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Kia Seltos Sport+ 2.0 vs Nissan Qashqai ST-L vs Subaru Crosstrek R 2023 comparison


One thing Australia seemingly has no shortage of at the moment is small SUVs.

Well, this isn't entirely true. If you wanted to get your hands on a Toyota Corolla Cross, for example, there is a shortage.

But amongst some of the other most recently released models, which you might be able to actually drive away in, which one will suit your lifestyle the best?

To find out we've grabbed three of the most recently released or updated small SUVs (but not the Corolla Cross, which is attracting a 12 month waiting queue) to help you narrow your shopping list down.

We've assembled the recently facelifted Kia Seltos, the new-generation Nissan Qashqai and the Subaru Crosstrek, which is essentially a deep update of the XV before it, to put them through their daily paces and find out if we can determine a clear winner, or at least what kind of buyers these small SUVs would best suit.

Price and features – Do they represent good value for the price? What features do they come with?

As mentioned, we've grabbed upper mid-grade models of each of our cars here. Theoretically, they should represent the best value in their respective line-ups, offering the most kit for a reasonable spend.

To kick it off, the most affordable car here is the Kia Seltos Sport+. Wearing a before-on-roads price-tag of $35,800, the Seltos seems to instantly be a value pick amongst our choices, although it has had the most minor recent update, a mild nip-and-tuck with tweaks to its equipment level.

It has some appealing attributes, including a fully digital instrument cluster to match its multimedia screen, built-in navigation, and partially synthetic leather seats, as well as having the largest boot capacity.

As mentioned, we’ve grabbed upper mid-grade models of each of our cars here. As mentioned, we’ve grabbed upper mid-grade models of each of our cars here.

However, it is lacking in some significant areas. It's the only car here to have halogen headlights, the only car without power adjust for the driver's seat, it's missing dual-zone climate, and it's also missing wireless phone mirroring or charging.

Priced in the middle is the Subaru Crosstrek R. Its price comes in at $38,490 and the equipment is impressive. The obvious value stand-out is standard all-wheel drive, but it's not the Crosstrek's only trick, with it also featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and a massive 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen.

But it's also the only car here to miss out on partial leather seat trim, built-in navigation, and front parking sensors.

Theoretically, they should represent the best value in their respective line-ups, offering the most kit for a reasonable spend. Theoretically, they should represent the best value in their respective line-ups, offering the most kit for a reasonable spend.

Finally, we have the Nissan Qashqai ST-L. Priced at $42,190 it's by a significant margin the most expensive car on this test, but it's also the best equipped.

It has the largest set of wheels (19-inch), it's the only car here to feature heated front seats and steering wheel, it scores a similar digital suite to the other two, with wireless phone mirroring and charging, and has the most extensive amount of soft-touch materials on the inside.

We've covered the highlights here, if you want a full summary of key equipment items, check the table below.

An SUV in this class needs to be practical, as most family buyers who don’t want a big mid-sizer still need a small SUV to be up for all of their family challenges. An SUV in this class needs to be practical, as most family buyers who don’t want a big mid-sizer still need a small SUV to be up for all of their family challenges.

Before we move on, though, it's worth noting the Seltos complicates this test because of the sheer number of variants it is offered in.

For similar money to the Nissan, you can choose the Seltos in top-spec GT-Line form, but with the same front-wheel drive layout, which goes some way to compensating for its missing equipment.

Alternatively, for similar money to the Subaru, you can get the same Sport+ grade, but with a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive.

With small SUVs beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, as each offers a significantly different look and feel. With small SUVs beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, as each offers a significantly different look and feel.

While we'll keep impressions on this test restricted to the car we have here, it is worth considering if you were looking to test drive and buy one of these cars.

Do we have a winner for pricing and spec? Not really. It's a story of getting what you're paying for at each level, so as far as we see it they're reasonably evenly matched.

