Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Faux 4x4s: Five crossover SUVs to consider

With styling features resembling a Sports Utility Vehicle, the crossover offers an airy cabin with increased headroom, better visibility and often more practical space

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. 
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. 

The four-door saloon has always been the token family car.

Indeed, ask any child to scribble up a drawing of a car and the resulting masterpiece will always be the familiar, side-on silhouette and three-box design of the family four-door saloon. In recent years, however, sales have slumped, overtaken by faux 4x4s, in most cases. For the first time, car makers sold more crossovers than the humble saloon.

With styling features resembling a Sports Utility Vehicle, the crossover offers an airy cabin with increased headroom, better visibility and often more practical and usable luggage space than its equivalent.

As crossovers are based on saloon-car platforms, they offer a similar ride, handling, performance and fuel economy.

Here’s our pick of five sensibly priced crossover SUVs that you should consider if you’re buying a new family-friendly car.

Honda HR-V

Honda HR-V.
Honda HR-V.

Honda’s nomenclature might not sound too thrilling, but when you discover HR-V officially stands for “Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle” you’d expect something for a boy racer. Not quite. Driving dynamics are exactly what you would expect in this sector of the market – not face-ripping performance, although it does feel peppier than the Nissan Kicks.

Where the HR-V excels is in its exterior and interior design. It has the drooping coupe-ish roof and class-winning cargo space thanks to Honda’s Magic Seat, which allows several seat configurations to enable transportation of awkwardly sized items that simply can’t be crammed into any other crossovers in this segment. While the interior isn’t exactly premium in fit and finish, we reckon that’s a small price to pay for the added practicality.

It’s powered by a decent 1.8-litre engine delivering 139hp and 172Nm of torque and has a claimed fuel economy of 6.5l/100km. Not bad for a crossover that starts at only Dh69,900 in the UAE.

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5. 
The Mazda CX-5.

Let’s be honest, the all-new Mazda CX-5 looks good. And it is one of the only naturally aspirated family crossovers on the market that has real get-up-and-go.

The 2.5-litre SkyActiv engine makes 188hp and 251Nm of torque and yet sips just under 7.0l/km of petrol in front-wheel drive variant. The fit and finish of the interior feels suitably premium, and it drives like a hot hatchback on stilts.

For those who like to drive but have to settle for a crossover purely because the reality of family life has finally head-butted them, this could be the car they need.

It’s not necessarily the most affordable crossover in its class, with the cheapest version going for about Dh90,000, but the Mazda CX-5 is definitely worth the extra outlay.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The exterior styling of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross decidedly eclipses Honda’s HR-V and even managed to win a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum, an architecture and design museum. But partly due to its sleek styling, cargo space has taken a slight hit. It’s still roomy enough to lug a lot of luggage, and can even comfortably fit a baby stroller.

Overall, it’s more refined than most in its segment, with tactile interior plastics, abundant active safety technology, heads-up display and a modern infotainment system including a seven-inch touch-screen. It’s powered by a modern 1.5-litre turbocharged engine that makes 148hp and a sizeable 250Nm of torque channelled to all four wheels. Claimed fuel economy is at around 7l/100km, making it one of the more economical cars in its class. Pricing in the UAE begins at Dh73,900 for the 1.5T GLX.

Renault Duster

The Renault Duster.
The Renault Duster.

The second-generation Renault Duster is a budget bargain for blossoming families looking to step into the crossover game. With prices starting from Dh51,900 (including VAT) it’s hard to be too critical of what the Duster has to offer.

It has a modern design, simple clean aesthetics and a family-friendly functionality that a traditional saloon simply doesn’t offer. Numerous multi-use storage spaces include a sliding compartment under the passenger seat and a foldable rear bench seat.

Available as a 1.6-litre 4x2 making 115hp, or a 2.0-litre 4x4 developing 135hp, the Renault Duster is a cheap and cheerful option in the crossover segment. Need more convincing? It consumes 5.8 litres per 100km in 4x2 guise and 6.9l/100km in the bigger 4x4 version – that’s fantastic fuel economy by any measure.

Volkswagen Teramont

The Volkswagen Teramont.
The Volkswagen Teramont.

The only German entry on this list is the Volkswagen Teramont. It’s something of a head-scratching oddity at first glance: it looks expensive, it has more space than its sibling, the VW Touareg, and yet it retails for substantially less.

It costs a fraction of the latter, at Dh137,000 for the entry-level 2.0-litre turbocharged version developing 220hp. And while there is a bigger 3.6-litre version available, we’d recommend the base model all the way.

Built in the US, the Teramont is definitely large enough to swallow anything your average UAE family can throw at it, with three-row seating, extra boot space and – get this – 17 cup holders. Furthermore, it has a properly decent all-wheel drive system that allows you to traverse pretty much any terrain (within reason, of course). The cabin, although nowhere near as plush as the Touareg, is still fantastically put together and you can feel the depth of engineering.

There are not many SUVs that can match the Teramont’s breadth of capabilities when it comes to a family vehicle – except the far more unaffordable Porsche Cayenne Turbo, that is.

Updated: March 14, 2019 05:06 PM

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