Mid-sized SUV test: All-road All rounders

Six of the best midsize SUVs compared for fun and family

THE PREMISE
Compact SUV is one of the hottest segments on the Australian market – and why not; these vehicles are 'right sized' and deliver an "I'm outdoors and proud of it" message that's attractive – even to couch potatoes. Thus, following hot on the heels of our Light Hatch and Small Hatch mega-tests, motoring.com.au has matched the most popular mid-size SUVs to decide which gets the nod.

With fuel prices an ever-present concern, and packaging and performance considerations critical to the family buyer, our all-wheel drive oilers will be tested inside and out. The evaluation will critique our six foes as if on a family weekend away, sampling on and offroad driving, load carrying capabilities and, of course, comfort and fuel economy.  

To ensure a fair fight, the SUVs will be measured not only against each another, but to a set of criteria devised by our testers. The criteria are:


ON THE ROAD
An SUV may do many things with aplomb, but if it drives like a wheelbarrow full of wet cement there’s little point buying it. In this section we’ll test the cars’ refinement, safety, dynamism and performance.

VALUE FOR MONEY
While this criterion might be viewed as subjective, our aim is to pick a model that stands out for offering that je ne sais quoi the others lack. Bang for your buck, if you will. Does the “get what you pay for” adage still ring true...?

FIT AND FINISH
Here parts, panels and paraphernalia are put under the motoring microscope. We look for flaws in design that could lead to issues down the track. Something that doesn’t fit or operate as it should when new will very likely become a serious problem later on.

PURPOSE
Simply put: how well does the vehicle do what it was designed to do? The SUVs on test are made to carry five passengers and their belongings comfortably and economically. Space utilisation is key here, but factors including comfort, safety, visibility and amenity also apply in equal measure.

TECHNOLOGY
Gadgets, modcons and doohickies seem to govern every facet of our lives. SUV manufacturers try hard to integrate driver aids, navigation systems, communication devices and music players into their vehicles. We evaluate how successfully these technologies are applied.

THE PUNDITS
We've handpicked a panel of experienced road testers to judge the SUVs in an open and honest manner.

Chris Fincham has been in the game for more than a decade; Feann Torr can drive the wheels off just about anything; Tim Britten has seen more cars come and go than he cares to remember, and Tony O’Kane brings fresh perspective from independent site, TMR.

With the opinion of our panel, yours truly and the data from our tests, we’ll bring the whole shebang together to decide which SUV comes up trumps. Let the games begin.

See how each of the six went in the Mid-sized SUV test:

motoring.com.au's Mid-sized SUV comparison:

>> Holden Captiva

>> Volkswagen Tiguan

>> Kia Sportage

>> Nissan X-TRAIL

>> Skoda Yeti

>> Mazda CX-5

The award goes to:

>> Mid-sized SUV test: The Verdict

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Published : Wednesday, 25 July 2012
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