A Top Gear Philippines reader asks: What's a good compact SUV?

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by Botchi Santos | Jul 4, 2012

Good day! I'm an avid Top Gear subscriber. I am planning to buy a compact sport-utility vehicle. I'm looking at the Chevrolet Captiva diesel and wondering about its after-sales maintenance costs? I would also like a vehicle that has a car-like feel to it, with enough space for balikbayan boxes. Any other suggestions?

Hope you can help. Thanks and more power!

Rey Benedict Ramos


Hi, Rey! Thank you for your e-mail. I hope things are well with you.

I can't comment on how costly the regular servicing of a Chevrolet Captiva is, as we journalists--though we get to test the cars comprehensively--don't often experience actually owning and servicing most cars. All I can say is that, in terms of support and parts availability, the Chevrolet brand is doing far better than before, thanks to the new distributor, The Covenant Car Company Incorporated.

Just so you know, they are the best in their field. They belong to the same group that handles Volvo and Hyundai in our country, so they have extensive experience in the industry. I particularly like the Captiva diesel myself. I came away impressed after a brief three-day test drive. The vehicle offered excellent power, efficiency and interior room/space. It is the only compact SUV in the market that has seven-seat capability, whereas all the other compact SUVs make do with only five seats.

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Should you want something different, I offer two Korean compact SUVs: the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage. Both cars are excellent compact SUVs that have gone a long way from their humble Korean predecessors. Of the two, the Kia is my favorite as it looks more stylish, more daring and more eye-catching, thanks to new chief designer Peter Schreyer (formerly from Audi) overhauling the Kia brand's design DNA with a more modern and global look. Diesel variants of the Sportage are coming soon, but be prepared to wait as supply is still unfortunately on the low side.

The Tucson was the first Korean SUV that really made me take notice of how far Hyundai had come, especially with its excellent R-eVGT-equipped CRDi engine. It looks great, but compared to the Kia, it doesn't feel as high-quality. It's not that the Hyundai is no good or is inferior; it's just that the Sportage is so much better to look at and sit in.

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As with all compact SUVs, drop the seats down and you can load them up with as much as three balikbayan boxes (depending on the size of the box, of course). I did notice that the Tucson's interior tends to scratch far more easily compared to the Captiva and the Sportage.

Want something Japanese? The Nissan X-Trail seems to be a very good but very underrated option. It drives great, has a far better quality compared to the previous model, and is roomier than its predecessor with the same cargo space available if you drop down the rear seats.

The Subaru Forester is actually my favorite in this group because it feels like a sports car on stilts, but I feel your focus is more on cargo space. The Subaru has moderate cargo-space compared to the other SUVs that I just mentioned, focusing more on driving dynamics than real-world practicality. Plus, I always recommend the turbocharged XT variant because the non-turbo models tend to be very slow and thirsty. But if excitement is what you want, nothing--and I mean nothing--can beat the Forester Turbo 2.5 XT!

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Hope this helps you in time. Good luck and God bless. Drive carefully!

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor



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