According to some sources, the roads in Africa range from “pretty good” to “impassible,” part of which depends on what vehicle you drive. A decent sedan is enough to handle all the “pretty good” roads in the city and suburbs, the occasional pothole, or even some of the rougher patches in undeveloped areas. Go any further, and you need a vehicle with a little more ground clearance, bigger tires, maybe all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD), and an engine to match.
Before you quickly jump into the first full-size SUV you can get your hands on, you should be aware that these things use a lot of fuel and take up a lot of space. Of course, if you spend the majority of your time on roads that consist of more hard-packed dirt and mud than pavement, a full-size SUV may be your only option. On the other hand, a properly -equipped crossover SUV might be the perfect companion for around town or the occasional excursion to less-traveled territories.
Interestingly, some of today’s crossover SUVs have become just about as capable as a comparable sedan, as they are often equipped with front-wheel drive (FWD) and tires that are made for fuel economy. They do have better ground clearance, which helps in some situations, but you have to look hard for an AWD option if you need to do anything out-of-town. If you’re in the market for a crossover SUV, and you need more than the typical hatchback or sedan, then you will do well to take a look at some of the best-selling crossover SUVs in Africa.
The Ford EcoSport is probably the smallest crossover SUV on the market, somewhat bigger than a hatchback and a little taller than a sedan, but smaller than most crossover SUVs on the market today. What makes it popular is its small price, which matches its small footprint. Despite its size, it’s surprisingly roomy for taller front passengers, but no so much for tall rear passengers. Young families have found the EcoSport versatile for family transport, as smaller persons fit well in the back. If you need to carry anything as large as a washing machine, you can fold down the rear seats and open up the rear. The interior is quiet and comfortable, and the engine and transmission options make the EcoSport manageable and fuel-efficient, but not necessarily zippy.
Perhaps the only fault of the Ford EcoSport is there is no AWD option. Perhaps described best as a tall Ford Fiesta, the EcoSport is a purely urban crossover SUV, so steer clear if yur driving habits include off-road excursions. Maybe future iterations of the EcoSport will come with an AWD option?
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Toyota Fortuner is the largest vehicle that’s made the best-selling crossover SUV list. In some ways, it could be the exact opposite of the Ford EcoSport, featuring seating for up to seven, a range of engines, from economical to powerful, manual and automatic transmission options, as well as an AWD option.
The Toyota Fortuner is classy, features leather seating, power windows and lock, and plenty of entertainment gadgets to keep passengers comfortable. At the same time, the Fortuner is truly off-road capable. It won’t win any mud-bogging competitions, but it has plenty of ground-clearance and grunt to make sure you can get to your destination, even if there is less than a road to get you there.
Sized a bit smaller than the Toyota Fortuner and a bit bigger than the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan X-Trail has room for five and one of the bigger cargo spaces in the segment. The X-Trail’s powerful motor, combined with higher ground clearance and a part-time four-wheel drive (4WD) option make it exceptionally capable off-road. You will pay for these options at the fuel pump, however, since the X-Trail is slightly more thirsty than the other crossover SUVs in this listing, especially the EcoSport and RAV4.
The Nissan X-Trail is a fairly suitable off-road-capable crossover SUV, but is lacking in the on-road-finesse that some drivers desire. There isn’t much in the way of sound-deadening material, and the ride is somewhat truck-like, which may scare some people away.
Practically inventing the segment, the Toyota RAV4 first appeared on the market in 1996, and is available in both two- and four-door versions, as well as with FWD and AWD options. The RAV4 is quite small and maneuverable, which makes it a great crossover SUV for about town, and is quite thrifty when it comes to fuel consumption. There is seating for five, but is best-suited for four passengers. The AWD option could have made the Toyota RAV4 fairly off-road-capable, but the lower ground clearance and lack of engine power limits this crossover SUV to the lighter stuff.
Perhaps the best reason to buy the RAV4 is because it is well balanced in all the areas that count, from basic off-road ability to around-town fuel economy, as well as basic cargo space and creature comforts for everyone.
Based off the same chassis as the Honda Civic, the Honda CR-V is a comfortable and efficient crossover SUV for up to five passengers. Thanks to its conventional suspension, it offers a more car-like ride than the other vehicles on this list. The CR-V is equipped with the typical crossover SUV creature comforts, including power locks and windows, premium sound, climate control, and safety systems.
As comfortable as the Honda CR-V is, the only thing it might be missing is power. It has the ground clearance for the occasional run off the pavement and, even equipped with AWD, doesn’t has the power to back it up. You’ll find the CR-V capable enough around town, but give yourself plenty of space on the highway, as you may find it lacking when it comes to passing power.