What’s the perfect SUV for a family of five and a dog?

Let’s consider the pros and cons
by Botchi Santos | Nov 4, 2018
PHOTO: Christian Halili

Good day, Top Gear!

If there is anyone I’d trust to give me an unbiased review, it would be you. I hope you could help me and my family in selecting the perfect SUV. We are a family of five, plus a beagle. We are currently in conflict as to which model has the most value for its worth, considering the pros and cons of the units. These are our top choices:

1. Mitsubishi Montero GLS AT 2018
2. Toyota Fortuner G AT 2018
3. Isuzu MU-X 1.9 RZ4E
4. Honda CR-V V 1.6 Diesel

It would really mean a lot for our family. Thank you and God bless!

Hello,

Thank you very much for the vote of confidence! We honor and value it a lot!

Now, all the SUVs you’ve mentioned offer great value for money, as many cars nowadays have become more capable, sophisticated, well-equipped, safe, and fuel-efficient. You can’t really go wrong, product-wise, with any of the models you’re looking at.

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The first three are pickup-based and have ladder-frame chassis, so we’ll tackle them first.

The Mitsubishi Montero Sport is, for me, the best-value-for money SUV given the features it has, plus the amazing discounts that Mitsubishi always offers at the last minute prior to purchase. If it were down to pure monetary consideration, the Montero Sport, after all the discounts, takes the cake. In terms of capability, it has the most car-like driving dynamics, but it’s also very capable in light off-road driving. It’s fast yet fuel-efficient, and it’s loaded with safety equipment. It has the smallest turning radius and, I believe, the most compact footprint here, making it handy in tight parking slots. The only real downside I see is that it’s not very roomy inside. Definitely not tight, but it lacks the lounging space of, say, the Toyota Fortuner, especially in the second row.

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The Fortuner is the poster boy of this segment and is often seen as the aspirational choice. Great product from the market leader in the country—it drives very well, is solid and highly capable on and off the road (in the right variant, of course), and is very roomy inside. I just dislike the rear jump seats, which, unlike the Montero Sport’s, don’t fold flat into the floor. And you do pay for Toyota quality: Spec for spec, variant per variant, and in terms of standard equipment levels, you generally shell out more for a Fortuner than for a Montero Sport or a Nissan Terra (more on this later).

The Isuzu MU-X is also highly capable, and I enjoyed driving it last year in Bohol. The inside is roomy, but the third row here seems tightest. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it with the latest RZ4E 1.9-liter diesel just yet. In an SUV with five people going up to Tagaytay or Baguio, there might be a difference, but if you’ll just be driving on level roads, it should be okay. I guess the only problem with the MU-X is it lacks desirability and sex appeal versus the Fortuner and the Montero Sport, as Isuzu has always portrayed its offerings as workhorses that are as reliable as death and taxes. Otherwise, this is a great SUV, too, with decent spec/trim levels.

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The Honda CR-V is a crossover, and despite having a smaller footprint, it actually has a very roomy interior. The ceiling is lower than in the ladder-frame SUVs, but otherwise, there’s a good amount of knee- and legroom, and the backseat is surprisingly spacious as well. The diesel engine is adequate: It doesn’t feel slow, but neither does it feel fast, powerful, and torquey. But the Honda is, without a doubt, the smoothest and most comfortable of the lot. It has a lot of safety features as well—lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and so on—and is also the easiest to drive, thanks to its compact dimensions.


Of the choices you’ve mentioned, my the top two picks are the Montero Sport and the CR-V. Now, as a wild-card entry, consider the Nissan Terra—great value for money, and of course, it’s new! I haven’t tried it yet, but since it’s based on the Navara (which I have driven quite a lot), I’m confident that the Terra will be just as capable as its competitors. And pricing is also very good!

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Hope this helps! Good luck!

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PHOTO: Christian Halili
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