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Best Compact SUVs in Kenya

By Wang’ombe Kibunja

As times change so does the motoring scene, from the hot hatches of the 80’s to the racing sedans of the 90’s we are seeing a trend where manufacturers are leaning towards compact SUVs. With the current car user being more concerned with the environment and pollution, smaller parking spaces in their homes, they need smaller cars. The car buyer still wants the practical aspects of a full size SUV. That makes the Manufacturers to combine the two and build a compact SUV. Most of these SUVs are based on sedan platforms for example the Honda CRV is based on the Honda Civic platform whereas the RAV4 is based on the Corolla.  They are mostly preferred for their fuel economy, practical size and comfort. They mostly come in front wheel or two wheel configuration. Some Car dealers are also known to market them as mid-sized SUVs. Some of the most common compact SUVs on our Kenyan roads are:

Toyota RAV4
RAV4 stands for Recreational Activity Vehicle 4wheel drive. It was the first compact crossover and was based on the corolla/Carina platform, the vehicle has evolved over the years with even introduction of the much more common two wheel drive version. The vehicle has evolved from a basic shape in the 90’s to the current 4th generation with elegant curves and lines. The vehicle is available in short wheelbase, long wheel base or the longer wheelbase version the Vanguard. It boasts an engine size of between 2000cc and 2500cc, the vehicle attracts a price of 4.6m for a 2015 model and a 1997 model will cost you around 350k.

Suzuki Escudo/Grand Vitara
This is a compact SUV that has been produced from 1988. It comes in a variety of engine sizes from a 1000cc inline 4engine to a 3200cc V6 engine. The 5th generation models has however ditched the V6 engine and a 1600cc engine is the biggest in this generation. The vehicle although small is very capable in off-road situations, it is a very common car in rural areas where the roads are seasonal. It can take almost any road condition thrown at it. You can easily get a 2013 V6 model for 2.2m and a 1999 or older model for below 300k.

Honda CR-V
A compact SUV Manufactured by Honda from 1995, it is based on the Honda Civic platform. It stands for Comfortable Runabout vehicle or Compact Recreational Vehicle. It’s a comfortable vehicle and practical when it comes to its size and suspension. It comes in various engine sizes from a 1500cc turbo engine to a 2400cc Natural aspirated engine, there is also a hybrid variant of the engine. The vehicle has a market price of 2.4m for a 2013 model and a 1999 model will cost around 350k.

Mazda CX-5
The newest compact SUV on our roads. The production of the CX-5 started in 2012 and shares a platform with the Mazda Axela. It was introduced as the successor of the Mazda Tribute and Mazda CX-7, it’s the first car to feature Mazda’s Soul of Motion Design. It has a low fuel consumption and low emissions and will probably flooding our roads soon. It boasts a 2000cc, 2200cc or a 2500cc engine. It comes in with either a 6speed manual or a 6 speed automatic transmission making it have a real sporty feel. The price tag on the CX-5 is 2.9M for a 2015 model and 1.4M for a 2013 Model.

Subaru Forester
The SUV started production from 1997 based on the Subaru Forester Platform. It comes with the famous Subaru Boxer engine that makes it have a low center of gravity hence more stable. It comes in either a 2000cc engine or a 2500cc engine which are either Natural Aspirated or Turbo. There is the sporty XT version which features an engine tuned by Subaru Tecnica International (STI) making it a very fast car. The price tag ranges from 2.5m for a 2015 model and a 1998 model doing slightly below 300k. There is a cult following for the turbo versions of the cars and with endless options for aftermarket performance parts these variants cost more than the NA versions depending on modifications and parts installed.

Based on preference one is spoilt for choice when it comes to Compact SUVs, the fuel consumption and practicability isn’t that different across the brands unlike for the Mid-sized and full sized SUVs. What will define preference is your taste and finances the availability of parts is not a huge concern although the prices will vary between brands.