This has been a tough test. On paper, these cars are closely matched, and while we’ll call out an overall winner, it’s not quite that simple. This has been a tough test. On paper, these cars are closely matched, and while we’ll call out an overall winner, it’s not quite that simple.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Price (MSRP)

$38,490

$42,190

$35,800

Wheel size

18-inch

19-inch

17-inch

Multimedia screen

11.6-inch (portrait)

12.3-inch

10.25-inch

Digital instruments

No

7.0-inch Semi-digital

10.25-inch

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

Yes, wireless

Yes, wireless

Yes, wired

Sat-nav

No

Yes

Yes

Wireless charging

Yes

Yes

No

LED headlights

Yes

Yes

No

Keyless entry/push-start

Yes

Yes

Yes

Climate control

Dual-zone

Dual-zone

Single-zone

Seat trim

‘Premium Cloth’

Synthetic leather/cloth

Synthetic leather/cloth

Power adjust

Driver

Driver

No

USB ports

USB C, USB A

USB C, USB A

USB C, USB A

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek RNissan Qashqai ST-LKia Seltos Sport+
888

 

Design – Is there anything interesting about their designs?

With small SUVs beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, as each offers a significantly different look and feel.

The Seltos gives off a complex, futuristic vibe, suiting its Korean origins, although it's let down by a lot of plastic cladding on the outside, and its dorky yellow-tinged halogen headlights dress down the otherwise-nice design.

The same vibe continues on the inside for better or worse, with a slick, modern design lifted by its neat digital suite, but let down by the abundance of hard plastics and more than a few cheap touches. In this sense, it is the least expensive-feeling car on this test.

  • The most affordable car here is the Kia Seltos Sport+. The most affordable car here is the Kia Seltos Sport+.
  • Wearing a before-on-roads price-tag of $35,800, the Seltos seems to instantly be a value pick amongst our choices. Wearing a before-on-roads price-tag of $35,800, the Seltos seems to instantly be a value pick amongst our choices.
  • Although it has had the most minor recent update, a mild nip-and-tuck with tweaks to its equipment level. Although it has had the most minor recent update, a mild nip-and-tuck with tweaks to its equipment level.
  • The Seltos gives off a complex, futuristic vibe, suiting its Korean origins. The Seltos gives off a complex, futuristic vibe, suiting its Korean origins.
  • Although it’s let down by a lot of plastic cladding on the outside. Although it’s let down by a lot of plastic cladding on the outside.
  • All cars drive the wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. All cars drive the wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The Subaru builds on the chunky off-road ready formula established by its XV predecessor. This time around, though, it looks more curvy and contemporary.

There's a lot of cool functional detailing in its bodywork, and the LEDs lift its presence on the road.

Inside it feels cosy and ready for action with its chunky steering wheel and seemingly hard-wearing cloth seat trim. The new portrait touchscreen, as part of a major digital overhaul, is welcome, but somehow the brand has managed to make this system too busy, with a lot going on, in terms of buttons and segmented display items.

  • Priced in the middle is the Subaru Crosstrek R. Priced in the middle is the Subaru Crosstrek R.
  • Its price comes in at $38,490 and the equipment is impressive. Its price comes in at $38,490 and the equipment is impressive.
  • The obvious value stand-out is standard all-wheel drive, but it’s not the Crosstrek’s only trick. The obvious value stand-out is standard all-wheel drive, but it’s not the Crosstrek’s only trick.
  • The Subaru builds on the chunky off-road ready formula established by its XV predecessor. The Subaru builds on the chunky off-road ready formula established by its XV predecessor.
  • This time around, though, it looks more curvy and contemporary. This time around, though, it looks more curvy and contemporary.
  • It features 18-inch alloy wheels. It features 18-inch alloy wheels.

At the top of the tree, the Nissan manages to look understated and classy, with a slick, coherent design language from the outside, consisting of clean integrated light fittings and tidy piano gloss highlight pieces, with a tasteful smattering of silver and chrome.

Little details like the Qashqai badges strewn about its bodywork are a clever attention-to-detail touch. To me it's the most consistent design on this test, and it feels it on the inside.

Unlike the other two cars on this test, there's little about it which tries to dazzle you with over-the-top tech, with the screens in this car feeling comparatively laid back but still functional.

  • Finally, we have the Nissan Qashqai ST-L. Finally, we have the Nissan Qashqai ST-L.
  • Priced at $42,190 it’s by a significant margin the most expensive car on this test, but it’s also the best equipped. Priced at $42,190 it’s by a significant margin the most expensive car on this test, but it’s also the best equipped.
  • At the top of the tree, the Nissan manages to look understated and classy, with a slick, coherent design language from the outside. At the top of the tree, the Nissan manages to look understated and classy, with a slick, coherent design language from the outside.
  • Consisting of clean integrated light fittings and tidy piano gloss highlight pieces, with a tasteful smattering of silver and chrome. Consisting of clean integrated light fittings and tidy piano gloss highlight pieces, with a tasteful smattering of silver and chrome.
  • Little details like the Qashqai badges strewn about its bodywork are a clever attention-to-detail touch. Little details like the Qashqai badges strewn about its bodywork are a clever attention-to-detail touch.
  • It has the largest set of wheels (19-inch). It has the largest set of wheels (19-inch).

