Displaying items by tag: SUV
The Mitsubishi Outlander is very much on trend. It's an SUV, and also a plug-in hybrid – but it actually arrived slightly ahead of its time. Here we're driving the current model, which is almost identical to the previous car aside from the lightest of facelifts and a few technological tweaks aimed at keeping ahead of emissions regulations. Why mess with success? It's an established big seller in Britain, although the rest of the range hasn't been doing so well, prompting plans for Mitsubishi to leave Europe. For now, though, this Outlander is a current model, available through the familiar dealer network. The question is, in a market that's now brimming with hybrid SUVs, does the
How can I spot a new Mitsubishi Outlander?
With difficulty. Mitsubishi’s goals for this version clearly didn’t include major styling changes. In fact, even sat next to a 2018-spec car, it takes a few moments to spot the newer LED headlights and the lightly tweaked front grille and bumpers. The new design for the wheels is the biggest giveaway.
Inside, there’s a tweaked instrument cluster, plus new air vents and a USB port for rear passengers.
The sunroof has been relegated to the options list in an attempt to fend off the extra car tax premium buyers have to pay when pricing creeps above £40,000.
While we were impressed by the quilted leather upholstery on the seats of our test car, these are limited to the top-spec models costing north of £40k.
Still, the range starts at below £36k for the Verve, and the big-selling Dynamic version still comes in below £40k, and includes heated leather seats and a lot of safety and convenience equipment.
What’s the Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid like to drive?
It’s not that far removed from the previous generation, which we drove back-to-back with this latest verion, but in a couple of important respects improvements have been made. The first is in cabin refinement, because the current car is quieter, rides better and feels more solid than ever.
There’s been extra adhesive applied to the body-in-white (before painting) to strengthen the shell using an approach similar to that used in aircraft manufacture, and this has the effect of enhancing torsional rigidity, so the car flexes less through bumps and bends. The difference is slight, but worthwhile.
The tyres have changed from Toyo to Yokohama, there’s a quicker steering rack and the suspension has been recalibrated.
Doesn't sound like much of a big deal? But in fact the handling and body control have improved. The quicker steering is the most notable change, making this Outlander easier to thread through narrow roads. Road-noise intrusion levels have turned down a notch too.
What has been sacrificed is the ride quality, which has become a bit busy on UK roads. It’s not uncomfortable by any stretch, but it feels far less settled than before. A fair trade-off for a bit more verve? Almost.
There’s a new Sport mode that offers a bit more punch, but this feels incongruous in light of the epic bodyroll that occurs when you hit a bend too quickly. An additional Snow mode prepares the capable chassis for slippery conditions.
You still get the paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the brake regen’s effect, making one-pedal driving a possibility, and they’re still arguably backwards: the left one turns up the deceleration, whereas the opposite seems more intuitive.
Isn’t a new engine the biggest news here?
It would be, except it's rather a stretch to call this a new engine. Instead it’s an adaption of the old 2.0-litre petrol, with the latest Mivec (remember that badge from FTOs and Evos of yore?) variable valve timing added. The 2.4-litre engine can switch between Otto and Atkinson cycles, meaning it can make more power and torque when required (133bhp and 156lb ft up from 119bhp and 140lb ft in the 2.0) thanks to the extra CCs using the former cycle, but burn less fuel under lighter loads with the latter.
Which sounds great. And it is, except not literally. Put your foot down and you’re greeted with a monotone moan very similar to that of the old car, in that uniquely disappointing CVT fashion – lots of noise and not much acceleration. Only now, the noise is just a bit more distant than it used to be.
Funnily enough this isn’t a CVT either. It’s a fixed-gear system that drives power to the wheels, with a hydraulic clutch to modulate the electric twist provided by the twin motors. It’s built by GKN – the firm responsible for the Focus RS’s lively rear axle assembly, among many other applications.
The transmission catches up eventually and meaningful movement occurs, but it’s still no thoroughbred. The 0-62mph time has dropped 0.5 seconds to 10.5.
This engine revision plus work on the battery – which gets 10% more power output and total capacity of 13.8kWh thanks to new cells and better management – has allowed Mitsubishi to recalculate maximum electric range, fuel economy and CO2 emissions for the more realistic WLTP testing, and the results are more impressive for that reason. We’re talking 30 miles on electric power, 141mpg and 46g/km. You’re also able to drive faster on electric power – now 84 rather than 78mph.
The trade-off is it takes an extra 30 minutes to charge the car using a 16A/3.6kW charge point – this now takes four hours.
Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid: verdict
The latest Outlander PHEV doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but then it didn’t need to. It’s more relevant now than ever before as the push for plug-ins intensifies. And looking beyond the powertrain, the Outlander remains a decent if unexciting all-round package.
Compact crossover is an intriguing, leftfield choice
Seemingly at a relentless pace, the onward march of the SUV continues, as typified by the Lexus UX crossover. Not so long ago, the RX was Lexus’s only SUV, but in short order the British line-up’s been fleshed-out both by the medium-sized NX and the seven-seater RX L. With the UX, Lexus has a smaller model to entice buyers away from the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Jaguar E-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLA.
It’s the GLA that this Lexus feels closest to in terms of ethos – while it ticks various SUV styling cue boxes with its unpainted dark grey wheelarch extensions and body addenda, the UX nevertheless feels like more like a tall hatchback than a rugged cross-country vehicle, much like the Audi Q2 and BMW X2.
As a result, Lexus loyalists will likely head to the UX from the ageing CT hatchback, or perhaps downsize from the bestselling NX. In fact, Lexus has such high hopes for the UX that it should become the firm’s most popular model, overtaking the UX. It’s also expected to be the most important model for the brand in terms of getting new customers into the Lexus brand.
Interior stylish and well made
You won’t mistake the UX’s cabin for the Teutonic look of its Germanic rivals or the so-so quality from its Jaguar Land Rover alternatives – this is undoubtedly a good thing and we like that Lexus continues to plough its own furrow. Material quality, fit and finish is deeply impressive, with a variety of complementary materials giving the dashboard a broad, low, layered look.
Less successful is the continued application of the touchpad for controlling the multimedia system – it’s simply not as intuitive as its rivals’ systems and in some regards is downright infuriating. Still, at least the clock alongside the infotainment screen is a classy analogue number, and not a digital affair shared with a 1980s microwave oven.
Space isn’t the UX’s strongest point however. While there’s enough room up front with an excellent, low-feeling, cocooning driving position, space in the back is no better than adequate. Compared with something like the Audi Q3 which is very impressive indeed, the UX’s sleek roofline and smaller dimensions mean there’s only enough room for two average-height adults. Any taller or wider and you’ll be struggling, especially if there are taller occupants in the front.
Lexus UX 250h the only engine option
Although a petrol-only UX 200 is available in other European markets, the UK cars will be exclusively hybrid-powered – all models sold in Britain will be badged UX 250h.
Despite the numbering system suggesting otherwise, the 250h is powered by a combination of an all-new 2.0-litre petrol engine, with Lexus’s fourth-generation of hybrid technology. Together they produce 178hp and 202Nm of torque, driving the front wheels. Its top speed is electronically governed to just 110mph, while the claimed 0-62mph acceleration benchmark requires just 8.5 seconds.
There’s also a four-wheel drive version of the UX available – badged E-Four – but this is expected to be a small seller. It also has some practicality issues in that it shrinks the boot down to just 283 litres from 320 litres – no better than a small supermini. Around town, both versions are very civilised and hushed, only getting noisier when you accelerate harder.
It still sounds like the engine’s spinning faster than the rate of acceleration suggests it should be, but this soon subsides. The gentler, more progressive you drive it, the more relaxed it feels. And sounds.
How economical is the UX 250h?
Lexus has yet to confirm the exact fuel efficiency and emissions levels of the UX range, but under the more real-world-imitating WLTP testing method they don’t look immediately impressive. Stick with a front-wheel drive UX 250h and fuel economy ranges between 49.6mpg and 53.3mpg, and claims CO2 emissions of 131g/km.
At the other end of the scale, a UX 250h F Sport E-Four riding on 18-inch rims delivers equivalent figures of 46.3-48.7mpg. Lexus has no immediate plans to release a plug-in hybrid version of the UX – for the time being the 250h is what its manufacturer refers to as a ‘self-charging hybrid’.
Lexus UX practicality and boot space
Lexus’s engineers wanted the UX to have a coupe-like feel and to a certain degree they’ve been successful in this aim, although not always to the benefit of passengers. You sit low down, lowering the car’s centre of gravity, but because the window line is also quite high – you feel more hemmed-in than behind the wheel of a BMW X2 or Range Rover Evoque, for instance.
Space-wise the front chairs have ample room for limbs and heads, and also prove very comfortable – it’s possible to spec them with heater and cooling air conditioning fans. F Sport-spec seats are slightly pinchier at the hips, but in no way uncomfortable. Spare a thought for those in the back, though – it’s not especially roomy and tall passengers will struggle for both head- and legroom in particular. Three adults abreast on the rear bench will prove unpopular and uncomfortable, although the transmission tunnel is quite small.
Even getting in and out of the back seat is a bit of a challenge, with quite a narrow door aperture. Pre-teens aren’t likely to have anywhere near as much bother, and arguably if more space is required, there’s the NX above the UX in Lexus’s SUV hierarchy.
