Midsize SUV comparison: Honda Elevate vs rivals

    Does the Elevate deliver the goods? We brought together its chief rivals to get the right perspective.

    Published on Nov 28, 2023 08:00:00 AM

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    Midsize SUV comparison: Honda Elevate vs rivals
    Make : Hyundai
    Model : Creta

    Not that you weren’t spoilt for choice already, but the arrival of the competent Honda Elevate has made the decision of choosing the right midsized SUV harder still. To see where the new Elevate stands in this crowded field, we’ve brought it together with its closest rivals. The list includes the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara that’s also representing its twin from Toyota, the Urban Cruiser Hyryder. There’s Kia’s Seltos that’s fresh from an update, and from the Volkswagen Group, we have the Taigun that’s also here on behalf of its sibling, the Skoda Kushaq. And finally we have the long-standing segment champ, Hyundai’s Creta. 

    New midsize SUV contenders have the Creta and Seltos in their crosshairs.

    Sadly, MG didn’t have an Astor to lend us for the shoot and as much as we’d wanted to include the new Citroën C3 Aircross, it’s not sold in petrol-automatic form, which is the spec of choice for this comparison.        

    We’ll be judging the SUVs across a broad spectrum of criteria to zero in on the one model that offers the most.

    Midsize SUV comparison: exterior

    With their high-set bonnets, upright stances and clearly defined shapes, each of these models conforms to the SUV template. However, they also take very different approaches in terms of styling.  

    The Elevate, for instance, isn’t as flashy as the other SUVs yet draws attention with its big grille, beefy bonnet and tight surfacing. It’s got a great stance too, helped in no small measure by the class-leading 220mm of ground clearance.

    Elevate's 458-litre boot is easily the largest here.

    A two-part grille and split headlights lend the Grand Vitara a distinctive front end, and, in general, it’s a smartly turned-out SUV. The Taigun is like your expat colleague all decked up in traditional wear for Diwali. The clean lines and crisp details are classic Volkswagen and the lavish desi tadka of chrome works. That said, see the Taigun in the company of its chief rivals and it comes across as a bit smaller. The VW SUV is the shortest and narrowest of the five.

    With their high-set bonnets, upright stances and clearly defined shapes, each of these models conforms to the SUV template.

    Cousins Seltos and Creta look the most substantial of these SUVs, and going strictly by the measuring tape, the Kia is the longest too. 2023’s styling update that brought in a slightly larger grille, tweaked bumpers, revised headlights and new connected tail-lamps has done its bit to refresh the handsome Kia’s look. The Creta is effectively the oldest SUV here, but even three years after launch remains polarising in look. Hyundai will be out with the updated Creta in the coming months and Tucson-like edgy parametric details are expected. 

    Midsize SUV comparison: interior

    The Elevate’s interior won’t wow you at first glance, but spend time in the Honda SUV and you’ll appreciate it for a lot of individual elements that come together really well. True to Honda tradition, the seats are superbly cushioned and the driving position is spot on. The view of the bonnet edges gives the all-important feel of piloting an SUV and is a plus in its own right. Further, touch points like the touchscreen and climate control console are within easy reach, the part-digital instruments make for easy viewing and even storage spaces are aplenty. There’s a hard-wearing look to everything inside and the leatherette padding on the dash and door pads does its bit to uplift the cabin ambience. 

    The Elevate's interior won’t wow you but cabin is well-thought-out.

    The Maruti Grand Vitara’s interior makes a stronger first impression with a stylish layered look on the dash and generous use of soft-touch materials that extend to the doors. The front seats are also nice and comfy, but there’s a fair share of hard and grainy plastics inside and anyone upgrading from within the Maruti universe will note that there’s quite a bit – such as the touchscreen, climate control console and window buttons – shared with lesser models. 

    Grand Vitara's layered dash looks upmarket but a lot is shared with lesser Marutis.

    The Volkswagen Taigun experience starts with a very satisfying thunk on the door shut. There’s a sporty vibe to the interior too that ties in with the driving experience. Helping this impression are the front seats that offer great thigh and shoulder support but could come across as snug for larger framed individuals. Other things to like include the digital dials and vibrant touchscreen. What the Taigun cabin misses is a premium appeal. Material quality is good but not great, and that typical German car attention to detail isn’t quite there. Also, the Taigun’s AC isn’t quick to cool the cabin down and the touch panel for the climate control is fiddly to use on the go.   

