Why buy an SUV when the hatchbacks on these platforms are even better?
Despite their mass popularity, we have yet to fall madly in love with SUVs. Most are based on the same platform as cars, but lifted up with a modicum of ride height to create the illusion of size. The majority of SUVs on sale today have a sedan, hatchback, or wagon variant that sits on the same platform. If given the choice, we'd chose the car over the SUV almost every time because cars are faster, better handling, and more economical. Here are seven examples that prove our point.
Volvo introduced its Scalable Product Architecture on the XC90, which underpins many of its new models. We loved our time with the XC60 SUV, but the recently announced V60 wagon looks even better. Both the V60 and XC60 are available with the same drivetrain options, but the V60 achieves two mpg better in the city, and five mpg better on the highway. The two cars share a nearly identical interior, but the V60 is cheaper by around $3,000.
The Fiat 500X is unique because it actually rides on a different platform than the 500 from which it derives its name. Therefore, the two cars are actually very different from each other. This still doesn't change the fact that we prefer the original 500 over its SUV counterpart. The 500X is available with a manual transmission, but it is nowhere near as fun to drive as the 500, especially not when the 500 is in Abarth trim. The whole point of a Fiat is to be small, which the 500 does well. The 500X isn't the ideal city vehicle, nor is it a very competent off-roader.
The Mini Countryman is another example of a small-car brand being exploited to suit the public's love of SUVs. The Countryman is based on the same platform as the Clubman, which was originally meant to be the "biggest" Mini model. When Mini discovered that it could cash in on the SUV boom, it quickly developed the Countryman and the two-door Paceman. We think the Clubman looks better than the Countryman, and it ins't an affront to the "Mini" name with its reasonable size. Though the two cars get identical fuel economy, the Clubman is cheaper by over $1,000.
The newest Volkswagen Tiguan is based on the company's MQB platform, which is found underneath several cars from Audi, Seat, and Skoda. The MQB platform also underpins the Mk7 Golf, which is a far better car to drive than the Tiguan. A base Golf is cheaper than the Tiguan by around $3,500 and achieves three mpg better in the city and seven mpg better on the highway. Not to mention the sporty GTI and R variants, which offer more fun in one wheel than the Tiguan has in the entire car.
The Honda CR-V is based on the same compact global platform as the 10th generation Civic. Unlike the CR-V, the Civic offers two sporty flavors, the Si and Type R, to please enthusiasts with turbocharged, manual-transmission fun. Meanwhile, the base Civic hatchback costs around $4,000 less than a base CR-V, and achieves six mpg better in the city and eight mpg better on the highway.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite SUVs on the market, because it is more fun to drive than its competitors. This was not enough to save it from this list, because we still prefer the Mazda 3 hatchback, which is even more fun to drive. Even after factoring in for the CX-5's more powerful base engine, the Mazda 3 is cheaper by over $2,000 and achieves better mpg on the highway and in the city.
The Mercedes A-Class and GLA epitomize why we created this list. The A-Class was one of the best looking hatchbacks on the market, especially in AMG 45 trim. Instead of bringing it to the US, we received the ugly GLA. Even though we did receive a GLA 45 AMG that was barely taller than a hatchback, it never looked as good as the A-Class we always yearned for.