That cosy interior comes partly because the UX is a compact car. It’s smaller than an Audi Q3 – more like the Q2 in size, and as a result is very easy to manoeuvre. Reversing cameras and parking sensors are standard which help, and visibility is good looking forwards and to the sides thanks to slim A-pillars.
Turn around and the angular body work lends a more restricted view out of the back – making it a little trickier to manoeuvre than its Audi rivals. However, those extra assistance systems help to negate this. On the plus side, the UX’s turning circle is nice and tight, so manoeuvring in tight spots is very simple.
Practicality is also hampered in the boot, with a high loading lip and a shallow depth between the boot floor and the flimsy luggage cover. On front-wheel drive models this load level can be lowered to a space beneath, expanding to 320 litres, but it’s very shallow when it’s in place and in line with the loading lip.
Those cars fitted with E-Four come with this as the only boot set-up – the shallow one that even saw a medium-sized holdall digging into the load cover. In this form, boot capacity is just 283 litres which is worse than many small superminis.
How safe is the UX?
Thanks to standard-fit Lexus Safety System, the UX boasts some impressive safety credentials that have contributed to its five-star rating from Euro NCAP. The suite of driver aids and safety kit consists of:
On top of this, the UX comes with eight airbags, various braking and traction systems, hill-hold assist and the option of adding blindspot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert. For families, there are two Isofix points in the rear as well.
Lexus UX interior and comfort
The design of the UX’s interior matches that of the exterior. There are plenty of varied angles and design features, but we’re pleased to report it’s very high quality with an expensive feel. It’s also less daunting to operate than you might expect, although the media system is a source of frustration like it is in the brand’s other models.
Getting comfortable is very easy indeed thanks to a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. You don’t sit especially high up like you’d expect of an SUV – there’s more of a hatchback feel to the UX. However, you feel hunkered down with the cabin swooping around you, and is a very pleasant place to be.
Whether it’s the seats, the door panels or the top of the dash, the materials used are high quality for the most part, even if there are various different materials and textures used.
Our biggest issue with the interior of the UX – at least in the front – is the media system. The large screen is bright and easy to view as it’s set on top of the dashboard, but the way in which it’s operated is via a frustratingly dim-witted touchpad located on the centre console. It requires greater precision than a rotary controller or touchscreen, and can be quite distracting. The system itself just looks a little dated, too.
Is it comfortable?
The UX may well look like a sharp, sporty off-roader, but the good news is that it doesn’t ride like one. Lexuses are famed for relaxed, comfortable drives – while remaining balanced and composed – and the UX is very much the same.
Refinement is excellent which means long journeys are easy and chilled for all, while the seats on all models are excellent. Both supportive in all the right places and very comfortable (with plenty of adjustment) it’s a doddle to get comfy and stay comfy.
Those in the back may find it a bit of a squeeze which impacts comfort levels, but there won’t be too many complaints about the way the UX rides over bad surfaces. Only F Sport models have a slightly more fidgety ride, but even on larger alloy wheels it’s a more relaxed affair than in an Audi Q3 S Line, for example.
Cars fitted with smaller wheels and/or the Adaptive Variable Suspension option offer a very composed ride, with adaptive suspension that is tweaked based on the driving mode you’re in – with a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport S+. Leave it in Normal for the most relaxed ride.
Lexus UX running costs and mpg
With just one engine available, it’s easy to sift through the UX’s economy figures. For the front-wheel drive model, Lexus claims between 49.5 and 53.2mpg. The lower figure is for cars on smaller alloy wheels.
Go for the E-Four version and there’s only a small penalty – claiming between 46.3mpg and 47mpg.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to get near these figures in everyday driving – as long as you’re not revving the nuts off it.
As with fuel economy, the UX’s CO2 emissions figures are easy to decipher, with just two variants of the same engine.
Tested on the new WLTP emissions cycle, the best-performing UX for emissions comes in at 120g/km, while the worst offender is just over 130g/km – figures that are more than competitive with the majority of its rivals.
Is it reliable?
Despite featuring a new hybrid powertrain, there’s little reason to expect the UX to be an unreliable car to own. Lexus has a stellar reputation for building cars to very high standards – with some incredible attention to detail that they call ‘Takumi Craftsmanship’. This features things such as windows that slow down before they close to make less noise, and exhaustive testing of the way the doors shut to ensure it’s a solid-sounding noise.
In terms of mechanical components, Lexus has been building hybrids for years, so the technology used should be top notch and very well tested.
Lexus UX engines and performance
Performance is delivered by just one engine – a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid badged UX 250h with 184hp and 190Nm of torque. Lexus describes it as a self-charging hybrid, which basically means you don’t need to plug it in and it sorts itself out which mode it’s in.
The most popular version is the front-wheel drive model, and this will take 8.5 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint. Go for the E-Four four-wheel drive model and this drops ever so slightly to 8.7 seconds – largely due to the extra weight it’s carrying around.
In reality, the UX doesn’t feel as rapid as those figures suggest when you floor the throttle. It takes a little while for the engine to get going, but when it does it surges forwards smoothly and without any real fuss. The main thing you’ll notice is the moan from the engine as the revs soar – a characteristic we’ve become used to with hybrid powertrains and CVT transmissions. However it calms down when you’re up to speed, and the UX isn’t the kind of car you’d be thrashing around anyway.
Everywhere else, the comfortable and quiet nature of the UX means it’s very refined and relaxed, while pottering around town allows you to travel for a lot of the time purely on battery power. That means it’s very smooth and silent, with just a little murmur from the engine when it does kick in.
Lexus UX 250h E-Four
The E-Four system directs drive to the rear wheels when it detects the front pair could do with extra traction. Having driven both versions over similar road conditions, we suspect the E-Four package isn’t going to be beneficial to most UX buyers.
Although the UX 250h E-Four has the same top speed as its front-wheel drive sibling (110mph), the extra weight of the system slows the 0-62mph time a shade to 8.7 seconds.
Lexus refers to the hybrid UX’s gearbox as an electronic continuously variable transmission, but it’s not a CVT in the conventional sense – strictly speaking it’s a planetary gear set. Rather than get bogged-down in technicalities, the important thing to know is that it’s less whiny than previous iterations of the transmission.
How does it handle?
The UX performs well around town – the hint is in the name as it stands for ‘Urban Crossover’. It’s very quiet running in EV mode for a lot of the time, but even when it’s not, it’s very hushed. Its small size and tight turning circle make it great for nipping around city streets. Whether you’re in Eco or Normal driving modes, it’s a smooth and relaxed operation.
If you’ve sampled other Lexuses, particularly the CT and NX, you’ll note that the UX’s controls feel weightier. They still feel light around town, but the small amount of extra force you need to haul it about on windier, quicker roads makes it more engaging than its siblings.
While it’s nimble on twisty B-roads, it doesn’t strike its driver as being an athletically enthusiastic sporty SUV. Traction is more than ample – even on front-wheel drive versions – but you don’t find yourself deliberately seeking to carry speed into corners with a view of powering fast out of them – an X1 or an E-Pace perform better in this regard. A lot of this comes because of the hybrid engine that almost holds you back from having too much fun.
F Sport versions of the UX feature larger, 18-inch alloy wheels and stiffened suspension, with anti-rollbars, featuring mid-point dampers to absorb shocks transmitted through the suspension. Over poor road surfaces you’re immediately aware of the firmer compromise – it’s not uncomfortable, and still rides in a far more relaxed manner than an equivalent S Line Audi or M Sport BMW.
Far better to stick with a 17-inch-wheeled UX and opt for the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) arrangement. Here the combination is satisfyingly compliant and seemingly free from uneasy wallowing in corners or under braking. Again, it reinforces that the UX performs more impressively when driven with measured consideration.
Lexus UX long-term test
We ran a Lexus UX 250h for six months, between December 2019 and June 2020. Click the links below to jump to individual monthly reports...
Most car manufacturers are jabbering on about electrifying their model line-ups, some with more ambition than others. But all the while, Lexus has been leading the charge (boo) – offering a hybrid powertrain in every single one of its UK models since 2013.
So while Lexus, or rather its parent company Toyota Group, wasn’t the first to the hybrid game, it’s been the most successful, selling more hybrids than anybody else so far. Yet it’s also proved resistant to change, having yet to launch a plug-in hybrid or pure-electric vehicle and continuing on with what it calls its ‘self-charging hybrid’ powertrain.
To see if it’s still fit for purpose, I’ll be running this for the next six months – a Lexus UX. It’s the smallest SUV in the brand’s four-strong range, and rivals cars such as the Audi Q2, BMW X1 or Volvo XC40.
I wanted to tackle this term right away, as it can instil rage into even the most mild-mannered of car enthusiasts online. Type it into Twitter and you’ll find page upon page of not-so-reasoned debate.
Critics say that the term is misleading – it suggests that the car is pulling electricity out of thin air, that it will never need to be refuelled and that all it is is a more efficient petrol car. Toyota says that it addresses buyer’s concerns about hybrid cars – namely, the misconception that you can’t buy one unless you have somewhere to plug it in – and it wants to show that its vehicles do not need external power to perform at their best.
2020 Lexus UX rear three quarter
While I can see where the critics are coming from, I don’t really buy that the average consumer is so thick as to believe the car entirely fuels itself. And though I’m not mad on the term, I can’t really think of a better one that extols the virtues of the powertrain while also communicating that it’s different to a plug-in hybrid.
In addition, I think it's a fairly accurate description. While admittedly all of the power comes from petrol in one way or another, the car charges its battery entirely autonomously - either from the engine or through regenerative braking and coasting.
So there. I’ll be calling this UX a self-charging hybrid throughout these reports. Ner ner ner.
So what’s it actually like?
Superficial things out of the way first – the UX’s design is an acquired taste, but I love the combination of Celestial Blue metallic paint and cream leather that our car rocks. It certainly stands out, with bodywork covered in violent cuts and creases, the aggressive ‘spindle’ grille and a full-width element at the rear providing plenty of interest.
This is a base-spec UX, but it’s fitted with two really important upgrades – the Premium Plus Pack and the Tech and Sound pack. These are pricey options, weighing in at £4,200 and £1,900 – though you can’t have the latter without the former.
2020 Lexus UX interior
They add plenty of luxury kit, though, which I reckon is fairly essential on a premium-badged model such as this. In fact, for the £6,100 total you get 25 new features – not a bad ratio. They include keyless entry, all-round parking sensors, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass, which are all useful touches.
Naturally, as a bit of a tech geek, I’m more interested in the wireless charging pad, digital dashboard, head-up display and 13-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system. I can confirm that it sounds absolutely mega.
I’ll admit to being slightly less enthusiastic over the prospect of six months with Lexus’ infotainment system. More on that in a future update, but for now, all you need to know is that it took three fairly experienced automotive journalists around 10 minutes to figure out how to turn the sat-nav’s voice commands off.
Our UX also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though there’s great news on that front – 2020 model year cars come with the software installed, and it’s an upgrade that will be applied to our car at its next service. Toyota Group has dragged its heels on this smartphone integration for years, and it’s fantastic to finally see it become available.
Speaking of service, Lexus has supplied us with a car with a few thousand miles on to begin with – it’ll require a trip to the dealers during our term with it. This is great, because it means I’ll get to experience Lexus’ legendary service department first-hand and see if it really does live up to expectations.
Any other disappointments?
I’m a bit miffed that this base-spec model still uses halogen bulbs for indicators – they rather spoil the futuristic aesthetic Lexus is going for with the styling, and I think it’s stingy given this car’s near-£30,000 starting price.
Practicality has already proven an issue. The boot is unbelievably shallow, to the point where even a standard-sized bag of shopping pushes into the parcel shelf. The official figures list the boot space as more than 300 litres, which I take with a grain of salt – there’s certainly less usable space in there than in most superminis or even city cars. It’s not a patch on the likes of the Volvo XC40.
The powertrain is often a sticking point with Lexus hybrids – some love its relaxed nature, others find the sometimes unpredictable nature of the transmission a bore. I’m beginning to lean more towards enjoying it, but there are still times when I yearn for the more enjoyable performance you’d get from a similarly powerful turbocharged petrol engine.
I’ve gone through just shy of 1,000 miles over my first month with the UX – a mixture of short runs to and from work and longer cross-country trips. It’s given me plenty of food for thought, but overall it’s proven a surprisingly likable car so far.
But watch this space for greater detail, as there’s plenty more to dive into during our six-month term.
Update 2: Performance and handling
Lexus is a brand known for comfort, stunning build quality and impeccable customer service. That’s not to say all of its models are sedate hybrids, though – cars such as the LC, RC F and even the LFA prove that Toyota’s luxury arm can do ‘exciting’ when it puts its mind to it.
So, did any of that expertise get called up when Lexus put together the UX? After all, small SUVs – especially fashion-led ones like this UX – are bought by young, vibrant types... in theory. Certainly from my perspective, as a single 26-year old (albeit somewhat lacking in vibrancy), I'd like a car that's good fun to drive. And happily, I can report that, within its own confines – being a hybrid, automatic SUV – the UX is pretty good.
How good can a self-charging hybrid SUV with a CVT actually be?
It’s all about driving within the car’s limits. Put your foot down all the way and you’re in for a rough time. The continuously variable transmission sends the revs spiking as the engine desperately spins up to try and conjure some forward momentum. You could even flick the car into Sport mode and take control of some artificially created gear ratios. But once again, this is a practice full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Instead, I’ve found the ideal level of throttle input. Place your foot at about 70% and the electric motor and petrol engine work in sync to bring progress that’s genuinely rapid, yet refined. It’s rather like riding the wave of torque that you get with a diesel, but without the associated tractor-like thrum.
In fact, it’s rather easy to trivialise the fact that the UX really is quite a quick little thing. At full chat, 0-62mph comes about in just 8.5 seconds – the same as an Audi Q2 35 TFSI. Not too long ago, that would have been considered hot hatchback pace.
The UX certainly doesn’t handle like a hot hatchback, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good fun. It’s remarkably poised in the corners, and you can carry a fair degree of speed without the car feeling as though it’s on the edge of disaster.
The rear end in particular feels surprisingly communicative – a surprise, for a small SUV. As ever, the steering’s remote and over-light, but that’s par for the course among this car’s competitors.
Relaxed manners make cruising a pleasure
Yet the UX doesn’t encourage spirited driving, and so my average pace has steadily dropped back. I still keep up with traffic, but this car benefits more and more the smoother your inputs become. Drive it carefully and you’ll see the little ‘EV’ symbol light up on the dashboard, signifying that the petrol engine’s been switched off and, for this limited period, you’re not using any fuel at all.
In fact it’s immensely satisfying to see how often, and how long I can get the EV light to stay on for. There’s a knack to it – you need to lift off the accelerator just enough, as if you were encouraging an automatic car to shift into a higher gear. The last mile or so of my commute is a straight 30mph cruise through my village, and I’m now capable of doing this reliably on electric power alone. So it’s disappointing that, despite all this battery-powered motion, I’ve yet to crack 46mpg since the impressive first month…
Surprisingly for a hybrid – and I say ‘surprisingly’ because these powertrains are usually at their best around town – the UX is a pleasure to drive on the motorway. The engine has more than enough poke for overtaking at faster speeds, wind, road and engine noise are all well-contained, and the supple ride glides over all but particularly rough surfaces.
The adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist functions aren’t quite as slick as they were on my previous long-termer, a Honda Civic, though. The cruise control is particularly easily perturbed – even with the following distance at its closest setting, it panics and slows the car down long before I get anywhere near the car in front. The lane-keeping aid, meanwhile, tends to spend all its time twitching the wheel, which is very tiring. I’ve had these both switched off for a while in favour of driving ‘analogue’.
Fuel economy: 45.8mpg
Update 3: A mid-pandemic service for our Lexus UX
In line with COVID-19 lockdown regulations (and acknowledging that my job here at Parkers, while important, doesn’t make me a key worker) I’ve been hiding out in my spare bedroom for the last six weeks, working from home and allowing my long-term Lexus UX to gather dust outside but for a weekly trip to the supermarket.
Lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time either, at least where the car is concerned. It was due its first service, at 10,000 miles or one year old – and I’d just booked it in for March 25 when the country locked down, on March 23. Bugger.
Of course, a short delay on a service interval is hardly a big deal. This is pre-emptive maintenance rather than a particular necessity, and it’s a very badly built car that will go bang if it misses a single scheduled service. The vast majority of car manufacturers have in fact extended their service intervals for the duration of the lockdown period, promising that drivers don’t need to worry about voiding their warranty for missing a scheduled service.
This act has the additional benefit of freeing up space in service bays for key workers – those still working who may need to drive, and for whom a well-maintained car is particularly important.
Some free slots for service still available
Still, I can only assume that the technicians at the Lexus dealer were twiddling their thumbs, because they called me offering a service slot, should I want it. They stressed that I didn't have to take it, though. Toyota's official stance is it will take a 'sympathetic and flexible' approach to servicing during the pandemic - and if I had concerns, I could delay the service.
I accepted, however, for a few reasons. First, and very selfishly, I desperately wanted to get out of the house – having been cooped up alone for almost two months, the deep but one-sided conversations with my dishwasher were beginning to wear rather thin. Second, I was very encouraged by how seriously Lexus was taking cleanliness and social distancing protocols.
And finally, I intended to sign up to the next wave of NHS volunteers, having already used the car to deliver a few lots of groceries around town – and didn’t want the excess mileage to be a problem.
It’s strange how unnatural driving feels, when you’re back at the wheel for the first time in a while. The trip to my ‘local’ dealer in Cambridge (I live 40 miles away, but my nearby Toyota dealer won’t touch Lexus) took a good hour, and felt deeply weird until I got my head wrapped back around the sensation of speed. It was as uneventful as you’d expect, the UX proving as comfortable and refined as ever.
Social distancing like a pro
Lexus was operating service slots in 15-minute intervals to prevent customers from coming in contact with each other. There’s zero contact with the staff, either – I was invited to sanitise my hands and my car key before placing the latter into an envelope and leaving it on the table. I then collected another envelope with the keys to my courtesy car: another UX, freshly sanitised. Returning was the reverse of this.