    There’s a sporty vibe to the Taigun's interior. It feels smallest though.

    After time in an Elevate, Grand Vitara or Taigun, you’ll find a Seltos or Creta’s interior to be a noticeably roomier space. The Seltos’ cabin was already a nice place to be and the latest update has made it better still. Out goes the thick bezel for the screen and driver’s display and in comes a slick, new curved surround. The new arrangement not only brings the cabin up to speed but also makes it look airier. Material quality and attention to detail is the best of the SUVs here, and the cabin also remains user-friendly with plenty of adjustability in the driver’s seat and steering. 

    New curved screens in the Seltos uplifts the cabin. Overall quality is best on the Kia.

    You’ll be at ease in a Creta’s cabin too, though steering reach adjust remains a curious omission. The Hyundai’s dash is smart and, on this 1.5 petrol, uses a combo of black and cream to good effect. However, a closer inspection will reveal the absence of soft-touch materials (the leather look panel on the dash is plastic) and quite a few scratchy surfaces. Of the other things, the part-digital dials are informative, and you’ll also like the well-cushioned front seats. 

    Interior of the Creta is neat and airy. Quality isn’t Hyundai’s best.

    Midsize SUV comparison:  features

    Talking features, all SUVs here get keyless entry and go, auto LED headlights, leatherette upholstery, a sunroof, paddleshifters, cruise control, auto climate control and rear AC vents. 

    Equipment checklist
    Honda Elevate 1.5 ZX CVTMaruti Grand Vitara 1.5 smart Hybrid AT AlphaKia Seltos 1.5 iVT HTXVW Taigun 1.0 TSI AT ToplineHyundai Creta 1.5 MPI IVT SX(O)
    Airbags66666
    ABS with EBDYesYesYesYesYes
    ESCYesYesYesYesYes
    ISOFIX Child Seat MountsYesYesYesYesYes
    CameraRear + Left360-degRearRearRear
    ADASYesNoNoNoNo
    Tyre Pressure MonitorNoNoYesDeflation warningYes
    Parking SensorsRearRearFront + RearRearRear
    HeadlampsLEDLEDLEDLEDLED
    Auto HeadlampsYesYesYesYesYes
    InstrumentsPart-DigitalAnalogueDigital ClusterDigitalPart-Digital
    Front Seat VentilationNoNoNoYesYes
    Powered SeatsNoNoNoFrontDriver
    Touchscreen10.25-inch9-inch10.25-inch10-inch10.25-inch
    Android Auto/Apple CarplayWirelessWirelessWiredWirelessWired
    Connected TechYesYesYesYesYes
    SunroofSingle PanePanoramicPanoramicSingle PanePanoramic
    Auto Climate Control1-Zone1-Zone2-Zone1-Zone1-Zone
    Onboard Air PurifierNoNoYesNoYes
    Electronic Parking BrakeNoNoNoNoYes
    PaddleshiftersYesYesYesYesYes
    Drive ModesNoNoYesNoYes
    Rear AC VentsYesYesYesYesYes
    Rear Seat ReclineNoYesYesNoYes
    Rear Window SunshadeNoNoYesNoYes
     

    The top-spec Elevate ZX CVT (Rs 15.99 lakh) has the most competitive price tag and if you think about it, gets you enough features for the money. It’s also the only one to pack in ADAS at this price point. Still, there’s room for a higher-spec trim with more wow features like a panoramic sunroof. The Maruti Grand Vitara 1.5 Smart Hybrid (mild-hybrid) Alpha (Rs 16.91 lakh) gets a panoramic sunroof (the sunshade lets in too much heat) and is also the only one with a 360-degree camera (the resolution isn’t great). Sadly, Maruti has reserved the fully-loaded Alpha+ trim that gets digital dials, ventilated front seats and a wireless phone charger only for the strong hybrid Grand Vitara.

    Elevate's 10.25-inch screen is nice; fonts look a bit dated.

    It’s a similar story on the Seltos 1.5 petrol iVT that’s only offered in mid-spec HTX form. The equipment list includes the all-important new addition of a panoramic sunroof, class-first dual-zone climate control, neat digital instrument cluster, an onboard air purifier, and front and rear parking sensors. Feature and tech junkies who want full digital dials, front seat ventilation, a powered driver’s seat, a 360-degree camera and ADAS will have to opt for higher-spec versions only offered with the turbo-petrol and diesel powertrains.  

    Grand Vitara's slick 9-inch screen sits amidst thick bezel.

