Best buys - family crossovers: Toyota hybrid tops our list
The C-HR is our top pick but Peugeot 3008 and Seat Ateca have family appeal when space is a requirement
Best in class: Toyota C-HR
Toyota’s funky looking family crossover has been ringing our bell for a while now, not least because it was the first car that used the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) chassis, and which therefore alerted us to the fact that Toyota had finally cottoned on to how to make a fun-to-drive family hauler.
Available as either a hybrid (using the same 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and electric motor as the Prius and Corolla) or a 1.2-litre turbo petrol, the C-HR drives with a sweet sense of enthusiasm.
The cabin is more like a Lexus than that of a Toyota. It’s also inside that we find the C-HR’s biggest failing, which is also its smallest failing, in a sense - it’s tight in the back and boot, although tolerably practical.
Best one: 1.8 Hybrid Sport for €31,310
Prices: From €27,710. Finance from €251 per month.
In two words: Fun hybrid.
If the Toyota C-HR is either or both of two dramatic in its styling, or too small in its cabin, then the Seat Ateca is the family crossover for you. It’s a blessedly straightforward car, compared to the Toyota’s assault on your eyeballs. Bland? Arguably a little, but it functions so well that you’ll forgive it that. The cabin especially has to come in for some praise, as although it’s rather plain and simple, it’s also hugely spacious, with a boot capacity to match. Comfort levels are good too, as are the quality levels.
Basic 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine might just do you if you spend most of your time in town, but the sweet and frugal 1.5 TSI is a better bet for more mixed use. Diesel engines a fine for long-haul drivers, but avoid the automatic option.
Incidentally all of the above is equally true for the Volkswagen Tiguan or Skoda Karoq, but the Seat is the best value of the three.
Best one: FR 1.5 TSI for €32,630
Prices: From €25,995. Finance from €289 per month.
In two words: Estrella Barcelona.
With Peugeot being named as the most dependable and reliable car brand by the influential JD Power survey, it seems as if this sharp-suited French SUV is going from strength to strength.
It certainly stands out in a sea of relatively blandly-styled competition by looking very distinctive, from those claw-shaped headlights on back. Inside, the distinctiveness continues - cover up the badges in most of the competitors and you’d be hard pressed to tell what you were sitting in.
Not so the Peugeot, with that tiny hexagonal steering wheel, high-set all-digital instruments, and cool ‘piano key’ shortcut buttons beneath the infotainment screen. We like the faux-tweed trim, too, as it’s a welcome relief from the fake carbon fibre or ‘piano black’ used by others.
The 1.2 PureTech turbo petrol engine is a sweetheart, but the updated 130hp 1.5 BlueHDI diesel is deeply impressive for those of us not turned off the black pump yet. Steering could be sharper, and ride a touch smoother, but the 3008 is an accomplished all-rounder.
Best one: 1.2 Puretech Allure for €30,850
Prices: From €26,990. Finance from POA per month.
In two words: Fancy Frenchie.
Wild Card: Jeep Compass
The Jeep brand is pretty much propping up the entire Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles group right now, with rising sales across the world and an expanding model range that’s genuinely starting to impress (after, it must be said, too many years of mediocrity).
The Compass is the perfect example of that, yet equally a perfect example of the fact that Irish buyers seem to consistently ignore Jeep as a brand. In the Compass’ case, we really can’t figure out why.
It has the handsome styling of the big Grand Cherokee; a smart, well-made cabin, decent space and quality, and it’s quite nice to drive. Its engine line up is a bit old-hat, and the diesels are noisy, but new engines (including a plugin hybrid) are on the way, and if it matters to you there are some seriously capable (and seriously pricey) off-road variants too. A likeable car that deserves more of your attention.
Best one: 1.6 M-Jet Longitude for €29,245
Prices: From €27,995. Finance from POA per month.
In two words: Chirpy Jeep.