a cheaper, much larger vehicle that can be used for towing a boat, caravan and is quite decent off road compared to the Tiguan and a few others here.

          • Hehe

            Luty, you have been defending the Tiguan throughout the post – you a VW salesman are you?

    • Robin_Graves

      That doesnt even take into consideration the expense and inconvenience of it constantly breaking down as VeeDud’s do.  I think even a Craptiva would be more reliable.

  • subaruuu

    Wouldn’t call the CX-5 the most versatile when it dug itself a hole in the sand…

    • Pal

       Was thinking the same thing

      • Daniel DeGasperi

        subaruuu, Pal, despite the location of the photo shoot, off roading was given the smallest weighting in the overall verdict of this test, given that most compact SUV models will seldom be used off bitumen. If off roading ability is crucial, as the article states, choose the RAV4 or Outlander. Cheers,

        • Pal

           Thanks, I did enjoy the read.

        • LJP

          On the Forester, did you not try turning off the traction control or turning on X-mode? and how can you ignore ground clearance and full sized spare as other critical factors for off-road? plus what was with putting the Tiguan in the mix as an “entry level” – you could get the mid spec Forester for less $.

          • Daniel DeGasperi

            LJP, the Forester stability control is switchable, but even when turned off it intervenes excessively, often by enough to upset its balance. The Subaru also only offers marginally more ground clearance than the Outlander, which also matches its full-size spare tyre. The Forester 2.5i-L CVT costs the same as a Tiguan 132TSI Pacific, yet still lacks its reverse-park assist tech, and auto lights and wipers. Cheers,

          • LJP

            Are you confirming you did not try Forester’s X-mode? If so, your conclusions concerning best off road are invalid.  Also Outlander might have OK clearance (not quite as good as Forester) and full spare, but as you noted, it is pretty lame on road.  The already expensive RAV4 AWD requires another $300 (your quote) for the spare and has only 176mm ground clearance, so it’s off road credentials are lacking. Basically you have proved CX-5, CR-V and Tiguan shouldn’t go off road, but as you don’t care about off-road because you are looking at a family car, your effort on this front has been somewhat lackadaisical.  When really put to the test, I should think the RAV4 would fail, and with X-mode at you fingertips, the Forester would shine. There are still some people out here looking for a compact to mid-size SUV to serve its original purpose, which was not just as an around town family car.  For my $, of the SUVs in this class the one that drives best overall ON AND OFF road, is the Forester (oh and by the way, the Forester does have vents for the rear passengers – they are under the front seats (pros and cons on that front).

          • Daniel DeGasperi

            LJP, did try X-Mode, it doesn’t do much  and automatically switches itself off above 40km/h. Regardless, the ESC intervenes excessively. Forester certainly wasn’t as good off road as expected, nor is it up there with the front runners on road. Cheers,

          • Ace

            The RAV4′s locking also turns off over 40km/hr, reverts to torque control, how can this be better than full time 4wd?

          • $29896495

            It’s just another indicator that these things aren’t considered real off road vehicles. As long as you are aware of that before parting with cash for one, there shouldn’t be an issue.

            Like the test and a lot of people have said they take them places you wouldn’t think they could go, But so goes normal cars as well. They are primarily road cars which have been tweaked.

        • subaruuu

          Thanks Daniel, I understand. Just that the wording of versatility for the CX5 doesn’t quite fit the image shown, and making the other cars seem no less versatile.
          Personally I believe the CX5 is a great car and my mate has one, but like what you said about the RAV4 is for offroad and CRV is for cargo space. I would just put the CX5 down for the best drivability category rather than a clear cut winner.

        • Zaccy16

          i enjoyed the article too, great info on all of the cars, really shows how good the CX5 is! and is great value now too with the new 2.5

    • Zaccy16

      the majority of people who buy these cars will not go off road in them end of story!

      • subaruuu

        the majority only cares about going from A to B and have a particular brand loyalty, so nothing really matters!

      • super_hans

        This is asinine. Most supercars will never be driven at 10/10ths or on a
        race track, yet caradvice still give significant weight to their handling and
        acceleration figures. These cars are marketed as capable off the road, the reviewers shouldn’t be making excuses for them and should hold them to account on this fact

      • Kaas

         i disagree.
        A lot will buy it because they are tall hatchbacks, but off-road ability makes them attractive for big SUV looking to downgrade or people looking for a “camper” type vehicle but dont have 50K to spend and dont need a big vehicle.

    • Karl Sass

      Unless you need to dig a hole, saves getting the shovel out. Getting the car out on the other hand….

    • Kieran

      Add to that its jiggly, uncomfortable suspension on the choppy bitumen we call road in Australia.

  • John Walker

    Lightly rained on dirt roads and wet sand are about as much as these little ‘uns can handle, those clutch packs will start slipping badly if relied on for too long in heavy sand, I guess they are perfect for those who need a “high driving position” in the big smoke..

    • Guest

      Bull $h!t, My friends and I had driven the outlander and x-trial on a soft to moderate soft sand track more than an hour continuously up north in WA few years ago. And they have no problem at all. I guess the rav4 and the forester would be the same, don’t know the others though. The people never take these cars to off road, doesn’t mean they can’t.

      By the way, a good comparison review.

      • Brayden Cresswell

        Agree completely my current 2010 is at the beach every weekend your comment is based on your own small mind and what you think people do with cars.

        • Hung Low

          I have even seen a little Suzuki SX4 in some pretty rough tracks, they are quite capable with the right person behind the wheel.

      • Igomi Watabi

        Yeah, agree. The common perception is that soft roaders are no good at all off road. And while I’m not saying they’d go anywhere near as far as a Defender or a Cruiser, I’ve been pretty amazed at some of the places that I’ve been able to get a RAV4 rental into and out of, for work.

      • Viv R

        I agree with Mr Walker.  I have bush bashed my S3 Forester with some success on some rough steep slippery trails where an ordinary car an SUV with less ground clearance could never go.  However, I doubt that the Forester could stand up to this on a regularly basis without causing driveline breakage, damage to the undercarriage or premature wear.

        That said, I’m confident that the CX-5 owner would be calling for the tow truck long before me in the Forester.

  • Sam

    That was probably the best comparison test I have ever read here at Caradvice.com.au.  Bravo!   Clearly, plenty of thought and effort has gone into it and it was quite epic.  I needed a break just to get through it.  Keep up the good work.

    • YoLex

       +1
      Best midsize SUV test, most detailed ever. Thanks!

      • Zaccy16

        yep i agree, like a wheels mag comparo but better! 

  • Pro346

    Suzuki Grand vitara is the only real choice for serious off roading and the tiguan needs 95 octane so don’t take it into the country where premium can be hard to find.

    • Pe88lz

      My previous 118tsi golf and current octavia 118tsi were an are taken into the country most of their lives and only ever filled with 98ron never even stooped to 95. Their fantastic fuel colony means its never hard to find the right service station before its even getting close to empty. 1000k’s out of a 55L tank was often achievable in the golf.

  • John

    If I could ban one segment of cars from Australia it would be this one. They’re not bought to drive off road, they’re bought to drive over leaves on the road. I saw one of these new Outlanders for the first time the other day, I have to say, that from the rear it is one of the worst looking new car designs I’ve ever seen. Ugly and dated. 

