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The Warsaw Voice » Society » December 1, 2014
Car review
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Sport Utility Vehicles Best of Both Worlds?
December 1, 2014   
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What makes SUVs so popular? Their attractive looks, good road handling (including four-wheel drive), spacious interiors and affordable price tags, along with a huge secondhand market, have made sport-utility vehicles a massive sales hit for many years.

SUVs are now one of the fastest expanding segments of the automotive market in Poland as well as elsewhere.

In recent years, designers have made every effort to come up with eye-pleasing SUV bodies that resemble those of tall all-terrain vehicles, and to combine these with large and functional interiors like those found in minivans. Customers get the best of both worlds, especially as most SUVs come with four-wheel drive.

The price is another reason to buy a SUV. A few years ago, SUVs cost around zl.20,000 more than popular mid-range sedans. Now that difference has dropped to several thousand zlotys, with nearly no price difference in the case of sedans with an extensive range of extras. This explains why many customers are attracted by the added functionality, especially in a situation where there are many secondhand SUVs for sale.

Let’s check out some models to see just how appealing the SUV can be. We’ve selected just three models from the dozens available to take a closer look at.


BMW X3

The BMW corporation offers several SUVs—or actually SAVs (Sports Activity Vehicles), as the automaker calls them. One of these is the BMW X3, originally unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. The next generation made its debut in 2010. In the spring of this year, the SUV underwent a facelift that especially changed the front of the vehicle. Its dynamic looks are accentuated by aggressive molding. This SUV is 4.65 meters in length and has the usual BMW features, recognizable from afar—it boasts the characteristic kidney grille and elegant headlights.

The refreshed version of the X3 is strikingly similar to the X5—and, though smaller in terms of dimensions, is often confused with its older brother. The cabin features the familiar BMW dashboard oriented towards the driver, with classic round dials and a large display in the center. There’s a good chance that if you have ever gotten behind the wheel of a BMW you will feel at home in any model from this automaker. The BMW X3 is safe and well equipped. It comes with a range of gasoline engines (2.0l./184 hp, 2.0l/245 hp and 3.0l/306 hp) and a choice of diesel units: 2.0l/150 hp, 2.0l./190 hp and 3.0l./258 or 313 hp. Power is transmitted via a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-step automatic transmission to two wheels (in the 20i sDrive and 18d sDrive models) or all the wheels in the xDrive version. Prices start from around zl.154,000 for the 18d sDrive version and end with more than zl.250,000 for the BMW 35d xDrive.


Honda CR-V

Honda is one of the forerunners of the SUV segment. The first generation of the Honda CR-V was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995. The next generations made their debuts in 2001 and 2006. The latest, fourth, generation of the popular SUV had its official debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2011. This year, the Honda CR-V has undergone slight modifications covering mainly the front of the body—with a new-look bumper, grille and LED headlights. With a length of 4.57 meters, the vehicle looks attractive and dynamic, not only because of the front, but also because of a different design of the rear. Compared with the previous generation, the ovoid, gentle end of the rear has been abandoned in favor of sharp, wedge-shaped lines. This works well for the body. The interior is spacious and at the same time very well equipped. Even in the entry-level versions, the buyer receives a wealth of comfort and safety features. The dashboard is clear and ergonomically laid out. The Honda CR-V comes with a 2.0 i-VTEC/150 hp gasoline engine or a choice of two diesel engines: 1.6 i-DTEC/120 hp or 2.2 i-DTEC/150 hp. Of special note are the diesels—widely viewed as among the best on the market. They are economical and work smoothly. Power is transmitted via a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-step automatic transmission to the front wheels (2WD) or all four wheels (4WD). The cheapest model in the basic trim level, with a manual transmission and two-wheel drive, the Honda CR-V S (2WD) 2.0 i-VTEC, costs just over zl.90,000. The most expensive 2.2 i-DTEC (4WD) diesel version with an automatic transmission in the Executive trim level will set you back more than zl.164,000.


Kia Sportage

Kia is among the brands that have made the greatest progress in terms of technology and design over the past decade. The best illustration of this is the Kia Sportage model. The first generation of this model was produced in 1993-2002, using Mazda components. The second generation, unveiled in 2004, was produced in collaboration with Hyundai, sharing many parts with the Hyundai Tucson. But the breakthrough came in the spring of 2010 when the third-generation Sportage was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The design was the work of Peter Schreyer (who previously worked for Audi) and proved a hit.

The vehicle, 4.44 meters in length, is wedge-shaped and very dynamic. The front features distinctly shaped headlights set deep into the fenders, in addition to a considerably inclined windshield, a narrow window line and an abruptly ending rear. I think this is one of the most visually appealing SUVs out there. A facelift of the body performed last year was almost imperceptible. It only minimally changed the details, while focusing more on better materials and the use of new technology such as LED headlights. The interior is perhaps not quite as roomy as those offered by the competition, but offers enough space for five passengers. The dashboard refers in style to the shape of the grille, and the finishing materials are of a high standard. Both gasoline engines (1.6l./135 hp, 2.0l./166 hp) and diesel units (1.7l.CRDi /115 hp, 2.0l. CRDi/136 or 184 hp) are available. Power is transmitted by a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-step automatic transmission to either the front wheels or all the wheels (AWD). The cheapest gasoline version, 1.6l./135 hp, with front-wheel drive, costs under zl.60,000. The most expensive 2.0l. CRDi/184 hp AWD costs downwards of zl.130,000.

Bartosz Grzybiński
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