Nissan’s popular QASHQAI takes on Honda’s upsized CR-V in a comparison that explores the benefits of multi-segment cross-shopping!
Worthy rivals with different strengths
Honda’s fifth-generation CR-V goes head to head with the new Nissan QASHQAI, a likely rival despite its smaller dimensions.
Nissan’s all-new small SUV comes in a three-model line-up that, importantly, boasts improved safety equipment across the entire range. Meanwhile Honda’s mid-sizer returns bigger and better, with the addition of a third row of seating; but only on one version of its five-model range.
Positioned in between the quirky JUKE and top-selling X-TRAIL, the front-wheel Nissan QASHQAI is most suited to suburban duties and the everyday needs of city-dwelling families – quite the SUV sweet spot. The ST, ST-L and N-TEC (to be replaced by the Ti soon) range is powered by a sole 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with the option of a six-speed manual (ST only) or continuously variable transmission.
Honda’s veteran SUV is similarly offered with single 1.5-litre turbo-charged engine across its five-model line-up. It brings two or four-wheel drive motion matched exclusively to a continuously variable transmission.
Why are we comparing them?
If your entry into the world of SUVs is more about silhouettes and packaging than it is overall dimensions and output, we’d suggest you think outside the box (or segment) – as we have for this comparison – and our recent Family Car Chooser Under $30k.
Our test vehicles represent a solid entry point into the SUV segment and are likely to be cross-shopped given their packaging and price point, which sees significant overlap at the mid-spec volume sellers.
Interestingly, the cheaper (only slightly smaller) Nissan QASHQAI offers some features that you simply won’t find in the CR-V at all. The CR-V does have size on its side, but that’s just one advantage in a long list of considerations, especially for smaller families, down-sizers or younger couples.
Notwithstanding the CR-Vs (arguably token) seven-seat capability, we’re keen to see if the QASHQAI can punch above its weight as we look beyond segments and specs for the SUV pick of the day.
Who will they appeal to?
Dimensionally, there’s not much to separate these two despite hailing from different segments. The QASHQAI boasts a larger footprint than many of its segment rivals. In cabin, however, those small differences are more noticeable.
The CR-V’s front of cabin is voluminous and with excellent storage solutions, bettering those found in the Nissan. We’ve raved about this before.
Both offer very comfortable second-row accommodation fit for three occupants with back of seat pockets and centre arm rests, the CR-V benefiting from around 60mm additional bench width as well as a sliding second row that creates an abundance of legroom when fully extended. It has two directional air vents in the centre as well as four roof-mounted vents (which also cater to the third-row seating) – where none are found in the QASHQAI.
With five seats in play the CR-V has marginally better cargo space (472 v 430 litres), but folded flat the QASHQAI slays (967 v 1598 litres). Even without the third row of seating (VTi-L only) eating into the space, the CR-V only has 1098 litres to play with.
The CR-V has marginally better ground clearance (198v 186mm) but, oddly, it’s the smaller QASHQAI that’s rated to tow more (1200 v 1000kg).
How much do they cost?
Separated by around $2,500 (as tested), the CR-V VTi-L 2WD (from $38,990) and current top-spec QASHQAI N-TEC (from $36,490) offer good value – particularly where the Nissan is concerned.
The incoming top-spec Ti is expected to be priced at $37,990 (plus ORCs), while the top spec CR-V (the only one with Honda Sensing safety kit) jumps to $44,290 (plus ORCs).
Premium paint in the Nissan is $495 and a no-cost option in the Honda.
Aside from selecting your transmission of choice, the QASHQAI comes as you see it. The good news is advanced safety technology is standard across the entire range. The CR-V tells a similar story, the five models offering differentiated by its driven wheels and list of features.
Disappointingly, it is the most costly, top-spec VTi-LX only that has Honda Sensing – that’s the important safety stuff like forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control.
The Nissan QASHQAI offers a three-year/100,000km warranty, the Honda CR-V going one better with its five-year/unlimited-kilometre peace of mind.
What do they do well?
The QASHQAI is the clear standout for driver assist technology and safety – and that plays to many a buyer’s wants.
In-cabin technology features a 7.0-inch colour touch-screen, satellite navigation, front and rear parking sensors with a 360-degree camera, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. It misses out on Apple CarPlay/Android auto and wireless phone charging, standard on the CR-V.
It’s the safety suite that is particularly good, featuring autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-departure warning standard across the range – at top-spec you also get blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and park assist: commendable kit for a small SUV at this price point.
The CR-V can’t match the QASHQAI’s safety, but its driveability is a step ahead. The smaller-capacity turbo-charged engine is a far better match with the continuously variable transmission. It proved decisive and smooth. Add to this wheel-mounted paddle shifts and you’ve got a much more flexible vehicle at your disposal. The CR-V also offered better steering weight and feedback.
Tyre choice played a big role, too. Riding on 18-inch alloys, the CR-Vs tyres (235/60) proved a better choice over the QASHQAI’s larger 19-inch (225/45) set up. This transpired as a slightly quieter and supple ride.
The Honda gets a full size spare compared to the Nissan’s space saver.
What could they do better?
A sticking point for the CR-V is that the best of its driver assist technology (Honda Sensing) is only available on the top spec VTi-LX ($44,290). More notably, the absence of autonomous emergency braking – which can be found across the entire QASHQAI range – was discussed at length.
The aspiring Nissan was let down by an indecisive transmission, performing a little jerky at low speeds and overly sensitive to throttle inputs. We found it more often hunting for adequate power, unlike the more flexible CVT in the Honda.
Which wins, and why?
Despite being left wanting for active safety across the range, it’s the Honda CR-V that takes the win.
The combination of a punchy turbo-petrol engine and a more responsive CVT makes the CR-V simply more enjoyable to drive. Then there’s the after sales peace of mind… It’s got to be said, however, the very capable and well-equipped Nissan QASHQAI is much more a runner-up than a loser on this occasion.
2018 Honda CR-V VTi-L 2WD pricing and specifications:
Price: $38,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel: 7.3L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 166g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP
2018 Nissan QASHQAI N-TEC pricing and specifications:
Price: $36,490 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel: 6.9L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 159g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP