Midsizer short list
THE QUESTION We can understand the desire to downsize. The big, thirsty CX-9 was designed perhaps a decade ago. Time to go.
You can get nearly as much room, better performance, safety and economy and the latest technical features from a new generation medium SUV.
Getting rear vents is problematic. We suggest you get a model with dual-zone climate control and as many front air vents as possible. That would take care of cooling in the rear in the absence of ducting and vents.
Meanwhile, the Suzuki Grand Vitara and the new Hyundai Tucson Elite 1.6 have vents to the rear through the centre console.
A further point: $30,000 is the bottom end of the market in small to medium SUVs so you’ll need to up the ante to about $35,000 to get anything decent with AWD. Car companies tend to put all the good kit in theitop range models, so you’ll spend more to get all the goodies. The new kid on the block had a false start with its safety rating, now fixed and ANCAP ranked at five stars. The 1.6-litre turbo has plenty of punch and returns impressive fuel economy. It has dual-zone climate control as well as rear vents. The sevenspeed dual-clutch auto is totally up to date. Hi- tech driver assistance features are only on the range-topping Highlander Excellent Japanese-built job with efficient SkyActiv tech to reduce thirst and emissions. The petrol 2.5 almost makes the torquey, more economical diesel redundant. Add $1200 for the worthwhile safety pack. Safe, strikingly good looking, with plenty of kit and excellent resale: the CX-5 is a short-lister.
Also built in Japan, recently restyled and upgraded and with seven-seat option. Dual-zone climate control is included as are rear vents. In XLS spec, it scores Eco drive and some driver assist features. Ageing but honest, the 2.4 petrol and CVT drivetrain gives decent performance and economy. Its multimedia controls remain among the most difficult to master. Looks great inside and out.
THE WILDCARD Totally reliable, solid, bigger than you think, goes really well with the 2.5 petrol though likes a drink. New styling looks OK, it rates well for emissions but the high-end safety kit comes at extra cost. You could splash out more for the upspec Cruiser (pictured). THE VERDICT If I was buying one, it would be hard to go past the CX-5.
I own a Mazda and it’s bulletproof and an excellent car. Biased … yes.
The Tucson would be right up there, too. You’ll pay more for models with dual-zone climate control but it will be worth it — try before you buy and you’ll appreciate why.