Storage Capacity Small SUV's

I tripped over this article comparing the cargo capacity of various of the smaller SUV’s, the category including Mazda CX-5, Honda CRV, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4. It puts carrying capacity into more practical terms to actually figure out how much you can carry than overall cu ft. Given that kayaking trips involve space hogging gear as well as regular luggage, I thought I would share it. Also note the conversation about the Toyota RAV4. The 2019 revision gives it roof rails that are more similar to the well liked ones on the Subaru Forester and a less arched roof line. It also negatively impacted the cargo space in the prior design, changing it from above the norm to the middle of the pack for luggage.

Good article Celia. I think the devil is still in the details.

My wife and I wanted a flat floor with rear seats folded down. That eliminates more than half the vehicles in the article. We got a CRV partly because it has way more interior volume than most and has a flat load floor which can’t be seen in the pictures because they have the rear shelf in the low position, not in the higher flat floor position. The CRV has ten inches more rear seat legroom than our 4-Runner!

The new RAV4 does have real roof rails but only on the Adventure model which starts at $33,000. That vehicle comes with 19 inch wheels which look cool but are the last thing you want off-road where you may pop a tire or damage a wheel. If you bump a curb you’ll likely scrape the rim. When I worked for Ford and did one year leases they charged an extra lease fee for optional bigger wheels and low profile tires due to all the damage Ford had to pay for. In the previous gen RAV4 the Sport model had big wheels and unique suspension tuning and the ride sucked compared to the other models.

I think the flush roof rails are common since they minimize the impact to highway fuel economy. What aggravates me is that vehicles with flush rails have the potential to make awesome boat carriers but almost every manufacturer gives you only one set of mounting points with a short front to rear span.

There are things about the newer SUVs that are much more important than cargo space. The engine and the rest of the drive train and the vehicle guarantee is a very big deal. If you don’t need an all wheel drive, then stick with a 2 wheel drive. There is a whole lot less to go bad and your fuel mileage is better with just 2 wheel drive. Some of the new rigs are offering turbo charged engines and if you’re not racing, the turbo charger is just another thing to go bad.

I just bought my wife a new Hyundai Tucson last summer and we got the standard engine, two wheel drive with regular 6-speed automatic and it has all the zip anyone would need and the bonus is that it gets 40+ miles per gallon on the highway. The drive train is guaranteed for 10 years, or 100,000 miles. It’s also bumper to bumper for 5 years, or 60,000 miles. One dealer that I wish we could have done business with guarantees the drive train for life, but they couldn’t get the model we wanted.

I had to search dealership inventories in two states before I found what we were looking for. Most dealerships want to sell you the top of the line, or at least a vehicle that’s loaded with stuff you will seldom use and don’t need. Not that the one we got was elstripo.; it’s got more gadgetry than either of us will ever learn to use.

If cargo space is your top priority, my suggestion is to look at a midsized pickup like a Toyota Tacoma–which will probably outlast all of us.

TomL - I have the 2018 Adventure model with 18 inch wheels and black rims and rails. The rims are scraped a lot on the edges from curbs. If this car was going to be a low mileage turnover I would have to get them redone. But that is not my life. I dislike the 19 inch wheels on the cost of tires alone. In the hybrid Rav4’s, it is and has been pretty much impossible to the top of the line package w/o 19 inch wheels. Has made it easy to not get charmed by the Limited package.

Magooch - If you are a musician, which I am,. the cargo space has to be heated for the sake of the instruments. Cellos especially chew up some room when I am traveling to rehearsal with one of my fellow players. Were it not for that, the boxy loading of a smaller truck with a decent cab would have gotten my dollars a long time ago. I agree with you about the features in the newer SUV’s, that is the reason I changed from my prior car at a much earlier mileage point than I have ever in my life turned one over. The prior car was a 2014 that I got certified used. The 2018 had a gigantic jump in safety features and ease of driving stuff, like 180 degree rear camera for blind spots, collision avoidance and dynamic cruise control from the 2014. The Adventure model also had a couple of things that were more practical like weathertex mats, for which I will forgive Toyota the silly black coated area on the hood.

My favorite idea of a car would be a station wagon like the old Ford Taurus with the newer safety features. But car makers decided we not longer want that.

Well Celia the 2018 may be a sweet spot for RAV4’s. Toyota owned the small SUV segment with the most sales but the 2019 gets mixed reviews even though they made so many improvements like a new platform, more powerful engine and 8-speed automatic. Our CRV and 4-Runner are both base (least expensive) models and both have 17 inch wheels. I might have gone for a 4-cylinder Tacoma instead of the CRV but we needed a vehicle that my wife’s 91 year old father could get in and out of.

