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  • KM

    all cars are very very average.

    Would rather go for a Kia Sportage or Hyundai IX35

    • Aleks

      I have no idea why you got so many negative clicks, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have seen all of these and they couldn’t be any more boring on the outside and the inside. I literally nearly fell asleep looking at their pictures in this article.

    • Dlr1

      Thats fine if you prefer those vehicles, but they are significantly smaller on the inside than the three tested here, especially the RAV4 and the X Trail. Given that interior space is a significant reason for buyers in this segment the Sportage/iX35 may be the first ones taken off the list.

      • Brett

        Seriously only the x-trail has off road ability. So if you don’t need that, why would you consider buying the others? They are all mini trucks, heavy and thirsty. Maybe the x-trail and Suzuki comparo would have been a closer match?

        • Wayno

          I do not understand why the x-trail would be better off road than the subaru. The subaru has an AWD system connected to the boxer engine in such a way that theoretically less power should be lost to the wheels through fewer linkages. The subaru alos has more ground clearence and the XS has a low range, albeit a pseudo low range (no real low). I have seen subaru’s with nearly three whells off the ground get out of trouble.

  • JP

    Why is it that the best “so-called” SUV is the one that is always overlooked?

    The Suzuki Grand Vitara is as good as the others on-road, but off-road it will slaughter the others with proper low range gearing. I used to own a 2009 V6 Prestige and the thing was remarkable in the outback, especially going up Big Red, and the Simpson Desert, it left the Landcruisers and Patrols looking ordinary because of it’s lighter weight and powerful engine.

    I understand that the majority of people will never use it’s ability but why always ignore it?

    • nickdl

      Because these three are the best sellers. Don’t worry though, I’m sure the Grand Vitara pops up a lot in 4WD magazines.

      • http://caradvice OSU811

        I would of disagreed with you a while back
        But after driving a V6 Vitara 3.2 prestige for 6 months
        I loved it, smooth and powerful V6 with a fantastic
        5sp auto and handles well, fuel consumption on the open road is better than the 4cyl vitara, it also has a heap of features for the money, but i did find the 4cyl vitara a little underpowered and the diesel to slow!

        • Bob

          I think you meant:

          would of = would have.
          Don’t start a sentence with “But”.
          Full stop after “loved it”. Also after “handles well”. Also after “Vitara”.
          Capital V for Vitara
          Finally, “to slow” = “too slow”.

          Doesn’t take much effort really! No excuse for appalling grammar.

          • Sumpguard

            Even less excuse for trolling forums kiddo. If you aren’t in an auto forum to discuss cars then sod off.

          • Denzo

            This is a place to talk cars and auto, not grammar, back to school for you then.

            I know you sat at the front of the bus.

          • Max_Castle

            Shutup Bob, how are you in any way perfect?
            I’ll give you the hot tip… People hate tool-bags like you.

          • Bob is a tool

            Bob, There is no excuse for appalling grammar. Do not start a sentence with No.

          • Kamran

            Good one. If you can’t win an argument, correct their grammer instead.

          • Jookieapc

            * grammar 

            lol :)

  • Gromit

    Rather a Kia Sportage or ix35? The quiet achiever here in this mix of 23 cars is the Skoda Octavia Scout.

  • Jaded

    Volkswagen Tiguan? BWM x1?

    • Jaded

      I know they’re not volume players, and are more expensive than the three, but in terms of interior / on road dynamics / engine they are far more advanced than the three here

    • LN

      Both have poor off road capabilities and offer little compared to what the the land rover and the japs manufacturers offer with their medium range SUVs.

      But in saying that in this segment, the X-Trail and the V6 Grand Vitera are the 2 big stand outs.

  • fishman

    4 speed auto – Toyota and Subaru should be embarrassed to still be selling this…

  • t39

    Is this a Comparison of Under-achieves in the segment? (not talking sales volumes). Where are the class leaders, Tiguan, Sportage, Scout, even Koleus?

    • Sinalot

      I’m rather surprised at the number of negative clicks on pure mention on some alternatives… nothing wrong with that !!!

  • nickdl

    The comparison is great but an actual verdict would be good. Maybe just a sentence or short paragraph at the bottom saying which car you think is better overall.

    Personally I’d avoid the RAV4 altogether because it doesn’t do anything best in the class. The V6 has too much power for the chassis – if you want a decent 6, the Territory would be better. That stereo looks like the one in a 2002 Corolla and the rest of the interior hardly looks better. It’s not as practical as the X-Trail and still uses that four-speed auto.

