The performance crossover segment is growing, but which is the best one for your money?
A TFLcar viewer sent in an interesting question asking about a range of performance crossovers. Now, whether we prefer it or not, this is a segment that has been growing in recent years. Players like Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have been here for awhile now. Mainstream automakers like Ford are starting to jump on the bandwagon as well, with the Edge ST. As traditional sedans and hatchbacks are fewer and farther between, crossovers have been taking off.
In this particular instance, Sean is asking which would be the best option for his wife, who currently drives a 2002 BMW X5 and a modified 2015 Subaru WRX:
My wife wants a Macan S, and I was looking at the older Audi SQ5 or the newer Acura RDX A-Spec. We are also considering the Ford Edge ST.
She likes a sporty driving vehicle and is going from a slightly modified 2015 WRX to an SUV that is replacing her 2002 X5 4.6is that she is also driving. Which of the 4 do you guys like best? The Macan S, 2019 RDX, Edge ST, or 2016 SQ5?
To my mind, the answer to this question really needs a bit more information to flesh out. Sean later shared that he and his wife are looking to spend less than $60,000. His wife’s primary concern is performance, but it needs a few choice options. Whichever crossover she drives needs a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats and sporty handling – something that’s not just fast in a straight line.
Considering the options
Fortunately, a $60,000 budget opens you up to a wide range of compact crossovers. The new Porsche Macan S and Audi SQ5 are near the top end of that spectrum, while the Acura RDX A-Spec and Ford Edge ST are much more affordable. So, let’s take each option on Sean’s list and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
New: 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec
The brand new 2019 Acura RDX A-Spec kicks off at $46,495 with all-wheel drive. For that, you get a competent handling crossover with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, which shifts quickly and smoothly. The push-button transmission is a bit annoying to operate, but if that doesn’t bother you, the RDX has a well executed interior.
The $3,000 A-Spec package also packs in heated and ventilated seats, as well as sporty appearance elements inside and out. That 2.0-liter turbo engine pulls the RDX along nicely without a lot of turbo lag. However, you still notice a step down in performance from a WRX, or indeed a BMW X5 4.6is, which packs a 4.6-liter V8.
The RDX A-Spec is probably the most athletic-looking crossover of the bunch, and you get pretty much everything you want for the money. If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, there’s also the Advance Package, which adds a head-up display and adaptive damping.
New: 2019 Ford Edge ST
The 2019 Ford Edge ST is the newest contender to the performance crossover game. And it has some serious performance chops as well. You get 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It starts at $43,350 including destination as well – which is way under your $60,000 budget.
You can add more equipment to that with Equipment Group 401A, which adds navigation, heated and cooled seats (check that off the list), Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist and a lot more. Throw in the $2,695 ST Performance Brake Package and even the $495 Cold Weather Package with a heated steering wheel, and you’re still under budget. All in, the Edge ST comes out to $52,125 (minus incentives). Easily the biggest bang for your buck.
New(ish): 2018 Porsche Macan S
Here’s the thing about the Porsche Macan: there’s a new one coming. In fact, it just debuted at the Paris Motor Show. On that basis, it might be worth the wait if you want the latest and greatest.
Right now, we have the current Macan S to configure, which starts at $56,450. Not a lot of wiggle room left in the budget here. Porsche is also notorious for nickel-and-diming when it comes to options. If you want (front) heated seats, that’s $530. If you want ventilated seats, you also have to pick 14-way power adjustable seats, which adds $2,010 to the price. Now, we’re at $58,990 and we’ve only just gotten started.
Here’s the upshot: Spec a 2018 Porsche Macan S to the same level as the Ford Edge ST, and you’ll be looking at a $70,000+ hole in your budget. On the up side, you do get 340 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque from twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Porsches are also well-known for their handling prowess, so this is, in my opinion, the best driver of the bunch.
Used: 2016 Audi SQ5
For our used option, let’s stay within the bounds of normal driving habits. That means finding something under 25,000 miles or so. From a cursory search around the classifieds, it seems there are plenty of examples to choose from. Premium Plus models are shifting around for about $38,000, while the top-spec Prestige is a bit more.
With the 2016 SQ5, you get 354 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It matches the Porsche for grunt, that’s for sure. However, while the interior quality is excellent and it feels solid, the Ford or the Acura feel a bit more frisky and fun when the mood takes you to do some canyon carving.
Buying used, with any car, is always a bit of a gamble. If you don’t know how the person before you treated it, you may have some nasty bills in store. Since it is fairly new and luxury car owners tend to service their cars at dealers, though, maintenance may not be a huge issue. You’ll also have a bit of warranty left, which helps ease the pain of ownership.
Which one should you buy?
When it all comes down to it, the most political answer would be “it depends.” While that’s true, my personal recommendation would be the Acura RDX A-Spec. I think it offers the best all-around option that will suit all your needs without breaking the bank. Yes, it’s the least powerful of the bunch. However, I love the way it looks as well as the way it feels, both in terms of its interior and its driving capability.
The Ford Edge ST offers the best all-around value. I’d argue it also has the most “lets have some fun” character of these four options. However, it also doesn’t carry that certain prestige some people are looking for like an Audi or a Porsche does.
Audi’s SQ5 and Porsche’s Macan S are close on paper. Makes sense, as they’re ostensibly the same car underneath. I’d lean toward the Audi for its interior appeal, and the Porsche as more of a driving tool. As far as buying used, I’m all for saving money, but put in as much due diligence as you can on the car’s history before buying.
What do you think, TFLcar community? Let Sean know which car he and his wife should buy in the poll and comments below!