It also has the nicest materials throughout the cabin, and arguably the most supportive seat trim (although the cloth material which runs down the centre of each seat feels a bit odd.)

Do we have a winner? Again it will depend on what you're looking for to a degree, but I think the Nissan looks and feels the nicest, inside and out.

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

787

 

Practicality – How practical is their space and tech inside?

An SUV in this class needs to be practical, as most family buyers who don't want a big mid-sizer still need a small SUV to be up for all of their family challenges.

On this test, two SUVs perform, while one falls short.

Kicking off with our budget player, the Seltos Sport+, and things are very good. The front seat offers a commanding view of the road, with a great seating position, and the largest rear window of our choices here, handing it an automatic win for overall visibility from the driver's position.

  • Like most Kia products, storage in the cabin is great. Like most Kia products, storage in the cabin is great.
  • Thankfully, the software on its big multimedia screen is fast and slick and well laid out. Thankfully, the software on its big multimedia screen is fast and slick and well laid out.
  • The front seat offers a commanding view of the road, with a great seating position, and the largest rear window of our choices here, handing it an automatic win for overall visibility from the driver’s position. The front seat offers a commanding view of the road, with a great seating position, and the largest rear window of our choices here, handing it an automatic win for overall visibility from the driver’s position.
  • The back-seat in the Seltos is, by a close margin, the best on this test, with superior headroom compared to the Nissan and the Subaru. The back-seat in the Seltos is, by a close margin, the best on this test, with superior headroom compared to the Nissan and the Subaru.

It also offers plenty of room for someone 182cm tall like me, as well as good adjustability of both the seat and steering column, even if it's the only car without an electric driver's seat.

Like most Kia products, storage in the cabin is great, with a big bottle holder and map pocket combo in the door trim, a pair of large but non-variable bottle holders in the centre console, a two-tier shelf below the climate unit good for wallets and phones, and an additional tray behind the electronic parking brake good for the same sorts of objects.

While it scores USB-A, USB-C and a 12-volt connector up front, it is the only car with no wireless charging.

  • Up front, passengers are treated to nice plush seats, the most extensive list of trims in the doors and across the dashboard, and even soft materials for your knees. Up front, passengers are treated to nice plush seats, the most extensive list of trims in the doors and across the dashboard, and even soft materials for your knees.
  • Unlike the other two cars on this test, there’s little about it which tries to dazzle you with over-the-top tech. Unlike the other two cars on this test, there’s little about it which tries to dazzle you with over-the-top tech.
  • Adjustability, like the other cars here, is good, although visibility over the nose is more limited. Adjustability, like the other cars here, is good, although visibility over the nose is more limited.
  • Good thing the Nissan is also the only car with a handy 360-degree parking suite. Good thing the Nissan is also the only car with a handy 360-degree parking suite.
  • The rear seat continues the plush treatment, with soft materials on the backs of the front seats, and into the doors. The rear seat continues the plush treatment, with soft materials on the backs of the front seats, and into the doors.

Thankfully, the software on its big multimedia screen is fast and slick and well laid out, and there is a sufficient number of buttons and dials for adjusting climate and volume functions for relatively distraction-free driving.

The back-seat in the Seltos is, by a close margin, the best on this test, with superior headroom compared to the Nissan and the Subaru, and good legroom, even behind my own driving position.

There's cheap plastic trim on the back of the driver's seat, to match the cheap plastic trim in the doors, lowering the ambiance of the space, but it's all hard wearing, which is good for those with kids.

  • Inside it feels cosy and ready for action with its chunky steering wheel and seemingly hard-wearing cloth seat trim. Inside it feels cosy and ready for action with its chunky steering wheel and seemingly hard-wearing cloth seat trim.
  • While it is harder to climb into thanks to a descending, hatch-like roofline, the roof itself has an extrusion in it to grant rear passengers a little extra headroom. While it is harder to climb into thanks to a descending, hatch-like roofline, the roof itself has an extrusion in it to grant rear passengers a little extra headroom.
  • The new portrait touchscreen, as part of a major digital overhaul, is welcome, but somehow the brand has managed to make this system too busy. The new portrait touchscreen, as part of a major digital overhaul, is welcome, but somehow the brand has managed to make this system too busy.