    • Tool

      If I could ban one segment of commentators from the internet, it would be this one. They spend their time whinging about what everyone else chooses to drive, rather than just purchasing and driving what they want.

      • John

        Clearly you own one of these types of vehicles and bow to any trends in fashion like their owners do. 

        • Hehe

          John then you might as well ban high performance cars. The speed limit here is 110 tops

        • Tool

          Considering my vehicle is 16 years old and I tend to hang on to vehicles for a long time, I’d love to hear to what “fashion trend” you think I bow to. But the point is, what does it matter to you what vehicle I choose to drive? The roads must be a scary place for you, being around all these people who drive vehicles that don’t conform to your narrow ideals of who should drive what.

          • John

            I used hyperbole to say how I dislike ONE segment of cars and you come up with this nonsense. The people that buy mid sized SUVs, just ONE segment of many that are on the market, buy them because they’re fashionable; end of story. They also believe that a 3 year old car is too old, so I do respect you for hanging on to yours for so long. 

          • terri7

            Well, our Ford Territory is 9 years old and we’ve had it for 8 years.
            We buy SUVs because of the unique features they offer, and we choose very carefully.
            Not sure how fashion comes into it; must ponder that a bit in case I’m a victim.

          • $29896495

            terri7, just out of curiosity, what were the parameters which dictated your choice?

  • No fears

    Have committed myself to a basic 2.0 litre Forester manual, my criteria was what would fit my driveway & garage, ground clearance, reliability,steered clear of anything with a turbo. I think the Forester engine now with chain driven rather than belt driven camshafts is a good move,time will tell.Looking forward to it.Trading a 93 Liberty Wagon which gave me 16 years of reliable service.AWD system teamed with the EJ22 was the best thing I had ever driven,STILL a nice drive,but time marches on. Unbelievable grip which really came in handy once & the air suspension while sometimes expensive to maintain is very smooth & controlled.Yeah I am biased.   

  • Barry

    Tough call all are ok.I guess Rav4 is the best seller in the market place.But Subaru for me.

    • Daniel

      I drove both here in Germany with Diesel engines and manual transmission. For me the motor of the Subaru Boxer Diesel is much better than the Rav4 Diesel. It has a lot of torque in low rpm’s so you can be lazy with shifting between gears. When driving the typical 70-90 km/h, I had to constantly change between 4th & 5th gear with the RAV. I also liked the Subaru’s visibility from inside. It feels much smaller than the Rav4 and it’s easier to guess the size of the car. What’s better in the Rav4 are the brakes. They have an amazing grip. Not that the Subaru leaves anything to desire in that direction, but I found the Rav4 brakes and handling when braking amazing.

      But in the end I liked the Subaru so much, I fell in love and ordered mine last week.

  • Kjh

    What’s with the CX5 servicing costs? The Mazda3 review said servicing to 60,000kms was $2200 so how does the CX5 end up being far cheaper at $1465?

    • Jkgh

      Check out Iuty’s/your post above and CA’s reply to it.

  • DAVIDZ

    X Trail for me, good to see stupidru where it belongs,,,,,,LAST  lol

    • Gibwater

       Dave,I never did not doubt that you wern’t a non-nissan fan.
      nissan are misunderorganised.Subaru have cuuting edge engine technologoly,all the power,luxury and safety one could expect.They are much,much more gooder.

      you can’t have it both way.

      Subaru sales are exscellent,reflectin the boldness of the products available.

      theres an exciting new desert out-Gelativo sorbets.Available in delicious passionfriut,mango,orange,lime among others.they contain real fluit, iS non-dairy,an ideal summer treat.Available at your nearist parpiteticipating supermarkets and milk bars now.Do try them.

      You do the compaparison Subaru VS Nissan.Subaru=Superior technology,drivetrains,safety,styling,quality,luxery and a morer rewadwing drive.

      You can’t have it both wa

      • Gibwater

        way

      • Piquetcon

        I missed Subaru’s cutting edge technology…. Could someone remind me again???

        • JoeR_AUS

          Only old EURO IV engines, no Direct Injection. No rear air vents, No manual only CVT – poor excuse for a auto

          • subaruuu

            For Subaru, you most likely need to get the higher if not the highest range to get the tech or value for money. Like the EyeSight, WRX

            Seems to me their business model and focus is just different to other brands like Mazda or Toyota. Subaru more on profit margin with the higher ranges whereas the others are more on selling in high volume and profit from a smaller margin.

            FYI there is manual for the 2.0 version and the winner CX5 doesn’t have rear air vents either ;)  

          • JoeR_AUS

            The Mazda with there DI and Skyactiv are deserved winners, plus Diesel with Auto. So if Mazda can offer all this technology at this price point , why cannot the other Japanese cars? Perhaps dis-concerning buyers? Also note EURO V engines and 6 speed auto has been in a Holden since 2009.

            However, I carry small children in the back so no rear air vents means a fail for me. The Tiguna with Auto is the pick in this list for me.

          • subaruuu

            @JoeR_AUS, not sure about Subaru, as a fan I don’t even know which direction its heading. The other manufacturers seems to be focusing on green tech like hybrid (toyota, honda) and electric (Nissan, Mitsubitshi)

            Must admit Mazda is good at filling the void and picking up the general consumer marker here with a decent package at a good price

          • JoeR_AUS

            @subaruuu:disqus  confused about Subaru as well!
            They have DI in there XT engine but not in there 2.5i or 3.6i engines. The Liberty/Legacy comes with the 3.6i which uses more fuel than a Commodore. The turbo engine in the Liberty is still available but is the old 2.5XT, where is the new 2.0L DI turbo? Since Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has Subaru had production problems?

        • Viv R

          When was the last time the Forester outsold either the Nissan Dualis or the the Nissan X-Trail?  Cannot argue about Subaru resale values though!

      • Tool

        While I tend to agree that Subies are good, I think my brain just exploded while trying to read your post. Pro tip: lay off the bong water before posting on the internet – it will improve your spelling, grammar and sentence construction markedly.

        • Gibwater

           OK,I’ll see wot do can I .Thanks very well,

        • Resident

          This is a much much gooder post.

      • Resident

        Um, Gelativo?

  • Rocket

    Why did CA leave out the number 1 seller the Captiva after all it is a Holden?

    Maybe a comparison with the new Ecoboost Kuga will be on the cards?

    • dilligaf

      Craptiva! ha-ha-ha-ha

      • Rocket

        Maybe it sells so well because it is a Holden or it is just plain cheap……

        • Zaccy16

          i think you have it right, people see ‘holden’ and think it must be make in aus and must be great because it says holden on it!

          • Igomi Watabi

            Nobody thinks that. Why do people insist on that argument?

        • $29896495

          It’s selling because they are trying to clear them for mere sheckles. Once the deals stop so will the selling.

          • terri7

            Yet to read a review of the Captiva where it is recommended over any of these. Seems to have a poor name generally.

    • Zaccy16

      becuase the craptiva would have come last and can’t compare to any of these cars, even the outlander! the ecoboost kuga will be good though

      • Robin_Graves

        At least the Craptiva would have made it to the end of the tests unlike the VeeDud.

        • Hung Low

          I missed what happened with the VW during the test, please tell.

          • Barry

            It said Vw struggled with distributing power between its wheels and lacked ground clearance.
            Tinnycan bottomed out severely bashing its engine cover and knocking off its A/C hose.Allowing compressed air to leak.After that tinnican had to hobble home.