The process was quick and reassuring, and though there’s no way to totally mitigate the risks of this virus the procedures in place certainly go a long way to minimising it.
As expected, no warnings were thrown up from the service. All went ahead as planned, with the exception of one thing – I’d been assured an update for the infotainment system would be available, adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the UX’s central screen, but this didn’t materialise. It’s a shame, as the drive reminded me how sub-par Lexus’ system is. Even my courtesy car, fitted with an upgraded setup and a larger, higher-resolution display ran the same awkward system, making it no easier to use.
However, as a first-time recipient of Lexus’ legendary customer service, I was left very impressed. Hopefully the next time we meet won’t be under pandemic conditions…
Fuel economy: 43.5mpg
Update 4: Practicality
One of the key factors that appeals to buyers when opting for an SUV is the promise of space – lots of room in the back seats and in the boot, especially compared with an equivalent hatchback. That’s why in many cases they’ve replaced MPVs in manufacturer line-ups.
Lexus has never sold an MPV in the UK, though, and while many of the brand’s larger cars are immensely practical it’s not a particular brand hallmark in the way it is with, say, Honda or Skoda. Despite this, the UX still falls some way short of the practicality I’d hope to find on a car such as this.
Cramped in the back
Front seat passengers are treated very well, but space in the back is a little more limited. There’s sufficient knee and head-room for adults, but four six-footers will definitely feel cramped. That’s a complaint we can make about the majority of compact SUVs, though.
What makes the UX especially bad, however, is the uncomfortable centre perch, and the high window line and aggressively tinted rear glass that make it very dark and cave-like in the back, despite our car’s light leather.
Passengers have also made a curious complaint – that the subwoofer for my car’s (wonderful) Mark Levinson sound system reverberates through the seat, buzzing against their backs and making even short journeys incredibly irritating. I can’t say it’s an issue I’ve experienced myself, even on the few journeys I’ve spent as a rear-seat passenger – but it might be something to consider if you’re buying this car with the intention of regularly transporting people in the rear.
Any issues with the rear seat pale in comparison to those with the boot, though.
Boot? What boot?
The UX’s boot is laughably shallow, to the point it would probably stop me – even with my limited demands on a car’s boot – from buying one. Overall boot capacity is just 320 litres – smaller than a lot of superminis, and much smaller than the 470 litres of a BMW X2 or 405 litres of an Audi Q2.
It’s a long, wide and flat space, but there’s so little space underneath the parcel shelf that even a small bag of shopping ends up squashed.
That must be why Lexus opted to fit a flexible, fabric parcel shelf, rather than a rigid one. This conforms itself to whatever’s placed under it, though, leaving a rather unsightly bulge in the rear-view mirror…
The big problem is that Lexus was forced to fit the car’s standard 12V battery back here. It sits just behind the rear wheelarch, and artificially raises the boot floor to this insane level. As a side benefit, you do get a reasonably-sized hidden area underneath the boot floor, but I’d trade that in for more overall height.
At least the seats fold easily and lay almost completely flat, so it’s not as awful at the trademark IKEA run as it could be.
Is it really a problem?
Limited rear-seat room can be disregarded for a lot of small premium cars like this, as they’re often bought by single people or couples who value style over space. The boot, however, is ridiculous – even a supermini can accommodate a weekly shop for two without needing the parcel shelf to be removed.
It’s certainly a feature I’d recommend looking very carefully at before opting to purchase the UX.
Fuel economy: 45.1mpg
Update 5: interior & technology
I have a pretty extensive mental list of things in a car’s interior that I enjoy, and things that annoy. Like one of those couples on Escape to the Country who demand six acres and a large characterful kitchen-diner, I’m looking for a few specific items – but can be easily put off by an avocado bathroom suite.
The first is the seats. I like long seat bases to support my long legs, plenty of back support – but not too huggy around the thighs. Tick, tick, and a big Lexussy tick here – the UX, like most Lexuses, has fantastic seats. They’re superbly comfortable and very supportive.
Dials and gauges can make or break a car’s interior. After all, nobody wants information overload, but at the same time it’s tiring to be forced to scroll through multiple sub-menus just to see your remaining fuel, for example. Here’s another area the Lexus does well – its dynamic, part-digital dials show plenty of information, with a small panel off to the side which holds driving data. It’s easy to navigate and attractive to look at. Top work.
You’d hope for excellent build quality with Lexus, and I’m happy to report that even on the little UX everything feels well screwed together with no squeaks, rattles or buzzes at speed.
I’m not one to get dewy-eyed over soft-touch plastics, but the Lexus uses them where it makes sense – with all the places you touch being cushioned and pliable, while surfaces lower down the dash are less so.
Tech all works well
My UX is a base model, but one that’s fitted with the Premium Plus Tech and Sound pack. This brings loads of stuff I reckon is essential if the UX is to compete with cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q2. Electric adjustment and heating for the front seats, keyless entry, all-round parking sensors should, I think, be standard equipment anyway – while the leather upholstery, high-powered Mark Levinson stereo, head-up display and wireless charging are all nice extras.
The stereo in particular sounds excellent, with deep bass, great clarity and more volume than is strictly necessary. It’s a shame that the infotainment system it’s attached to is so rubbish, though – playing music through Bluetooth feels mighty old-fashioned when competitors allow you to connect Android Auto and scroll through to your heart’s content.
Anything you’re missing?
Well, the 7-inch infotainment screen looks a little bit lost in its surround. Higher-end UX models have a 10.3-inch screen, which means the housing has to be able to accommodate that larger unit. As a result, my car has some rather ugly bezels either side and with the text-heavy interface it can be confusing to navigate.
A 360-degree camera would be nice, but the standard rear-view unit works just fine – no need to upgrade as far as I’m concerned. What I do miss is the more sophisticated LED headlights with adaptive high beam – they might illuminate the road slightly more impressively than my car’s basic LED units, which have a very sharp cut-off.
What I’d really like, though, is for Toyota to take the infotainment display from its facelifted C-HR and plop it into the UX. I’ll speak a bit more about the relationship these cars share and which comes out on top in my final update, but in terms of tech the Toyota is leagues ahead thanks to its provision of both a touchscreen and Apple Carplay/Android Auto connectivity.
Fuel economy: 45.0mpg
Update 6: Farewell
After six months and a few thousand miles in the Lexus UX, it’s time to wave goodbye – and collect my thoughts on the time I’ve spent with this premium, hybrid SUV. This obviously wasn’t the typical long-term loan, as it was punctuated in the middle by a nationwide lockdown period. But I handed the car back with plenty of opinions – mixed ones – which I’ll attempt to share now.
Overall? I really like the UX. It’s not quite my favourite of the Lexus lineup – that honour goes to the LC, followed by the RX, because deep down I’m a fancy gal trapped in the body of a cash-strapped journalist. Yet even the UX’s status as the baby of the range doesn’t make it feel in any way budget. Little touches, like the soft-close electric windows, the sumptuously supple leather, the intricate analogue clock on the dash – none of them are what you’d call essential, but they elevate the UX above a similarly-sized offering like the Volkswagen T-Cross.
Looks don’t fade
Divisive – yes. But the UX still looks fresh and I think it’s a particularly smart addition to this market sector.
Lexus UX rear cornering
At night, things only get better. I love the lighting signatures on this car – they’re unmistakably Lexus, yet different to the rest of the range. Full-width taillight elements are becoming more commonplace, but the UX has a particularly clean example. You’ll definitely know if you’re following one of these home.
Great to drive – with caveats
I don’t think the self-charging hybrid system is for everybody. Mechanically involving it is not – even less so than a conventional automatic, so if you like to feel as though you’re innately connected to your car, a Lexus hybrid is not for you. Try a Porsche Macan, or something with a manual gearbox.
But it didn’t take long for me to get used to how the UX proceeds along the road. The electric motor, continuously variable transmission and engine have a pretty harmonious relationship; certainly, some time spent in other manufacturer’s hybrid models has given me new appreciation for how Lexus has tuned its self-charging hybrid system.
It shouldn’t be surprising, really, as parent brand Toyota has been building hybrid cars for more than two decades now…
Practicality still a problem
Truly, the size of the boot was my biggest issue with the UX. I’ve already had a long moan about it above, so I won’t go into it too much here, but I reiterate – any car, even the sportiest of roadsters, ought to be able to cope with a midweek shop for two people. A compact SUV? Well, the bar’s set even higher.
Having normal-sized shopping bags distending the flexible parcel shelf and spoiling rear visibility is something that never stopped grating on me, especially during lockdown when a trip to the supermarket was the only time I drove the car at all.
How much did it cost to run?
Here’s another area the UX left me disappointed – its fuel consumption. I’ve spent plenty of time in Toyota hybrids before now, and I’ve always been incredibly impressed at their economy. A long weekend in a Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hybrid once saw me average over 65mpg with ease – the beauty being that, unlike a diesel, that economy figure is possible even on short journeys.
Lexus UX driving modes
Yet in the UX I’ve never exceeded the 47.9mpg I got during my first month with the car, and over my months it’s averaged out to just 45.5mpg. With official WLTP figures for my two-wheel drive model being a claimed minimum of 49.5mpg, I’m a little disappointed – and I’m certainly no lead-footed speed freak. During its worst month, where a slightly quicker colleague borrowed it, the UX returned just 43.5mpg.
