Snapshot – The Indian SUV market is simply flooded with choices, which is actually great for you the SUV buyer. The enthusiasts have it easy, as their choices are more limited. Family SUV buyers though, have a bigger bouquet of offerings, which brings us to this list. Which SUV for the family man, and which for the enthusiast? Here are 10 popular choices for both ends of the spectrum.
Fiat Avventura Diesel, for the enthusiast
The Avventura has not done for Fiat what the EcoSport did for Ford India. However, the SUV has its own niche following among driving enthusiasts, who think that they could do with the extra ground clearance that this Punto EVO based crossover brings to the table. The diesel engined Avventura, with its 91 Bhp-209 Nm outputs is the pick of the lot for its fat torque band. If you crave more speed, a 1.4 liter T-Jet turbo petrol engined Avventura is on its way later this year. Abarth badges are likely to be slapped on, with a significant price bump up to go with the increased performance.
Hyundai i20 Active Diesel, for the family man
The recently launched Hyundai i20 Active is already making its way into crossover buyer wishlists. Seeking to build upon the i20 Elite, in terms of actual performance on the road as well as that at the hustings, the i20 Active brings in butch looks, boosted ground clearance and a more pliant suspension. These factors, along with top quality interior quality, a powerful turbo diesel engine, and spacious innards, make this hatchback based crossover a top family man pick. It also helps that Hyundai’s after sales service is one of the better ones in the country. The car is also available with a 1.2 liter petrol motor.
Ford EcoSport EcoBoost, for the enthusiast
The Ford EcoSport compact SUV’s party trick is the 1 liter-3 cylinder EcoBoost petrol motor that’s a gem in terms of performance. With 123 Bhp-170 Nm on tap and mated to a five speed manual gearbox, this engine delivers great acceleration through the gears, and is the only driver oriented petrol SUV that money can buy under 20 lakh rupees in India. A monocoque body and Ford engineered dynamics means that the Ecosport delivers a car like ride and handling performance, which is important for spirited driving.
Renault Duster Diesel, for the family man
For the same kind of money you’d invest in a Ford EcoSport EcoBoost variant, the Renault Duster Diesel with the 1.5 liter K9K turbo diesel engine with 84 Bhp-200 Nm on tap is a much better option if you want a compact SUV to transport your family in comfort. The Duster is much more spacious than the EcoSport and the 1.5 liter K9K turbo diesel motor is a champion when it comes to fuel efficiency and driveability. The Duster’s claim to fame is its ride quality, which simply gobbles up everything that India’s notorious roads can throw at it.
Expedition Ready SUV
Mahindra Thar, for the enthusiast
If you’re under 30, single, or married without kids, the Thar is the ultimate expedition vehicle with infinite customization possibilities. Armed with a powerful 2.5 liter-4 cylinder turbo diesel engine (105 Bhp-247 Nm) with bagfuls of torque to keep you entertained, the Thar is a true go-anywhere vehicle. However, living with a Thar isn’t easy as the vehicle does come with its share of quirks. From poor quality plastics and questionable fit and finish levels, the Thar feels unrefined and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, its prodigious breadth of capabilities notwithstanding.
Renault Duster AWD, for the family man
The Renault Duster AWD offers a modicum of go-anywhere ability in a package that will keep the family happy. Weather sealed with a hard top, monocoque bodied to deliver car like handling, and with independent suspension at the rear to make ride quality outstanding, the Duster AWD’s all wheel drive system is capable of taking on most mild trails such as the ones you’d encounter during cross country touring. The 1.5 liter K9K turbo diesel motor with 108 Bhp-245 Nm on tap is mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox that is now geared lower. This makes the Duster AWD a breeze on city streets too.
Mahindra Scorpio, for the enthusiast
The Mahindra Scorpio mHawk isn’t more powerful than its direct rival, the Safari Storme. However, the way the 2.2 liter mHawk turbo diesel puts torque to the tarmac makes the Scorpio feel much more sprightlier. The lower kerb weight also helps. On the move, the Scorpio does connect to the enthusiast driver better than the Safari Storme, though the latter has a better ride and handling package as a whole. The fun-to-drive nature of the Scorpio, of course in relative SUV terms, makes it the pick of enthusiasts. The well priced 4X4 S4 variant with airbags and ABS seals the deal.
Tata Safari Storme, for the family man
The Tata Safari Storme is a big improvement over the older Safari 2.2 DICOR in terms ride and handling. Refinement levels of the SUV have also been improved, with the interiors adopting a more premium appearance. The 2.2 liter DICOR turbo diesel engine with 138 Bhp-320 Nm on tap does a decent job propelling this beast of an SUV around. The interiors are cavernous and comfortable, making the Safari Storme an ideal offering for the family SUV buyer who seeks the ruggedness of a ladder frame chassis.
Skoda Yeti, for the enthusiast
The Skoda Yeti doesn’t come cheap, at 21.9 lakh rupees for the top-spec 4X4 variant, but in terms of on and off road performance, the Czech vehicle can checkmate most crossovers. The powerful 2 liter-4 cylinder turbo diesel motor (138 Bhp-320 Nm) and slick shifting 6 speed manual gearbox combination means that the Yeti is an athlete on the open road, with sharp handling dynamics that can surprise many a sedan owner. Off the road, a boat load of electronics and the Haldex clutch all wheel drive system will ensure that the Yeti keeps plugging ahead.
Mahindra XUV500, for the family man
The Mahindra XUV500 is compelling value-for-money at a 15.06 lakh rupees for the top-spec W8 AWD variant, more so since it packs 7 seats that can come in handy for shorter trips. Powered by a smooth and quiet 2.2 liter turbo diesel motor with 140 Bhp-330 Nm on tap, the XUV500 is also a peppy performer. A six speed manual gearbox is standard fare while those looking for better grip have the option of ticking the all wheel drive box. A monocoque bodied vehicle, the XUV500 is one of the most dynamically accomplished Mahindra utility vehicle built so far.