2020 Kia Stonic vs. the competition: Your other entry-level crossover options
Kia aims to make a splash in the entry-level SUV market with the Stonic, even proudly dubbing the new model as a “game changer” during its release late last year. Indeed, looking at the price range alone— which is waaay below PHP1 million—is enough to convince many first-time car buyers to give the new crossover more than a second look.
The all-new Stonic is equipped with a 1.4 dual CVVT engine paired with either a six-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The engine has two different power outputs depending on transmission—99hp for the automatic and 94hp for the manual. Torque remains the same for both, at 132Nm.
Inside, the Stonic is filled to the brim with features designed to uphold “both style and comfort,” according to the brand. A focus on ergonomics is apparent all throughout, as practically every function is just one press away, thanks to the easy-to-reach-and-tweak center dash controls and smartly placed buttons. Other nifty interior features include remote keyless entry, USB and 12V power outlets, a 3.5-inch TFT LCD multi-function instrument panel, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay connectivity. There’s no leather in sight, but although fabric is the only upholstery option, the material is textured with an upscale feel.
In case you want to explore other entry-level SUVs in the market apart from the Kia Stonic, here are some of your best alternatives.
One good thing about the Vitara is that Suzuki managed to keep its crossover affordable despite it being a popular nameplate and decent seller. Quite the feat, considering its contemporaries such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V have moved on to bigger and better things. Granted, the Vitara is priced higher than the Stonic, making it an option for those with money to spare.
The latest version, which launched in November 2019, is a completely-built-up unit from Magyar Suzuki Corporation in Hungary. Propelled by a 1.6-liter engine that delivers 115hp and 156Nm of torque, this European-made crossover is available in two variants, both with 6-speed automatic transmission.
A unibody construction helps maximize interior space, especially when compared to the preceding model. A two-tone paint finish further gives the model an elevated European feel. Buyers also get to enjoy a panoramic sunroof, which reportedly has the biggest opening area in its class.
The small SUV's practical exterior extends to its interiors, delivering straightforward and user-friendly features that aren't confusing and distracting to operate. Both GL Plus and GLX variants come with a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports Bluetooth, USB, Aux, and Android connectivity, but no Apple CarPlay though. Meanwhile, the higher GLX grade radiates more upscale touch, enhanced by plush dark theme, with the leather seats matched with suede highlights for added elegance.
Beneath the hood of the Philippine-assembled Honda BR-V lies a 1.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine that puts out 118hp and 145Nm of torque. The engine’s standard i-VTEC technology is further enhanced by the addition of Lift Electronic Control, which improves engine performance at low and partial throttle. An Earth Dreams Technology Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is the BR-V’s only gearbox option.
Inside, the BR-V boasts ample headroom, legroom and shoulder room in all three rows for seven people in all. Speaking of three rows, access to the third one is easy, thanks to 60:40 sliding and reclining seats in the second row as well as the 50:50 reclining function in the last row. And you also don’t have to worry about the temperature comfort of the rearmost passengers, as they have their separate roof-mounted air conditioner along with their own manual control.
As for creature comforts, the Honda BR-V hosts steering wheel mounted audio controls, front and rear center armrests, two USB inputs, adjustable steering wheel, paddle shifters, automatic climate control system, and a 7-inch digital touchscreen display, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity, to name but a few.
Sister companies Kia and Hyundai brought in an entry level crossover last year—the Stonic for the former, and the Venue for the latter. While the Stonic goes for the modern, the Hyundai Venue strikes for the traditional, with bulging proportions reminiscent of some mid-century classics.
Powering the new Hyundai Venue is a Gamma 1.6-liter Multi-point Injection (MPI) gasoline engine that dishes out 127hp and 151Nm of torque. Paired to a 6-speed transmission, the Venue’s powertrain boasts a drive mode system complete with traction control.
Inside the Venue, a T-shaped dashboard design greets occupants and smack dab in the middle of the dash is an 8-inch audio infotainment system that’s compatible with both Apple and Android systems, complete with Bluetooth and USB connectivity while also doubling as a rearview camera when the vehicle is in reverse. Placed at the middle of the console is a three-knob air-conditioning system to ensure that room temperature is within the occupants’ comfort levels. The steering wheel and gear shift knob is upholstered in leather inside the GLS trim. There’s also a Smart Entry system to add further convenience.
Some circles claim that the Kia Stonic was brought in to directly compete with the MG ZS. This Chinese-made model from the British car brand comes in four variants: Style MT, Style AT, Style Plus, and Alpha AT. They all come powered by a 1.5-liter, inline-four, DOHC 16-valve, DVVT engine that churns out 112hp and 150Nm of torque. The engines come with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
The ZS' full grille and front creases add a touch of regal bearing to its "Emotional Dynamism" design. Though the 90-degree grille angle is obviously borrowed, it does help the ZS stand out from the rest of the pack, Mazdas notwithstanding.
Inside is where the affordability becomes obvious. The surfaces look cheap, and so does the infotainment system. The overall design is also likely to incite a lot of ‘meh’ reactions. Safety kit includes anti-lock braking system with brake assist, central locking, airbags and traction control.
For those who want to go cheaper, there’s the Tiggo 2 from Chinese carmaker Chery. As the smallest model in the Tiggo family. Its power comes from a 1.5-liter engine that produces 106hp and 135Nm of torque that’s mated to either a 4-speed auto gearbox with cruise control or a standard 5-speed manual. Despite the price range, the infotainment system surprisingly comes with Apple and Android compatibility, and its standard safety features include traction control, hill assist, stability control, and emergency brake assist, among others. All of these give the rest of the models here a run for their money, so for those who can get over the fact that Chery used to build inferior cars, the Tiggo 2 offers a strong selling proposition.
Photos from Kia, Honda, Suzuki, Hyundai, MG, Chery