Vauxhall has added a new small SUV, the Crossland X, to its range. Is it better than the freshly updated Renault Captur and class-leading Suzuki Vitara?
*** Note : £1 = $1.30
Renault Captur TCe 120 Dynamique Nav
List price £17,805
Target Price £15,873
Renault’s popular and practical little SUV gets exterior and interior tweaks
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ-T
List price £16,999
Target Price £16,102
The Vitara is our favourite sub-£15,000 SUV. How does it fare in the more expensive SZ-T guise?
Vauxhall Crossland X 1.2 Turbo 130 Tech Line Nav
List price £18,290
Target Price £17,736
The first Vauxhall to be based on a Peugeot platform and certainly not the last
Let’s set the scene: you’ve got £18,000 to spend on a small car. You don’t want a humdrum hatchback, but you need a decent amount of space inside. Sounds like a job for a small SUV.
For the past four years, the Renault Captur has hoarded a big chunk of sales in this segment. Frugal engines, funky looks and a big dollop of practicality have always been big draws, but a low-rent interior most certainly wasn’t. Thankfully, a recent update has poshed things up and sharpened its exterior looks.
But is the new Captur the best small SUV in this price bracket? To find out, we’re pitting it against our current favourite, the Suzuki Vitara. It’s a little bigger than the Captur and undercuts its French rival on price, even in the well-equipped SZ-T trim.
Neither car is guaranteed a win here, though, because there’s a new kid on the block: the Vauxhall Crossland X. It’s more powerful than its rivals and comes packed with standard equipment.
Driving – Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Despite having 10bhp more than its rivals in the turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder form tested here, the Crossland X initially fails to convert that into a performance advantage. There’s barely any difference between the three SUVs when you accelerate to the redline through the gears, either from a standstill or when you’re moving.
It’s a different story if you leave the car in one gear and put your foot down, though. The Crossland X thrashes the turbocharged 1.2-litre four-pot Captur from third gear upwards by at least half a second. The Vitara is the only car with a five-speed gearbox and no turbocharger to boost the power of its 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine; this mix of fewer cogs and much less low-rev pulling power means it takes the longest to wind its way up to speed.
You need to rev the Vitara’s engine hard to make swift progress, revealing a loud but not totally unappealing engine note. The Captur’s engine is much smoother and the quietest of the three, while the Crossland X’s sends the most vibrations through the controls and sounds the coarsest. Even so, the Crossland X is actually quieter at a cruise than the Vitara, mainly because it generates less wind noise.
The Captur has the softest suspension and is the most comfortable over all surfaces. Only particularly bad ruts and bumps really upset it, making the Captur the best for a gentle cruise. The Vitara is firmer, but good damping means the car deals with uneven surfaces quickly and without causing too much discomfort.
While the Crossland X is slightly softer than the Vitara, it can’t deal with sharp-edged bumps and potholes as quickly, sending a jolt through the car. Over crumbly urban roads, it jostles you around the most and the ride never settles down, even on the motorway.
Come off the motorway and onto a twisting country road and you’ll find the Vitara is in its element. Its steering may feel a bit vague, but the firm suspension means there’s little body lean and front-end grip is the best here. Keen drivers will have the most fun in the Vitara.
The Captur may not feel very sporty due to its soft suspension, but it’s predictable and has the most natural weighting to its steering. There’s a bit of body lean when cornering, but it’s otherwise pretty tidy. Meanwhile, the Crossland X’s steering is too fast when you turn the wheel by a small amount and its handling can be unpredictable. You get little warning that the front tyres are running out of grip, and if you come off the accelerator too sharply, the rear can slide a little.
Behind the wheel – Driving position, visibility, build quality
All three have height and reach-adjustable steering wheels and driver’s seats that can be raised or lowered, but the Vitara has the best driving position. The Capturgets marked down for a gear lever that’s too low and the Crossland X for accelerator and brake pedals that are too far to the right, as well as a steering wheel with too many buttons. The Crossland X is the only one available with adjustable lumbar support, although all three have fairly comfortable seats.
