I am interested in buying a new car and like the Hyundai ix35 Highlander. What is your opinion of the ix35? How does it compare with other SUVs such as Nissan X-TRAIL, Mazda CX-5, or do you consider any other better? I currently drive a VY Holden Calais which is getting too low.
This is a big decision for us and any help would be appreciated.
HYUNDAI ix35 HIGHLANDER
The Hyundai ix35 Highlander is a great car. Especially since the late-2013 model update. The diesel ix35 is the clear pick of the range. It’s got more low-end performance than the 2.4 petrol engine alternative. At least with Highlander you don’t get the anorexic 2.0 petrol engine or front-wheel drive, which are there only to drive the ix35 model range entry price down.
So basically the ix35 Highlander is a very well-equipped compact SUV with a cracking diesel engine (and an adequate petrol engine) supported by a sensational consumer value and ownership proposition. (That means: five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, capped price service for the life of the vehicle…)
Nissan X-TRAIL - bigger vehicle. Well built. Nice to drive. Seven seats an option (but not if you want AWD - seven-seat X-TRAILS are front-wheel drive only). Significantly more expensive or, to look at this another way, you get more Hyundai ix35 at every price point, compared with the Nissan X-TRAIL.
Mazda CX-5 - another very good SUV, since the recent update. Great features and pricing - and I would put the 2.5-litre petrol four in the Mazda well ahead of the 2.4-litre petrol four in the Hyundai ix35. Different story with the diesel engines though - unless you get out on the highway regularly. The ix35 diesel is a better urban runabout proposition, compared with the diesel X-TRAIL. (Because the X-Trail has a diesel exhaust particle filter, and the Hyundai doesn't - this makes the Hyundai potentially far more robust and reliable for urban running.)
Subaru Forester is an option as well - excellent engineering with Subaru. Their signature engineering trick is called 'symmetrical AWD' which means all four wheels are driving all the time. (With most other SUVs, the lesser models are often 2WD, and those which profess AWD are the so-called 'on-demand' AWD type. This means they need to experience wheelslip at the front, before the rear drive engages.) Bottom line: Subaru's symmetrical AWD system makes the vehicle drive far more sure-footedly in the wet and in on unsealed surfaces (gravel and snow, etc.)
The Nissan X-TRAIL, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester cannot compete with the Hyundai on value, nor on the the Hyundai's excellent warranty.
Kia Sportage is an option, too - Kia has just released a seven-year warranty. Sportage is the same vehicle as ix35, albeit with different detail design. (Hyundai and Kia are different brands from the same company. They share fundamentals.) Here, it just depends which vehicle you like best. For me it’s too close to call.
Many people view this choice through the lens of there being only one right vehicle. Frankly, with ix35, CX-5, X-TRAIL, Forester and Sportage, there are five right answers, all with slightly different plusses and minuses - I want an SUV that drives like a CX-5 but is as big as the X-TRAIL, has the ix35's diesel engine (sans exhaust filter) with the Subaru AWD system and the Kia's warranty...