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Crossing over - in search of a small SUV

daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
edited May 2016 in General
About this time 15 years ago, I was cogitating over the purchase of a new car for my wife (this post: http://forums.edmunds.com/discussion/2166/honda/x/honda-acura-automatic-transmission-design-unique#latest ). That September, we purchased an Acura TL and it has been her favorite car ever, but due to aging knees (that's why she wanted an automatic transmission in 2001), she wants something taller for easier ingress/egress. Although Honda/Acura have had some problems with their transmissions, we have not, the TL has been flawless. We've considered a number of smaller crossovers and driven several, but she has been spoiled by the smooth power of her TL and finds most options inadequate. So far, the most viable candidates are the 2016 BMW X1 and Acura RDX (FWD).

The X1 is about the ideal size, offers effortless power, is comfortable and well appointed and, despite its smaller overall size, has 1 cubic ft. more "trunk" space than the RDX. We are, however, somewhat leery of BMW maintenance cost and the X1 purchase cost is more than the RDX when similarly equipped. The RDX is larger than we prefer, and I am wary of its cylinder deactivation re long-term reliability - increased thermal cycling of some cylinders can't be a good thing, It is marginally quicker than the X1 and sport mode in both cars yields a significant improvement in throttle response. Both vehicles lack steering feedback but it seems that with everyone switching to electric power steering, your choices are numb and numb-er, and both vehicles are way better than the videogame-like isolation of the last Corolla that I drove. The BMW does provide improved fuel economy as well as AWD with enhanced driving dynamics, and it is less weight to boot. Neither vehicle offers a spare tire, the X1 using run-flat tires vs. a sealer/inflation kit in the RDX. The inflation kit is a lesser evil than the heavy, expensive run-flats. At least BMW finishes the spare tire space to use as cargo area, but Acura fills most of the bare well with a huge block of Styrofoam, rendering it useless. The RDX interior look and feel is noticeably less up-scale than the old TL and, for a premium vehicle, it is unconscionable that the cargo cover is an option.

Other vehicles that we've considered include:

Mercedes GLA - Eliminated due to poor reviews and reliability data.

Infinity QX50 - Copious power but eliminated due to poor fuel economy (17mpg, really?) and brands spotty reliability.

Lexus NX200t - so ugly that my wife didn't even get close enough to peer inside before walking away. Wanted to like it due to superior FI system (DI and port injectors) and Toyota reliability.

Nissan Murano - Too big, and it didn't survive the ugly-stick beating either.

Subaru Forrester XT - The local dealer has none available and did not seem interested in obtaining one. Drove the non-turbo Forrester and my wife did not find it comfortable. Some cheap looking plastic bits. Best visibility of all. Inadequate power without turbo.

Subaru Outback 3.6R - Same availability issue as Forrester SX.

Mazda CX-5 (2.5l) - Not comfortable - leather seats are too hard and flat, generally nice package otherwise. Perhaps the best engine/transmission of the underpowered options.

Honda CR-V - Comfortable, nicely appointed and equipped in EXL trim, more cargo room and in a more useful configuration than the significantly larger RDX. I prefer blind-spot warnings associated with the side mirrors as in the RDX to the passenger side only camera of the CR-V. Probably the best value available. If only it had more power!

So ...... unlike some previous car purchases, there seems to be no clear choice in this segment for our admittedly picky tastes. What experience and thoughts do you have?

Comments

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited May 2016
    We're shopping the next slot down but were impressed with the Buick Encore, which is about CR-V size. Prius V is likely going to be too low to the ground for those knees. We're looking for a Soul, but we like boxy stuff.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well IMO if the CR-V meets all the other criteria, I'd re-examine this "power" issue and see if you can work around that. I hadn't heard of any real complaints on this car's performance, and with a 2.4L engine and 185HP it should perform as well as most vehicles in its class. And given that you seem to keep your cars a long time, I would agree with you that BMW maintenance and repairs costs should give one pause.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    Actually, the Encore is considerably smaller and lighter than the CR-V (a good thing) but I'd not considered it because it is even less powerful, with acceleration time nearing Prius territory, even for the "Sport" version.

    If it were my decision alone, I might adapt to the CR-V for all its good points (or more likely, to the CX-5, for it's superior handling). My wife, however, wants power readily available without having to "flog it", as she puts it. I, OTOH, will flog, if flogging is necessary (within limits).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    If she wants that kind of power, she's going to have to go turbo or more cylinders.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    That's pretty much where we are. The only one that I can think of that we haven't considered is the Volvo XC60, but I think Geely needs more time to prove itself before we invest.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 119,729
    VW Tiguan?

    Might be a little small, but nice acceleration from the 2.0 litre turbo.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    Small is good, and so might be the Tiguan, but until the fate (and extent of deception) of VW Audi is determined, I'll stay clear of their products.
  • carboy21carboy21 Posts: 760
    edited May 2016
    2016Subaru Forester 2.0XT.
    Best SUV value for money .
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    Unfortunately, my local dealer has none and isn't interested in finding one- he says there's no demand for it??  I guess my inquiry doesn't count.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    yeah they only sold 175,000 Foresters last year--LOL!

    (And over one million of them since introduction)

    You might tell him it's Subaru's best selling model.

    The dealer is lame.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 119,729
    daysailer said:

    Unfortunately, my local dealer has none and isn't interested in finding one- he says there's no demand for it??  I guess my inquiry doesn't count.

    Well.. the XT is the highest priced Forester. I bet they don't sell many of those. Most people probably opt for a loaded Outback non-turbo, instead.

    My closest dealer shows 31 Foresters in inventory, but only two XT models.
    Next closest has 25 Foresters, but just one XT.

    But, yeah.. a dealer that isn't interested in finding the car you want? You need a new dealer.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • carboy21carboy21 Posts: 760
    edited May 2016

    yeah they only sold 175,000 Foresters last year--LOL!

    (And over one million of them since introduction)

    You might tell him it's Subaru's best selling model.

    The dealer is lame.

    In North and Eastern USA there is usually a waiting list for Foresters due to the heavy demand before winter and this year the sensing /eyesight package was so much in demand that they were sold before they could even be reached to the dealer's lots. The company cannot make enough of them and won't invest in a new plant in USA. They ship it from Japan !!
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    It's probably not relevant in my case anyway, since my wife wasn't comfortable in the standard Forester. She found the suspension too harsh. (we have an '07 Imprezza, and she doesn't like that either)
  • carboy21carboy21 Posts: 760
    daysailer said:

    It's probably not relevant in my case anyway, since my wife wasn't comfortable in the standard Forester. She found the suspension too harsh. (we have an '07 Imprezza, and she doesn't like that either)

    You have a very picky wife . Goodluck with your search :)
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    She would likely say that I'm picky, we just have different priorities. I'm more picky in the areas of vehicle dynamics and efficiency.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,803
    I'll be looking at theses in a few years. Today I'd look at the X1, the RDX, the Q5, and the CX5. Really is personal taste. 
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    Correction - My starting post should have referred to the Forester XT, not SX.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Fixed. :)
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