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SUV tech test: Top 12 medium SUVs compared

If you’re dropping close to $50,000 on a new family SUV, you want to make sure it has the latest technology.

Earlier this year, we took the best-selling mid-sized SUVs in Australia and put them through their paces off-road. The Subaru Forester came up trumps.

This test is a bit different. We’ve tested out each car’s infotainment system to see:

  • Which one starts up fastest, and allows you to quickly input an address
  • Which offers the best Bluetooth call quality
  • Which has the best reversing camera
  • Which has the best smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The following cars were tested:

  • Ford Escape Vignale AWD: $48,090
  • Haval H6 Ultra AWD:  $42,990 D/A
  • Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD: $53,600 D/A
  • Hyundai Tucson Highlander 2.0D AWD: $52,400
  • Jeep Compass Trailhawk: $52,650
  • Kia Sportage GT-Line 2.0D AWD: $52,370
  • Mazda CX-5 Akera 2.5T AWD: $53,480
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed AWD: $49,990
  • Nissan X-Trail Ti 4×4: $50,125 D/A
  • Subaru Forester 2.5i-S AWD: $46,340
  • Toyota RAV4 Edge AWD Hybrid: $52,700
  • Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line: $56,390

Prices exclude on-road costs unless specified D/A

You can watch the video below, or read on for more. Check out our off-road test with these same cars here.

All the specifications, laid out

Check out our tables below for a breakdown of what each car features, as tested at our mid-sized SUV off-road megatest.

Touchscreen Instruments
Ford Escape 8.0-inch 12.0-inch
Haval H6 12.3-inch 10.25-inch
Honda CR-V 7.0-inch 7.0-inch
Hyundai Tucson 10.25-inch 10.25-inch
Jeep Compass 10.1-inch 10.25-inch
Kia Sportage 12.3-inch 12.3-inch
Mazda CX-5 10.25-inch (non-touch) 7.0-inch
Mitsubishi Outlander 9.0-inch 7.0-inch
Nissan X-Trail 7.0-inch 5.0-inch
Subaru Forester 8.0-inch 6.3-inch + 4.2-inch
Toyota RAV4 8.0-inch 7.0-inch
Volkswagen Tiguan 9.2-inch 10.25-inch

We’ve settled on these cars because they belong to the best-selling segment, and are of most relevance to the most people.

There are a few missing competitors, such as the MG HS and Renault Koleos, which were not available to us at the time of testing.

Test 1: Startup and destination entry

Our first test is a simple one. Having walked up to the car and unlocked it, we turned it on and tried to input Melbourne Airport into the factory satellite navigation system.

The winner was the Hyundai Tucson, which completed the task in just 18 seconds. It was 10 seconds clear of its Korean stablemate, the Kia Sportage, which came second with a result of 28 seconds.

Rounding out the podium was the Jeep Compass, which booted and allowed us to enter Melbourne Airport in 31 seconds.

Bringing up the rear were the Volkswagen Tiguan, which snuck in before the one-minute mark, and the Ford Escape at 64 seconds.

The Haval H6 didn’t feature, as it doesn’t have factory satellite navigation.

Test 2: Bluetooth phone call quality

All of these cars performed well in the Bluetooth phone quality challenge, although there were some differences.

The Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander both lagged marginally behind the rest of the field with slightly muffled sound at a standstill, while the Haval H6 struggled to deliver a clear call on the move.

Have a listen to the video and let us know which you think was the sharpest.

Test 3: Smartphone mirroring

Smartphone mirroring is a key part of the technology suite in any new car, but not all Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrations are created equal.

Below is a table outlining whether you’ll need to plug in to use CarPlay or Android Auto, or whether you can leave your phone in your pocket/handbag.

Apple CarPlay Android Auto
Ford Escape Wired Wired
Haval H6 Wired Wired
Honda CR-V Wired Wired
Hyundai Tucson Wired Wired
Jeep Compass Wireless Wireless
Kia Sportage Wired Wired
Mazda CX-5 Wired Wired
Mitsubishi Outlander Wireless Wired
Nissan X-Trail Wired Wired
Subaru Forester Wired Wired
Toyota RAV4 Wired Wired
Volkswagen Tiguan Wireless Wireless

Test 4: Camera quality

The surprise package in this test was the Haval H6, which has crystal clear reversing and surround-view cameras. They take up the whole screen, and are backed by a range of parking aids.

The Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson also performed well, while the Toyota RAV4 was middling, and the Honda CR-V disappointing.

Some of the cars which struggled in the startup test performed better here, like the Mitsubishi Outlander with its clear, widescreen reversing camera.

Reversing camera Surround-view camera
Ford Escape Yes No
Haval H6 Yes Yes
Honda CR-V Yes No
Hyundai Tucson Yes Yes
Jeep Compass Yes Yes
Kia Sportage Yes Yes
Mazda CX-5 Yes Yes
Mitsubishi Outlander Yes Yes
Nissan X-Trail Yes Yes
Subaru Forester Yes No
Toyota RAV4 Yes Yes
Volkswagen Tiguan Yes Yes

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

MORE: SUV Off-Road Test – Top 12 Medium SUVs compared

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