By Mark Borlace
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Our car comparison series pits some of the most popular vehicles on the used-car market against one another to help find the perfect fit for you. This time around, we’re weighing up 4 mid-sized SUVs built in 2013, priced around $15,000.
Mid-sized SUVs offer the best of both worlds, with more space and off-road capability than regular sedans, but without the inconvenient proportions of their larger brethren.
Our quartet of contenders are all 4WDs with petrol engines. 6 years ago, they were some of the most popular cars on the market. Today you can pick them up for around half the price they cost when new.
Kia Sportage SLi 2013: The best all-round package with great value, an attractive design and decent running costs.
Mitsubishi ASX Aspire 2013: Great value, and a proven design that’s still the basis of the current ASX, 6 years on.
Subaru Forester 2.0i 2013: The quintessential all-purpose SUV that was one of the first of its class.
Hyundai iX35 Elite 2013: Similar to the Kia for value and performance.
|Specs||Subaru Forester 2.0i||Hyundai iX35 Elite||Mitsubishi ASX Aspire||Kia Sportage SLi|
|Used price||$10,100 to $13,900||$12,800 to $16,800||$12,700 to $16,700||$11,800 to $15,800|
|Price when new||$30,990||$35,190||$34,990||$32,990|
|Engine||2.0L petrol||2.4L petrol||2.0L petrol||2.4L petrol|
|Transmission||6-speed manual||6-speed auto||CVT auto||6-speed auto|
The Kia Sportage and the Mitsubishi ASX are easier on the wallet, being by far the cheapest to run and repair. When new, all contenders except the Subaru Forester had long warranties that may still be in place today.
Ergonomically, they are well-designed with high seats that are easy to reach. From the driver’s seat, all contenders offer good visibility for parking and checking traffic. These attributes have made them popular with older drivers who may have difficulty living with lower slung sedans.
Subaru has been producing mid-sized SUVs for decades. Benefitting from its long pedigree, the Forester’s performance – both on and off road – is better than any of the others. It’s also quieter and smoother.
All vehicles in our comparison have impeccable five-star ANCAP ratings and real-world used-car safety ratings of 5 stars.
As it requires more frequent servicing, the Forester’s cost to run and repair is the dearest.
Unfortunately, the Forester is also affected by the Takata airbag recall. You can check if the example you’re interested in buying is affected at ismyairbagsafe.com.au.
Being heavy SUVs, none of our bunch were that flash on fuel consumption. The Mitsubishi ASX is not as bad as the other 3, but its smaller engine means performance is compromised.
According to the guys on the spanners, all 4 mid-sized SUVs are relatively trouble free. That being said, the ASX has a CVT transmission which can suffer from delays when engaging drive or reverse.
There have been reports of high oil usage in Foresters with earlier 2-litre engines. Check for a full dealer service history, as this issue could have been rectified under warranty.
The value package
All our contenders are now half the price they were when new. The Forester, which is the cheapest of the group, features class-leading safety, while the Mitsubishi ASX offers good all-round value. Interestingly, the ASX’s basic design hasn’t changed since 2013, proving it’s a tried and tested model.
All of our SUVs (except the Forester) had long warranties, so any major issues should have been rectified during the coverage period.
The Kia Sportage and the Hyundai iX35 have a better level of standard features than the others and include creature comforts like dualzone air conditioning. If we had to pick a winner, we’d go with the Kia Sportage as it’s the best all-round value package.
The Mitsubishi ASX has a CVT transmission, which for the uninitiated can sound and feel quite different to a normal transmission. When you drive a car with a CVT, the engine revs more than you would expect on take-off and when overtaking. Though it’s nothing to fear, this noise can be disconcerting for some.
Although they all have the title of SUV, our competitors vary in off-road capability. The Forester is well and truly ahead of the others in this area. Its higher ground clearance and proven symmetrical all-wheel-drive system can deliver off-road performance while still being very car-like when handling on bitumen.
The others are really only designed for occasional sand and mud driving, but – if you do go off-road – the Kia Sportage and Hyundai iX35 have hill-descent to assist with tricky downhill terrain.
The final word
If you’re going to include off-road capability in your list of used car must-haves, the Subaru Forester is the pick for you. If bang for your buck is a priority, you can’t go past the ASX with its tried and tested design and affordable running costs.
If you only need a vehicle with a high seat and good visibility, either of the other two will fit the bill well.