TWENTY seventeen was a breakthrough year for medium SUVs. Though the car-buying public has adored them for more than a decade – inversely proportional to the cooling of affection for large cars – as reviewers, we’ve been patiently waiting for a truly great example of the breed to emerge.
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In the latter months Honda’s new-generation CR-V arrived, Holden’s desperately needed Equinox touched down, Jeep’s long-overdue Compass replacement lobbed and the all-new Peugeot 3008 that was crowned 2017 European Car of the Year made it to Oz. All are yet to face the comparison test wringer, but Australia’s favourite SUV – the Mazda CX-5 – received a round of significant updates that prompted this nine-car collection of affordable mid-sized metal, which also includes the still young Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford’s revamped and rebranded Escape.
Critics may have roasted the Hyundai Tucson City when it launched here back in 2005, but two-wheel-drive SUVs are no longer the exception to the rule. And so it goes here – $30-35K front-drive mid-sizers spanning the Haval H6 Premium ($29,990) to Toyota RAV4 GXL ($35,390).
Now, we could’ve asked for a loaded Haval H6 Lux on 19-inch wheels or a base RAV4 GX wearing steel 17s, but neither would’ve quite fit the bill. Driven by the superb value of Ford’s front-drive Escape Trend ($32,990) and Mazda’s 2.0-litre CX-5 Maxx Sport ($34,390), the brief was ‘low-to-mid spec, early 30s’.
That also includes the Hyundai Tucson Active X ($33,650, now with GDi engine), Kia Sportage SLi ($34,690), Mitsubishi Outlander LS Safety Pack ($32,000), Subaru Forester 2.5i-L ($33,240, exclusively with AWD) and Volkswagen Tiguan 110TSI Trendline DSG ($34,490).
Just one eligible car failed to make the grid – the otherwise unfancied front-drive Renault Koleos Zen – while Nissan’s closely related X-Trail had a facelift imminent and wasn’t available in time. Question is, can Subaru’s superb-riding, former Megatest winner, the Forester 2.5i-L, be toppled from its exalted perch?
Medium-size SUV Megatest Contenders
9th, Score 2/10: 2018 Haval H6 Premium review
8th, Score 5/10: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander LS review
7th, Score 6/10: 2018 Toyota RAV4 GXL review
6th, Score 6.5/10: 2018 Hyundai Tucson Active X review
5th, Score 7/10: 2018 Kia Sportage SLi review
4th, Score 7.5/10: 2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L review
3RD PLACE, Score 7.5/10: 2018 Ford Escape Trend review
2ND PLACE, Score 8/10: 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Trendline review
1ST PLACE, Score 8/10: 2018 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport review