Crossovers are a mysterious and tricky breed to categorise but that certainly does not stop them being popular, they hover on the line between 4×4, estate car and hatchback and they do it very well indeed. They are very rapidly replacing family hatchbacks as well as estate cars and although they won’t give you full off-road capability they are certainly good enough for parents who simply want a big car to keep their family as safe as possible.
With the recent market being flooded with these types of car we thought we should once again put some of the most popular models through the crucible of the Creditplus Battle of the crossovers!
The original Nissan Qashqai really started the crossover movement a while ago and the new model certainly has not relinquished its spot as a main contender in the title fight. The basic recipe is the same but they have improved various aspects of the cars quality and further refined it, Nissan clearly stuck to the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ psychology and more power to them for it because it definitely works. Also we really like the design of the new Qashqai, it’s quite a stylish looking car.
There are a number of different specification options to choose from with varying engine sizes which of course means varying pricing but the general consensus is that the 1.5 litre diesel engine is the best middle ground option. All the options are spacey inside and are perfectly suited for family life, a large boot and easy folding chairs make it a very practical vehicle.
Although this car is a great all rounder, as mentioned before the Qashqai really stands out on its refinement quality, in fact WhatCar boldly state that “No other small SUV matches the Qashqai’s outstanding levels of refinement”. All the engines, with the exception of the 1.6 diesel, are extremely smooth and quiet when pushing hard and there is very little wind and road noise at even at high speeds.
Following on from refinement, the quality inside the cabin is excellent, the Qashqai feels well made and the materials used are nice to the touch. The basic model comes with air conditioning, Bluetooth and cruise control but you can of course spend a little bit more money to grab some nice features like alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers and even reversing cameras and parking sensors if you go for the top models.
On the subject of money, you do not get this kind of all round quality without paying the price and the Qashqai certainly is not the cheapest option available. Prices start at £17,995 which is a significant amount of money but the Qashqai’s saving grace is that resale values are quite high meaning you won’t lose a huge chunk of cash when you go to upgrade later.
The Mazda CX-5 is another great example of how to do a crossover correctly, another nice all rounder which is in essence what these vehicles should be.
First of all the CX-5 is quite nice to look at, it isn’t anything extra special but it is a handsome looking car and something that looks like a Lamborghini in steroids is not really what you want to be running the family about in anyway we think. We like it.
The 2.2 litre diesel is a great engine and it pulls all across the rev range so you don’t have to push the engine too hard to get decent speed, unfortunately all the engines except the small diesel are not particularly refined and they are not particularly smooth and make a fair racket. On the subject of noise there is quite a noticeable amount of wind noise and tyre roar which is a shame and the Qashqai scores on over on the CX-5 on that front.
Do not let the previous totally put you off though, despite being a bit noisy the CX-5 has a really great ride and it is easy to forget that you are in a larger vehicle because it feels like you are driving around a nippy little hatchback.
The prices on this model do start a bit high, at £20,350 they are a quite noticeably more than the Qashqai but similarly to the Qashqai it will resell well and does benefit from very low running costs. The CX-5 is the cleanest running car of its type, Mazda’s Skyactiv engine technology really is great and you will feel the benefit of this in your pocket when the time comes to tax it.
Practicality, this is where the Mazda really excels itself, it has an enormous boot with seats that fold almost totally flat for even more room. Somehow the huge has absolutely no effect on room in the vehicle either, there is more than enough room for heads and legs for all of the passenger and you probably could swing a cat in there (if that is what you are in to).
Equipment is another strong suit for the CX-5, although you might expect this from the slightly more expensive price, it comes standard with dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth and cruise control which is great.
Looking for a decent looking, practical, well kitted out family wagon, this might be your man but wait, don’t choose just yet there is more!
Watch out, here comes a curve ball! Not one of the best known vehicles around but it deserves to be in our book. The visually striking Cactus certainly is not going to be getting confused with anything else, so if you are after something a bit unique then pay attention!
The Airbump panels are plastic and are there to help avoid any little nicks and scrapes but we think they look great too. Also they are available in ten colours meaning you can really customise the look of your vehicle which is a nice little touch.
Those Airbump panels, which are saving you from having to spend your hard earned money on repairs and painting, are inline with the entire philosophy of the vehicle, cheap running costs. The vehicle has a lot of weight reduction on it which means not only are the running costs cheap but the entire car is super cheap to buy, with prices starting at £12,990 it is difficult not to keep this car in mind. You can get up to 92mpg out of the Cactus with a diesel engine and as little as 82g/km CO2 emissions which is outrageous.
Although there have obviously been some cuts in quality on the inside to achieve that price it actually does not feel cheap and the inclusion of a touch screen gives it a fairly premium feel we think. In terms of refinement there is some noise from the diesel engines and of course with a price like that some noise does get in from the outside but it is nothing too major, particularly when you remember what it costs. Handling is nothing to write home about and it is quite soft through the corners but generally speaking a comfortable car.
You can’t ignore the list price and running costs of this car so if you are looking for something cheap to buy and cheap to run that looks great and will take care of most of your family needs this might be the one for you.
You might have already made your decision at this point who you think should win this battle but wait just a minute there Sir/Madam! We have selected one more Crossover that we think might make a big old mess on your decision making rug.
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross really is the jack of all trades master of none, it’s competent in almost all aspects you would want it to be at a very competitive price but because of that other vehicles will beat it in certain areas.
The prices for the SX4 start £15,000 and you actually get a surprising amount of kit in the entry level ones for that, basic models come with 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, cruise control, four electric windows and a USB socket. You can spend just a little bit more and get dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, keyless entry, reclining rear seats, 17-inch wheels, a leather steering wheel and extra body protection which is what we would do. The materials used inside are actually quite nice to use and the buttons have a decent feel to them but this is no Range Rover Evoque let’s be clear about that.
There are two engines to choose from, one diesel and one petrol engine, both 1.6 litres. It should be no surprise by this point that the diesel engine is the one to go for, it has considerable more pulling power than the petrol and it is much more efficient too meaning you should spend less on tax and fuelling the vehicle. Unfortunately both engines are a bit noisy and not particularly smooth but at least wind noise and tyre roar is barely noticeable.
In terms of practicality it has plenty of head and leg room up front but in the back adults might struggle for both, particularly in the panoramic sunroof model. On the upside the boot is very spacious, though not as much as the CX-5, and the seats fold totally flat for extra room if needed.
One complaint we have is that in a class of cars that quite frequently look great the SX4 is a bit so-so, it looks a bit generic and we think we might lose it in a car park but that’s just us.
So there you have it, four of the most popular Crossovers on the market, some excel in certain areas and some have many fingers in many pies but which is the best? Well that is for you to decide! Let us know in the comments section if there is one you particularly fancy.