In the extremely competitive and lucrative subcompact crossover segment, being “just alright” doesn’t cut it anymore. Technology has been trickling down into these pseudo SUVs, embracing things like heads up displays (HUD) and the latest safety features. Buyers are more educated and expecting nothing but the best from their favorite manufacturers, and those brands that decide to send their best warrior into the subcompact crossover ring must be prepared to take the heat.
In this article, we’ll be talking about a good number of crossovers and their respective interior quirks, each with their strengths and shortcomings. We’ll also be dividing these small crossovers into two groups; with the second batch being for those who have quite a bit of cash to burn. Of course, the expectations are much higher when the price of admission is higher, but that doesn’t mean that the rest can take it easy; we’ll still be poking holes in their respective cases. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Up to P1.2-million
A minor nip and tuck on the exterior has done well for the already successful Ford EcoSport, but the best part is that the improvements are more than skin deep, as major updates to the interior and mechanicals have elevated this small crossover once again. Right away, you’ll notice that the interior has received a thorough reworking in terms of layout, material updates, and a brand new infotainment system. More thoughtful storage layouts and an updated instrument cluster with a TFT driving display add bonus points.
Much of the EcoSport’s cabin shares the same design and material choices as its bigger brother, the Everest, bringing in a swath of soft touch plastics and leather bits. Add some nice white stitching, aluminum colored plastic inserts, and less piano black accents, and you’ve got a pretty premium looking and feeling cabin. Ford Sync 3 makes an introduction in the EcoSport, and the seamless integration for your smartphone is priceless, especially for those looking to be connected at all times. Move up the trim levels and you get niceties such as automatic climate control, a start-stop system, push button start, keyless entry, hill-start and hill-descent controls, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlights.
The GAC GS4 slots itself in a good spot because it provides compact crossover sizing for the price of a subcompact, bringing it very close to people looking for the benefits of more size without paying more money. Plus that diesel engine might just seal the deal for some. The GS4 also brings a wealth of technological toys to the segment– automatic climate control, speed-sensing door locks, cruise control, parking sensors, reverse camera with around view monitor, tire pressure monitoring system, electronic parking brake, brake hold function, and huge touchscreen infotainment system with bluetooth, auxiliary, and iPod connectivity. Sadly, no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
High quality materials dot the cabin, and the black and brown leather adds a nice contrast to the interior. Leather is nice and smooth, but the steering wheel isn’t as nicely made as the rest of the interior. Plastics are soft, and the textured matte finish adds a bit of class.
Hyundai’s much anticipated entrant in the smaller crossover segment has been a long time coming, and after the attempt that was the Creta, it’s good to see the Kona make it to our shores. Quirky looks and brave styling cues have led us to believe that the Kona is for the young or young at heart, and it helps that the color choices can be quite distinctive. You’d expect some drama to creep into the interior of the Kona, as well, yes? Not really. You see, it seems that Hyundai went for a conservative execution with the interior, focusing on a dark theme with matte plastics. Faux leather occupies the center console box, and the fabric seats are comfortable but uninspiring.
On the infotainment side of things, a monochrome display for a touchscreen is an interesting choice in this day and age, but it does handle bluetooth and streaming without an issue. As for other comforts, you do get cruise control, speed sensing door locks, keyless entry, and push button start.
The JAC S3 positions itself under the P950,000 mark but still offers some interesting kit to tempt would be buyers. While it may look somewhat quirky, with mixed design elements from brands we may already recognize, the interior does set itself apart by providing an impressive cabin experience. You have soft, high quality leather on the dashboard, door cushions, and seats. Then you have some bits of hard plastics dotted around, such as the cupholders and cubby holes. Red stitching provides for a sporty vibe, but overall, it’s a good attempt.
Infotainment is handled by a floating display that enables you to stream and plug in your phones for hands free calls and music. You also have a rear parking camera with sensors, automatic climate control, automatic headlights, speed-sensing door locks, and cornering lights. They could’ve thrown in keyless entry or push button start, but for the price, it’s still pretty darn good.
A brand with British heritage, MG has been revitalized under new management, offering a slew of new models. The MG ZS is their subcompact crossover, featuring good looks and a decent feature set for just under P1,000,000. If you’re a fan of a neat and simple interior, with almost no cluttering on the dashboard, the ZS could be a good choice. The dashboard runs smoothly from the driver side to the passenger, complete with anodized silver and chrome trims to highlight the air conditioning vents. The majority of the dashboard is a textured plastic, but leather can be found on the seats, steering wheel, and armrest. Some carbon fiber themed plastic can be found in the lower sections and surrounding the head unit of the cabin.
Infotainment is courtesy of an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Six speakers, steering wheel audio controls, and cruise control are all within easy reach. Hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, a reverse camera with sensors, and speed sensing door locks are all standard.
There’s no denying the fact that the Nissan Juke started the quirky and head-turning design that most small crossovers seem to be adapting these days. Love it or hate it, you have to admit that the Nissan Juke gets your attention. Thankfully, the Juke embraces its design language by introducing it into the cabin with unique and thoughtful touches. While the interior is mostly dominated by plastic, Nissan draws inspiration from their Z cars to create a dashboard that’s easy to use and pretty neat to look at. Fabric seats are standard, and leather can only be found in the steering wheel. There are some silver accents and piano black parts, so that could be a good or bad thing according to your preference. One thing’s for sure though, you can’t mistake the Juke for anything else, inside or out.
