The compact crossover is today’s starter family car. As compact SUVs get larger, more luxurious, and better equipped, they now occupy the sort of market that the starter family car used to cater to. Mixing in versatility and comfort in equal measure, these five-seaters aren’t just adept for the daily drive, but even for the occasional excursion out-of-town as well. Since every centavo counts these days, here are compact crossovers whose SRPs start below P1.5 million.
Chevrolet Trax (Starts at P1,185,888)
Proudly flying the Bowtie colors is the Chevrolet Trax, a smart-looking subcompact crossover powered by a torquey 1.4-liter turbo engine mated to a six-speed automatic. The Trax features a host of comfort, convenience, styling, and safety features including 18-inch wheels, Chevrolet MyLink Apple CarPlay/Android Auto infotainment system, push-button start/stop, six airbags, a cabin air ionizer, a dashcam, and a full suite of active safety systems.
BAIC BJ20 (Starts at P1,148,000)
The BAIC BJ20 looks more like a hard-core off-roader than a passenger car-derived crossover. Its squarish design is actually reminiscent of the Toyota FJ Cruiser’s. Like the FJ, the BJ20 is powered by a petrol engine, but in the BAIC’s case, a smaller albeit turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-4, mated to a CVT.
Chery Tiggo 2, Tiggo 5x, Tiggo 7 and Tiggo 8 (From P695,000 to P1,280,000)
Resurgent Chinese brand Chery reentered the Philippine market exactly a year ago with four crossovers: the entry-level subcompact Tiggo 2, the slightly larget subcompact Tiggo 5x, the compact Tiggo 7 and the midsize seven-seater Tiggo 8. Their sporty interior trim and spacious, well-equipped cabins are backed up by the performance of torquey 1.5-liter engines (turbocharged for the Tiggo 7 and Tiggo 8). All Chery Tiggo models boast free three-year PMS, five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and the industry-leading 10-year/one-million-kilometer.
Ford Ecosport and Territory (From P920,000 to P1,179,000)
If you can’t beat them, join them. The Ford Territory, which takes over the Ford Escape and joins its smaller Ecosport sibling, is the product of a joint-venture with their Chinese joint-venture partner, JMC. It may be built in China, but its Ford engineered through and through. The American carmaker had inputs on everything from its design to its engineering, and even its testing. Leveraging economies of scale and lowering production costs enabled Ford to fit the Territory with everything but the kitchen sink. Aside from the usual niceties, it even comes with advanced driver aids including automated parking.
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GAC GS3 and GS4 (From P888,000 to P 1,188,000)
A fairly young carmaker with strong global aspirations, the GAC crossovers feature what the brand calls, “Flying Dynamics” styling. The clean and boxy lines feature distinctive design cues such as the “floating roof.” Being subcompact SUVs in size, the cozy cabins seat five and boast a plethora of standard features including leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, and more. Powering the GS4 is a turbocharged 1.5-liter mill making 151hp and 235Nm of torque.
Geely Coolray, Azkarra and Okavango (From P978,000 to P1,438,000)
Most of the attention in local upstart Geely has been focused on their popular Coolray subcompact SUV, but the Azkarra and last week’s new launch, the Okavango, deserve equal attention. Designed by ex-Volvo designer Peter Horbury and underpinned by a proprietary platform, the Azkarra and Okavango shares the same performance-oriented powertrain as the Coolray — a 1.5-liter three-cylinder offering 177hp and 255Nm of torque. For those wishing for a bit more power (and better fuel economy to boot), the Azkarra and Okavango offer their segment’s first-ever mild-hybrid systems. These bump up the powertrain’s figures to 190hp and 300Nm, while also improving its economy to a diesel-like 17.24 km/L.
Honda BR-V and HR-V (From P1,038,000 to 1,296,000)
One of the pioneers of this segment, the HR-V is now one of its more respected veterans. A refresh in 2018 added sought-after features including LED lighting, but more importantly, it introduced a sportier-looking RS variant. The coupe-like styling (hidden rear door handles, high interior center tunnel) of the HR-V makes it different from this sea of crossovers, while its magic ULT seats (borrowed from the Jazz) means it has one of the biggest cargo capacities in its class. The HR-V is powered by a 1.8-liter engine mated to an Earth Dreams CVT. The fast-selling subcompact seven-seater BR-V, meanwhile, is powered by a 1.5-liter VTEC engine boasting the most power in its class.
Hyundai Kona, Tucson and Venue (From P915,000 to P1,368,000)
The Tucson has become a venerable nameplate for Hyundai in the Philippines. Along with the Starex, it’s made the Korean automaker a household name. While the hip Kona subcompact SUV has become the talk of the town, the Tucson is still the last word when it comes to space and practicality. The fluidic sculpture design is timeless and the interior still is one of the largest among this bunch. What sets the Tucson apart though is its breadth of powertrain choices — gasoline or diesel, manual or automatic — there’s one for every budget and lifestyle. And now, the newly launched subcompact 1.6-liter-powered Venue makes Hyundai a triple threat in the crossover segment.