          • Robin_Graves

            The engine cover would have been ‘knocked’ due to the radiator support panel flexing after the bump.  Just goes to show that a Golf on stilts should never leave the bitumen.  Shouldn’t really leave the factory to be honest.  I bet it needed a bit more structural work than just recharging the refrigerant.  Lame duck.

  • Aliford1

    Cant wait for the all new Ford Kuga……

  • DWS

    In 2013 I struggle to think how old the new Forester looks.
    Is the Toyota RAV4 the only one that you can get in 6 Manual as well as auto?

  • Guest no. infinity

    Thumbs up for the review.  Good decision  by Mazda to put in 2.5 4banger in the cx5. 2L is way underpowered. Diesel cx5 also good but I heard potential problems with DPF or something. RAV4 is camry on stilts. Tiguan, along with other VW products lack long term reliability.
    Personally do not like the CVT tranny. I wish forester had conventional 6speedauto or 7speed/8speed for that matter but it will raise the price a bit. Hmm ZF8speed auto on all Jap/Kor SUVs when it will come…

    • davie

      I too had misgivings about CVT until I drove one. I feared the usual fears of poor responsiveness, rubber band effect etc etc. 

      However, I was very surprised The CVT in the subaru is an excellent example of technology well done. It did not feel sluggish to me and is always in the right gear. 

      I ended up buying a forester CVT with the optional 6-speed paddle shift which allows you to lock a gear ration, EXACTLY like a normal 6 speed auto. However, the cheapo model in this review is missing that feature. and only has a single “Low gear” setting which is simply idiotic.

      Subaru are idiots for denying buyers of the base model the proper 6 speed and paddle shift. The equivalent liberty base model has it, so why not the forester???

    • Zaccy16

      i agree about cvt, it ruins the forester, new diesel in cx5/ mazda 6 is a great engine! saw new diesel 6′s going around albert park at the grand prix yesterday, they actually sound like a good petrol engine!

      • Viv R

        Have you even driven a Subaru or Nissan CVT?

        For the sort of daily use that these petrol SUVs get as a suburban shopping trolleys, I offer the informed opinion that a good CVT is preferrable to either a conventional auto or an automated manual.  The CVT offers a lot soother driving and is significantly more fuel efficient.

        I’m not saying that CVTs make for a sporty drive, but none of these SUVs is capable of a sporty drive (altough the Tiguan and CX-5 are relatively good for SUVs).

  • Car Buff

    Daniel De Gasperi, I was very impressed with your review artical very detailed and informative, well done. However as I am in the market for a “SUV” I found it unbelievable that you rated the Subaru Forester almost last! Three other similar reviews I have read by Paul Gover, Neil Dowling and Bill McKinnon all respected motoring journalists rated the Subaru Forester FIRST ahead of your winner here the Mazda CX-5, (in 2,5 L Petrol Version) I am confused! Would you care to make any coments on this sir?

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Thanks for your kind feedback, Car Buff. Having not read the other articles, I’m not qualified to make a judgement call on what I’d agree with. What I will say is that I believe our 600km – or combined 3200km! – of testing in these cars, and the detailed explanation of their running costs, would make this test up there as one of the more rigorous around. The CX-5 is a better car than the Forester, unless off road capability is paramount, particularly in terms of engine smoothness, interior finish, steering feel, handling, and boot space. I’d sit in and drive both, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Good luck with the purchase.

      • Hehe

        Daniel – have you considered repair costs (not just servicing) and real world car reliability data as well? This is something that a new car buyer will appreciate

        • Viv R

          The difference in scheduled servicing costs between brands can be SUBSTANTIAL and amount to several thousands difference in total ownership costs of the 3-5 year ownership period of the vehicle.

          If you take the time to do the web research you will likely find that Kia’s low 12-monthly services are the cheapest over 5 years with Mazda and Honda’s high 6-monthly serivicing costs the dearest (or perhaps VWs with their very high 12-monthly servicing costs).

          Fixed price servicing isn’t always a good guide with Nissan being much more expensive than Toyota for the same service period.  Toyota’s are pretty cheap overall and close to Kia in total 5 year costs.

      • Zaccy16

        i agree, forester can’t match the mazda for interior, handling, or drivetrain performance and refinement

  • Blitzkrieg

    How do these companys justify charging over $300 for a service
    that is basically fresh oil and a new oil filter?
    Take your car to a qualified mechanic you trust,they will charge
    about $130 to do the same service.

    • Hung Low

      Some charge $500 plus for the same plus additional inspections. I have not used dealer servicing for many years unless there is a flash upgrade required, and usually pay around $120 including tire rotation plus consumables for servicing. Never had an issue with resale etc and I know no first or second year apprentice is servicing the car. People will go on about the convenience of loan cars, etc but what is wrong with using a mobile mechanic as well? Dealer servicing in most cases a process line with the focus on getting the next car done, not doing a job properly or well.

  • Car Buff

    Daniel, OK thanks for your quick reply, I understand your point of view on the other reviews which were from the Herald Sun/Carsguide, The daily telegraph and The Australian.I will certainly test drive both before deciding as you rightly suggested.I was just a bit dissapointed in the Forester’s showing as I am a Subaru fan they use to be “bullet Proof” and just that little different to the rest as well as being right up there with the best in class! Keep up your very good reviews.
    Cheers, Car Buff.

    • subaruuu

      me and my mate went to test drive both the Forrester and the CX5 before he decided on getting the CX5. to be honest, the CX5 base model does feel much better internally compared to the base Forrester. but if you are looking for a trim or 2 higher, especially the top level, the Forrester is much better value with the EyeSight, the auto tailgate and that MASSIVE moon roof.

      can’t agree on the boot space though, with the baby seat in there for testing the CX5 feels a touch more cramped than Forrester. maybe its got to do with the roof line 

      • Car Buff

        Thanks for your info Subaruuu, I was thinking of buying the 2.5I-S Forester this is the top of the range petrol version with all the extra gear as you mentioned plus 18″ wheels and a couple more things like heated seats and side mirrors etc;I forgot to tell Daniel this on previous emails! Cheers.

        • Daniel DeGasperi

          subaruuuu, Car Buff, the 2.5i-S CVT Forester is $43,990 – we’re aware that it is well equipped, but it is also priced well outside the range of this comparison. A 2.5i-L CVT Forester, at $35,990, isn’t as well equipped as the Tiguan or CX-5 Maxx Sport.

          • Car Buff

            Yeah gents I did not really give the correct model which is outside your comparison Daniel sorry for misleading info, I am willing to pay ~$48,990 on road cost for the 2.5i-S CVT Forester if you think it is as good as the equivelent Mazda CX-5, but I am guessing you don’t think so!

          • JoeR_AUS

            You might want to expand your selection list, there are Q3 Audi for 49k drive away and some BMW AWD X1.

          • subaruuu

            Yea that is true, the CX5 maxx sport is the best value at that price point for day to day use. As much as I love Subaru, from a pure price point of view I had nothing to convince my friend to get the Forrester instead.

            Even though he does get annoyed about the lack of power for his 2L FWD CX5 and the odd dual climate control arrangements he just need a big car for the family and his kid

  • Grr

     School-bus Urban Vehicle

  • Resident

    A fantastic and comprehensive review – great work CA.

