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35 lakh budget for comfortable, reliable & premium automatic SUV / MPV

The Toyota Innova Hycross and Hyundai Tucson are the two main cars that we have considered / test-driven until now.

BHPian ron178 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I always thought I knew the car scene well enough to at least be able to make a recommendation if someone I knew had to buy a car. But now that it's my own family, I realised how misguided I was.

Some context: I'm a teenager; this is obviously not my car. But as a family member, I am expected to be actively involved in the decision and we could really use some help.

The car we're replacing is a 2009 Fortuner 4x4 manual - most likely. It might also be a 2013 3-series diesel which is burning holes in my father's pocket. The point is, both of them are getting expensive to maintain and impractical to own in general, and we know one of them has to go. Logic dictates we decide what car to sell first, then what to buy, but it's a lot more complicated than that, and emotion and badge snobbery come into play more than you'd expect. But I digress. That part will, hopefully, be settled internally soon.

What we really need help with is narrowing down on a replacement for when we sell the… whatever it is.

What we know is:

  • It has to be a premium SUV (or MPV) with a budget of ~INR 35L, stretchable if it's worth it.
  • It should preferably have only two rows and comfortably seat up to five, although we are willing to make an exception for a third row if the car is otherwise good enough.
  • The car should be reliable and easy on the pocket in the long term - we already had a bad experience with the F30 and will still be left with an Octavia with the DQ200, so we don't want to take more risks.
  • Flex fuel. No, no, that does not mean ethanol. That means we are unable to decide on a fuel type. BEVs are out of the picture, and until recently I thought we were considering only petrols. But suddenly some diesels have entered the picture. I'm not sure that's a good idea, but my father seems okay with them.
  • Should drive well. Not talking track-worthy levels, but my parents' daily drives have been 170+ hp sedans, this should not be much of a downgrade.
  • Automatic gearbox. Won't budge about that.

Here is what we have considered and/or test driven until now, in no particular order:

Toyota Hycross:

Test variant: Toyota INNOVA HYCROSS 'ZX(O)', hybrid

Positives:

  • Fuel economy
  • Drives well
  • Very well-equipped on paper
  • Toyota ownership experience and loyalty benefits

Negatives:

  • Rear seat comfort underwhelming for the size. Thigh support as bad as Fortuner, couldn't feel my bottom after a road trip in a friend's car and I would have to amputate my feet to use the ottomans.
  • Third row is not really needed anymore. May be used occasionally at best, and adds unnecessary length.
  • Some missing features eg. manual passenger seat will not be appreciated.
  • Emergency lane keeping a little too intrusive (but TSS suite can be dropped as an independent option).
  • Waiting period

Hyundai Tucson:

Test variant: Hyundai TUCSON 'Signature', 2L Diesel 4WD

Positives:

  • Screams premium, inside out
  • Has every feature one could ask for, even the little things
  • The latest in tech and safety. Hyundai SmartSense ADAS suite tuned well
  • Comfortable ride
  • Diesel drives well. Good handling and takes corners remarkably well for an SUV

Negatives:

  • Petrol not available for test drive and reviews claim mediocre performance
  • Both engines quite thirsty. Diesel, which is less so, might not be the best idea in 2023.
  • It's a CKD. Will Hyundai's service network live up to its name?
  • "There is no way we are getting a Hyundai" - sister, c. yesterday

That actually completes our shortlist.

Here are some other options we have considered, and some of them were driven late last year, although they're quite a bit smaller than what we're looking for. This was more a fun activity for me during a long vacation than a serious hunt for our next car.

  • The Grand Vitara test-drive was a nice experience in quite an impressive car. Looks larger than direct rivals. The onboard tech was modern. But the interiors were plasticky, rear seat was dark and the boot too small. Lastly, my mum and sister did not want a Maruti.
  • Not test-driven the Mahindra XUV700 yet, but it is interesting to consider. Latest in tech and safety. Interiors appear well-designed. Same length issue as Hycross and we would get the five-seater so extra length would be even harder to justify. My pet peeve is the lap-belt in the rear centre (which I hope changes after Australian exports begin on Thursday). And most importantly 3 out of 4 members will just not have a Mahindra.
  • "New" Fortuner has been in discussion for years. Not test-driven but have experienced it on multiple occasions. Way over budget with no significant advantage that helps our use case. Suspension still firm and rear seat average. Due for an update within a couple of years. Way too large.
  • Škoda Kodiaq has DSG. Would mean more Škoda service. Would be stuck with 3 VAGs. Expensive, and third row is unnecessary.
  • Tata Harrier: Niggles hard to ignore. Problematic local service network. Badge. Can't help but wonder how bad exactly ODB64 crashworthiness will turn out.
  • Jeep Meridian: word of mouth suggests bad service experience with local Jeep ASC. Diesel only. Third row not required. Reviews say not very comfortable or refined which is not what we want.
  • Volkswagen Tiguan: DSG. Old. Classy, but somewhat bland. Due for an update soon. Would be stuck with 3 VAGs.