At the center, the color display head unit is user-friendly and can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth, USB, and aux port to play music and make hands free calls. Located below the head unit is the automatic climate control with driving modes. Keyless entry, cruise control, rear parking sensors, and push button start is available, too.
The SsangYong Tivoli has always been a quiet favorite here at AutoDeal, and it helps that the Korean manufacturer has been stepping up their game recently, offering up models that match or even surpass competitors in both features and price. The Tivoli has one of the most interesting cabins in this class, combining nice leather, soft tuch plastics, and eye-catching color combinations to create an interior that hits way above its price range. From the seats to the steering wheel, the Tivoli is soft to the touch, with only very few hard plastics making an appearance.
As for technology and creature comforts, the infotainment system is still an Android-powered unit that's kinda dated. Bluetooth, Aux, and USB are all options for input. You do get a power adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto climate control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-folding side mirrors, reverse camera with sensors, speed-sensing door locks, and keyless entry with pus button start. The driver and front passenger seats are equipped with a ventilation system, which you could use to cool the seats quickly when you leave the car parked in a sunny parking lot. Neat, right? Cruise control, however, is a werid omission.
Suzuki has dropped the “Grand” in the Vitara nameplate, settling for a subcompact crossover in a time where crossovers seem to be getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. The good news is that the downsizing has done wonders for the profile and design of the Vitara, putting in more in line with the younger and more dynamic crowd of buyers. The cabin is a little on the simplistic side, with a plethora of plastics of the black and silver variety. The circular vents and analog clock are a cool touch, and the leather seats and steering wheel are welcome additions to a rather drab cabin.
Thankfully, the Vitara has a huge 10-inch infotainment screen that’s running on an Android OS. You have the usual bluetooth and USB streaming functions, but no connectivity for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay just yet. It works flawlessly but the single USB port up front is a let down. Keyless entry, push button start, speed sensing door locks, cruise control, automatic LED headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and parking sensors all around provide excellent value for money, making it very competitive in this class.
From P1.1-million and up
The latest subcompact crossover to come from the bowtie brand, the Trax is definitely a looker, with Chevrolet’s design language doing pretty well for the lines of this vehicle. There’s some disconnect from the rather aggressive front fascia to the rear, however, but it’s really up to personal preference. The cabin of the Trax benefits from a mixture of soft touch plastics, leather, and minimal glossy black trim pieces. There’s even some contrast stitching to add more visual flair. Overall, material choices are good and executed nicely.
Chevrolet’s MyLink system makes a strong comeback in the Trax, featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, together with an already responsive user interface. Keyless entry, push button start, automatic headlights and wipers, hill descent control, parking sensors all around with a rear view camera, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, and hill start assist are all available on the top trim. It is unfortunate, however, that automatic climate control is missing.
The Honda HR-V proves to be a compelling choice for those looking for a subcompact crossover, marrying Honda’s new design language with splashes of technology and design choices from the Jazz and the Civic. LED lighting and updates to the exterior, especially on the RS trim, is a definite looker, adding the much needed edgy styling when compared to its competitors. Good thing that the interior matches the exterior for the most part, with leather and some soft and textured plastics sprinkled around the cabin. Unfortunately, piano black fingerprint magnet plastics are used extensively, including on several touch interfaces. Overall, it’s mostly a black on black theme.
Infotainment is courtesy of a Kenwood system that offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but being third party means that the microphone for calls sticks out behind the rearview mirror, the USB port is hidden in the glove compartment, and no steering wheel controls for your calls. You do get automatic climate control, keyless entry system, and speed-sensing door locks. The lack of automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers are a bummer, though.
Those looking for a Kodo designed crossover that’s smaller than the CX-5 will have to settle for the CX-3. Handsome in its own right with its nice proportions and flowing lines, the CX-3 is one of only two subcompact crossovers in the segment that come with the benefits of all-wheel drive. The interior of the CX-3 simple yet elegant, combining a good choice of plastic and leather applications together with contrast stitching to create a no-nonsense interior. Less is more with Mazda, and the dashboard clutter found in other cars has been relegated to a few knobs and a slick interface.
Speaking of interface, Mazda’s MZD Connect rotary knob system works very well and provides for a seamless experience when pairing devices. No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay just yet, but what’s here is still a joy to use. Climate control is still manually set, but you do get a heads up display, a start-stop system, rear parking sensors with a camera, keyless entry, and push button start. A weird omission is the lack of cruise control.
Subaru has been in the business of creating crossovers for quite some time now, and injecting the perks of all-wheel drive in the process. The Subaru XV is extremely popular for a number of reasons, and the funky exterior lends to that fact. Once you step inside, you’ll be greeted with one of the most impressive cabins and safety suites in the business. More leather, less plastic is the name of the game with the XV. Orange contrast stitching helps inject some contrast into the supple cabin. If you see plastic, it’s probably a small trim piece, made to look like carbon fiber, or is soft to the touch.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available with the XV, thanks to an easy to use eight-inch infotainment system. Now comes the best part in the form of the Subaru EyeSight system. You have adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, reverse camera with sensors, lane keep assist, pre-collision mitigation, and automatic emergency braking. Other goodies come in the form of automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, keyless entry, push button start, and adaptive headlights. Speed sensing door locks are not found in the XV, though.