    The comments however are doing my head in. Just like I don’t mind paying a little more for a superior vehicle, I also don’t mind paying a little more in servicing.

    Stop your whinging people!

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, their are lts of cheap skates on this site! 

    • JoeR_AUS

      Yes great work CarAdvice! Some tests I read, I feel its only NCAP results, green vehicle guide for fuel and some desktop publishing.

  • O123

    CA your comparisons are much better than anything on the web and print. I look forward to your light car comparison. Yaris, Fiesta, Mazda 2, Swift, Polo

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, yeah a light car one would be good, the small car one was good as well

    • Viv R

      Wasn’t about a year ago withe VW Polo just eclipsing the Kia Rio?  Or do i have my sites mixed up?

  • F1orce

    I don’t care about any of these.. And personally would never purchase any..

    But the Mazda CX-5 is wildly popular around here

    So I guess a clear winner..

  • Doctor

    Some interesting comments (especially regarding VW and Nissan) but I wouldn’t recommend towing much with any of the vehicles, despite having seen a Tiguan (diesel) towing a 20ft Geist caravan and read a test of 2.0 TSI towing an 18ft Adria. They are just too small for caravans.

  • davie

    A great review – very comprehensive and well presented – Congratulations!

    However, One thing I do not agree with is your depiction of rear seat leg space. The Forester has massive rear space when the front seat is set in any position other than fully back. So much so that I believe they should have less rear leg room and and a bigger boot!

    I am 6 foot tall and I only ever have the front seat set about half-way back – your driver must have been almost 7 foot tall to need the front seat all the way back?

    Can you clarify if your photos of rear seat space in all cars have all drivers seats set to the rear most setting? 

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Appreciate the note, davie. For consistency, the front seats are all set to the driving position of a 188cm male driver, but did not need to go all the way back in any of the cars.  Cheers,

  • StevieP

    The Subie is one of the worst looking production cars at the moment. Especially the rear, that’s unforgivable.

    • Tool

      I actually think the rear looks better than the front. To my eye the RAV4 has the best looking front end of these though.

    • No fears

      no it isn’t….so there

  • Brisbenaust

    Hi Daniel and CA team, thank you all for another terrific review. Even though X Trail wasn’t included in the comparison, given your experience reviewing X Trail over the years, how would you rank X Trail’s off road capabilities against these new comers? Thanks heaps.       

  • terri7

    I too appreciate reviews such as this. It’s hard to check everything yourself when looking at cars, so if you read enough reviews like this you can get a good overall impression, and then to a final check yourself, for personal preferences.
    The big one to review against these is the all-new Kuga, due in April. Ford has made a huge effort to give it lots of appeal, and in the reviews I’ve read there has been no real criticism of it.
    Certainly one of the better looking ones inside and out.
    Was pleased to see more attention paid to cabin comfort and less to performance. We choose an SUV for the seat height and ease of entry and exit, plus easy cargo use. Not worried about off-road ability, but it must be able to cope with a load and still be able to overtake safely.
    Also want a modern dash with a large colour screen!

  • Check your facts

    I think you will find the servicing figures are well and truly wrong, Volkswagen have recently released capped price servicing which puts the Tiguan in at $1662 for 60,000k’s and $1005 for 3 years……putting it in the mix with the likes of the mitsubishi on running costs and significantly cheaper than the Mazda.

  • Guest

    As a non-mechanical, country, female driver, this review was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for – enough information over a range of criteria and not too technical. Thanks!

  • Zaccy16

    Great review CA! shows what a great car the cx5 is! if i was choosing a compact SUV i would go CX5, Tiguan, CRV, Forester, then RAV 4/Outlander, the rav 4 interiors much too dated even though its a new car!

  • Al Tungupon

    The RAV should have kept third place and not share it with the CR-V because it’s simply a better sorted car. The Honda is also outdated in the gearbox department, so it must have been penalised as well.

    • F1orce

      You will not even notice the difference between a 5-speed or 6-speed

      The CRV has the most amount of power.

      • Al Tungupon

        …at the expense of torque, just like any other Honda. Power makes brochures look good, but grunt is what counts in the real world.

  • Tool

    Good job on the comparison CA. Naturally all these vehicles are a compromise – in an ideal world I’d take the Forester but with the RAV4 nose, X-Trail boot and 2.5L turbo/5 speed manual drivetrain combo from the previous generation Forester. Guess I’ll keep dreaming…

  • Atul

    Great review ever ,keep it up good work.

    • Johnno

      Stay away from the subi, from my experience they are one of the most boring cars you could ever drive. I have a 2010 xs premium and it puts me too sleep. And although the new model is a step up in interior quality it still has a cheap feel about it. Updating to a CX5 so I look cool again not a dork I have become driving an overrated brand like Subaru.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    I agree with that verdict. The Tiguan needs a slightly bigger boot.

    • terri7

      We looked at the Tiguan a few years ago, and thought the interior was excellent with a high quality to it. Not enough cargo space though for us. Based on this review we’ll have another look, I guess.
      But now we have grand kids so have to think pram and seat as well as our things.
      The CR-V sounds like the one to get, from this lot, if you need space. I also would like rear air vents.

  • Robin_Graves

    Anyone who buys a petrol “SUV” needs their head read.  If they are just going to be putted around the city buy a 2WD wagon.

  • Galaxy

    I’m so sick of hearing manufacturers ‘tune’ their cars for better handling only to get good reviews and we have to put up with cringing as we approach and swerve potholes just to stop our new shiny cars loosening to pieces after a couple of years.  Mazda CX5 would have been great till I read about the firm riding setup for urban conditions. When I am going to need awesome handling in a SUV? Now it means I really have to look at a RAV4 (reluctant… hate that interior)

    • Kieran

       Agree. The CX5 is just another in the long list of cars that, over the last few years, have been ruined by uncomfortably hard suspension.
       
      Purpose of these hard suspensions: 
      1) Keeps race-car handling obsessed motoring journalists happy
      2) poor substitute for decent stability control systems which lazy manufacturers can’t be bothered developing.

      • Popper

        So true. It amuses me vastly when the buyer of a BMW, say, expecting good handling but also a “premium” “luxurious” “up market” experience, discovers instead the deep dismay of a bone-jarring ride. Goes good round corners on very smooth road but.

        • Daniel DeGasperi

          Galaxy, Kieran, Popper, the CX-5 certainly does not have uncomfortably hard suspension. Indeed, an emphasis on stiff suspension at the expense of ride comfort is inappropriate, but the Mazda mixes both beautifully. Cheers,

  • 451

    so the MAZDA that dug itself a hole comes first? also having the second smallest boot…and the VW comes second when the 4WD system is least capable? and has the smallest boot?

  • Tony

    How do the warranties compare? Did I miss something? And resale history?

  • Poison_Eagle

    I can’t wait until these things are out of vogue and the next fad takes off. 

    • No fears

      Wasn’t the first Forester about 1997 & the predecessors were small wagons from the 1980′s, hardly a fad. 

      • Poison_Eagle

        Before that it was MPV’s, before that it was station wagons, both of which lasted longer than 10 years.
        Predecessors were not small wagons, that’s a different genre entirely.
        A car that looks like it can go off road but can’t= trendy FAD.

