Review by Jeff Wilson, Michael Bettencourt, Steven Bochenek, Dan Heyman and Lesley Wimbush; photos by Jeff Wilson and Jonathan Yarkony

Originaly published September 16, 2013

2013 Honda CR-V Touring, 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T SE, 2014 Mazda CX-5 GT, 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWC, 2014 Subaru Forester XT Limited, 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited, 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan Comfortline

Comparison Test: Compact Crossover SUVs volkswagen toyota subaru mitsubishi mazda hyundai honda car comparisons
Comparison Test: Compact Crossover SUVs volkswagen toyota subaru mitsubishi mazda hyundai honda car comparisons
Compact Crossover SUV Comparison. Click image to enlarge

Introduction, Jeff Wilson

Yes it’s true folks, the moment you’ve been waiting for: another Compact Crossover SUV Comparison Test!

You might be asking yourself, “Didn’t those whack-jobs at Autos.ca just do one of these last winter?  And Autumn?  And Spring?” and you’d be absolutely right.  And while we’d much rather be doing comparison tests of muscle cars or exotic foreign machinery, the buying public keeps snapping up these pudgy little compacts-on-stilts, so we keep writing about them.

There’s plenty to say, too, since of the seven assembled entries, every one of them save the Honda and Volkswagen is either new or significantly reworked for 2013.  Half of the group are 2014 models.  We also aimed to cap the price at $35K MSRP, which brings new trim levels into the mix, and a price point at which many Canadian families actually shop for these vehicles. All but one managed to come in at our target price.

Honda’s CR-V is a multiple winner at Autos.ca due to its efficiency, practicality and value, so naturally it received an invitation.  Likewise, Volkswagen’s Tiguan edged out the competition last year with a loaded up (and pricey) version of its tiny crossover.  Volkswagen was asked to pare back and provide us with a more affordable Comfortline trim level to see if it can still wow our group.  The kind folks at VW literally pulled the plastic wrap off our brand new test vehicle an hour before the competition began, and only then did we find out that it nudged slightly above our price window, but still not so far off that it was deemed necessary to exclude.

Comparison Test: Compact Crossover SUVs volkswagen toyota subaru mitsubishi mazda hyundai honda car comparisons
Compact Crossover SUVs. Click image to enlarge

Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport comes dressed in 2.0T SE AWD trim, which seems geared specifically for this shootout.  With the lusty turbocharged engine and an impressive equipment list, Hyundai is looking to gain back the single point it lost in its last comparison against the Tiguan.

Mazda’s CX-5 was a near-winner in past comparison tests here, but was held back due to lacklustre handling attributed to little, squirmy snow tires and a weak-kneed efficiency-at-all-costs powertrain.  Here a tarted-up GT model with 19-inch wheels and more sporting all-season tires should help rectify that complaint.  And to ensure even greater competitiveness, Mazda has fitted the larger 2.5L SkyActiv engine from the fantastic new Mazda6 in the CX-5.

In either normally aspirated and turbocharged trim, Subaru’s all-new Forester has impressed Autos.ca’s writers this year, so we were understandably eager to pit it against the class best.

Toyota’s new-for-this-year RAV4 in XLE FWD trim battled hard against the CR-V in a head-to-head match this past spring but ultimately lost out.  Here better equipped in Limited trim and yet still the second-lowest as-tested price, will its focus on value be enough to top the list?

Lastly, Mitsubishi’s all-new Outlander showed up to our business casual party wearing comfortable jeans and a T-shirt and keeping its price point to the lowest of the lot.  Despite its value cost, the Mitsubishi is the only rig here to sport a V6 engine, but with ever-increasing fuel costs, will this prove a blessing or a curse?

The truth of the matter is, these are all very good machines that could serve well in small family duties   The competition here is fierce and choosing a winner comes down to agonizing the details and sometimes heated discussion amongst the reviewers.

Here is what we found…




About Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson is a Hamilton-based automotive journalist and accredited member of AJAC. When not pursuing his automotive passions, he divides his time between being a dad, husband and television producer.