Again, there's a bottle holder in the door on each side, and a further two small ones in the drop-down armrest, and the Kia offers USB-A connectors and adjustable air vents for rear passengers.

Boot space is also a clear win for the Kia. Not only does it have the largest volume (refer to the table below), but it's also a big, square, accessible space, and the easiest to fit our three-piece demo luggage set, or pram.

It is also the only car on this test to offer a rare full-size matching spare wheel under the floor, but is also the only car missing a luggage cover.

Next up, the Subaru. It looks the most like a hatchback of our set here, and feels it in the cabin.

Up-front it's notably the most closed-in and cosy space, which comes with the downside of having the least visibility of our trio, particularly out its small rear window.

It feels purposeful, though, with the chunky wheel and seats suiting the off-road-ready vibe and there are enough high-quality materials throughout the cabin to keep it soft and comfortable.

Despite its more diminutive interior dimensions, it still has sufficient space for someone 182cm tall in the front, and adjustability isn't bad, either.

  • Boot space is also a clear win for the Kia. Boot space is also a clear win for the Kia.
  • Not only does it have the largest volume (refer to the table below), but it’s also a big, square, accessible space, and the easiest to fit our three-piece demo luggage set, or pram. Not only does it have the largest volume (refer to the table below), but it’s also a big, square, accessible space, and the easiest to fit our three-piece demo luggage set, or pram.

There are decent bottle holders in the doors, a further two fixed ones in the centre console, and a tray below the media screen with power outlets and a wireless charger.

Interestingly, the wireless charger is almost useless because Subaru has chosen to make it a smooth plastic finish, so your phone slides out of the area in the first corner you encounter.

It's easily fixed with a BYO rubber mat, but still, why was this not thought of in development?

  • The Nissan lands between the others when it comes to practicality, but it’s still within striking distance of the Seltos in terms of overall space. The Nissan lands between the others when it comes to practicality, but it’s still within striking distance of the Seltos in terms of overall space.
  • The boot is a tad smaller than the Kia’s, and a little less square, but offers soft claddings for all the surfaces, so your luggage won’t scratch hard plastics. The boot is a tad smaller than the Kia’s, and a little less square, but offers soft claddings for all the surfaces, so your luggage won’t scratch hard plastics.

The back seat is a surprise. While it is harder to climb into thanks to a descending, hatch-like roofline, the roof itself has an extrusion in it to grant rear passengers a little extra headroom, and it works.

I was also surprised to see the rear seat has been cleverly engineered to maximise knee room, although the centre position is all but useless for an adult due to the centre raise required for this car's all-wheel drive system taking up all the legroom.

The Subaru also has the least rear-seat amenity, with the smallest door bottle holders and drop-down armrest holders, no adjustable air vents, with only a USB-A and USB-C connector as luxuries for those riding in the back.

  • The real deal-breaker for family buyers, though, will be the Crosstrek’s boot. The real deal-breaker for family buyers, though, will be the Crosstrek’s boot.
  • It was the only car which couldn’t fit the whole demo luggage set, although it could still accommodate the pram. It was the only car which couldn’t fit the whole demo luggage set, although it could still accommodate the pram.

The real deal-breaker for family buyers, though, will be the Crosstrek's boot. Despite boot space being a key criticism of this car's XV predecessor, the Crosstrek manages to crop some 20 or so litres from the space this time around, down to just 291L, by far the smallest on this test.

It was the only car which couldn't fit the whole demo luggage set, although it could still accommodate the pram.

The Subaru's final party trick is its impressive 220mm ground clearance to go with its all-wheel drive system, by far the most capable of the choices here if you're venturing beyond the tarmac, although it still only has a space-saver spare under the boot floor.

The Nissan lands between the others when it comes to practicality, but it's still within striking distance of the Seltos in terms of overall space.

Up front, passengers are treated to nice plush seats, the most extensive list of trims in the doors and across the dashboard, and even soft materials for your knees.

These add up and go a long way towards making the Nissan feel as though it has the most upmarket cabin of the choices on this test.

Adjustability, like the other cars here, is good, although visibility over the nose is more limited, as you sit lower and the dash-line is higher. Good thing the Nissan is also the only car with a handy 360-degree parking suite.