        • Tool

          Who cares? No one is forcing you to buy one.

          • Guest

             A bit defensive? I was saying I don’t like them, this is a car forum where I’m allowed to express my opinion. If you don’t like it you’re the one who can cram it, ok buddy?

          • Cars

            Yes he was, and now yes you are! We need Valium in here. I’ll volunteer as test subject, so long as there are no placebos in the test.

  • No fears

    Lots of talk about servicing costs particularly diesel,to me the modern turbo diesel given the complexity & possible repairs, fuel costs per litre, purchase price to start with makes it a false economy for all but the long distance user.I question the point of a high maintenance diesel,it might perform like a petrol engine but you seem to pay a premium. 

    • terri7

      While testing the new RAV4 diesel, I asked the salesman how the extra $4000 cost was justified when we don’t do a high mileage. He said premium price, higher resale.
      I countered with the comment that you don’t know how diesel will be considered in the years to come, it might be out of favour for some reason, such as carcinogenics.
      Hardly a way to justify the extra high cost. He agreed.

      • Kaas

         sales men are probably the least reliable “experts” when it comes to performance and long term effects…. they just want the sale… and avoid confrontations and arguments… its on the employee policy.

      • Daniel

        The new RAv4 diesel is over expensive. The Subaru diesel is a.) better and b.) less pricey. If you compare a 150hp petrol motor with a 150hp diesel motor, diesels mostly accelerate better in low rpm’s (until it comes to the RAV …). But yes: they are much more complex than they used to be. Nowadays most modern motors are complex beasts to get fuel consumption and emissions down, be it petrol or diesel. What I tend to look for is the engine size/hp relation. A 2-2,5l diesel with 150hp sounds more reasonable than a 1,4l 150hp motor, doesn’t it ?

  • Car Buff

    Daniel, just one last question (please reply) I did not give you the correct facts or model i want to buy which is not considered in your review because of different cost, I am willing to pay ~$48,990 on road drive away cost (before barganing for less of course) for the 2.5i-S CVT Forester top of the range Petrol, boot space is not a issue for me (no other family) off road is as i will be driving on bush tracks, dirt roads, sand and national parks etc;. Given this criteria do you think the forester is better than the equivelent Mazda CX-5? I value you opinion and will still test drive both, Cheers.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Car Buff, I would look at the Forester XT rather than the non-turbo models. It addresses both some of the interior finish and drivetrain refinement issues that affected the Forester in this test. The XT is by far the most improved Forester. If you’re regularly driving off road, I probably would choose it over the Mazda CX-5. Cheers,

      • Car Buff

        Daniel. thanks for that info, I will check out the XT turbo as well. Keep up your good work as one of the best young motoring journalists in our country in my opinion, ( I also read your articals in Wheels magazine) Cheers, mate.

        • Karl Sass

          Car buff, if you’re going to use it off road maybe the Xtrail is worth a look too? Just a thought, good luck.

          • Car Buff

            Karl Sass, Yeah I think your right there, to be honest I am going to test drive the lot! When you are going to spend~ $49,000 on something you need to get it right, but as you must know also one has to like the feel, colour, looks etc; as well because you have to live with it for years! cheers, mate.

          • Karl Sass

            Absolutely, that’s the fun bit! I’m surprised at how many people don’t do their homework when buying a car, it’s the second biggest purchase most people will make.

          • Zaccy16

            Exactly Karl! I have stressed that point before, people are spending 10′s of thousands on cars but are not doing a easy thing like having a quick research on the computer or buy a 8 dollar magazine! People think, (specially the elderly) that Toyota must be the best and they don’t bother looking at any other brands!! also the same people think holden must be fantastic becuase they are made in aus ( but we know that the majority excluding the commodore and cruze are korean!)

          • Karl Sass

            Exzaccy, couldn’t agree more. I often hear people say they got car X and just replace it with a new car of the same model without test driving others. To be fair, it’s not just Holden and Toyota that have brand allegiance, just they have it more than other brands. 

        • Daniel DeGasperi

          Thanks for that Car Buff. I’ve moved from my position at Wheels magazine to head up CA as deputy editor. Feedback is always most welcome, good or bad! Cheers,

          • $29896495

            Cool, all you have to do now is include a good spec sheet. Either when talking about something or testing it.

  • Nik01

    Took a Mazda cx5 for a test drive yesterday (Maxx Sport 2wd I think it was), liked the car but concerned about all the negative comments regarding the 2.0lt engine with it’s lack of power. Currently driving an Outlander 4wd with a 2.4lt engine and it is also a little slow (but expected from a 4 cylinder car). After 4 and a half years of driving the Outlander it is time to upgrade, but having never used the 4wd option figured I would save money and go for the 2wd instead. Is anyone happy with the power of the 2.0lt engine in the cx5?

    • Rocket

      I guess that’s a no then?

    • Cars

      Nik what other thoughts did you have on the new Outlander?

      • Nik01

         Hubby doesn’t like the look of the new Outlander and neither of us like the dash. All rather boring.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FFLU42DZJ4E23NZKHN3UXJU44Q Aazz

    I would still consider the Sportage

  • Golfschwein

    I’m continually entranced by criticism of the Tiguan’s boot. Sure, it needs to be observed, as it’s no place for pram owners, but it’s a much shorter car than the others. If you need more boot, you need a bigger car. The Tiguan would have to be longer. And then it wouldn’t be a Tiguan. It would be a Golf Estate, or an X-Trail, or…anything! But not a Tiguan. It is what it is.

    • Cars

      Just FYI, the rear seats can slide forward. So if you have small kids in the back or no rear passengers, you can boost the boot space quite easily.

  • Cars

    “Together, these six models have collectively snared almost half of all compact SUV sales in the first two months of 2013.”
    So who are the other contenders that took slightly more than half of all compact SUV sales in the first 2 months of 2013???

    • Robin_Graves

      X-Trail, Sportage and IX-35

      • Cars

        Really? Just 3 cars holding more than 50% market share in this segment?
        Amazing!

        • Viv R

          Well they are always going to sell more Dualis, X-Trails and iX35 SUVs each month than they will sell Tiguans and Outlanders.

          But to be fair, other than the ageing Tiguan, these are the bright shiny new models already released for 2013.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Cars, there are 27 other models that make up the SUV Compact and SUV Medium categories, of which depending on the model tested here, VFACTS categorises as being in one or the other categories. The six cars here have among the largest shares in the SUV class. Cheers,

  • Cars

    Next up – an identical review with all the contenders that provide diesel engines? Please?
    I have 0 interest in a petrol SUV.

    Mitsubishi – a 7 seat SUV with not even second row air vents? Really? Mitsubishi? Hello?

    • Viv R

      Diesel SUVs - rattle and yawn!  Let’s have a review between the turbo petrol SUVs that offer real performance and driving enjoyment!  Oh, there is only the Forester XT turbo, the T155 Tiguan and the ageing T5 Kuga in the affordable vehicle range. 

      Good on you Subaru and VW.

      • Cars

        Right! So a performance SUV review – great idea and no one would think so more than the guys at CA.
        The problem is the market has limited appeal whereas diesel SUVs have a wide appeal, even if not to your liking.

        • Daniel

          Tried RAV Diesel, Forester Diesel: Subaru wins hands down. The engine charts tell the truth.

  • Cars

    Oh and BTW – fantastic review! Awesome to see such a comprehensive comparison test. Nice to know what CA is capable of.

  • Wic_ed1

    Would be interested in knowing how far you drive before the Mazda buried itself? I have a CX-5 and barely get 300-400 metres is sand no softer than what your pictures show and the AWD overheats and drops to FWD which is what I believe you were experiencing. I wouldn’t consider the CX-5 for anything other than road and gravel, as a leisurely drive along the tide can turn into disaster 

  • TG

    TL:DR, CX-5 wins, RAV4 at the bottom of the list. Am I right? :)

    • terri7

      We checked out the RAV4, wife had a drive. Competent but boring and bland. I was thinking that if you’d bought one, got it home and sat in it, looking at the dash, you just be thinking-this is a nothing car. No emotional attachment, no exciting features, and looks old already.

      • BeerMe

         I feel exactly the same about CX5. Though personally, I find the CX5 the most boring and bland car of them all.

        • terri7

          We also thought it a bit nothing. Poor cabin design and features. Reminded us just how good the 2004 Territory cabin still is, and how lacking these latest SUVs are.

  • Superbee_440

    CX-5 gets bogged and wins….enough said!!!

    • Robin_Graves

      And the veedud breaks after going over a little bump in the sand and still comes second? Pfffft.

      • Hung Low

        But the interior trim is nice, that is the main thing sheesh!

  • terri7

    For those who still find the attraction of an SUV hard to fathom, here’s our reasons for buying the Territory.

    We have several older relatives, full sized, and usually offer to drive them here and there, so the vehicle had to be roomy with easy access. The Forester was too small and underpowered, while the Prado we had was too high and awkward for them.

    We also take them away once or twice a year for a short break, so a fair bit of luggage space needed as well. Even with a family Kluger, we find both are fully loaded on these trips.

    As we live near bush, we have to be able to evacuate should there be a fire risk. At that time we had 2 dogs and 2 cats, as well as 3 adults to cater for. Chuck it in and go!

    The other point was that we’d just built a new house and so we needed to be able to move garden items and furniture bits and pieces. Amazing what you can fit in if you try!

    Now the dogs have gone, we do a bit less ferrying around, and the Territory is getting on, we are starting to look around for a replacement. Just a bit smaller, but still able to cater for the oldies.

    Over the years we have had a large variety of cars and wagons, and would not change away from an SUV now. It seems like a perfect solution.

  • supercujo

    What’s wrong with a normal wagon? These things aren’t great off road, so what is the point of getting slugged more in servicing, tyres, fuel, etc?

  • terri7

    The Territory tyres typically last in excess of 75,000ks, but you won’t learn that from a review, so you really can’t say.

  • camper

    Hi Daniel DeGasperi, thank you for a great review…I have been watching this segment for a long time, trying to make up my mind on a vehicle specifically for the ability for camping/going bush/fun opportunity within a small/er vehicle than typical Cruiser etc..
    From what I understand, and from anyone else, is the now older series Forrester better than the new, as I believe they dropped the low range option from the manual? I know it doesn’t help you didn’t have one to compare, but perhaps from previous similar reviews offroad? Also how does the xtrail compare and/or why wasn’t it included as I have come to believe over the years it is the leader among this offroad segment?

    • camper

       Or Suzuki Grand/Vitara for that matter?

    • Crazy n00b

      The low range in the previous Forrester manual is USELESS because the transfer case reduction ratio is about 1:1.1. In the Grand Vitara it’s about 1:2. Most of the transfer cases in 4x4s are usually 1:1.9 to about 1:2.6.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Hi camper, without back to back testing it is difficult to compare the two generations of Forester, but the old one did have fully switchable traction/stability control where the new one does not – and that proves to be its biggest problem on road. The X-Trail, with its locking mode 4×4 system, has traditionally been one of the most capable soft roaders. But with four all-new models in this segment, and upgrades to Tiguan and CX-5, we prioritised the newest and best compact SUV models. Cheers,

  • Sarah

    Fantastic article that is broken down for people to read the pros and cons of each car and the comparison to the other cars. Personally I think the author did a great job of explaining everything and everything when it came to the suv’s and I wasn’t disappointed, I do like the winning suv – the mazda the only thing holding me back is that price

  • mo

    Fantastic article but I’m surprised you didn’t include the Subaru XV. Its also a compact SUV. 

    • davie

       Forester and XV are both from Subaru – similar chassis and drivetrain, same interior, only real difference is engine and taller body shape.

      XV is more a compeditor for the dualis and ASX

      • klowik

        If only The Subaru XV had a turbo version, it’d be perfect!!

      • Amlohac

        XV is an impreza on stilts in essence, perhaps thats why it wasnt included?

  • Newcastle Knight

    I have driven the new Rav extensively on exactly the same beach as this test was performed (looks like Stockton Dunes, I’m from Newcastle..) and I never once had TCS/VSC activate after it was properly turned off (and did have those sytems intrude when it wasn’t..) Are you sure that you held the TSC off button in for the 5 odd seconds it takes to completely disengage…? If you aren’t sure that you did then you should really edit that observation of this test as it’s not a true indication of what occure in the RAV in the situation described…

  • Butch

    What’s the point of all this SKYACTIV stuff if it doesn’t make the Mazda the best? Is it all pure spin?

  • Pe88lz

    Tiguan got a pretty awesome wrap considering its age next to the competitors!

  • jayavant

    Any thoughts on the Korean offerings? The Hyundai ix35 is interesting. The new Kia Sportage even…

  • Learnatics

    Thanks for the review. Its gonna be RAV4 because i like the styling and features problem is I want the 50k Cruiser grade.
    CX5-too small considering I already have a Mazda 3 that’s been offroad.
    Honda-seems bland and gutless
    VW-small boot and costly
    Subaru-find it ugly frankly

    Instead of a podium of 1st 2nd 3rd you should have a system where you tell us why each one wins. Keeps the fanboys happy and hekps people choose based on their needs.

  • Tony Abbotts No1 fan

    None of these cars do a lot for me, having said that, the Honda does seem to be good value & too me not bad looking either. The Outlander seems to be the best offroad, if indeed any of these are actually taken offroad, just a shame it looks so ugly.

    But more importantly….where’s LEGNAB been lately?????

  • Paul Rubinstein

    Just bought the (top of the range forester). Test drove the CX5 too. The 2.0 turbo Forester totally out performs the Mazda 2.2 TD. I’m 6’3″ and it’s more comfortable too. Back seats great I strongly object to your review. The Tiguan’s way smaller eg boot space, look at the sides in your photo. Rav 4′s for 19 year olds, Mitsubishi build quality sux. Honda is for 70 year olds.

    For me it’s the CX5 or Forester but the Foresters the better drive.

  • Outback driver

    No Nissan x-trail in this comparison.
    I currently own an outlander and it has gotten me almost everywhere around central Australia – very good in deep sandy rivers (if I follow ruts made by larger heavy 4wds). It’s only failing is ground clearance – hence I’m looking at the x-trail and the forester as possible replacements. 2wd only SUVs seem paradoxical and there are cheaper, smarter options surely.
    So far the x-trail, with superior towing capacity seems my best best, so curious why it isn’t in this comparison, especially given its popularity.

  • Rastus

    Why did you not test the X Trail as well. It’s off-road ability would eat this lot.