But overall, how does the UX stack up to a closely-related model? Well, that’s where things get awkward, because you see…
I’d rather have a Toyota C-HR
At launch the Toyota C-HR was only available with a rather asthmatic 1.8-litre self-charging hybrid powertrain, so it took until the facelift and the introduction of a 2.0-litre alternative to become a rival to the UX.
After sampling the two back-to-back I have to admit the C-HR is a better car. Though its powertrain is very closely related to the system in the UX, the difference in response is remarkable. The C-HR has a genuine degree more immediacy when you pull away – its handling is keener and its steering rack quicker, too.
You don’t lose much in comfort, either, and the C-HR’s boot is enormous compared with the UX.
The C-HR doesn’t have anything like the interior ambiance that the UX enjoys, but it’s still neatly designed and laid out and – joy of joys – it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in. That’s something new UX’s do get, but the update to install it to my car wasn’t ready before I had to hand it back.
The UX is good-looking, has a cracking interior, is superbly comfortable on a long journey and is even reasonably good value considering the kit that’s on offer – once you choose a few carefully considered options packs, that is.
Is it worthy of converting buyers of premium German SUVs, such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA? I think it is, but whether those drivers would even consider a Japanese car with the quirks of the UX over its Teutonic competition is perhaps unlikely.
Lexus UX front three quarter
I still recommend taking one for a test-drive, though. You never know, you may be drawn in to the world of Lexus – a place where dependability and customer service rule the roost. It’s this, rather than the car itself, that would tempt me into Lexus ownership.
Fuel economy: 45.4mpg
Total average: 45.5mpg
Lexus UX verdict
If practicality is at the bottom of your list of priorities, the Lexus UX is more than worthy of a place on your shopping list if you want something smooth, relaxing and easy to drive that also has some character. It looks great, the interior is plush, interesting, packed to the roof with equipment and has an excellent driving position. It just feels different and a bit special – especially compared with the competition.
While the sole engine option may limit its appeal, the hybrid drivetrain is refined and relaxing around town – which is also where it’s most efficient. The added bonus is that the UX is really quite fun to drive with agile handling and responsive steering, plus it can get up and go if you need it to without fuss and drama.
The Toyota C-HR comes with the same powertrain, though, and costs less to buy and has a bigger boot. It's also just as distinctive to look at and be in. If you want something that's a bit more family-friendly, an Audi Q2 or BMW X2 could be worth a look, but you won't find a hybrid option in either of these ranges.
"The Land Rover Defender has returned with an incredible repertoire of talents, including a strong range of plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel engines"
This is the all-new Land Rover Defender, the long-awaited, much-hyped replacement for Britain's most famous SUV. It returns some four years after production of its predecessor stopped, and manages to be both similar and yet significantly different.
Its design clearly pays tribute to the original ‘Landie’, albeit in original new ways, and Land Rover still claims it's the best off-roader you can walk into a showroom and buy. However, its advanced technology, improved performance, luxury and safety kit mean the Defender has been parachuted into the 21st Century.
We'll let you decide whether its design is a success, but it certainly looks appropriately chunky, and details like its front and rear lights are impressively intricate. There are plenty of personalisation options too. It may be that you love the basic Defender with steel wheels, but hate the range-topper with gargantuan alloys, or vice versa. Similarly you may prefer the looks of the three-door Defender 90 or longer five-door 110, and there’s an even lengthier 130 also in the pipeline.
Inside, the Defender has a rugged, industrial aesthetic, characterised by exposed bolt heads, metal surfaces and an exposed magnesium crossmember that forms part of the car’s structure. It's also unique thanks to an optional jump seat between the front occupants that can make the 90 or 110 a six-seater. A third row of seats is also available for the 110.
Passengers are treated to the latest in-car entertainment and connectivity, with Land Rover's Pivi Pro system using two modems to ensure it can be wirelessly updated, even while being used for media, navigation or traffic updates.
At launch, a pair of four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engines with 197 or 237bhp were available, badged D200 and D240 respectively. These have now been replaced by a pair of 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines with mild-hybrid electrical assistance. In base D200 trim, this engine produces 197bhp, which increases to 247bhp in mid-range D250 spec and 296bhp in the range-topping D300 version.
The entry-level P300 petrol is unchanged with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 296bhp. For those wanting more power, a 394bhp 3.0-litre straight-six petrol P400 mild hybrid is also available in the top X trim, but a starting price of £81,000 means it probably won't be a common sight on UK roads.
A P400e plug-in hybrid was introduced as part of the 2021 revisions and is the first PHEV powertrain in the history of the Defender. This model combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, an electric motor and a battery pack, and is the most powerful Defender available, producing 398bhp.
The PHEV version is the fastest Defender until Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations division creates a high-performance V8 model, which is expected later this year. The entry-level diesel costs from £45,000 and every version has an eight-speed automatic gearbox, low-range gears and four-wheel drive.
The D240 diesel is capable of getting the Defender from 0-60mph in a respectable 8.6 seconds, but it's the way the Land Rover feels to drive that's most surprising. The steering is direct and responsive, tucking the nose into corners with little hesitation and while there's some body roll, this suits the Defender's character. This is a Defender that's sporty and enjoyable to drive along a twisty road, thanks to the chameleon-like nature of its adaptive air suspension.
Off road, the same setup can extend, providing enough articulation to see the Defender crawl over almost any obstacle and wade through almost a metre of water. It's almost unstoppable off-road, and surprisingly comfortable while tackling the very roughest terrain. It can also tow up to 3,500kg and carry an unbelievable 300kg on its roof.
The Defender has always been innovative, and the latest version is one of the most intelligent cars we've ever tested. It may be rather uneconomical - at least until the plug-in arrives - but it makes up for this with impressive on and off-road manners, and an incredibly well considered design for demanding buyers, their passengers and all their gear.
Land Rover Defender SUV - MPG, running costs & CO2
Defender buyers will be able to choose between diesel, petrol and mild-hybrid power, depending on what suits their needs and driving habits the best. Sadly, none provide especially low running costs.
Land Rover clearly prioritised performance, versatility and rugged looks over fuel-efficiency - just as they did with the original. Even the most economical version of the new Defender just manages to tip over 30mpg, while (WLTP) CO2 figures north of 230g/km mean company-car drivers will face a hefty Benefit-in-Kind bill.
Unlike the original Landie, which had the same commercial status as a van or pickup, the new standard versions of the Defender 90 and 110 are classed as private vehicles, with the van-like 90 and 110 Hard Top the only versions to be classed as commercial vehicles. A plug-in hybrid is now available, and we expect a range-topping V8 model to arrive in due course - details of the latter have yet to be confirmed.
The Defender was launched with two diesel 'Ingenium' 2.0-litre turbo engines badged D200 and D240, returning up to 32.2mpg in the 90 and 31.7mpg in the Defender 110. CO2 emissions span from 230-253g/km (WLTP).
These have been replaced for 2021, with a new 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine boasting mild-hybrid tech. The D200 version of this engine can manage around 32mpg, a figure which is closely matched by the more powerful D250 and D300 models. All three engines emit 231-233g/km of CO2.
The 2.0-litre turbo petrol P300 can manage around 24mpg with emissions of over 260g/km, the same ballpark figures as the 3.0-litre P400 mild hybrid. Thanks to its 19.2kWh battery pack, the P400e plug-in hybrid can manage up to 27 miles on electricity alone, giving it official figures of 85.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 74g/km. This should make it the cheapest Defender to run by some margin and the only one that should be on company-car shopping lists. It also just qualifies for free entry into the London Congestion Charge zone, sneaking under the current threshold by 1g/km.
The battery can be charged at home using a 7.2kW wallbox, taking it from 0-80% in two hours. It will also be possible to use a 50kW rapid-charger (using the supplied cable), for an 80% charge in 30 minutes.
Insurance groups for pricey, complex SUVs tend to be a bit higher than for normal cars. That's certainly the case here, because even the entry-level D200 sits in group 31 out of 50, while the D240 First Edition sits in group 38. That's the same rating as the P300 petrol receives in SE trim, while the P400 X is in group 44.
Land Rover provides a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty with its new models, which matches BMW and Mercedes. It's not as generous as some brands, though; the Kia Sorento comes with a seven-year warranty as standard.
Land Rover offers servicing plans that can help spread the cost of maintenance, so they're worth exploring with the dealership. It's also worth noting that diesel engines require AdBlue top-ups every so often.
Land Rover Defender SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The Land Rover Defender has a wider range of talents than almost any other vehicle on sale
It might be one of the most loved models of all time, but one thing the Defender was never famous for was its everyday performance. Enough low-down grunt to get up steep bank and tow a trailer, yes, but not straight-line speed away from the lights.
With a more advanced powertrain, the new Defender has a far broader set of talents. Its advanced adaptive four-wheel drive and air suspension (on top trims) ensures it's still capable of traversing the world's most inhospitable terrain, but it can also tear from 0-62mph in as little as six seconds.
Just as impressive as its on-paper statistics, there's the fact it's simply fun to drive as well. Many have questioned whether the new Defender would tread on the toes of the Discovery, but from behind the wheel it instantly has a character of its own. Its steering is more alert and faster to react, while the Defender's air suspension is firmer and there's more feedback flowing back through your fingertips and the seat as you drive.