But it’s the Captur that has the most inviting interior. Whereas the inside of the pre-facelifted car was a sea of hard, scratchy plastic, this updated model has welcome soft-touch plastics on the tops of the doors and dashboard.
The Crossland X initially impresses with its soft-touch dashboard and classy chrome detailing. But while the bits you touch the most are nicely finished, the heater controls are mounted on a particularly flimsy piece of plastic that bends when pushed.
If we’re being brutally honest, the Vitara’s interior feels about a decade old in comparison with its two rivals. The plastics used are durable, but their shiny finish is a real throwback. Still, all the buttons feel solid.
Dynamique Nav gets a 7.0in touchscreen system as standard with DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat-nav, plus USB and aux ports. Our test car had the upgraded R-Link system that’s the same size but adds improved navigation, Android Auto connectivity and a better stereo. The icons are a decent size, but some menus can be confusing; changing media source can be a chore, for instance. We’d save our money.
Opt for the SZ-T trim and you’ll get a 7.0in touchscreen with smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink, satellite navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port. It’s a responsive enough system, but some of the icons are too small to hit accurately on the move. Some menus are also a bit confusing and the system looks distinctly aftermarket in its appearance.
Vauxhall Crossland X
It may be called IntelliLink, Vauxhall’s infotainment name, but this is a Peugeot system in a Vauxhall costume. That means you get an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat-nav with European mapping, Bluetooth and a USB connection. It’s modern-looking and the large icons make it easy to operate. It’s also the only car here that’s available with wireless charging for smartphones.
Space and practicality – Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot
Although our protagonists aren’t much longer than your average small hatchback, they’re all deceptively spacious. The Captur has the most front head room, but only by 5mm over the Crossland X. When you consider that the Crossland X’s front seat slides back the farthest, it’s the most accommodating for tall drivers, although you’d have to be a giant to notice the extra leg room.
The Crossland X also scores with big cupholders and a huge cubby underneath the heater controls that can swallow a phone, keys and wallet. There’s further storage under the central armrest, although the door bins aren’t the biggest.
The Vitara has more door pocket storage, but it can’t beat the Crossland X for cubbyholes. However, it still finishes ahead of the Captur, which has cupholders that are just too small for some bottles and travel mugs.
The gold star for rear seat space goes to the Vitara, which has the most leg room and is the widest. The Crossland X has the most rear head room, but taller individuals might find their knees jammed up against the seatbacks. The Captur has the least leg and head room, although it does come with a sliding rear bench.
None of the three cars has particularly big rear door pockets, although the Vitara’s are spacious enough to swallow a large drinks bottle.
As for boot space, all three get a thumbs up for having variable height boot floors as standard. All have 60/40 split-folding rear seats as standard, too, although the Crossland X’s Versatility Pack (£300) gives you a more practical 40/20/40 split.
The Crossland X swallowed six carry-on suitcases, compared with five in the others. That said, the Vitara has the widest maximum boot width, making it well suited to pushchairs.
Factor in underfloor storage and the Captur’s boot is not too far off other small SUVs’. There’s a standard variable-height boot ¬floor and it is the only car here to get a sliding bench as standard
Boot 377-1235 litres Suitcases 5
The Vitara’s boot may not be as square as the other two cars’, but you gain useful cubbies in the floor that will stop things from rolling around. A variable-height boot floor is standard
Boot 375-1120 litres Suitcases 5
Vauxhall Crossland X
The Crossland X gets a variable-height boot floor as standard and a 60/40 split bench. A 40/20/40 split folding, reclining and sliding rear bench is optional (£300) but wasn’t fitted to our test car
Boot 410-1255 litres Suitcases 6
Buying and owning – Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
The Crossland X is the most expensive to buy, even after you factor in discounts. The Vitara may have the cheapest list price, but big discounts from Renault mean the Captur will actually cost you the least to buy.
For private buyers, taking into account costs such as insurance and servicing over three years, the Vitara works out the cheapest. It’s the most fuel efficient in real-world driving, is predicted to lose the least in depreciation over three years and is the second-cheapest to insure. The Captur is cheaper to insure and service, but relatively heavy depreciation counts against it. As for the Crossland X, it’s much thirstier than the other two and costs the most to insure.