  • Veneficus

    One major question I have is did they test the forester with it’s VDC turned off in the sand
    since sand is listed as a place to turn the VDC(traction control) off

    and why no mention of X-mode on the forester?

  • big Al

    Trying to compare s u v in this class is hard enough but can anyone advise why you shy’d away from the Sportage?
    It did win best s u v under 40k 2012….. i don’t get it did the Hyundai badge also get parked in the wrong post code?

    • terri7

      We drove the Sportage a few weeks ago because it was so well reviewed. We drove the diesel, and it drove well on just a short suburban drive.

      When we had a good look inside we started to find things we didn’t like.

      The leather seats looked like cheap vinyl, the view forward was blocked by thick A pillars, and you sat high so there was a lot of dash top in your vision-it just didn’t look right to us. It also looked a bit outdated.

      We then popped over the road-same dealer-to look at the Kuga, and we both overwhelmingly found the interior streets ahead in design, appeal and finish. Much better seats and upholstery too in the Kuga.

      The Kia salesman told us that production was moving to Eastern Europe and the electric seat was no more, replaced by brighter headlights. Go figure.Kia

      • terri7

        I forgot to say that we have now driven the Kuga diesel twice, and like it more each time. Far better steering and feel than the Sportage, RAV4, Forester and CR-V.

    • terri7

      Top sellers only, I’d say.
      After reading so much praise for the Sportage we had a drive of one. Very ordinary and showing its age. Bad blind spots front and rear, unappealing interior.
      Crossed off our list immediately.

  • outlander

    “At one point, the Mazda dug itself a hole.” Of course it did. It is not SUV or Crossover.
    It is a dance floor car. It shouldn’t be in that test bragging about better
    mileage numbers.
    By the way, Outlander has 5 driving modes. Sport mode is fun to drive where you
    don’t feel any lack of power in low rev. ECO mode gives you claimed 8.5/6.3
    fuel efficiency and you can switch between modes to drive it like manual.
    You can take off in sport mode and than switch to ECO.
    Moreover, Outlander has 2″ higher road clearance than RAV-4 and way less
    expensive 16″ tires to save you extra $500 especially if you need winter
    ones.
    RAV-4 is 8″ wider. So, it is hard to park and easy to get you car dented
    by a moron opening a door in the car parked next to you on a shopping mall parking.

  • offroad

    “At one point, the Mazda dug itself a hole.” Of course it did. It is not SUV or Crossover.
    It is a dance floor car. It shouldn’t be in that test bragging about better
    mileage numbers. Outlander has 5 driving modes. Sport mode is fun to drive where you don’t feel any lack of power in low rev. ECO mode gives you claimed 8.5/6.3
    fuel efficiency and you can switch between modes to drive it like manual.
    You can take off in sport mode and than switch to ECO.
    It needs to mention Outlander has 2″ higher road clearance than RAV-4 and at the same time way less expensive 16″ tires to save you extra $500 especially if you need winter
    ones. RAV-4 is 8″ wider. so, it is hard to park and easy to get you car dented
    by a moron opening a door in the car parked next to you on a shopping mall parking.

  • Mark B

    Daniel,

    My wife and I are consdiering updating our 2003 Commordore and are looking at the SUV’s you assessed in March 2013 Our budget would be leaning at the base model of each manaufacturer.Can I please have your thoughts on the following points:

    The advantages of the Forrestors AWD system in day to day driving compared to the other vehicles. The car we purchase will not be going offroad. Is the any “real world” benefits when actutually driving the thing around town and the odd trip on the freeway

    The CRV’s perceived lack of power power. Would the manual version be better the auto/cvt

    The pro’s and con’s of a CVT vs a conventional auto gear box. Also those two types of tranmissions vs a manual. Is it more functional to run with a auto/cvt in a SUV

    In short, I want a bit of performance, with bootspace that is similar to our Commodore. It’s such a shame the CX5 is lacking in this regard.

    Finally, how do you rate vehicles not compared in this tes, such as the Hyundai I35, Kia Sportage, Nissan X-trail (I wouldnt considering this until the new one comes mid year) and Ford Territory)

    Thanks mate

    Mark B

  • Toemouse

    I have test driven all of these cars and I pretty much came up with the same conclusion to this test. The cx5 and tiguan clearly stand out from the rest.

    Really if you want to pack a car full of kids and prams etc or want to go off-road you should not be shopping in the category.

  • Rob

    Finally good unbiased review of those compact SUVs. I’d like to see moose test results and reliability to be analysed as well to have complete picture.

  • Mitsu Fan

    Lack of rear air vents is not a huge problem. I have a Lancer with no rear vents. Mitsubishi’s Air Conditioning is far better than any other car i have had and the air gets to the back seats in no time at all.

  • Noel

    I hate Volkswagen just as much as the next guy, but I don’t think the issue was entirely the fault of the car.  I guess you could call it “not fit for purpose” but then are these types of cars meant to go off road anyway.

    Servicing costs is crippling though!

  • Robin_Graves

    wouldnt have been compressed air leaking either, would have been R134a refrigerant which is fairly pricey.

  • Hung Low

    Despite all its major shortcomings like a tiny boot, crappy Awd system, need for 98 premium, highest servicing cost and undisclosed and most probably one of the thirtiest on the real life test. The Tiguan still comes 2nd wtf?

  • Force-15

    It might be a similar reason as to why Robin’s earlier comment was deleted…

  • Daniel DeGasperi

    Hung Low, the Tiguan also has the best ride quality, the most comfortable interior, the most polished cabin trim, is easiest to park, offers the best drivability, and other than its small boot is nicely packaged – which absolutely outweighs its lack of off road prowess and higher running costs. You pay a bit more in the long run, to get a better car. Cheers,

  • Zaccy16

    becuase how many people would take any of these cars off road? it requires 95 ron not 98, its second because the interior is great quality, it handles well has a great sounding turbo engine with good performance etc…

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.urch.58 Ann Urch

    No way would I buy a VW with a DSG box. IMHO these gearboxes are not fit for purpose. We have done 22,000 km in a Jetta equipped with DSG box – which is frightening hesitant & inconsistent at low speed, made infinitely worse by the brake pedal cutting the throttle, so in tight space maneuvering like our inclined back yard you have to use the handbrake to stop the bloody thing rolling back – even when in gear with a boot full of throttle applied. Using the brake to load up the drive train & maneuver is nannyed out. 

    I have been stopped on the white line waiting to do a right turn into a side street, holding the vehicle with the handbrake, the hill descent is somewhat inconsistent, and when I  give the throttle the go command i.e. depress to an amount that should provided the desired movement, nothing happens, then when the gap is ready to close it roars off. Not good nor safe.The best bit – VW thinks this is acceptable. Also we where told by the sale man that the annual service would be no more than $350, which I duly recorded in my notes about the vehicle, VW thinks I’m mistaken, we paid $620. Two regrets – one I did not drive the vehicle before purchase, my better half did (his daily drive) & two that we wasted $36K on this this excuse for a quality product. How magazine consistently give VW products a high rating is a major puzzle, that is only explained by bad thoughts.

  • Igomi Watabi

    Yeah, I don’t understand why you would buy a Tiguan over a roomier, bigger-booted, dynamically superior Golf.

