It’s no cheapie but you get what you pay for. Fully loaded from $43,490 (diesel adds $2500), it gets 19-inch alloys, leather trim, heated/cooled seats, satnav, auto parking, auto high-beam, adaptive cruise control, large sunroof, wireless phone charging and auto tailgate. New stock comes with Android Auto while Apple CarPlay is in negotiation. It has a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Service costs $1152 for three years/45,000km.
Smooth is the keyword. It’s quiet, with comfy seats, good forward vision and a flat-bottomed wheel that sits snugly in the hands. Relative to outgoing model, it feels more luxurious and the ride quality is substantially better. It stays composed over bumps, registering a reassuring thump on potholes. Leg and knee room are generous in the rear but the boot could be larger.
High-strength steel abounds, as does plenty of accident prevention gear, including forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, plus reversing camera, front and rear sensors, plus blind spot and lane departure warnings. Gets five stars from ANCAP, scoring 34.62/37.
The new 2.4-litre direct injection petrol four lacks the lowdown grunt of a diesel but won’t disappoint. There is a rorty note under hard acceleration and performance should be more than OK for most. The six-speed auto is smooth. The Sportage’s stronger chassis and longer wheelbase give better ride and handling. Drive modes are standard, eco for better economy and sport for sharper responses. We got 9.3L/100km over 400km.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6T AWD
Highlander, from $43,490 Essentially the same car under the skin, but with turbo engine (130kW/265Nm) and sevenspeed dual-clutch auto. Peak torque from a low 1500rpm, making it a better off the line and easier to drive in general. Thirst 7.7L/100km. Warranty is five years/unlimited km. Pay $1434 for six services (7500km intervals) over three years.
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4L
AWD Exceed, from $43,490 Top of the line Outlander with a larger boot represents excellent value for those on a budget. Smooth, comfortable and with a third row of seats at no extra charge. Thirst is 7.2L/100km. Warranty is five years/ 100,000km. Servicing costs $1125 for three years/45,000km.
The Sportage is a great compact SUV option. Styling is more aggressive, it’s well equipped but the boot might not be large enough for a small family.