It’s funny how in places like New York you see nothing but massive sport utilities guzzling fuel at a rapid rate yet hybrid cabs everywhere. Then again, driving in New York could be viewed as a full contact sport. But I digress. Those massive sport utilities are giving way to the rapidly growing compact sport utility segment. The smaller ‘cute utes’ are growing by leaps and bounds in market share, given the ever higher price of liquid gold that we need to pour down the fuel pipes of our vehicles.
An all-new Honda CR-V debuted as a 2012 model. A perennial best-seller for Honda, the CR-V is almost as important as the Civic in the new car sweepstakes. It’s a must-see on any shopper’s list. Updates to 2013 were very minor. At the EX trim level, a heated wiper park was added along with an additional 12V accessory outlet. Minor interior trim changes included adding cloth trim to the interior door panels.
The CR-V has competed with Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox, among others, in the compact utility segment for years. Escape, the Mazda CX-5 and Sportage are all very recent vintage. While we await the arrival of the new RAV4 (which is still selling like gangbusters even as the new version is about to be released), let’s see how the CR-V competes with one of the new kids on the block, the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
The Santa Fe now comes in two iterations: the five seat Sport, and the seven seat, er, Santa Fe. The Veracruz, which never sold in large numbers, is retired, and Hyundai is wise to leverage the goodwill of the Santa Fe name into a seven passenger version.
On the surface, CR-V and Santa Fe Sport share many cost of entry features like a 2.4L engine, all wheel drive, brake assist, automatic dual zone air conditioning, power windows and locks, Bluetooth hands free telephone systems with streaming audio, and all the safety features one expects in a family oriented vehicle; three sets of air bags, traction control, stability control and a vehicle security system.
A great deal of standard equipment indeed. Let’s see how the slightly more expensive CR-V handles the upstart Santa Fe.
Overcoming the MSRP deficit of more than $1,000, Santa Fe wins in the features department, too. Note the standard features of the roof rack, tailgate spoiler and rear sensor prices that you’d have to pay as options on the CR-V (remember, asterisk prices are either the installed price of the option on the primary vehicle or the installed price of the competitive vehicle for the same feature).
Now, the rest of the story.
Santa Fe is larger inside and out, moving into almost full-size SUV territory. More of everything; front and rear headroom, legroom hip room and shoulder room. Even with all this additional space on the outside, Santa Fe has a smaller turning radius than CR-V.
Honda sells a lot of CR-V’s. Santa Fe is going to cut into this market in a big way. When the new RAV4 gets here in the next few months, both competitors will have to work hard to carve out their own turf in this hotly contested segment.