If you’re planning to take out PCP finance, the Vitara is also the most affordable. The Captur is only £2 a month more, due to a sizeable deposit contribution from Renault, but the Crossland X is £59 a month more than the Vitara.
If you’re looking to lease, the Captur is cheapest, followed by the Vitara and then the Crossland X. That said, the Vitara will best serve company car drivers. Its CO2 output may be higher than the Crossland X’s, but its low list price means it’s nearly £200 cheaper in benefit-in-kind (BIK) over three years if you’re in the 40% tax bracket. The Captur’s relatively high CO2 emissions and its second-highest list price mean it’s nearly £470 more expensive over three years than the Vitara in BIK.
All three cars come with a few luxuries that make life that bit more bearable, including climate control (dual-zone on the Crossland X), front and rear electric windows and cruise control. The Crossland X adds rear parking sensors, while the Vitara has a rear-view camera; both are options on the Captur. The Captur has keyless entry and start.
None of these SUVs gets automatic emergency braking as standard; it’s not available at all on the Captur and you’ll have to pay £500 to get it on the Crossland X. As for the Vitara, you’ll need to step up to the SZ5 trim to get it. The Vitara and Captur both have five-star Euro NCAP ratings. However, the Vitara scores higher marks for adult, child and pedestrian protection. The Crossland X has yet to be tested.
The Captur’s updates seem fairly minor but, by improving its previous weak areas, Renault has turned it into a winner. A comfortable ride, classy materials and quiet road manners make the Captur best for long distances and there’s enough space inside for small families.
Close behind is the Vitara. It doesn’t have the most appealing interior, but keen handling, spacious rear seats and Suzuki’s excellent reliability record are strong draws. It’s also the cheapest to run for private buyers and company car drivers alike.
Bringing up the rear is the new Crossland X. It’s practical inside, thanks to the biggest boot and decent space for people, but it’s the most expensive to buy outright or on finance and also the costliest to run. Take into account its poor ride quality, handling that can be unpredictable and the unrefined nature of its three-cylinder engine and the Crossland X becomes hard to recommend.
1st – Renault Captur
- For Classiest interior; big discounts; quietest cruiser; ride comfort; sliding rear seats
- Against Highest company car tax; rear leg room; heavy depreciation
- Must-have options Rear-parking sensors (£215)
Specifications: Renault Captur TCe 120 Dynamique Nav
- Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
- List price £17,805
- Target Price £15,873
- Power 118bhp @ 5000rpm
- Torque 151Ib ft @ 2000rpm
- 0-60mph 10.6sec
- Top speed 113mph
- Gov’t fuel economy 51.4mpg
- True MPG 44.6mpg
- CO2 emissions 125g/km
2nd – Suzuki Vitara
- For Fun to drive; spacious rear seats; most economical in the real world
- Against Dated interior; sluggish in gear acceleration; quite noisy
- Must-have options None
Specifications: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ-T
- Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
- List price £16,999
- Target Price £16,102
- Power 118bhp @ 6000rpm
- Torque 115Ib ft @ 4400rpm
- 0-60mph 10.4sec
- Top speed 112mph
- Gov’t fuel economy 53.3mpg
- True MPG 47.7mpg
- CO2 emissions 123g/km
3rd – Vauxhall Crossland X
- For Punchy engine; best for tall drivers; biggest boot
- Against Vibrations from engine; jittery ride; unpredictable handling
- Must-have options Safety pack (£500)
Specifications: Vauxhall Crossland X 1.2 Turbo 130 Tech Line Nav
- Engine size 1.2-litre petrol
- List price £18,290
- Target Price £17,736
- Power 128bhp @ 5500rpm
- Torque 169Ib ft @ 1750rpm
- 0-60mph 10.4sec
- Top speed 128mph
- Gov’t fuel economy 55.4mpg
- True MPG 40.8mpg
- CO2 emissions 116g/km