Drive Car of the Year 2021 - Best Medium SUV
Here’s how four of the best contenders compared in our annual Drive Car of the Year test.
You can see it in the traffic, our love affair with high-riding wagons we call SUVs.
They’ve become Australia’s new family cars, although fleets have also begun adopting their practicality.
It’s easy to see the appeal: tall driving position, a commanding view of the road ahead, a roomy and comfortable cabin, as well as a large cargo hold.
Advances in fuel economy have also delivered respectable consumption figures, given the size and weight of the vehicles.
Most major car companies have been developing these vehicles for close to two decades, so they’re starting to perfect the formula.
As ever, across all SUV brands, there is a price point to suit a broad range of buyers.
For this year’s Drive Car of the Year test, we gathered three of the best in the class in our estimation – and one of the newest.
The reigning champion Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the Volkswagen Tiguan, and the Mazda CX-5 took on the recently arrived and completely new Ford Escape.
And the Winner is...
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
It is the most popular SUV in Australia for a good reason. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the modern family car.
The Ford Escape didn’t make the final cut. Despite the brilliant engineering behind its smaller Ford Puma sibling (and numerous other Ford vehicles), the Ford Escape misses the mark, according to the judges.
The Ford Escape has a perky turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers brisk acceleration. But it’s thirsty and the throttle is overly sensitive.
The same can be said of the steering, which is so responsive it makes the Ford Escape feel nervous even when driving straight ahead.
In fact, a number of us were nervous wrecks after commuting in the Ford Escape each day. Family SUVs are supposed to be relaxing drives, and the Ford Escape is anything but. Here’s hoping Ford engineers can dial out the nervousness and calm it down.
With that in mind – and with the Mazda CX-5 noted for being good to drive rather than exceptional – the field was reduced to the final two.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is still one of the benchmarks of the class and many buyers will prefer its European feel.
However, on paper and behind the wheel the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid remains hard to beat.
Its real-world fuel economy is an exceptional achievement, and it has all the comfort and convenience families need in a mid-size SUV. It really is a car for our times.
Read the full comparison at Drive.com.au