Mazda CX-3 and CX-30 (From P1,320,000 to P1,490,000)
Found at the top-end of this round-up’s price ceiling, the CX-30 is Mazda’s newest SUV offering and takes a much more emotional and human-centric approach than the rest of the choices here. The design brief wasn’t about being the biggest or fastest, but it’s about being the easiest and most confident to use. Still, it has won recognition the world over including being selected as one of the finalists World Car Design of the Year (spoiler alert, the Mazda3 won). And despite the name, it actually slots between the subcompact CX-3 and compact CX-5 in terms of size and price.
MG ZS and RX5 (From P818,000 and P1,058,000)
The bestselling MG ZS needs no introduction — but its big brother might. Embodying power, functionality, and class, the RX5 is the ZS’s larger, more spacious, and more powerful big brother. The understated yet refined exterior remains very true to its British heritage while its comfortable and spacious cabin allow its owners to navigate through life’s many challenges. MG’s modern approach to design and engineering is backed up by a strong 1.5-liter turbo motor making 162hp and 250Nm of torque — easily one of the strongest in this segment. Inside, the RX5 offers ample room as well as features such as a panoramic sunroof and smartphone connectivity.
SsangYong Tivoli and Korando (From P1,120,000 to P1,290,000)
While Korea’s SsangYong doesn’t have the same brand recall as Hyundai or Kia, the Tivoli and Korando come across as a strong contender in its own right. The latter’s sporty, angular appearance is backed up too by its rich-feeling interior. The Korando line-up starts with a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine as well, but in this case, it makes 163hp and a stout 280Nm of torque. If those aren’t enough, there’s even a diesel version too with 136 horsepower and, get this, 324Nm of torque on tap. The subcompact Tivoli is unique in its class, being able to offer (like its Korando big brother) a choice between a gas or diesel engine.
JAC S4 (Starts at P878,000)
The JAC S4 enters a tightly contested arena filled with choices from American, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean brands. As not to put all their eggs in one basket so to speak, JAC offers three variants of its S4 compact crossover. Penned by JAC’s global design team in both Tokyo and Turin, the S4 is also powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine. Similar to Ford’s move, the S4 is filled to the brim with features including its own set of advanced driver aids, but at P1.098 million is priced considerably less.
Kia Seltos, Sportage and Stonic (From P735,000 to P1,290,000)
The Seltos is a shot in the arm that Kia’s newly appointed Philippine distributor needed. In terms of design, it’s eye-catching taking on a decidedly larger-than-life approach with its “tiger face” front-end and boxy profile.
Yet, despite its compact crossover classification, it’s roomy for five adults with generous cargo space to boot. A 2.0-liter engine with 149hp and 179Nm of torque offers pep, while an Intelligent Variable Transmission adds a more dynamic twist to the usual dullard CVT gearbox. The recently launched subcompact 1.4-liter-powered Stonic, meanwhile, is the platform twin of the Hyundai Kona. Needless to say, the upmarket Sportage, a model name that has been on the local market since the 90s is very much around. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter engine in either gas or diesel.
Suzuki Vitara, Jimny and XL7 (From P1,038,000 to P1,068,000)
When one thinks of a Suzuki SUV, the most immediate mental image that comes to mind is the iconic Jimny which is actually a true SUV, and not a crossover. Often overshadowed by its all-conquering little brother, the Vitara is actually the more family-oriented one, second only to the seven-seater XL7. This year, the Vitara has been updated with a stronger, more aggressive appearance backed up by better interior materials. The Vitara’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine’s 115hp may not be making headlines in this group, but its proven to be very fuel efficient especially when paired with the six-speed automatic. The strong-selling XL7 is based on the venerable Ertiga and shares that car’s 1.5-liter engine and four-speed automatic.
Mitsubishi Xpander Cross (Starts at P1,255,000)
Mitsubishi joins the affordable subcompact seven-seater fray with the Xpander Cross. Based, obviously, on the hot-selling and smooth-driving Xpander MPV, the front-wheel drive Xpander Cross borrows the latter’s mechanicals and most of its bodywork, adds some SUV styling cues, and gets a raised ride height for that all-important high ground clearance desirable in these seemingly apocalyptic times.
Nissan Juke (Starts at P1,239,000)
The odd-looking Juke needs no introduction, as it has been turning heads for several years now. The visual novelty may have worn off, but the impressive refinement, smoothness and fuel efficiency of this endearing little Nissan remains strong to this day.
Toyota Rush and Corolla Cross (From P983,000 to P1,285,000)
The Corolla Cross is living proof of the shift of preference towards crossovers. Toyota actually calls it the “Corolla of this generation.” The Corolla Cross expresses sportiness, agility, and robustness — characteristics that can also define Toyota’s bestselling compact sedan, but in a sought-after SUV body style. The Corolla Cross emphasizes interior spaciousness along with easy ingress/egress. The TNGA GA-C platform and 1.8-liter engine are already ingredients for a spirited, yet smooth ride, but for those who want to go the extra mile, it’s the only one in this list to offer a full-hybrid (not just a mild hybrid) version as well. The newly updated Rush, meanwhile, is well-known, and shares its Avanza sibling’s proven mechanicals, including the 1.5-liter VVTi engine mated to a manual or automatic—but with the de riguer raised ride height and SUV styling duds. – Manny de los Reyes