In short, what I think we are looking for is something that can best mimic what an RAV4, CR-V or CX-30 would offer.

I understand the requirements are quite vague and I probably haven't supplied enough information for members to help with. What I would appreciate most is help with the subjective part based on experience, i.e., which of the requirements are worth compromising on? I was also wondering if there are any options we've simply forgotten about.

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

Your best bet is the Innova Hycross. It's big, spacious, fuel-efficient, has sorted road manners and is lovely to drive for an MPV. The waiting period can be made tolerable if you hold the Fortuner / BMW for a little more time.

Second choice = either the Tucson or the Ioniq 5. Suggesting the Ioniq 5 since you said you are open to stretching the budget if it's worth it… trust me, it is. Take your family for a nice TD of the Ioniq 5 and you'll be a convert. It's a "WOW" car, the best EV on sale in India, has enough range for highway trips and will nicely complete your garage.

Also, take a long spin of the XUV700 Petrol AT & Diesel AT.

Here's what BHPian Auto spawn had to say about the matter:

Unless you’ve pre-booked the Hycross and you’re in the line, it’ll be difficult to get your hands on one for up to a year!

Looks like the Tucson will fit all your requirements. It’s premium and has all the must-have modern features including ADAS. The performance of the diesel is good too. They’re even offering some attractively priced maintenance packages.

Since you’re not sure about going ahead with diesel, how about going the pre-owned route with a lovely Lexus, say maybe the NX 300h?

Here's what BHPian bijims had to say about the matter:

All your requirements are best fulfilled with the Tucson, it's a premium car with an attractive exterior and premium interior, the car is loaded with all the features you could ask for and comes with an excellent engine and gearbox combo in the diesel guise. The only issue that may bother you is the "not-so-premium nameplate", but if you can live with that, you can get a car that fulfils most of your needs around your budget.

The Signature 2L 4WD AT Diesel is the top-of-the-line model and has all the bells and whistles along with 4WD as well, you couldn't go wrong with it.

Else, if you are going for the Hycross, be reminded that Maruti will soon be launching its twin the Engage, so considering the high wait times for the Hycross Hybrid, you may consider getting a booking of the Engage as well once it launches in a month or so, but then it will still pose nameplate issues as it is a Maruti.

Another option worth considering is the MG Gloster but it's an MG, a Chinese car.

Considering your requirements, you could also go for a used German car as a potential replacement for your 3-series, Germans tend to depreciate quite quickly, so you may be able to get good examples of hardly 3–4-year-old Audis, BMWs, Mercedes etc. in your budget.

Hope it helps!

Here's what BHPian yedukrishnan199 had to say about the matter:

I find your situation relatable to that of my cousin, who has an Innova Crysta and a few luxury Germans in his garage, after feeling the need for a new car, I insisted he try out the XUV700 AX7 AWD Luxury Pack which costs around 35 lakhs, Being a Mahindra, he was very reluctant at first, but once he had a couple of test drives, he was impressed and bought the car home in a weeks' time thanks to a few cancellations, the dealer could arrange it in quite short notice, now for quite a few of his drives, he takes out the XUV700, the features, look and size are definitely worth the price and he feels the money was well spent, so I would definitely recommend the XUV700 as a car worth considering.

Now, on the Hycross, the same cousin, bought a Hycross too, this year as a replacement for his Innova and it's definitely more comfortable and much more frugal due to the Hybrid system, it's definitely a car worth considering if you love the rock-solid reliability that Toyota offers.

The Tucson is from a different league, and if you really want to go premium, nothing can match the finesse offered by the Tucson, which is truly an international model.

Now, if you are looking at EVs, the Ioniq 5 is perhaps the only EV, I would recommend in the current scenario, as regards the perfect match of price, range and practicality.

So, to conclude, if you love the Toyota brand and the reliability and mileage offered by the Hycrooss, it's definitely worth it, else if you are willing to go for a Hyundai, the Tucson and Ioniq 5 are international models worth considering, else if you look for a VFM car that can do it all, the XUV700 would be a good pick.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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