    I’d prefer the X-Trail in most forms although the Forester XT isn’t bad for more money. The X-Trail has the nicest and most practical interior and feels a lot roomier than the others. In addition to that the transmissions are better and it’s far better off road.

    Although as said above, I’d prefer a Kia Sportage or a Mazda CX7.

    • Alborz Fallah

      Nick, i did give you a verdict. Read the full conclusion. I’d pick the forester.

      • nickdl

        Sorry, I stand corrected.

  • Pinky

    i just hope that i never ever have to purchase any one of these cars as it would mean my life amounted to nothing. i guess thats a bit rude but my point being they are really boring cars that do not excite any male on the planet!

    • davie

      If you needed to purchase a Forester XT, it would probably mean that you have found yourself with young children (and presumably a wife) you love.

      You probably still like fast cars with a bit of “go” but your existing 2 door v8/turbo 4 cant do that and hold all your familys stuff.

      you probably enjoy an active lifestyle like riding bikes or surfing or something.

      It also means that you have around $40 K spare in your wallet.

      So, young family, fast cars, healty lifestyle and spare cash. Not too bad a situation for a Male to be in really.

      • Pinky

        Davie, you have a valid point!
        but how many of these soft roaders are actually purchased by people with an active lifestyle.
        If you can only purchase a forester or this type of vehicle then you most probably should not have had a family as you most probably can not afford to send them to a good school and heaven forbid if you do send them to a good school and you pull up in one of these next a range of S class mercs and BMW’s.
        My point being i don’t really like what these cars stand for!

        • Dlr1

          i can smell a private school badge snob

        • Denzo

          and how many of the X5’s or MERC 4WD’s ever make it to the sand tunes.. wank on please.. and I live on the north shore.. every day up the road I see about 200 hundred of these cars lined up to drop a single (maybe 2) kids off to school.. like you couldnt do that in a normal cal (even a c-class or 3 series)..

          And dont tell people what they can and cant do.

      • Alex

        You just read me like a book!

        Sold my XR6 Turbo to get married (4 years now), 12 month old and second on the way, own first home, under 30, love my wife, kids and job, wide stays at home, we bought our Forester XT in 2007 new and still have it and love it today. Best car I have ever had (and I have had a few despite my age).

        My other car is a 2009 Patrol Auto for the real 4WDing but I have taken my forester down every track I take the patrol.

        • davie

          I know the situation as it describes me as well, except for the spare cash bit…

          oh well


        • Andrew

          Not pushing the Patrol too hard then, hey?

  • davie

    The forester really is a difficult decision. it is such a strong package in a lot of ways yet a huge dissapointment in others.

    Sadly, If subaru wanted to, it could quickly fix the cost cutting dissapointments by using parts readily available. Kia has shown it can do exactly this, with its quick Dec 2010 upgrades to the recently released sportage.

    22-year-old 4-speed auto transmission could easily be replaced by liberty 5-speed auto (available since mid 90’s) or CVT (available since 2009). This current auto is just terrible. It has huge gaps between ratios, is reluctant to kick down, and really makes keeping up with traffic in the city a miserable experience. Customers should not have to pay $3000 extra in 2011 for a “Forester S” with a decent auto.

    23-year-old 5 speed manual could easliy be replaced by impreza/liberty 6 speed manual, (available since 1998)

    The dash (dials) look ugly and cheap but the Japanese domestic market has a much nicer looking VW-style white dial dash which should be used.

    It wouldn’t take much for subaru to turn the forester into a class leader but clearly they are content to sit on their laurels and allow fast moving compeditors to march straight past them.

    • Dlr1

      The same criticism can be leveled at the Toyota with regard to the auto box, although it is the oldest model in the segment now at 5 years.

      And how many journos seem to ignore the lock button for the AWD system on the Toyota dash? Its functionality is essentially the same as the lock position on the X-trail’s dial.

  • Sam 300TD

    What about the Great Wall X240? Yes I’m joking. But for 24k drive away, maybe I’m not. I have never driven one after all.

    • Toxic_Horse

      From what i hear the X240 is ok but the engine is very gutless. maybe the desiel version will be worth a look.

  • Steven Hambleton

    X-Trail is better off-road than the Forester? Bwahahaha!

