Best medium SUV in Australia: 2017 edition

2018 Mazda CX-5 front three quarter view

The medium SUV category is topping the sales charts today, and it’s the fastest growing segment with good reason. In fact, it’s the most popular choice for families and young couples, who have an active lifestyle and want to either travel with room for a pram, or have room for the dog. Either way, they want a bit more space than a compact SUV, which is totally understandable.

The year 2017 saw a plethora of new midsize crossover models and updates that hit Australian shores, but of course, some were better than others. The problem is there are so many to choose from.

So how do you know which one to buy? A pros and cons list is always advisable. Before you even step foot into a showroom, start with some online research. Clearly, that’s why you’re here, but once you’ve read through our recommendations below, then it’s worth jumping onto all of the manufacturers’ websites and checking out the spec sheets.

Do you want petrol or diesel? Do you want five or seven seats? Is having a sliding rear seat preferable? What’s the boot space like?

These are just some of the questions that need to be sorted through. And you’ll notice that we mentioned both five and seven seats as an option. While normally seven seats is the domain of the large SUV set, more and more midsizers are being fitted with a third row. Clearly, that eats into the boot space, but having those extra pews can be a bonus.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on the spec sheets, then it’s time to drive them all. Of course, that’s not always possible, or practical. Still, if you’re able to do it, driving them back to back is the safest way to eliminate contenders from your list.

The other way is to ask questions of people. Everyone has an opinion these days, and many folks are happy to share their experiences. But rather than asking people who have rose-coloured glasses, ask owners deeper questions like: What the service costs are like? What is the dealer experience like? Have you had any issues fixed under warranty? And if you did, what was the response?

It’s this sort of research that can help you decide.

However, here at SUV Authority, we drive hundreds of new SUVs every year. Our garage is always home to a new SUV or crossover and having tested them back to back, we’re in a good position to recommend a vehicle.

Hyundai’s Tuscon is a favourite around here, and its twin-under-the-skin, the Kia Sportage, is also one we’d suggest to have a look at closely – as long as you can get over the ungainly looks. That was improved for the 2018 model, so perhaps look out for that one.

Of course, the Volvo XC60 is a cracking car, but not everyone can afford a luxury mid-size SUV. In which case, there’s only really one front-runner.

The best medium SUV sold in Australia

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is the cream of the crop. It’s almost a foregone conclusion these days, but the Mazda CX-5 tops its competitors thanks to a balance of quality, practicality, driveability, safety and price.

Of course, there’s no perfect SUV, just like there’s no perfect car out there, but the CX-5 seems to have almost all of the best attributes of a medium SUV that you could want.

2018 Mazda CX-5 interior

Of particular note is the build quality. Open the doors and you’re greeted with a pleasant layout, a beautiful smell from the leather, and every touchpoint is soft and tactile. Close them and you get a nice, solid thunk.

Reliabilty is another factor, which is difficult to judge from our week-long road test, but based on consumer reports and plenty of trawling the internet, we’re sure it will give you years of hassle free motoring. We even recommended the CX-5 to a family member and he couldn’t be happier with his purchase.

It’s also a very good looking machine. The sleek front end and shapely rear make for a very balanced and well-proportioned midsize SUV.

2018 Mazda CX-5 rear three quarter view

Okay, it’s not the greatest off-road thanks to a slighty lower ride height but with enough momentum and letting down the tyres enough, it will handle beach work. On the road, though, its handling is excellent, and now with much better road noise suppression, Mazda has made the CX-5’s refinement much more apparent, which will please discerning buyers.

In a field of excellent vehicles, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 comes highly recommended.

About Karl Peskett 416 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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