Bottle holders include a massive one in the doors, two more with variable edges in the centre console, and a nice big rubberised charging bay for your phone under the climate unit.

The rear seat continues the plush treatment, with soft materials on the backs of the front seats, and into the doors.

I found I had plenty of space behind my own driving position, roughly on-par with the Seltos, and the Qashqai serves rear passengers with large bottle holders in the doors, a further two small ones in the drop-down armrest, adjustable air vents, as well as USB-A and USB-C charging ports.

The boot is a tad smaller than the Kia's, and a little less square, but offers soft claddings for all the surfaces, so your luggage won't scratch hard plastics.

The Qashqai easily consumed the whole CarsGuide luggage set or the pram, and under the floor there is a space-saver spare. The Qashqai also has the highest towing capacity of our choices here, refer to the table below for more.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Boot space

291L

429L

433L

Rear amenity

USB A + C

Vents, USB A + C

Vents, USB A

Dimensions (L x W x H - mm)

4495 x 1800 x 1600

4425 x 1835 x 1625

4385 x 1800 x 1635

Towing capacity unbraked/braked (kg)

650/1400

750/1500

600/1100

Ground clearance

220mm

193mm

170mm

Turning circle

10.8

11.1m

10.6m

Spare

Space-saver

Space-saver

Full-size alloy

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

688

 

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for their engines and transmissions?

While each vehicle on this test has a different approach under the bonnet, they all end up with similar power outputs.

The Seltos is the most traditional of the bunch, with a big old 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine and no turbocharger. It is also the lightest car on this test, but produces the least power, at 110kW/180Nm.

The Crosstrek uses Subaru's signature flat ‘boxer' engine layout with a 2.0-litre capacity and is the only car here with all-wheel drive (it's real, permanent all-wheel drive, too!).

  • The Seltos is the most traditional of the bunch, with a big old 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine and no turbocharger. The Seltos is the most traditional of the bunch, with a big old 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine and no turbocharger.
  • The Nissan is the only vehicle here to have a down-sized turbocharged engine, with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit producing 110kW/250Nm. The Nissan is the only vehicle here to have a down-sized turbocharged engine, with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit producing 110kW/250Nm.
  • The Crosstrek uses Subaru’s signature flat ‘boxer’ engine layout with a 2.0-litre capacity and is the only car here with all-wheel drive. The Crosstrek uses Subaru’s signature flat ‘boxer’ engine layout with a 2.0-litre capacity and is the only car here with all-wheel drive.

With 115kW/196Nm on tap, it has the most kilowatts out of the choices here, but still has less torque than the Nissan and is by far the heaviest vehicle on-test.

Finally, the Nissan is the only vehicle here to have a down-sized turbocharged engine, with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit producing 110kW/250Nm.

All cars drive the wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission, and with relatively even power outputs it's hard to make a call on a winner in this department, but to me the Nissan at least feels more modern than the dated set-ups in the other two choices.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Engine size

2.0L four-cyl NA

1.3L four-cyl turbo

2.0L four-cyl NA

Drivetrain

AWD

FWD

FWD

Power

115kW

110kW

110kW

Torque

196Nm

250Nm

180Nm

Transmission

CVT

CVT

CVT

Weight (Tare)

1493kg

1452kg

1375kg

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

687

 

Efficiency – What is their fuel consumption? What are their driving ranges?

Fuel consumption should be pretty straightforward here, a function of weight and engine design, however all was not as it seemed on our 100km mixed conditions controlled test.

Officially, the Subaru consumes the most fuel, stated at 7.2L/100km, which would make sense given it is the heaviest, with the added burden of all-wheel drive.

Next down is the Seltos, with its older engine giving it a claimed consumption of 6.9L/100km. While the Nissan claims to be the most trim, with its high-tech small capacity engine granting it an official consumption of 6.1L/100km.

In reality, though, the results were almost flipped around. Over 100km of combined testing, the Subaru consumed the least fuel, at 6.2L/100km measured at the pump, the Nissan landed in the middle at 6.6L/100km, while the Seltos was the thirstiest, consuming 7.1L/100km.

While the results are surprising, they are still very close and well within margins of error and driving style of each other.

It is worth noting, the Nissan's turbocharged engine is the only one to require more expensive 95RON fuel, while the other two are happy to consume 91.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Official/combined

7.2L/100km

6.1L/100km

6.9L/100km

On-test (100km measured at pump)

6.2L/100km

6.6L/100km

7.1L/100km

Minimum RON

91

95

91

Fuel tank size

63L

55L

50L

Theoretical range between fills

875km

902km

725km

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

888

 

Driving – What are they like to drive?

