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November 09, 2017

I want a premium small SUV

After the fiasco of the communicator, when Google even dropped Nexus 7, I started to realize that my tastes are abnormal, even in cars. I want a compact SUV that is not too big, but is real. Something that now-dead Suzuki Grand Vitara would be great. Here's a table:

Curb W.w/o.m Length T.dia c2c Tot.Rat TrueDelta
2018 Wr.Rubicon 4010# 73.7" 164.3" 34.6' 66.61 32[6]
2018 Renegade 3532# 74.2" 166.6" 35.3' 18.4 [1] 29
2018 Crosstrek[2] 3142# 71" 175.8" 35.4' 16.96 24
2018 RR Evoque 3865# 78.1"[a] 172.0" 38' ? -
2019 XC40 3629# 75.2"[c] 174.2" ? 16.8[8] -
2017 HR-V[3] 2888# 69.8" 169.1" 37.4' 17.14 6[7]
2017 CX-3[5] 2959# 69.9" 168.3" 34.8' 15.37 -
2018 Countryman 3510# 71.7" 169.8" 37.4' 15.50 55[b]

For a comparison, here are some of the bigger SUVs, that also stratify:

Curb W.w/o.m Length T.dia c2c Tot.Rat
2018 GLC 300 4M 4145# 74.4" 183.3" 38.7' 17.98
2018 BMW X3 4230# 74.1" 183.6" - 15.96
2017 GLE 350 4M 4751# 75.8" 189.1" 38.8' 17.08
2017 Jeep GC/WK2 4984# 76.5" 189.8" 37.1' 42.2
2019 RDX SH-AWD 4020# 74.8" 186.4" 39' 17 (est.)

[1] With an optional 4.438 final ratio, C635 manual.
[2] Specified headroom is 39.8".
[3] Manual only with FWD. AWD with CVT only.
[5] Specified headroom only 38.4".
[6] 106 for 2006, 80 for 2008, settles down thereafter.
[7] Likely not statistically significant.
[8] Actually for BMW X1 with the same transmission.
[a] With mirrors folded.
[b] For 2011. Newer are better, but show 40s anyway.[c] A Canadian 3-view drawing says 1863 mm or 73.4".

The slowest gear is only decent in real Jeeps, unsurprisingly. For a reference, the 2006 RAV4 2.4L+4sp auto had 12.13, and I found it unacceptable (that is to say, I've never been stuck because clearance of RAV4 wasn't great enough, but I have gotten stuck with a TQ stall). So, I'd like to have somewhere around 18..20 at least.

So far, Crosstrek looks like the winner, thanks to its modest dimensions (although it's long and has a long snout). Both Crosstrek and Renegade allow to combine a manual transmission with AWD. Supposedly the interior is much improved in the 2018 generation.

Renegade would be my choice, thanks to low gearing. But wife says the interior is trash. I am not sensitive to it, but she need good seats for her back.

Evoque is intriguing because it is almost the right size, and is modestly off-roadable. But it may be too wide, and has a small headroom. It uses the same 9-speed ZF auto found in Renegade and Pilot for the crawling gear. Also, a Ford 2.0L turbo -- not sure if I like that. {Alex says the Indians are putting a new engine into top trims of Evoque for 2018+.}

The upcoming XC40 is also intriguing, as long as they sell a model without the stupid glass roof.

HR-V and CX-3 are probably too small, although I like small. Fortunately, I don't need to agonize over their size because their offroadabiltiy is too poor. They are included for a reference.

UPDATE: I saw an edifying video where the previous generation Crosstrek and Renegade work side-by-side in real life. It highlights the difference quite nicely. Both vehicles make it, but Crosstrek has to have the front bumper removed and runs with 2-inch lift. The Renegade is a Trailhawk model with the factory 3/4" lift. A certain lift is required on either one in order to sustain skid plates.

UPDATE 2018/02/20: Alex chimes in. Note the ground clearance. But then, XC40 has climate controls on the touchscreen, which is a problem.

UPDATE 2018/05/11: Alex posts a full review. The glass roof appears unfortunately standard (I looked at Volvo website, and the headroom has no option in the U.S. market, although it is an option in Europe; the deletion of the glass increases the headroom to 40.5"). Seats are heated but not cooled, a problem for wife, who likes those (every time I try them, they make me want to pee). The climate controls are on the touchpad, although they seem to work. On the upside, I loved the trash bin. A number of reviewers were militant about the double-toggle shifter, but I'm okay with that. The steering ratio seems a bit excessive.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at 10:42 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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