Mashing the best elements of compact crossovers into a single, perfect CUV
Although this Big Test comparison rightly ranks the entrants in the compact SUV segment, each vehicle that participated had some winning traits that stood out from all the rest. Which got the test judges thinking: What if someone took the very best elements from all these crossovers and mashed them into a single, perfect crossover? Well, likely it would cost well north of 40 grand and be impossible from an engineering standpoint. But we can dream, can’t we?
Behold, the MotorTrend FrankenSUV.
Exterior Design: Mazda CX-5
Engine: Jeep Cherokee Latitude
Almost every vehicle in this class is about miles per dollar and savings at the pump. Sure, some accelerate acceptably, but only the Cherokee’s optional 270-hp 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo-four delivers true thrills.
Handling: Mazda CX-5
You get married, have a kid … so buh-bye sports car fun. With the CX-5, you get a semblance of driving exhilaration. It’s a jittery, baby-waking ride, but the trade-off is best-in-class handling by a country mile.
Ride: Honda CR-V
With some compact SUVs, driving over a city’s lumps and bumps is a molar-rattling affair. The Honda CR-V’s suspension is supple and well damped regarding both up-and-down impacts and side-to-side sway.
Brakes: Subaru Forester
The most confident stopper. Short pedal travel, good feedback, great bite.
Advanced Driver Aids: Honda CR-V
Fuel Economy: Honda CR-V
Honda has cracked the magic code that gives the CR-V peppy performance and great fuel economy.
Interior Design/Craftsmanship: Toyota RAV4 Adventure
Great attention to detail, upscale styling, and colorful accents, which look and feel special in a bland sea of sameness.
Packaging: Honda CR-V
Small outside, huge inside. Honda’s team always finds more space for people and cargo than any other brand.
Visibility: Subaru Forester
An expansive, low-sitting front windshield, well-placed driver hip-point, and side windows that rival those of a school bus give the Forester almost zero blind spots.
Front Seats: Jeep Cherokee Latitude
Plush like your favorite recliner yet reinforced so it doesn’t feel saggy, with firm side bolstering for cornering and adjustable four-way lumbar support for those long drives.
Second-Row Seats: Nissan Rogue
Rare in this class, the Rogue’s rear seats slide fore and aft, good for either passenger legroom or bringing baby/Fido nearer to the front-seat occupants. Only Nissan attaches the middle belt to the seat, too.
Seat-Back Pockets: Subaru Forester
Only Subaru offers three distinct pockets on each of the front seat backs. They’re sized to accommodate a laptop, a tablet, and a phone.
Spare Tire: Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The RAV looks ready for off-roading and is ready for it with the biggest mini-spare, at T165/9018, larger than the Jeep’s T165/80D17.
Rearview Camera: Chevrolet Equinox
The Equinox’s rearview camera and 8.0-inch touchscreen resolution make “What’s behind me” look mighty important. Has 4K resolution come to reverse cams?
Two-Screen Infotainment System: Subaru Forester
Should you display navigation or song title details? Subaru’s answer is “yes.” Great functionality.
Infotainment Software: Hyundai/Chevrolet (tie)
Extra Features: Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson astounds with its exceptional feature content. On the $34,120 USD Ultimate AWD model, 18-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, a surround-view camera system, powered/heated/ventilated front leather seats, heated rear outboard seats, a stellar safety suite, and a thumping 315-watt Infinity stereo are all included. Plus, of course, a five-year/60,000-mile (96,560-km) basic warranty.