    Creta 1.5 iVT buyers have comparatively greater choice with the option of the fully-loaded SX(O) trim as featured here. Highlights include a powered driver’s seat, front seat ventilation, panoramic sunroof, electric parking brake and Bose sound system. Do note, the mid-spec Creta SX is down on features to a comparable Seltos HTX. 

    Kia’s 10.25-inch screen has the best layout.

    Volkswagen’s recent addition of powered front seats (driver and co-driver) on the Taigun 1.0 TSI Topline is a class-first feature, and builds on the comfort of seat ventilation. The upgraded sound system that adds in an amplifier and subwoofer also delivers the deepest sound, bettering the Hyundai’s Bose unit. There’s wireless phone charging too, but you’d be left wanting for more frills given that the Taigun is the priciest SUV here at Rs 17.59 lakh. 

    VW's 10-inch screen is very responsive and looks vibrant.

    All SUVs get you slick touchscreens with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with the Elevate, Grand Vitara and Taigun further offering the convenience of wireless connectivity. All models also get some form of connected car tech allowing you to remotely keep an eye on your vehicle. The Elevate, Grand Vitara and Creta also offer remote ignition, allowing you to have the vehicle cooled by the time you get in. The latter is a feature reserved for higher-spec Seltos’ only. 

    Creta's 10.25-inch unit sits lower in dash; works well though.

    Midsize SUV comparison:  rear seat comfort

    If rear seat space and comfort are high on your  list of priorities, your options should be limited to the Seltos and Creta. The Korean SUVs feel the roomiest at the back, and the superior sense of space counts for a lot. The Korean SUVs are also most accommodating for three passengers at the back.

    Creta loses marks for missing centre headrest. 

    Both models go one up on rivals with retractable sunshades, while their backrest recline functions also allow a more laidback seating position. We found cushioning on the Creta a bit softer and took well to its detachable headrest pillows. However, the Creta misses out on the safety of a middle seat headrest, which is something you get on a Seltos. 

    Roomy cabin in the Seltos seats three abreast comfortably.

    The Elevate is the best of the rest in the area of rear seat comfort. There’s ample legroom (2,650mm is just short of class best), the seat is nicely padded, and so long as it’s just two at the back, you’ll be very comfortable. With a middle passenger it  will be a squeeze, and the absence of a dedicated headrest and three-point seatbelt (there’s only a lap belt) will make him/her feel like an unwanted guest.

    Elevate's seat is well-padded and supportive but best for two.

    The Taigun offers generous legroom (it’s got the longest wheelbase at 2,651mm) and its rear seat scores well on shoulder and thigh support. However, the relatively narrow cabin means you sit quite close to your co-passenger, the large front seats restrict frontal visibility and the roof hump (there to accommodate the sunroof mechanism) hurts the feeling of space further.

    Legroom in the Taigun is good but sense of space is least here.

    Like the Elevate and Taigun, the Grand Vitara is not an ideal transport for five adults and taller passengers at the back will have to contend with limited headroom. The Maruti’s seat is nicely cushioned and also gets a backrest recline option but the range of motion is strictly limited.

    Comfort is good in the Grand Vitara but headroom could be an issue.

    On airport runs and trips out of town, you’ll appreciate how much luggage you can fit into an Elevate. Its 458-litre boot is easily the largest; the Creta and Seltos (433 litres each) are spacious enough, the Taigun’s deep boot is way more accommodating than its 385-litre figure would suggest, and you get ample room in the Grand Vitara’s 355-litre trunk too. Notably, luggage room is compromised in the strong-hybrid Grand Vitara versions whose battery pack takes up prime real estate in the boot.

    Middle seat of the Elevate gets lap belt only. No headrest either.

    All these SUVs have you covered for times when you need even more room for luggage with 60:40 split and fold rear seats.

    Midsize SUV comparison: engine and performance

    The Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos can be had in three flavours (naturally aspirated petrol, turbo-petrol and diesel), the Grand Vitara is the only one with the option of a strong-hybrid powertrain, the Taigun offers two turbo-petrol options while the Elevate is offered solely with a naturally aspirated petrol engine. To keep a level-playing field in power and price, we’ve considered the base petrol engine (where applicable) and automatic gearbox combo for each. 

    The Honda is quickest but loudest. The Seltos and Creta are most relaxing to drive.

