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Compact SUV Test: Toyota RAV4 2,0 GX vs Subaru Forester 2,0X vs Hyundai ix35 2,0 Executive vs Honda CR-V 2,0 Comfort

by CAR magazine on 12/11/2013

Comments: 1

At A Glance

Retail Price R349 000,00 R300 300,00 R339 900,00 R362 400,00
kw 110 107 122 114
Torque 198 187 197 192
Top Speed 190 180 184 185

IT’S a tough job being a car. In these trying economic times, people want a lot more from you, especially people with families. They’re not only demanding space and a decent spec, but all this on a tight budget too. For the car, that means a balancing act worthy of the gasps and applause usually heard inside the Cirque du Soleil’s big top.

Of course the problem with this budget-versus-space-versus-spec scenario is that usually you only get to pick two. By default, one has to be sacrificed. Which is why the contenders in the 2,0-litre compact SUVs segment are working particularly hard.

Wearing price stickers ranging from R280k to R330k, they occupy the lowest rung of the segment’s hierarchy and are looking to attract buyers with families who have “Bang For Your Buck” as a guiding purchase principle. The holders of these wallets won’t settle for two out of three either. And so the balancing act begins.

The two latest circus talents on the market are the Toyota RAV4 2,0 GX and the Subaru Forester 2,0X. As is the case with their competitors, the entry-level RAV4 and Forester are given limited resources and sent off to emulate their better-appointed and more expensive siblings. Equipped with normally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engines and manual gearboxes – the norm at this price point – and interior space that’s one size up from a compact hatch, the pair face a raft of competitors with comparative offerings.

Among these are two signifi-cant adversaries. One, the Honda CR-V 2,0 Comfort, is the entry-level model of the reigning champion in the Compact SUV/Crossover category of CAR’s Top 12 Best Buys and, like the RAV4, its ancestors helped establish this segment. The other is a relative newcomer – the Hyundai ix35 – a car that shook up the market segment with its launch back in mid 2010. Together with its Korean cousin, Kia’s Sportage, the ix35 offered high spec and great styling at an affordable price. Thanks to minor cosmetic changes in May, and because CAR has never tested the 2,0-litre ix35 before, the Hyundai takes its place alongside the CR-V as a gatekeeper of this segment. To get in, the RAV4 and Forester will need to get past these two impressive cars.

Toyota RAV4 2,0 GX, Road Test Score 75/100

The Toyota makes its play early on. At R279 900, it is the most affordable contender on test by a margin of R27 000. From a styling point of view, it’s also the bravest. A design language that first debuted on the Auris, this new Keen Look, as Toyota calls it, is not exactly a product of The Shrinking Violet School Of Automotive Design. The V-shaped front grille and headlight combo meets an upswept bumper cladding that gives the RAV4 a confrontational front-on presence. The rear is similarly daring with sizeable lights that form part of a large ledge beneath the rear window, which then drops – in an expanse of sheet metal – to the bumper.

At first glance it’s a polarising design. Our initial take wasn’t that positive, but after spending a week with the car, attitudes to the Toyota’s appearance began to change. The line that sweeps down from the D-pillar to undercut the wedgy front end does pull it   together rather well. And the large dark plastic cladding creates a nice contrast to all that sheet metal. White is a colour that’s definitely suited to the RAV4.

The RAV4’s motor might have the lowest power rating (114 kW) in this group, as well as the lowest torque (187 N.m), but it’s a revvy unit that is as lively as it’s enthusiastic. If anything, the paucity of torque is noticeable, but let’s be honest, potential buyers aren’t going to be that fussed about performance or even handling characteristics. In all likelihood the 2,0 GX’s required role will be to cart kids to and from school and haul the weekly shopping home. Do that with minimal fuss and frugal fuel consumption and you’ll have a happy driver who has little interest in performance stats.

This RAV4 has a six-speed manual gearbox that does the job well – the clutch is perhaps a little eager to bite, but it doesn’t take long to get used to its action. For fuss-free driving an automatic would obviously be better, but self-shifting 2,0-litre petrol-engined models demand an extra R10 000 to R12 000 in this segment and to get the best out of these four-cylinder engines, you’re better off with a manual.

It’s the interiors of these compact SUVs that prospective owners will be most interested in. How well they utilise the segment’s general dimensions, and what creature comforts are standard are key questions.

The RAV4 answers the first one very well. Its luggage bay offers 368 dm3 of space (second only to the Honda’s 408 dm3) and with the rear seatback folded flat, it leads the group with 1 480 dm3. The large hatch means ease of loading, which is handy. Unfortunately that low sill is compromised somewhat by a raised platform needed to cover the full-size alloy spare wheel. It looks odd and the plastic lip is going to get scratched, but it’s no deal-breaker. What could be, however, is the finish of the interior.

Continue to page 2…

Prices And Specs

Model Forester 2.0 X AWD MY13 RAV4 2.0 GX MY13 CVT iX35 2.0 Executive MY13 CR-V 2.0 Comfort MY13 AT
Retail Price R349 000,00 R300 300,00 R339 900,00 R362 400,00
kw 110 107 122 114
Torque 198 187 197 192
0-100km 10.6 11.1 10.4 12.4
Top Speed 190 180 184 185
Fuel Type Petrol Petrol Petrol Petrol
Fuel Consumption 8.9 9.4 11.6 Not Available
Tyre Size Front 225/60 R17 225/65 R17 225/55 R18 225/65 R17
Tyre Size Rear 225/60 R17 225/65 R17 225/55 R18 225/65 R17
Rear Tyre Size Width 225 225 225 225
Rear Tyre Size Profile 60 65 55 65
Rear Tyre Rim Size 17 17 18 17
Spare Tyre Size 225/60 R17 225/65 R17 225/55 R18 225/65 R17
Tyre Pressure Monitor No No No No
Wheelbase 2640 2660 2640 2630

Safety And Features

Air Conditioner Manual Manual Automatic Automatic
Audio System CD Frontloader USB CD Frontloader USB CD Frontloader USB CD Frontloader USB
Rev Counter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gearbox Manual Electronic Manual Automatic
ABS Brakes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Power Steering Yes Yes Yes Yes
Seats 5 5 5 5
Steering Wheel Heated No No No No
Speakers 6 6 6 6
Colour Coded Bumpers Body Colour Body Colour Body Colour Body/Alternate Colour
Leather Trim No No Full No
Alarm No No Yes Yes
Anti Skid Control Yes No No Yes
Electronic Defferential No No No No
Gears 6 CVT 5 5
Height 1735 1660 1655 1650
Onboard Computer Yes Yes Yes Yes
Immobiliser Yes Yes Yes Yes
Split Rear Seats Yes Yes Yes Yes
Brake Assist Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electric Seats - - - -
Cup Holders Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electric Mirrors Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electric Windows Front Rear Front Rear Front Rear Front Rear
Doors 5 5 5 5
Airbag Driver Yes Yes Yes Yes
Airbag Passenger Yes Yes Yes Yes
Navigation System No No No No
Park Assistance Camera Rear Camera No
Side Impact Protection Bars Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sunroof No No No No
Fog Lamps Front No No Yes Yes
Fog Lamps Rear No Yes Yes Yes
Headlight Type Halogen Halogen Halogen Halogen
Towbar Optional Yes No No
Payload - - - -
Bull Bar - - - -

  • Miguel

    My pick goes for the Toyota Rav4 but my favorite SUV is the Ford Kuga, by far!