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Kia Sportage Platinum
Kia is the value-for-money leader in
a lot of vehicle classes, and while the
top-of-the-range Sportage Platinum is
the dearest car in this category, it’s
loaded with extra features like heated
and cooled front seats.
The combination of good looks, great
value and Kia’s industry-leading seven-
year warranty will always have it towards
the top of the shopping list for most
people looking in this category. The
Sportage also has one of the best small
diesel engines around, which performs
well and is fairly fuel-efficient.
A further sign of the engineering
maturity of Kia products is the
level of safety equipment, including
autonomous emergency braking and
blind spot monitoring in the Sportage.
Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport
Mazda’s SUV range has gradually grown
and the designers have cleverly been
able to develop the same Mazda family
‘ face’ with the vertical five-point grille
and defining body lines. Mazda calls it
Kodo (‘Soul of Motion’) design, and the
CX-5 is a great example of this treatment.
This SUV is equal best in class in
handling and drives with the nimbleness
of a small sedan. The 2.5 -litre engine,
which is shared with the Mazda6, is
quiet and powerful. While off-roading is
not its strong point, it does have some
capability for the odd camping trip.
Overall the CX-5 is well off the pace
compared with the Outback and
Sportage, but it’s a stylish and practical
SUV that’ll win the hearts of its buyers.
Its all-wheel-drive handling is secure, confident
and predictable whatever the road surface
FOR THE SECOND YEAR running the
Subaru Outback has won this category by
the slimmest margin. The final scores for
it and the Kia Sportage were so close that
either could have trumped the other with
an extra point in any criterion.
Although the Sportage is better value
for money, the Outback’s superior
overall design and function really gave it
the win, with a combination of space and
practicality that’s best in class.
Subaru also has a reputation for
leading-edge safety, and for those who
buy with the head and not the heart the
Outback’s safety package is a no-
brainer, as it has the highest score in
ANCAP safety tests of any Subaru to
date. The latest generation of Subaru’s
EyeSight driver assistance technology is
fitted to the Outback, so it will keep a
look out for potential collisions and, if
the driver hasn’t reacted to the danger,
it will kick in to brake the vehicle.
The judges rewarded the Outback’s
lengthy standard features list with a
score that only the Sportage bettered.
This list includes an infotainment system
with a user-friendly touchscreen,
Pandora connectivity, sat nav and voice
recognition for a range of functions.
The Outback is a model of consistency
in design and function, with class-topping
scores in each of the seven criteria. This
means it has good seating and practical
ergonomics that are essential in a SUV.
The cabin and cargo space is extensive,
making it one of the most usefully
proportioned models in its class. Access
to the load area is via a powered tailgate.
Although the Outback isn’t the
quickest amongst its competitors, the
2.5 -litre boxer engine is no slouch. Its
CVT is also one of the best on offer and
allows seamless power delivery with
much less of the engine flare inherent to
many of these transmissions. This
smooth power is important off-road,
especially in mud and snow, as wheel spin
can be the beginning of a bogging event.
All vehicles in this category need to
have the ability to get off the beaten
track, while on bitumen they need to
drive like civilised city cars. The Outback
does both well, providing a comfortable
and composed ride. Its all-wheel-drive
handling is secure, confident and
predictable whatever the road surface.
And it’s this whole package that makes
Subaru Outback a deserving winner
once again in Australia’s Best Cars.
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder Transmission: CVT Power: 129kW Torque: 235Nm Fuel
consumption: 7.3L/100km (claimed) ANCAP: ★★★★★ Price: $46,369 (indicative drive away)
The updated Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium has backed up
last year’s success with another hotly contested victory
Best AWD SUV
OR0317_BC_07 AWD Under + 50-60.indd 46
13/02/2017 11:47 am
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