    The Elevate’s 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine is the most powerful here, but it’s actually best enjoyed in everyday city driving. Engine responses are crisp in low-speed settings and the 7-step CVT auto (there are paddleshifters too) works well in the background. Thing is, when you want more from the engine, say for a quick overtake, you’ll get that CVT-typical rubberband effect in which the engine revs rise much faster than a corresponding increase in road speed. The rising decibel levels nudge you to back off and keep the engine in its comfort zone. And that’s a pity because the Elevate has more than sufficient go. It’s the quickest to 100kph and is the quickest in kickdown acceleration too.

    ADAS is nice to have on the Elevate; adaptive cruise control a boon.

    The Maruti Grand Vitara is the slowest in outright and kickdown acceleration, and  frankly its 103hp/137Nm, 1.5-litre engine offers little to excite. The 6-speed torque converter gearbox gets the job done but isn’t the quickest on the draw either and even the paddleshifters don’t help transform the driving experience. Where the Grand Vitara feels at home is in city confines. An unhurried driving style syncs best with the Grand Vitara’s easygoing nature, and it’s then that you’ll like the engine’s response at low speeds, the good refinement and the gearbox for its smoothness.

    Mild-hybrid versions of the Grand Vitara make do with simple dials.

    The Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos come across as the most complete in the area of powertrains. Their 115hp, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines offer a pleasant spread of power right from the get-go and though the mid-range isn’t punchy per se, there’s enough performance for swift progress. Refinement levels are also easily the best here and what helps is that the rubberband effect CVTs are notorious for is well contained on the Korean cousins. Paddleshifters give the option to shuffle through the six predefined ratios or steps of the gearbox, and there are drive modes too (they change throttle response) to help fine-tune the experience to your liking.

    Seltos gets new instrumentation;higher trims get full digital dials.

    The Volkswagen Taigun stands out in this comparison for its engine configuration. Its 1-litre, three-cylinder unit is the smallest by displacement and cylinder count, but direct-injection and turbocharging also allows this 1.0 TSI to make a par for the course power of 115hp and segment best torque of 178Nm. The meat of the power is concentrated in the mid-range and gives the Taigun a fun factor that the others don’t have. You’ll enjoy winding this engine when the opportunity allows and even the smooth shifting 6-speed torque converter auto is game for a bout of sporty driving. It’s in the urban grind that the engine and gearbox combo doesn’t feel quite so rounded. The Taigun doesn’t creep forward as much as it lurches forward and this is probably down to gearbox tuning to cover the small engine’s lack of bottom-end grunt. No complaints for refinement from the three-pot engine, which actually betters most rivals’ four-cylinder units.

    Blank buttons on Taigun's centre console are an eyesore.

    Midsize SUV comparison: mileage

    There’s a Maruti in the mix, so no surprises on which is the most efficient SUV here. The Grand Vitara’s 11.6kpl city and 15.3kpl highway figures are impressive as petrol SUVs go, and are made possible by the frugal engine and the helping hand of auto stop/start, mild electric assist on hard acceleration and brake energy recuperation. The significantly pricier Grand Vitara strong hybrid is more efficient still but only makes financial sense if you have a lot of running.

    Grand Vitara gets a 360-degree camera handy but resolution isn’t great.

    Within the Seltos and Creta ranges, it’s the diesels that’ll be the best fit for high mileage buyers. We didn’t get a chance to put the Seltos featured here through our full fuel economy loop but expect economy to match the Creta 1.5 iVT’s 10.3kpl city and 13.8kpl highway numbers.

    The Elevate and Taigun delivered single-digit economy in city driving, of 8.6kpl and 8.5kpl, respectively. The economy figures improved to 13.1kpl and 12.4kpl, respectively, over our highway test loop. 

    Electronic parking brake in the Creta is a premium feature.

    Switchable idle stop/start is an efficiency-enhancing but limited use feature (because it switches the AC compressor off as well) on all but the Elevate. The Honda SUV has the smallest fuel tank at 40 litres, the Grand Vitara gets a 45-litre tank, while the Taigun, Seltos and Creta feature larger 50-litre fuel tanks.    

    Midsize SUV comparison:  ride and handling

    All these SUVs use monocoque construction, ride on 17-inch wheels and rely on MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion bar rear suspension arrangements. But while the basic ingredients are similar, the SUVs are very different in ride and handling.

    The closely related Creta and Seltos are easy to drive in town and feel neutral in their handling. The Creta has the most absorbent low-speed ride, but the updated Seltos has closed the gap in this department. High speed manners on both SUVs are good though broken patches taken at speed reveal the two Koreans as the softest of the soft roaders. Terrain modes, unique to the Hyundai and Kia, help prep the SUVs for lower grip settings but with power going solely to the front wheels there’s only so far you’ll be able to go. 