Attack a British road, and the Defender is instantly enjoyable and feels surprisingly sporty, digging its front tyres into the road. It's remarkably composed too; the fact the body leans slightly through faster corners and the nose lifts under acceleration only seems to add to its character.
Yet, the same suspension can transform to scale ruts, wade through deep water and absorb torturous bumps. Every Defender is fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that also has low-range ratios designed for off-road driving and towing. At Eastnor Castle's off-road experience centre, sections have been opened up for the first time in a decade to test the Defender's extreme capabilities. A set of tortuous undulating water-filled pits is a particular challenge, and just when you think the Defender is about to get stuck, its Terrain Response 2 software modulates power to the wheels to find just enough traction to drag it out the other side.
Designed around Land Rover's new D7x platform that's incredibly stiff - and has been subjected to years of rigorous testing during its development - the Defender has approach and departure angles of 38 and 40 degrees respectively, along with a 900mm wading depth. It can tackle 45-degree side slopes and inclines, and its Terrain Response 2 system can be used to adjust the chassis and differentials manually or simply be left in Auto, where it recognises the surface you're driving on.
The Defender launched with two versions of the 2.0-litre 'Ingenium' diesel engine, badged D200 and D240, with the same 430Nm of torque but 197 and 237bhp respectively. Both get an automatic gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive as standard, and cover the 0-60mph dash in 9.9 seconds and 8.7 seconds.
Early impressions are that it's the best use of the engine yet, and we especially like how Land Rover has altered its sound. This has been done by augmenting engine noise using the car's audio system, with the resulting background noise more like a rumble than a high-pitched diesel growl. A sensitive throttle pedal means the D240 engine also feels impressively responsive.
Land Rover is already replacing them with larger 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engines equipped with mild-hybrid hardware. These are badged D200 (with 197bhp), D250 serving up 247bhp and D300 with 296bhp. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.2, 8.3 and 6.7 seconds respectively.
Unlike the previous iteration of Defender, buyers can choose between two petrol engines, badged P300 and P400. The smaller 2.0-litre turbo gets 296bhp, propelling the car from 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds, while the 3.0-litre straight-six P400 has 395bhp and gets to 60mph in six seconds.
The P400 is also fitted with 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical assistance, designed to harvest the energy normally wasted under deceleration and store it in a small lithium-ion battery. This can be used to bolster the engine's torque under acceleration and provide stop and start more of the time when waiting in traffic.
It's the most fun version to drive, for now, with a tuneful sound from its six-cylinder petrol and impressive acceleration. Interestingly, there are no steering wheel-mounted paddles for the automatic gearbox, as engineers don't feel they fit the Defender ethos, but you can nudge the gearstick to shift manually. The engine and steeringing again feel surprisingly willing for a big, heavy SUV.
Plug-in hybrid engines
The Defender P400e plug-in hybrid uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine, electric motor and a 19.2kWh lithium-ion battery. With a combined 398bhp, it's the fastest Defender available until an anticipated performance model arrives with a V8 engine, getting from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. Unfortunately, the P400e is limited to the Defender 110 model. Air suspension and 20-inch alloy wheels come as standard.
Land Rover Defender SUV - Interior & comfort
Former Defender owners won't recognise the level of luxury and comfort on offer
The Defender's interior is like nothing else on the market today, combining retro nods to the original like exposed screw heads and bare metallic surfaces, along with the debut of new technology for the entire Land Rover brand.
As you'd hope, there are also innovations, such as a system that uses real-time camera feeds to offer a view of the obstacles immediately ahead without the nose of the car getting in the way. ClearSight can also be used to provide an uninterrupted rear-view mirror, even if the Defender is loaded with passengers and luggage or the rear window is caked in mud.
Fans of industrial design will adore touches like the powder-coated aluminium surfaces and magnesium bulkhead, the latter being a functional part of the Defender's body structure. It's undeniably tough-looking, and its extreme off-road capabilities are reinforced by the quantity and sturdiness of grab handles for passengers to cling onto. The flat, horizontal shapes are clearly a nod to its predecessors, as is the jutting centre console with a stubby gearlever and oversized switchgear.
But it's not completely retro; there's a modern aesthetic not unlike the design of the latest Apple Mac Pro. The 10-inch Pivo Pro infotainment system is all new, using dual-eSIM modems that can receive over-the-air software updates and provide media and navigation without interruptions. An auxiliary battery also means it can work in the background even when the Defender is parked up, and resume more quickly. It also supports a mobile app that can be used to interact with the Defender and set the climate control remotely.
Land Rover certainly hasn't held back when it comes to offering a wealth of trim levels and customisation options to customers. Even the trim levels are somewhat overwhelming, with Defender, S, SE, HSE, First Edition and X all offered, along with a myriad of options that even extend to what sort of roof you'd prefer.
The standard 110 model comes fitted with rather appealing 18-inch gloss white steel wheels, LED headlights, heated front seats, the 10-inch Pivi Pro system, surround cameras, cruise control and air suspension. S adds 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery and digital instruments, while SE upgrades the headlights with a 'signature' look for the daytime running lights, along with keyless entry, 20-inch wheels and ISOFIX for the front passenger seat. It also adds some key features like a 10-speaker stereo, electric steering column and ClearSight rear-view mirror.
HSE increases the luxury further with a folding fabric roof (Defender 90 only, with a sliding panoramic roof for the 110), Matrix LED headlights, extended leather interior and a heated steering wheel. The range-topping X gets a black roof and bonnet, black exterior trim, orange brake calipers, front skid plate and tinted rear lights. It also has more off-road hardware, but you wouldn't know it inside thanks to Walnut veneer, heated rear seats and a 14-speaker stereo. It's also only available with the most powerful D300 and P400 engines.
It's hard to know where to start with the Defender's options, but rest assured its packs and accessories cover every eventuality, from a tow bar to a ramp that makes it easier for your dog to clamber into the boot.
A good kicking off point is the curated equipment packs called Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban. Explorer adds the famous snorkel air intake, a roof rack, waterproof side-mounted gear carriers, a matte black front badge and items like mud flaps and a cover for the spare wheel.
The Adventure pack includes an on-board pressure washer (with a 6.5-litre tank) designed for rinsing off boots and outdoor sports gear, scuff plates, mud flaps, and an integrated air compressor. There’s a similar roster of add-ons in the Country pack. In contrast, the Urban pack adds metal pedals to the interior, while rear bumper scuff plates, a spare wheel cover and front skid plate protect the exterior.
Land Rover Defender SUV - Practicality & boot space
Configured wisely, the Land Rover Defender offers serious load-lugging abilities
Like the rest of the Defender's attributes, the practicality on offer is also highly flexible and customisable. The biggest decision facing buyers will be whether to go for the five-door 110 model, or the three-door 90. An even larger Defender 130 with eight seats is also expected to arrive later on.
Land Rover Defender interior space & storage
Choose the three-door 90 and the Defender can still carry up to six people. That's thanks to a unique jump seat between the front seats, made possible by the dashboard-mounted gearlever. It's big enough for kids, and when the optional middle seat isn't in use, folding it forwards transforms it into a large central armrest and cubby. The biggest sticking point is the lack of rear doors because anyone getting in the back has to climb rather high to negotiate the front seats.
The 110 is also offered in a 5+2 layout, which is Land Rover speak for adding two smaller seats in the boot. These are best suited to kids but adults may also be able to travel for shorter hops in a pinch.
There are also handy features like USB or 12-volt power sockets for charging portable devices, a backpack that secures to the rear seat and 'click and go' system for middle-row passengers to attach tablets, bags, laptops and jackets. Then there are innovations like the side mounted 'Gear Carriers' that are 24-litre lockable and waterproof containers that mount on the Defender's rear window pillars in a similar fashion to motorcycle saddle bags.
The five-seat Defender 110 has 1,075 litres of cargo space behind the seats, expanding to a massive 2,300 litres when the seats are folded down. A rubberised floor is designed to shrug off spills and be brushed or wiped clean. The Defender 90 is notably less spacious, with a shallow 397-litre boot that's smaller than a Honda Civic's.
It's worth noting that the Defender has a traditional side-hinged tailgate, not a hatchback like most of the SUVs currently on sale. This can be fairly heavy (it also carries a full-size spare wheel) and will require some room behind the vehicle to open fully. However, it does open on the correct side for UK roads, with the opening towards the kerb, and is a characterful nod towards its predecessor.
Defenders have long been used for towing, and the latest version is seriously capable. It can pull a 3,500kg braked trailer, and the Defender itself has a maximum payload of 900kg. It can also accept a static load on its roof of up to 300kg.
The verdict: The redesigned 2021 Buick Envision premium compact SUV is stylish and refined, and has easy-to-use tech features, but poor brake-pedal feel degrades the driving experience.
Versus the competition: Sized like a compact SUV but priced below subcompact luxury models, the 2021 Envision gives shoppers who aren’t concerned with having a traditional luxury badge a lot of value for their money.
The 2021 Buick Envision newly shares its platform with the Cadillac XT4 compact luxury SUV, and it’s wider, lower and slightly shorter than the model it replaces. Despite the redesign, it remains one of the few vehicles sold in the U.S. that’s built in China.
