The Road Ahead : August September 2007
AUG/SEP 07 49 BA, dual-stage front airbags, side front airbags and active headrests. The $39,490 CR-V Spor t adds cur tain airbags. Spor t offers a five-speed automatic gearbox, sunroof, CD stacker, alarm, dual- zone airconditioning, tilt and reach-adjustable steering, on-wheel controls, rear seat fish-eye mirror, sliding and for ward folding rear seat with 40/20/40 seatback split, trip computer, front seat armrests, and a clever, dual-level boot. Honda also provides a full-size alloy spare. Toyota's RAV4 Cruiser is another with a $39,490 list price and oodles of gear. A complement of dual-stage front, front side and dual row cur tain airbags is provided, along with ESC, hill assist control (HAC), downhill assist control (DAC), ABS, electronic brake distribution (EBD) and BA. The kit includes load net, tilt and reach-adjustable leather steering wheel with audio controls, climate control with pollen filter, CD stacker with MP3 function, rear spoiler and a sliding and flat folding rear seat with auto folding button. Mechanically, it offers electric power steering, a four-speed automatic, AWD locking mode and a full-size alloy spare. Fuel use is a compelling reason in the choice of a compact 4x4 and weight makes its presence felt. The lightweight of the test, Forester, triumphs over two days of mixed conditions. At 11.1 litres/100 km, it was 0.8 litre/100 km better than its closest foe and, in combination with a 60-litre fuel tank, provides a generous range. Despite toting around 200 kg of extra weight, Toyota also impresses with an 11.9 litres/100 km test average and a decent range. CVTs are known for economy and the Compass lives up to its promise with a return of 12.2. However, a teeny fuel tank (51.5 litres) shor tens its range considerably. The other vehicle with a CVT, Outlander, was the worst drinker. Again, heaviness equates to thirst -- two additional litres for ever y 100 km travelled versus Forester. Mass also conspires against CR-V, although a 12.4 litre/100 km average is within sight of the pack. It also has a small fuel tank. The depreciation duel is tight, however the Subaru has an edge over the closely matched Toyota and Mitsubishi, with Honda not far back. Compass is an unknown prospect. CR-V and Outlander offer ser vice inter vals of 10,000 km and 15,000 km respectively, yet match and clean up on running and repair costs. Forester is next best, but its ser vicing costs are higher. Compass needs ser vicing ever y 12,000 km and maintenance costs a packet. Its insurance is also steep. The shock is RAV4. Needing ser vicing ever y 10,000 km, the Toyota's par ts list prices are steep, which drives up insurance. Design & function Visibility, space and practicality are major reasons for buying this type of 4WD. Another key consideration is safety, and both CR-V Spor t and RAV4 Cruiser have admirable credentials. Both have plenty of airbags, ESC, traction control, a smorgasbord of braking aids and the added assurance of four- star crash safety ratings from EuroNCAP. Compass Limited rates well on safety, but lacks side head and thorax airbags for the front row ($600 extra) to complement its front cur tain airbags and electronic braking and stability technologies. Despite a five-star ANCAP crash test score, Forester falls back to the pack when it comes to active safety. The omission of stability control on Foresters is a weakness when others offer it. Much the same malady affects Outlander. Although rated as four stars for occupant protection in independent crash testing, it does not offer ESC, while side and cur tain airbags cost another $1500. Honda hits the front for ergonomics, with an outstanding layout of controls and instruments, however its thick A-pillars sap frontal vision. The other car with tilt and reach-adjustable steering is the RAV, and its visibility tops the Honda. However, the Toyota's seating position is high and its controls are not quite as intuitive. The remainder offer only tilt-adjustable steering. Outlander proves most positive with on-wheel controls. Forester is simple to see out of but lacks nifty driving aids and can easily be knocked into third gear instead of 'drive'. Compass errs on ergonomics. Blame its Toyota offers good on-road credentials. Subaru's steering is still rewarding.
June July 2007
October November 2007