One thing I should get out of the way before we launch into driving impressions, is none of these cars will be a deal-breaker from behind the wheel.

They are all very competent for the segment, and each respective recent update has made them significantly better than they were prior.

Kia Seltos Sport+

Starting with the Kia, and the benefits of its extra visibility are evident straight away, particularly out its large rear window.

The digital suite also feels nice, with a customisable interface and plenty of information on offer, and it's reasonably easy to adjust things on-the-fly, whilst concentrating on the road.

Interestingly, the Kia has the firmest ride, and the heaviest steering, but despite this feels settled over bumps and corrugations, and surprisingly planted in the corners.

All cars drive the wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. All cars drive the wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The engine, despite having the least power on offer, feels the strongest of the bunch, and the transmission is smooth and linear when it comes to applying power to the ground, making it a surprise stand-out.

The biggest downside of the Kia is its infuriating safety suite. While its lane-keep system is a tad overzealous and heavy-handed, it's the speed alert feature which ruins it.

This feature pairs with the traffic sign detection to warn you if you creep over the speed limit, and does so by sounding an irritating alarm.

Not only does it default to on every time you start the car, it's also often incorrect with the speed it picks up, including out-of-time school zones, picking up 40 zones off the back of buses, picking up signs from parallel roads and exit ramps, the list goes on. Software update please, Kia.

Subaru Crosstrek R

Next, the Subaru. As mentioned, the Crosstrek has the poorest visibility out of the cabin, with a more letterbox windscreen, tiny rear window, and a hatch-like seating position in a car with an SUV-like ride height.

Still, the Crosstrek has great visibility out the side for looking into the lane next to you, and it's by far the most organic feeling vehicle to steer, with well-tuned electric assistance on the rack.

It also has the most forgiving ride with the most suspension travel, making it surprisingly comfortable in the front and back seats, even over bumps, undulations and corrugations.

It features 18-inch alloy wheels. It features 18-inch alloy wheels.

Thanks to its weight and all-wheel drive system, the Subaru also feels the sturdiest and safest in the corners, sticking to the road with determination, even on loosely-sealed surfaces.

The update which changed it across from XV to Crosstrek has also brought with it numerous quality of life improvements, including a big jump in refinement, removing a significant amount of road, tyre, and wind noise from the cabin at freeway-speeds, once a major Subaru downside.

The area where the Crosstrek is most let down is its engine. While it has sufficient power on paper, getting up to speed is a noisy, thrashy affair, with the CVT not helping the situation at all by holding the car at high revs and leaving the driver with uneven feedback when accelerating.

At least the Subaru's safety suite is functional and unobtrusive to the driving experience.

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Finally, the Nissan. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the car which looks and feels the most modern and has had the most comprehensive suite of upgrades from its predecessor is also the most modern-feeling car to drive.

Visibility is a decent middle-ground between the other two options here, and low-speed manoeuvring is a breeze with its light steering and 360-degree camera view.

The Nissan feels the lightest and springiest of the lot, with its light steering being a little twitchy but very reactive, and its responsive little turbo engine adding a some fun to the mix.

It has the largest set of wheels (19-inch). It has the largest set of wheels (19-inch).

I was surprised to find it didn't feel majorly peppier than the other choices here, with engine response dulled slightly by its doughy but sufficient continuously variable automatic transmission.

The ride also falls in a happy middle ground between the firm springs of the Seltos and the soft ride of the Subaru. The Qashqai dispatched bumps and undulations very well, but did reach its limits more abruptly on larger hits.

Its safety suite also largely ran in the background, with the only (very small) annoyance coming from the way the car slows itself down in corners and if you drift to the edge of your lane when using adaptive cruise control.

Most importantly, the Nissan didn't have a single significant downside which would annoy a driver every day like the Subaru's thrashy engine, or the Kia's invasive safety equipment, whilst providing a good middle ground of the more appealing traits of its rivals.

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

788

 

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What are their safety ratings?

All cars have impressive safety suites, with all the key up-to-date active items featuring.

All cars score high-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist detection, and junction assist.

All cars also feature lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, speed alert, driver attention alert, and tyre pressure monitoring.

All cars have impressive safety suites, with all the key up-to-date active items. All cars have impressive safety suites, with all the key up-to-date active items.

