You need more than just Bluetooth to be a high-tech mid-size SUV in the Australian market
The ability to take and make hands-free phone calls, charge a phone, access audio files and, of course, listen to the radio is expected from all new vehicles today. However, we’re also now seeing sophisticated technology trickling down from high-end luxury cars to mainstream models like the 14 contenders for carsales’ Best Mid-Size SUV 2022. Large touch-screens with gesture control, wireless phone charging and wireless smartphone mirroring are just a few examples you can now see in this super-competitive segment. But will the kids get a charging port in the back? Will the vehicle have inbuilt sat-nav for those times you can’t rely on cellular connection? Let’s find out…
The automotive industry has quickly adapted technology such as Bluetooth audio and phone streaming and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
These features have been standard equipment for some years even among the cheapest new vehicles available in Australia.
Yet when you have around $50,000 to splurge on a new medium SUV, you’ll expect a lot more than these simple tech ingredients.
Just how much more varies greatly among the 14 contenders for carsales’ Best Mid-Size SUV 2022.
While all models on test have smartphone mirroring that allows you to integrate your phone navigation, the Haval H6 is a notable exception by offering only Apple CarPlay connectivity; Android Auto is unavailable.
Going a step further, wireless phone app mirroring is offered only on the Skoda Karoq and Mitsubishi Outlander (the latter with CarPlay only).
All models on test have at least two USB ports, but only the Haval, Mitsubishi, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan offer the faster charge rate afforded by their USB-C ports rather than just the USB-A ports of the others.
It’s also a relatively even split when it comes to wireless phone charging facility for compatible phones; the models to miss out are the Haval, Skoda, MG HS, Nissan X-TRAIL, Renault Koleos and Subaru Forester.
Beyond the phone, having an embedded sat-nav system is useful on the occasions that mobile signal is unavailable. The only downside of such integrated systems is that updates eventually cease to be available, but that’s usually many years down the track.
In this group, just the Haval H6 and Skoda Karoq do not have sat-nav as standard. It’s not available on the Haval, and as we saw in the safety section, Skoda has sought to include the feature in its optional equipment list.
The Honda CR-V uses Garmin software while the Subaru Forester uses Tom Tom; the rest are not specified, although in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Renault Koleos, map updates are noted as being available via SD card downloads.
The Volkswagen’s sat-nav also offers 2D or 3D map views, while Kia offers 10 years of free traffic/map updates with Sportage.
Of those that have standard sat-nav, traffic sign recognition is offered in all but the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan. Traffic alerts are included for the sat-nav systems in all but the Mazda CX-5, MG HS, Renault Koleos and the Tiguan.
Digital radio is standard on all but the Haval H6, MG HS and Skoda Karoq, although Skoda Australia says the latter will become available in the third quarter of 2022.
The CX-5 features internet radio integration for Aha and Stitcher, while only the Tiguan’s infotainment system has gesture control for browsing through menus.
The Hyundai and Kia both have ‘Sounds of Nature’ ambient music tracks in their infotainment hard drive, while the Forester is the only SUV here with a CD player – a nod to outgoing tech, but nonetheless still appreciated by many owners.
Only the Haval, Honda, MG, Skoda and Volkswagen lack a premium, branded sound system.
The Ford Escape boasts a Bang & Olufsen system, while the Tucson, CX-5, Outlander, X-TRAIL and Koleos have Bose systems, the Sportage and Forester have a Harman Kardon set-up and the RAV4 has a JBL audio unit on board.
Best Mid-Size SUV 2022 contenders:Ford Escape Vignale AWDHaval H6 Ultra AWDHonda CR-V VTi LXHyundai Tucson Highlander AWDKia Sportage GT-LineMazda CX-5 AkeraMG HS Essence XMitsubishi Outlander Exceed TourerNissan X-TRAIL TiRenault Koleos Intens AWDSkoda Karoq 140 TSI SportlineSubaru Forester 2.5i-SToyota RAV4 Edge
Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI Elegance