I think all the major brands have small SUV’s that I’d be happy to own and live with.

@TomL The non-Adventure versions of the RAV4’s in the middle (XLX) and the top (Limited) package also have roof rails. For reasons I don’t understand Toyota tends to use photos of the RAV4’s that lack the rails they all have on the lot. Mysteries of…

I have a 2009 RAV4 with 150K on it. It’s been a great boat hauler and has plenty of storage space. I’m in the market for a new vehicle, but my issue is that everything on the RAV4 still works. Engine runs like new. I’ve had some front end work done, but other than that, the vehicle has been great. I’ve done a good bit of research on small SUV’s and the two that seem to rise to the top this year is the Mazda CX5 and the Honda CRV. My next vehicle will likely be the Honda.

@Andy_Szymczak I have been very happy with these two Toyotas on being trouble free. And they are a comfortable ride, for me anyway. Mazda and Honda both solid citizens. Next choice depends on whether I have stuff like warranty and service miles left on this Toyota when I am ready to change cars and what is happening with the dealerships around me. The Mazda CX5 is a better vehicle than the quality of the nearest dealership for Mazda, unless they have changed a lot. And the most convenient Honda dealership is also one that I walked out of after trying to get response from the salesmen (meant literally, not a female in the place). Suffice to say that walking in as a single female to buy a car can still be a pretty frustrating experience. My Toyotas partly happened based on whether I walked in and got respect from any sales person, and if they had women on the sales floor. My regret was that I had decided against a Subaru, because on nearness and the other criteria that was the best dealership I hit.

Celia - I stand corrected. I don’t really like the Toyota website and it was too difficult to compare the content of the different trims.

Andy, I am a Mazda lover and have leased or owned a bunch of them and I worked with them when they were partially owned by Ford. They are 100% built in Japan and the build quality is superb. In recent magazine articles the CX5 was assessed as better than the Audi Q3 and the Mazda is considered a “near luxury” vehicle. They also offer a turbo if you want the effortless power option. That said they are relatively small and the rear seats don’t fold flat and my wife didn’t like it so not a good idea for me. I also thought the steering was a little odd and I’m fanatical about that. Mazda also has less experience with American winter driving conditions than other brands so it may have sub-par performance (but maybe pertly adequate) unless you use snow tires in the winter.

I have the base CRV with 2.4L 4- cylinder. It’s an award winning engine and I am a former engine engineer. But the base model is a bit noisy…Honda is getting too wise about taking away noise reduction content to give you more reasons to buy higher trim levels. Anything but the base CRV comes with a 1.5L turbo…and more sound insulation. That vehicle wins just about all comparison tests in the magazines…it has best in class acceleration AND best in class fuel economy. BUT - the Honda 1.5L turbo is experiencing oil dilution problems meaning that some vehicles are getting gas into the oil. It’s a high pressure turbo running boost pressures of 16.5 psi which is basically what Formula 1 cars ran a couple decades ago. It’s a very unusual “miss” for Honda since they are engine design wizards. You might overcome it by more frequent oil changes and I also read where they may have a real permanent fix by 2020. So you might read more on the CRV forums and ask some pointed questions to your dealer. It’s a bit of a shame since the little turbo engine really does provide an effortless feeling that is hard not to love. The Honda also has a nice stiff platform and the handing is great. The Honda also has excellent brakes and I think it has the shortest stopping distance in it’s class.

Sorry you had that experience, Celia – I can relate. In fact, one of the 3 reasons I bought the Mazda CX5 four years ago ( the first two being that my obsessive car freak friend highly recommended the engine and that I could get it with a 6-speed manual transmission) was that, after walking out of both a Kia and a Hyundai/Subaru dealer in disgust after being treated dismissively or completely ignored by male sales agents, I walked into the new local Mazda dealer and was immediately catered to by a very technically adept young female who got me the exact model I wanted within an hour and for a pretty good deal. They’ve turned out to be very good for service too, though the car has only needed basic maintenance and a couple of minor recall tweaks over the 39K miles I have put on it.

But I know how not having a good dealer nearby does narrow one’s choices. I loved my Volvo when I lived in Grand Rapids and had a terrific dealer less than a mile from my house. But when I moved back to Pittsburgh all of the foreign car dealers had moved out of the county due to the additional sales tax here – I was a congested hour’s drive into the boondocks from the only two Volvo dealers in SW PA and neither had a great rep for service. Then the one indie Volvo garage owner I relied on retired – had to sell the car.

Was kind of bummed to find out that they no longer offer the CX5 in a manual and have converted the 6-speed to a clutch-less “convertible” stick (with a drop in the MPG.)