Only the Subaru scores rear auto braking, although it misses out on front parking sensors, and the Nissan is the only car to score a full 360-degree parking camera, making it the best car for tight parking stations.

The Kia is the only car to miss out on LED headlights, annoying for regional buyers who have to deal with more poorly lit roads.

The Nissan and Kia have up-to-date, maximum five-star ANCAP safety ratings, scored in 2021 and 2019 respectively, while the Subaru Crosstrek is yet to be rated.

Only the Subaru scores rear auto braking, although it misses out on front parking sensors. Only the Subaru scores rear auto braking, although it misses out on front parking sensors.

One good omen for the Subaru is its impressive suite of nine airbags, outranking the Nissan's seven, and Kia's six.

It's hard to establish a winner here, but the Kia is the least well equipped of the bunch by a small margin, and it's also marred by its annoying lane keep and speed warning systems.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Auto emergency braking

High-speed with car, pedestrian, cyclist detection and junction assist, reverse auto braking

High-speed with car, pedestrian, cyclist detection and junction assist

High-speed with car, pedestrian, cyclist detection and junction assist

Lane keep assist/departure warning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Blind spot monitoring/rear-cross traffic

Yes

Yes

Yes

Adaptive cruise control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Driver attention alert

Yes

Yes

Yes

Traffic sign recognition

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tyre pressure monitoring

Yes

Yes

Yes

Adaptive high-beam

Yes

Yes

Yes

Parking cameras

Reverse

360-degree

Reverse

Parking sensors

Rear

Front, rear

Front, rear

Number of airbags

Nine

Seven

Six

ANCAP safety rating

Not rated

Five-star (2021)

Five-star (2019)

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

887

 

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are their service intervals? What are their running costs?

An easy win can be handed here to the Kia Seltos, which has the longest warranty at seven years/unlimited kilometres, longest roadside assist which can be extended to up to eight years with genuine servicing, and the most affordable capped price servicing program.

Meanwhile, the Subaru and Nissan have the standard five-year and unlimited kilometre warranty, with the Subaru offering only one year of roadside assistance, and the Nissan offering five.

An easy win can be handed here to the Kia Seltos, which has the longest warranty at seven years/unlimited kilometres. An easy win can be handed here to the Kia Seltos, which has the longest warranty at seven years/unlimited kilometres.

Capped price servicing extends to six years or 90,000km for the Nissan, seven years and 105,000km for the Kia, and up to 15 years or 225,000km for the Subaru.

Over a five-year period for a fair comparison purpose, the Seltos is easily the most affordable, with an average cost of $414.40 per year, the Subaru falls in the middle, with an average cost of $474.64, while the Nissan is the most expensive car to keep on the road, costing an average of $583.20 per year over the same period.

 

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

Warranty length

Five years/unlimited kilometre

Five years/unlimited kilometre

Seven years/unlimited kilometres

Roadside assist

One year

Five years

Up to eight years (renewed with genuine service)

Capped price servicing

Up to 15 years/225,000km

Six years/90,000km

Seven years/105,000km

Average annual cost (5yr)

$474.64

$583.20

$414.40

 

Score

Subaru Crosstrek R

Nissan Qashqai ST-L

Kia Seltos Sport+

778

 

This has been a tough test. On paper, these cars are closely matched, and while we'll call out an overall winner, it's not quite that simple.

The truth is, each car will ultimately suit a different buyer. An adventurous couple or a single person? The Subaru Crosstrek R is almost a no-brainer, with its all-wheel drive and superior ground clearance, as well as a very worthy slew of upgrades over its XV predecessor, especially if you don't need extra space.

If you're a value-conscious family buyer, however, it's hard to walk past the Kia Seltos Sport+. This car impresses with its huge cabin and storage space, bargain price and stellar ownership terms, but is let down by its so-so equipment list and plasticky cabin.

The car which I feel brings the best attributes to this test, though, is the Nissan Qasqhai ST-L. It lands in a nice middle ground between the two others, with a contemporary design, the most modern drive experience of our choices here, and a plush cabin.

While it's also the most expensive car on this test to buy and own, it's clear where your money is going with this one, and so, by a narrow margin, it's our winner.

Overall scores

Subaru Crosstrek R: 7.1

Nissan Qashqai ST-L: 7.9

Kia Seltos Sport+: 7.6

$33,490 - $53,881

Based on 244 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.