    Forester is a great package only let down by crap front seats and an offset driving position.

    We love ours, allows us to carry stuff in the back (sedans are crap for a lot of stuff), allows us to venture offroad to go camping, we’ve even driven on the beach.

    We have bikes, a dog, a baby and some camping kit in tow so this class of car is perfect. Prados and Landcruisers are overkill and just cost more to run.

    • nickdl

      Ok so have you driven the X-Trail offroad? By the sound of it you’re quite happy with your Forester’s reasonable ability to travel offroad. I did all of that in my 2000 Liberty wagon. That does not mean that it’s the best offroader in class. You’d be disagreeing with a lot of people in saying that the X-Trail isn’t as good offroad; the diesel engine is better and the interior is far more capable and practical. Don’t forget it has the locking 4×4 system as well.

      By no means is your Subaru bad off road, in fact it’s at the better end of the class and I’m glad you’re happy with it. However the X-Trail and Grand Vitara are better off-road.

      • Wayno

        The lock function on the x-trail simply makes it constant 4WD like the forester is all the time. There are also more losses of power to the wheels as the drive train in the x-trail needs more linkages than the subie set up. I believe people think the x-trail is more off road capable coz it looks more utilitarian. I have driven both off road and they are both as capable, or at least I could not tell them apart. If you do not use the lock on the x-trqail in loose sand it can stop you and the lock function on the x-trail only works below 40km/h, though that does not make a hell of a difference.

  • ElecEng

    Alborz, in the first table:
    Forester is NOT an Inline4, it’s a Flat4.

    Anyway, I would take Forester’s interior, Rav4’s exterior & V6 and X-trail’s drivetrain!!!

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Correct indeed.
      Fixed – thanks

      • Save It for the track

        Forester service intervals are 12,500km/6 months.

  • http://www.google.com google

    Automotive is one of my favorite talks. People often called me Randy ramp. Lol! Anything about cars could be an interesting topic for me. I really love cars, I engrave articles about cars, I collect toy cars and drive my latest Chevy…

    • nasal explorer

      Your point being . . . ?

  • Dan

    “The four-cylinder variants are very similar in performance to the Forester and also make use of a four-cylinder automatic (five-speed manual available).”

    four-cylinder automatic? What!! Don’t they mean four-speed automatic?

  • Jer

    Indeed, ‘four-cylinder automatic’ is a horrendously hilarious.

  • Octavian

    Forester – If you care about how good your car looks from the front.

    RAV4 – If you want to follow the millions of hypnotised brand followers.

    X-Trail – If you don’t care about how good your car looks from any angle.

  • Comment

    Where is the complete review/ road test of the new wrx that was promised 4 months ago. Still waiting…

  • Terri

    These are all yesterday’s cars. Nothing to take us into the future.
    Just wait and see the Mazda CX5 to see how old these designs are.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WHH3MNMAV55WITWNZ4EXZXOOYU Joke R

      …but the CX5 looks like a recycled ix35! -back, side, and nearly the whole of the front. Seriously.

    • Brad

      Pity its no good off-road.
      Its a budged minded Toorak Tractor

  • Realcars

    Hyundai and Kia have far better alternatives especially in diesel.

    Four stars and four speed box not good enough Toyota but doubt this will harm repeat business as they are a gulliable lot your customers.

    These three are basically 10 year old designs. These vehicles are over priced considering the technology.

  • Realcars

    All three slush boxes especially the subaru would use more petrol than a large family car real world.

  • Jacob Martyn

    It should be illegal to sell 2WD versions of these…”hi, i got a car that looks like a 4WD….to pretend i go off-road”.

  • http://Audi Robj

    New engine and CVT is coming for Forester soon. But really people, learn to drive a manual. esp in this class..

  • kj

    Still waiting for the Skoda Yeti.

  • Save It for the track

    When mentioning Tiguan, X1 and even the three in this comparo, it comes down to some sort of compromise. As an example in terms of luggage space the Tuguan is nowehere near these three. (as one example)
    regardless of the 4 speed auto, I believe an XT Forester (better in manual) is still the pick for anyone with a pulse.
    I note that the incorrect service interval still appears in the article. Maybe one of the Subaru owners can check their owners manual and confirm it. I know people that own Forester’s, Tiguans, Ravs. I’ve also driven a few. To me the XT is the pick. I’m not fussed on the new mod cons stereos, Ipods and the like, if it was me I’d go Forester. I’m quite sure that a Forester drives better than the Koreans, and the constant AWD is superior to any of the part time systems on offer in the others (on road at least).