    Seltos has improved on ride comfort and remains nice in corners.

    Adventure seekers will find a good option in the Grand Vitara (and Hyryder) that can be had with all-wheel drive, albeit only with a manual gearbox. Irrespective of which version you opt for, there’s a toughness to the Grand Vitara’s build that shines through on broken surfaces and bump absorption is good, some firmness notwithstanding. Handling is tidy, but in town, the steering needs more effort than on the other models. 

    Grand Vitara is absorbent and feels surefooted at high speeds.

    The Taigun feels very European in its setup. There’s an acceptable firmness at low speeds that builds into a surefooted feel at high speeds. The tough build only adds to the confidence. Also really nice is the handling. Sure, the steering is lighter than we’d have liked but the Taigun feels pointy and changes direction with poise. 

    Taigun’s fun handling ties in well with engine’s punchy nature.

    It’s the Honda, however, that impresses most. A slick steering that’s rightly weighted at all speeds and smooth turn-in make the Elevate fun to drive on twisty roads. And then there’s the ride. While not cushy as a Creta or Seltos, the Elevate feels like a model built to take a beating when the going gets rough. The long travel suspension gobbles up the worst of the road without drama and makes the Elevate feel the most ‘SUV’ in this respect. Better road noise insulation would have elevated the experience though. 

    All models feel reassuring under hard braking, though unexpectedly, it was the models with rear drum brakes (Elevate and Taigun) that recorded shorter braking distances than the models with discs all around.  

    Elevate feels the toughest on bad roads, and handles well too.

    Six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC and hill start assist, and ISOFIX child seat mounts are safety features you’d find on all. The Seltos is the only one to get handy front parking sensors in addition to the mandatory rear sensors. It’s the Elevate that distinguishes itself here with a blind view monitor (it shows a feed of the left side blind spot on the touchscreen) and advanced driver assist systems or ADAS. The suite includes auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist (active above 72kph), and auto high beam. These camera-based features work well in clear conditions and on well-marked roads, and are a good safety net to have in our distracted times.

    Creta is pleasant in the corners; low-speed ride the cushiest.

    All models comply with the latest Indian crash test norms but are yet to be rated under the new, government-endorsed Bharat NCAP. Private body Global NCAP had formerly rated the Seltos and Creta 3 stars on crash protection, while the Taigun was rated a full 5 stars, that too under a newer, more stringent scoring protocol.

    Midsize SUV comparison: price and verdict

    The Volkswagen Taigun might be available in a more powerful 1.5 TSI guise, but there’s a sporty air about the 1.0 TSI too. The lively handling and turbocharged engine’s punchy performance will keep keen drivers happy for long. What typical buyers, however, will find hard to overlook is the fact that the VW SUV looks and feels smaller than its rivals. That the made-for-India Taigun offers a watered-down Volkswagen experience also means the premium price tag (Rs 17.59 lakh for the top-spec 1.0 TSI Topline) isn’t easy to digest.

    The Grand Vitara, on the contrary, feels like an upmarket Maruti. The package has clearly hit the spot because the midsized Maruti SUV has clocked over 1 lakh unit sales in just a year since launch. It’s got the look, the efficiency and Maruti’s backing, but the Grand Vitara is not the roomiest SUV and the mild-hybrid version feels humdrum. To experience the best of the Grand Vitara, you’ll need to opt for the pricier strong-hybrid powertrain.

    The Elevate doesn’t offer a variety of engines and gearboxes, and at a broader level, it’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of model. It’s a handsome and practical SUV whose attractive pricing makes it a level-headed choice. An absorbent suspension, peppy performance and ADAS are also up there in the Elevate’s list of highlights. The Honda SUV isn’t suited for five passengers though, and the average refinement and economy also mark it down. 

    In the final analysis, it’s the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta that come across as the best all rounders. They’re not the toughest options out there, but they are the roomiest and most refined and also serve up a pleasant driving experience. The Korean duo also score highest on the feel-good factor. Of the two, it’s the updated Seltos that’s our pick. There’s a freshness to the Kia both outside and in, and the addition of a panoramic sunroof addresses its one big miss of the past. With the Creta due for a refresh of its own in the coming months, the stage is already set for a rematch. Watch this space.  

    Also see: 
     

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