The 2021 Envision is also less expensive than its predecessor; a base Preferred trim level with front-wheel drive starts at $32,995 (including a $1,195 destination charge), which is $1,700 less than the starting price of the 2020 Envision. Our test vehicle was a mid-level Essence trim with front-wheel drive, and its as-tested price of $41,315 included a $2,500 Technology Package and a $1,325 Sport Touring Package, the latter featuring black exterior accents and 20-inch aluminum wheels. All-wheel drive is available on any trim for an extra $1,800.
How It Drives
All Envisions are powered by a 228-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine is smooth, refined and delivers adequate acceleration, and it produces a bit of a growl when you really step on the gas pedal. With nine forward gears, the automatic makes frequent upshifts when accelerating from a stop. The shifts are smooth, but there’s a short pause between gear changes. Part- and full-throttle kickdowns, however, happen without delay.
The SUV steers with a light touch, and the suspension deals swiftly with impacts from broken pavement. Body motions are well controlled overall, but the suspension tuning is on the firm side. This was especially noticeable on one stretch of road with small buckles in the asphalt, one after the other, that resulted in a choppy ride. Our test vehicle’s 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires likely didn’t help matters, and it’s possible the standard 18-inch wheels with taller-sidewall tires offer more comfort. Ditto for the top Avenir trim level’s available adaptive suspension, though experience has revealed that advanced suspensions don’t always compensate for large wheels.
The Envision’s brake-pedal feel was disappointing on a number of fronts. Pedal feel is numb, and it suffers from poor linearity on top of that. We’ve experienced this unpleasant combination in certain gas-electric hybrids, but it’s less common in conventionally powered vehicles like the Envision. Like many hybrids and a growing number of conventional vehicles, however, the Envision has a brake-by-wire system with electric assist rather than traditional vacuum-assisted power brakes. (We reported similarly disappointing braking feel in our review of the XT4, the Envision’s platform mate.)
The front-drive Envision is EPA-rated at 24/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined, while all-wheel-drive versions are rated 22/29/25 mpg. More powerful compact luxury SUVs like the Acura RDX and Lincoln Corsair get slightly worse estimated gas mileage, but the smaller BMW X1 has slightly better ratings (see fuel economy estimates for front- and all-wheel-drive versions of these SUVs).
Interior quality is good overall with soft-touch surfaces closer to eye level and hard plastic near your feet. Our test vehicle’s all-black color scheme, however, looked a bit dour to my eyes. A beige interior is also offered.
Frequently used controls are within easy reach of the driver, and the center of the dash is dominated by the optional 10.2-inch touchscreen (an 8-inch touchscreen is standard in the Preferred trim). The big screen is responsive, has an intuitive interface and looks great. There are also handy volume and tuning knobs to the left of the screen.
Both touchscreen systems include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, but only the Avenir trim includes wireless device charging. Connecting my iPhone to the multimedia system was easy, and the wireless CarPlay connection seemed just as responsive as the more common wired setup.
One of the more unique elements of the interior is the gear selector, which consists of a column of buttons and pull switches that go where a conventional shifter channel otherwise would. It didn’t take long to get accustomed to the system, but the design doesn’t result in any additional storage space on top of the front center console; there’s a small forward bin, two cupholders to the right of the shifter and a storage bin under the front center armrest. The design does, however, eliminate the obstruction a lever would represent, and its electronic nature allows for an open lower storage area below the console.
The Envision’s front bucket seats are comfortable, and they’re finished in cloth and simulated leather (Preferred) or perforated real leather (Essence and Avenir). The seats have modest side bolsters that don’t hold you in place when taking a corner quickly, however.
There’s surprisingly good rear-seat space for adult passengers. The bench seat is comfortable and there’s good headroom. The standard 60/40-split backrest folds flat with the cargo floor, extending the luggage area, but the seatback doesn’t recline.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had crash-tested the 2021 Buick Envision as of publication. The list of standard active-safety features includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlights. A head-up display, 360-degree camera system and adaptive cruise control are optional.
Value in Its Class
The Envision doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream or luxury compact SUV classes, but to hear Buick tell it, that’s an opportunity. Rob Peterson, the brand’s marketing manager, said Buick serves shoppers moving up from mainstream brands and has both the Envision and the smaller and less expensive Encore GX to offer small SUV shoppers.
There are still some mainstream elements like cloth upholstery and manual air conditioning in base Envisions, but the mid-level Essence trim swaps them and more for upscale amenities without significantly ballooning the price tag. It’s a value recipe that seems right for the times.
Production of the first pre-series copies of ID.5 has begun, while the start of production of models intended for the market is expected in the second half of the year. The new model should be reminiscent of the ID.Crozz concept, and it is certainly a coupe version of the already known Volkswagen electric SUV - ID.4.
The German car giant Volkswagen continues with the offensive on the electric car market, so it has already started the production of the third electric model based on the MEB platform, reports zimo.dnevnik.hr.
Sales of the ID.3 model (which should play the role of an electric Golf on the market) began last year, followed by the compact ID.4 SUV. Several other models are in preparation, such as the family ID.6, whose photos were recently leaked in China, and which you can see here, and ID.2 is mentioned. However, the first comes next - ID.5, an attractive SUV in the form of a coupe.
As ID.5 is not yet official, there is no data on its performance, but according to rumors, this will be a coupe version of the ID.4 model, which should look like the ID Crozz concept.
Although it has not been officially presented yet, the German company confirmed that the production of pre-series models has already started, while the production of the final versions is expected in the second half of the year.
Interestingly, like the ID.3 model, the "five" will not be intended for the United States, but the primary market will be European.
In terms of options and performance, it is speculated that the figures will be similar to those on the ID.4 model. Thus, the 150 kW engine that drives the rear wheels is mentioned (versions with two engines and all-wheel drive will appear later), as well as the 77 kWh battery.
Given that the start of production is expected in the second half of 2021, it is clear that Volkswagen will not wait too long until the official presentation of this model.
Pictures of the concept on which ID.5 is supposedly based indicate that this may be the most attractive electric "Volkswagen" which, if the price is not too high, could really achieve great market success, and perhaps be a bestseller in the e-SUV class. German companies.
The third generation no longer has diesel engines, which as an alternative come with hybrid versions of the existing turbo gasoline
Three million copies sold in Europe and a total of five million worldwide. A nice number for both previous generations of Nissan Qashqai, a mega-popular SUV of the compact class, well accepted among Croatian buyers of this class. Great numbers and history, but which set a high bar of expectations from the newly introduced new model.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
There is not much to say about design, the first step in appearing in front of customers. Qashqai retains the recognizable idea and lines of the previous model, but with cleaner lines, some details performed as a variation on the theme of Juke and Nissan's signature with a mask in the characteristic V-shape. A dose of modernism is given to it by details such as self-regulating, smart LED Matrix lights, 11 body colors, five two-tone combinations and rims that reach up to 20 inches as standard. The first photos create the impression of growing size and - that's right.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
It is 3.5 centimeters larger (4,425 m), 3.2 centimeters wide (1,838 m), one centimeter high (1,635 m), and the larger corporate Renault-Nissan CMF-C platform, two centimeters larger axle, gives the impression of size. spacing (2666 mm). The result?
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
Round three centimeters more space for the passenger's knees in the rear seat (maximum 61 centimeters), a centimeter and a half more headroom and significantly more space in the front seats, where two-meter-tall people will also have a comfortable position. The rear pair of doors opens up to 85 degrees, which greatly facilitates access to the rear seat, and especially the placement of children in the seat.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
On top of all that, the trunk grows, by 50 liters, in this class more suitable 480 liters. It will be easier to access because the entry threshold is lowered by two inches. Aluminum alloys are also used more in the construction of the body, so let's say four side doors, fenders and a roof bring total savings of 21 kilograms. The fifth door is now made of composite materials and is 2.6 kilograms lighter, and the platform itself on the scales shows 60 kilograms less than the previous one. Niisan engineers swear that it is almost half as strong, or 41 percent.
The interior also boasts noticeably better materials, including nappa leather, a generally more expensive visual and sensory atmosphere, but also hedonistic elements of equipment such as massage seats or a concert Bose Premium hifi system with 10 speakers.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
Digitization has also knocked hard on Qashqai’s doors. Large digitized 12.3-inch instruments, advanced multimedia with a 9-inch 3D screen, innovative and largest-in-class head-up 10.8-inch screen, interesting animations and wireless mobile charging are part of the new ambience accompanied by a smartphone app which will be able to control the secondary functions. Furthermore, the ProPilot safety system gets a connection to the navigation and detects real and potentially dangerous events in front of and around the car faster and more accurately. The system comes in versions with automatic transmission.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
One of the significant innovations will be the electrification of the drive, in terms of a 12-volt mild hybrid version of the famous 1.3 turbo gasoline known designation DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline-Turbo), upgraded to 50 components. Mild hybridization does not affect the change in rated power, which is maintained at 140 and 158 hp with torques of 240 and 260 Nm, but will have positive effects on reducing consumption and have the function of giving additional momentum of power and torque when accelerating. The base engine has front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, more powerful as well, but it comes with four-wheel drive 4x4 and a new-generation X-tronic automatic transmission (CVT) as options. With automatic torque increases to 270 Nm.