  • d’genious

    the forester Xt is the car to beat. Rav4 and Xtrail are known to have biased front wheel drive and poor handlers in terrain. The double wishbone suspension on the rear springs of forster gives an agile conering and manouevering. Also the boxer engine cancels vibrations giving the car a smoother ride. In terms of durability, Toyota is worse off followed by the x-trail, aint being biased but on statistics.The xtrail is big enough and wonders alot at speeds above 120km/hr. Symmetrical all wheel drive perfoms better in the snow. I think forester can go long mileage without servicing except the diesel engine, the reporter needs to review that statement. Boxer engines last and thats why the old Porsche still drive upto date

  • http://www.lynxelectrical.com.au/ Fraser

    Owned our Kia Sportage platinum for exactly 1 week today, maybe ours is a lemon but were selling it and taking the loss, from poor build quality, to poor plastics, uncomfortable seats( need to use it a bit before you realise) fuel economy no where near what its claimed no matter how slow you drive, bad noise penetration from engine and exhaust into the cabin, we made a mistake, and like i said its hopefully just our sportage, really at a loss too what too get tho :( liberty, forrester, mazda cx-5, tiguan, volvo v60 :S too many choices.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WHH3MNMAV55WITWNZ4EXZXOOYU Joke R

      You sound like you just hate the Sportage, rather than had any actual experiences with it.

  • bamboozled

    You guys all sound like you really know what you are talking about! Maybe, one of you would be generous enough to offer me some advice… (grammar-natzi exempted). I would love some suggestions of exact vehicles I should consider, models, years and all. I can spend up to about 10K on a used vehicle.

    From all the reading I have been doing and knowing what I need in life I reckon i need:

    – 5 speed auto with better than average get up and go (i know that usually means manual but i don’t like the amount of concentration and arms i need to dedicate to manual driving, def. want auto)

    – A ‘hold’ button so you could drive it like a
    manual in extreme conditions, my old car had it and I thought that was really smart and used
    it a lot, I live in a very hilly area with unsealed roads, potholes, a
    lot of rain etc. but also do a lot of highway driving

    – High head height and good leg room (can be small if well designed, don’t like unaturally restricted areas)

    – Must be reliable and have good fuel efficiency

    – Enough space to sleep in fairly regularly (i like going for one or two night away trips often (but maybe not often enough to dedicate a whole van to it) my partner and i are not tall, 5’6″ and 5’8″
    – enough space to move things around regularly (eg i need to go buy 4 wheelie bins for my garden)

    – High ground clearance (seems not to be common with van like things)

    – At least 3 seats (3rd could be fold up or something)

    – At least 3 doors, pref 4 or 5

    – I have liked front wheel drive in my old car but open to any arrangement that gives me a basic offroad and good onroad possibilities

    – Open to trying new fuel option, always had unleaded but wonder if i should have diesel?

    – People often tell me i should get a forrester but i think i need more van-like features, for sleeping and moving stuff around

    If this is too much of an ask maybe someone could recommend a way i can sort out how to get what i need, there might be a good select features website or service somewhere?

    Any help appreciated, thank you.

  • MonkeyBoy

    My Forester X with mild but still useful low range has managed to do Bald Hill in the Abercrombie National Park. The chances an X-Trail or a RAV could handle this or some of the other difficult spots in the park are zero. Why Subaru doesn’t release a base-model Forester with diesel, 6-speed and a proper low range for country types is simply beyond me. At a 2500 premium such a car would sell out of town like hotcakes. 

  • Abspgr

    Wow what a excellent review. Extremally accurate and well written. Thanks this was a huge help. Tell your editor you deserve more money!!!

  • Trev

    Bought a new Rav 4 in 2006, one of the worts driving cars I have ever owned due to the serious throttle hesitation, Whilst Toyota admitted to the design fault they could not do any thing to fix it. My 5th Toyota but it will also be the my last. It such pitty that journalist reviewing vehicles seem to miss these annoying faults.

  • SubyTim

    I fail to see how you rate the X trail over the forester for offroad 225mm vs 212mm ground clearance one has low range the other has 4×4 lock. does this model X trail disengage 4×4 after 40kms an hour or more like the older models do?.