  • petron

    Depends on how much VW paid for the test

  • Popper

    Outweighs? That’s a little absolute don’t you think? What if offload prowess is required? See? In which case “better car”—>FAIL. That is, 0/10. See? Best not to say silly things.

  • YoLex

     And most importantly, the quietest…

  • Hung Low

    Daniel, thanks for the reply. I greatly believe that buyers in this class of vehicle are fulfilling the objectives of the large large car plus more versatility. Criteria like boot space is much greater than cabin trim, drivability and parking combined. Then there is the versatility of possible towing, off road ability that the blokes usually use to convince the better half when deciding. This is why older models like the Xtrail and Forester still sell well and the Golf with a helmet doesn’t and therefore does not score well when taking into account the subjective reasonings that i have highlighted above for buying this class of vehicle.

  • Zaccy16

    exactly what i said

  • Daniel DeGasperi

    As explained in a below comment, “despite the location of the photo shoot, off roading was given the smallest weighting in the overall verdict of this test, given that most compact SUV models will seldom be used off bitumen. If off roading ability is crucial, as the article states, choose the RAV4 or Outlander.” SUVs are marketed as ‘sometimes’ off roaders by the manufacturers, and both their research and anecdotal evidence – shopping centres, school zones – strongly indicates that these SUVs are family hacks first and foremost. Cheers,

  • Iuty

     If “offload” prowess is required, people shouldn’t be considering any of these cars as they are just raised hatchbacks with a extra drive shaft.

  • Jkgh

    @3858333ebf286e84592f56da2e056734:disqus *an extra drive shaft.
    Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • Zaccy16

    how many compact suvs would be used for off roading? nearly zero is the answer

  • Robin_Graves

    Well Zaccy the VeeDud definitely wont go offroad without breaking something but then again they have a propensity to break even during normal use.

  • Robin_Graves

    Zaccy have you figured out the difference between a wastegate, BOV and escaping refrigerant yet?

  • petron

    And a crappy gearbox.

  • Daniel DeGasperi

    It is terrific that you believe that, Hung Low, as all buyers are entitled to their preferences. If we were to cater to each individual buyer profile, there would be no conclusion. Overall, the CX-5 comes first, the Tiguan second. Cheers,

  • Pro346

    I thought it was a nitrous purge…..:-)

  • $29896495

    DSG isn’t an auto, no creep etc, it’s really a clutchless manual. I wouldn’t even consider one myself, but there you go.

  • Matt

    the 132TSI does not ultilise a DSG gearbox, its a standard torque converter auto. Not a lot of people pick this up…

  • Mad Max

    And yet my wife and I have owned 4 VW’s between us over the past few years and will have no hesitation in buying more. The DSG’s in our cars don’t hesitate and they all have hill hold control eliviating the problems you have with your Jetta. Yes they cost more to service but thats your fault for beleiving anything sales people tell you. With our cars, we both drive them. We go on a route that includes suburban streets, freeways and hills. I always ring the service department and ask for quotes so I know the true cost. The fact that you never drove the car yourself and never did any research before buying just makes you the perfect customer for any car sales person…

  • Rocket

    Your story is very unfortunate and sounds like these DSG lemons will be passed onto the second hand market where owners will have the same grief as you.

  • Pe88lz

    Yeah this Tiguan doesn’t have a DSG so you just wasted your time and bandwidth…

  • Pe88lz

    O why do they sell so many even to old people? I have a 118 tsi skoda Octavian with a DSG and its by far the best automatic I’ve ever driven. I have tight L platers in it who can park and drive it smoothly as well as my grandmother who loves the car! All my friends tell me they feel like they have more control with this gearbox than any other auto they have driven and cant believe how smooth it is. Just sounds like you are another hopeless female driver who cannot get used to how a car operates. It’s not the car, it’s you.

  • Norm

    Motoring press refuse to describe the DSG’s “traits” as malfunctions.Which is exactly what they are. Almost no one who buys a DSG equipped car wants anything other than a fully automatic no fuss gearbox. DSG is a wretched thing. Get rid of it and get a decent ZF auto into VAG product.

  • Steve

    We have a vw Jetta also – great car – crappy dsg gearbox requiring $8000 to repair at a local dealer. Worth more than the car? Oil change is not recommended or possible – why?

  • petron

    Because the magazine writers do not own the cars and live with them day to day. In the short period of time they have possession of a vehicle, it is unlikely that something will go wrong. If it does, then the manufacturer will quickly supply another vehicle.

  • Brett

    It is not a clutchless manual. In fact there are two of them. I’m only poo stirring, but they are an automatic clutch system.

  • Pe88lz

    It does have creep actually, I have one in my Octavian and its the best gearbox I’ve ever driven with… It’s also not a clutch less manual as you don’t shift gears yourself and it has two clutches

  • $29896495

    OK PE I needed to be more specific, some don’t have creep. They are an automated clutch essentially a manual with out  a clutch pedal and with an automatic mode. though many people have said they get the best results shifting themselves.

  • Pe88lz

    Nah I think it does a spot on job itself.

  • Mad Max

    Matt you are 100% right, the car tested in this article is NOT a DSG.

  • Mad Max

    Maybe becuase you want to sit up higher and beacuse the Tiguan has more rear seat leg room?

  • petron

    Maybe it is the “Offroad capability”. It is certainly not the manliness issue,

  • Darryl

    Give up please

  • Karl Sass

    So which car do you think should’ve won?

  • $29896495

    Some day when you are old enough? Or some day when you are released? Find some other car blog to litter with your juvenile behaviour.

  • Karl Sass

    Yes I was aware of that. I was just pointing out the absurdity of writing it so many times : )

  • Karl Sass

    You’re in no position to lecture on the issue, huwtm. You swing between obscene generalisations and some fair and reasonable commentary yourself.

  • Norm

    Just about every journo who ever reviewed a DSG equipped car have said the transmission can hesitate. I test drove a DSG Octavia and was shocked at how bad the transmission was. I handed the keys back to the very nice salesman and said sorry – the transmissions a deal breaker. I could tell he  agreed. 

    I’d buy a Yeti tomorrow if it didn’t have a DSG.

  • petron

    If the DSG gearbox is so great, then why are buyers experiencing so much trouble with them. And why have 25000 VW cars with them been recalled. Could it be “because they are no good”. As for having real control of the car, you wil get that quite easily with a manual gearbox and have none of the associated problems.

  • $29896495

    Actually I have every right to comment. Give me an example of an obscene generalisation? I tell you one thing, I don’t pick on people like a juvenile in the play ground – Karl.

  • Karl Sass

    Generalisations abound, including in that very comment. Do you still think I don’t like Zaccy (factually incorrect), even after you accused me of writing things that Sumpguard wrote? Unlike yourself I will admit I’m wrong if I’ve done so, basic civilised manners. I’ve never “victimised” anyone, let alone accuse people of saying things they didn’t. Do you just troll through here looking for my name and think to yourself what accusation can I make up this time? You then accuse me of acting juvenile, how hypocritical. Stick to cars huwtm.   

  • $29896495

    If the censor lets it through, you’ll see what I though of what you wrote. just because some one else is having a go at some one doesn’t make it right for you to escalate in to mocking tormenting behaviour. 

    Now tell me where I made an obscene generalisation!!

  • petron

    And if they are family hacks, then space is a priority. Something the Tiguan clearly lacks.

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