Nissan Qashqai, photo: Nissan
The hybrid system carries 22 pounds of weight. An interesting hybrid version of the e-Power unusual operating principle has also been announced, in which the 1.5 turbo petrol engine has a secondary function in relation to the electric motor. The total power output is 190 hp, but the story is somewhat reversed compared to classic hybrids. The petrol is basically not used for propulsion, but primarily for charging a powerful battery and transmitting power to an electric motor that drives the wheels itself, so the ride is very reminiscent of driving an electric car.
The Qashqai also gets a single-pedal e-Pedal braking and acceleration system, known from the electric Leaf. With the new platform, the basis of a more complete driving experience will be thorough refinements on more precise and flexible steering wheel operation, but also filigree polished suspension, which remains semi-rigid in the standard versions, while 4x4 and top models with standard 20-inch wheels go multilink.
The verdict: The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is refined in many ways, and a new turbocharged engine option elevates it as a value alternative to many entry-level luxury SUVs. Beyond that, it lacks too many commonsense attributes for mass-market appeal.
Versus the competition: Upscale and fun to drive even if you don’t get the new turbo engine — and legitimately quick if you do — the CX-30 will deservedly find its loyalists. But many mass-market competitors have simpler controls, softer rides and roomier cabins.
Based on the current-generation Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, the CX-30 enters its second model year for 2021 as a more viable alternative to the too-small Mazda CX-3 SUV. It comes in seven trim levels with front- or all-wheel drive and two available engines; stack them up or compare the 2020 and 2021 models. We evaluated a well-optioned turbo model for 2021, but I’ll mix in some impressions from the base-engine 2020 CX-30 that we tested in Cars.com’s recent Affordable Small SUV Challenge, where I served as a judge.
The CX-30’s third-place finish out of four SUVs in the comparison test tells much of the tale: Mazda’s small SUV drew top scores in some areas but bottom marks in others, with very little about it evoking neutral reactions. One model year later, Mazda plopped in a newly optional turbocharged four-cylinder, which matches the character of its carryover base engine: refined, steady power — just more of it. The fun’s been turned up, but the flaws live on.
In a field where pint-sized engines, many of them turbocharged, can lend tentative acceleration, the CX-30 is an old-school breath of fresh air. Its base engine, Mazda’s refined 2.5-liter four-cylinder (186 horsepower, 186 pounds-feet of torque) provides smooth if unspectacular power: sufficient from a start, with linear revving through any sustained on-ramp charge. It pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission whose tall gearing works against such drawn-out spurts — a disadvantage on paper, where rivals’ eight- or nine-speed units can make for shorter passing gears without diminishing fuel economy. But the six-speed earns its keep if you need more power while already in motion because downshifts are both decisive and immediate when you press the gas, an exercise many eight- and nine-speed automatics butcher.
Our comparison test exemplified how this plays out. We clocked a 2020 CX-30 with the 2.5-liter engine and AWD at a pedestrian 8.92 seconds to 60 mph, third slowest among four models (the others being a Chevrolet Trailblazer, Kia Seltos and Subaru Crosstrek, all with top available engines). Despite that, the CX-30 earned the group’s highest scores from our judges for overall powertrain impressions. Credit its consistent power delivery, which belies any absolute performance metric.
New for 2021 is Mazda’s turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, available only with AWD. It can run on regular gas but makes 250 hp and 320 pounds-feet of torque on 93-octane premium fuel, which our test car employed. (On 87-octane regular fuel, ratings for the turbo 2.5-liter drop to 227 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque; the non-turbo 2.5-liter makes its output with either fuel.) Though significantly quicker past 2,500 rpm or so, the turbocharged four-cylinder’s power profile is similar to its non-turbo sibling — which is to say linear, building power over the full breadth of available engine rpm. Gearing remains tall, but the extra power makes the late upshifts less noticeable. And all the while, it’s gratifyingly quick.
The CX-30’s EPA-estimated fuel economy ranges from 25 to 28 mpg combined, depending on drivetrain. Versus a selection of mass-market rivals, the 2.5-liter falls a little short. Versus some entry-luxury models, whose interiors the CX-30’s top trims rival, the turbocharged CX-30 compares better.
Handling and Ride Comfort
Turbocharged or not, the CX-30’s reflexes are similar to the Mazda3 on which it’s based. Limited body roll, excellent steering feedback and surefooted brakes make the CX-30 a deft ally on winding roads. Wet conditions and temperatures in the 30s stymied our test car’s Bridgestone Turanza P215/55R18 all-season tires, which struggled on cloverleaf interchanges to hold course. Our CX-30 in the 2020 comparison had the same tires in better testing conditions, and we observed notable slippage there, as well. Wider or stickier tires might help — but if the CX-30’s rubber is the weak link on handling, it’s a mild one.
All that fun sacrifices ride comfort. Like the Mazda3, the CX-30 exhibits good overall straight-line composure, free of excess body movement on uneven surfaces; in this regard, it emulates a few entry-level luxury SUVs. But suspension tuning is unabashedly firm. The CX-30 exhibits a degree of impact harshness absent in many competitors, especially mass-market rivals like the Crosstrek and Nissan Rogue Sport — enough to turn off many shoppers who just want a smoother rider.
The Interior: Quality Over Quantity
For the most part, interior quality is strong. Controls boast meticulous detailing and operation, and most surfaces above knee level have consistent, low-gloss finishes. The CX-30’s optional leather seating surfaces are free of any obvious stretches of vinyl, and premium touches like universal one-touch windows hint at luxury territory. It’s not all excellent: A cheap headliner and some obvious cost-cutting in the backseat bring the CX-30 back to earth. By and large, though, this is a clear step above the SUV’s mass-market rivals. In our 2020 comparison, Mazda earned the highest interior quality scores by a clear margin, and in that regard may have fared well against SUVs priced far higher.
Despite that, interior quantity is marginal even if this is a larger alternative to the CX-3. The smallish backseat is ill-equipped to handle taller adults or even children in rear-facing car seats. Not only did it rank last in our comparison’s rear seats category, but it couldn’t fit Cars.com’s rear-facing child-safety seats without needing to move the front passenger seat so far forward that it may pose a safety risk for some adults seated there.
Even those who don’t plan to carry anyone in back often — children or otherwise — might find the CX-30’s confines, well, confining. The front seats have good sliding range but a narrow berth that could leave long-legged drivers feeling pinched. And as the CX-30’s relatively low-slung profile suggests, the driving position isn’t as high as you might expect of a conventional SUV. By our measuring tape, the CX-30’s driving position towers nearly half a foot above that of the low-riding Mazda3, but it trails the Seltos by roughly as much.
What’s more, the CX-30’s limited in-cabin storage and poor sight lines — especially out the rear window — are liabilities versus more utilitarian rivals; Mazda placed last in both categories (tied with the Crosstrek for storage) in our comparison. Cargo space, at 13.7 cubic feet by Cars.com’s independent testing, is a smidge above the Mazda3 hatchback (13.1 cubic feet, also by our accounting) and in the same neighborhood as the Trailblazer and Crosstrek, though the whole group falls well short of the Seltos’ as-tested 16.2 cubic feet.
Multimedia and Safety Technology
With the current-generation Mazda3 and now the CX-30, Mazda took a wayward turn on multimedia. No longer does the dashboard screen function as a touchscreen — even when the vehicle is stopped, as earlier iterations once did. It’s now a touch-free 8.8-inch display perched high atop the dashboard, controlled exclusively by a control knob and a few shortcut buttons on the center console. The setup especially stumps the CX-30’s standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as both work best through a straightforward touchscreen.
Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering intervention and (impressively) adaptive cruise control down to a stop. The automatic braking passed third-party testing by the Insurance Information for Highway Safety, cementing the CX-30’s top scores across a battery of IIHS tests to earn the SUV a 2020 Top Safety Pick Plus award. (The award is likely to carry over for 2021, as the agency told us it has no plans to change criteria for the new calendar year.)
New for 2021, the CX-30 offers rear automatic braking, and top trim levels have new hands-on lane-centering steering by way of a feature called Traffic Jam Assist. Alas, TJA works only at speeds of 0-40 mph — a ceiling no longer imposed by most lane-centering systems available these days, regardless of price.
Should You Buy a CX-30?
Including destination, the CX-30 runs from just over $23,000 to about $36,000, a spread that overlaps a host of subcompact and compact SUVs to top out at the shores of the entry-luxury crowd. As a value alternative to the latter group, a CX-30 Turbo might justify itself; as a choice for driving fun among the mass-market models, a 2.5-liter example could also make sense. Given that the SUV ranks as Mazda’s second-best-selling model overall, it’s made the case to enough shoppers so far.
But larger market acceptance (the Crosstrek, for example, is three times more popular) will require a mainstream overhaul — a softer ride, bigger backseat, better visibility, simpler multimedia controls. As it stands, the normally aspirated CX-30 ranked in the bottom half of our 2020 comparison, and not for lack of quality or driving fun. With an infusion of high-end turbocharged trim levels, Mazda doubled down on everything we like, and it’s sure to get the CX-30 a cult following. But for all its remaining thorns, many mainstream shoppers may yet tune this Mazda out.