Heavy Lifters

8 min read
Nothing shouts road presence like large SUVs. If heft is what you’re after, here are three candidates that will tick all your boxes.

1. SKODA KODIAQ

So you want a large SUV that can sit seven people. And you want a European make with the reliability, sturdiness and performance that come with it. But you don’t want to break the bank in the process.

If you think this is out of the realm of possibility, then the SKODA Kodiaq will refute that myth.

First off, this is indeed a handsome vehicle. There’s nothing you can find wrong with the exterior lines. From the neat front with the masculine grill to the side accents connecting to the smart rear tailgate, the package is both aerodynamic and elegant at the same time.

The Czech brand, owned by Volkswagen and thus sharing several technologies, has been making inroads in Singapore, and the Kodiaq is its top-of-the-line offering. The car comes in four iterations: two with 1.4-litre TSI front-wheel drive, and two with 2.0-litre four-wheel drive.Superficially at least, the Kodiaq looks like it’ll satisfy most people’s needs — and even some of their dreams! The electronic panoramic sunroof is a luxurious addition to a European make that starts at less than S$140K (the 1.4 TSI model). The seven-seat interior is unfussy and well designed, with a cavernous 2,005 litres of luggage capacity (with second and third row folded) that makes it the largest in its class.

Some of the coolest features are the little touches that go miles in their sensibility. The water-resistant umbrella compartments in both front doors allow for storing of two brollies, while letting the water drain outside the car! Foot area illumination helps you locate anything you’ve dropped when travelling at night, and the ample storage spaces inside the doors and between the driver and passenger seats are more than you’ll ever need.The engine shares the same platform with most Volkswagen cars. The 1.4-litre turbocharged version may be all you require for urban use. Certainly, the 7.1L/100km combined consumption will go some ways to saving you petrol money. If a little more boost is required, the 2.0-litre 4×4 TSI option is probably what you’re looking for.

Safety is a key concern with SKODA, and the Kodiaq assures that all its passengers are accounted for. There are seven airbags in total, including those for passengers, at the sides, as well as a knee airbag for the driver. With Park Assist and the rear-view camera, getting the car into a parking lot becomes a breeze. For Kodiaq Style models, the Area View system displays several angles around the vehicle through wide-angle lenses in the front, rear and wing mirrors. All these add up to the maximum 5-star rating by EURO NCAP, helping the Kodiaq win ‘Car of the Year 2017 Large SUV’ from What Car? and ‘Family SUV of the Year 2017’ by Top Gear magazine.

PRICE  FROM S$133,900 WITH COE (AMBITION PLUS)
ENGINE  1,395CC TURBOCHARGED PETROL DIRECT INJECTION SYSTEM
TRANSMISSION  AUTOMATIC 6-SPEED DSG
POWER  150PS @ 5,000–6,000RPM
TORQUE  250NM @ 1,500–3,500RPM
0–100KM/H  9.7 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  SKODA SINGAPORE (Tel: 6305 8668)

2. BMW X7

If heft from a luxury make is what you’re after, then you can’t go wrong with the BMW X7, the Bavarian manufacturer’s first-ever Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). This is the newest and largest of the X line-up, stretching over 5m in length, 2m in width, and 1.8m high.

BMW has designed the X7 to make a statement. The kidney grille is the largest of the family, while the slim twin headlights (BMW Laserlights) extends up to the grille; this bold façade lends the X7 ample presence.

From the side, the large windows and dynamically flowing roofline hint at a spacious interior. The rear doors are longer than the front to reflect the spaciousness of the rear compartment.

When all seats are in use, the X7 offers 326 litres of load capacity. This increases to a maximum of 2,120 litres when the backrests of the seats in the second and third rows are folded down.Inside, seven seats come standard with the BMW X7. However, you may choose to specify a six-seat version where the middle row features two extremely comfortable individual seats in a captain’s chair setup. These seats offer the same seating position adjustment as the seats for the driver and front passenger, and feature integrated armrests plus comfort cushions.

This being a BMW, you can expect that no stones have been left unturned in its quest for a high-performance engine to power the car. The BMW X7 xDrive40i features the six-cylinder, in-line engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology with 340 hp of power available between 5,500 and 6,500rpm. The eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission helps to reduce engine speeds, particularly in higher gears, which in turn helps to increase the drive system’s overall efficiency.

Drivability and performance has been enhanced with BMW’s new intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which varies how the drive torque is split between the front and rear wheels with greater precision than ever. This system links up with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to provide optimum handling, regardless of road conditions. Furthermore, two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling balances out an unevenly loaded car. When linked to the DSC, the load is registered and factored into braking modulation.

Inside, the cockpit is an ergonomic representation of luxury that BMW has come to be known for. Two 12.3-inch screens highlight the BMW Live Cockpit Professional — a digital instrument cluster, and a Control Display. The gesture control now includes two extra elements, bringing the total to seven. Depending on the situation, the driver can input commands from the familiar iDrive Controller, the steering wheel controls, touch control, voice control, or gesture control.The latest generation of BMW’s driver assistant systems are found in the X7. The Parking Assistant automatically selects and manoeuvres into spaces parallel to the road, taking care of acceleration and braking, steering, and any necessary gear changes. In addition, the Reversing Assistant offers the highly convenient facility of automated reversing in confined spaces or situations where the driver does not have a clear view, such as in multi-storey car parks.

Safety concerns are addressed with the Driving Assistant Professional system, which includes Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function, Steering and lane control assistant, including the Lane Keeping Assistant with active side collision protection.

To list the full ensemble of excellent features found in the BMW X7 would take considerable space. If buying a luxury European full-size SUV is what you’re after, this one is hard to beat.

PRICE  S$449,888 (BMW X7 XDRIVE40I PURE EXCELLENCE, WITH COE)
ENGINE  2,998CC IN-LINE 6-CYLINDER
TRANSMISSION  8-SPEED STEPTRONIC SPORT AUTOMATIC
POWER  340HP @ 5,500–6,500RPM
TORQUE  450NM @ 1,500–5,200RPM
0–100KM/H  6.1 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  PERFORMANCE MOTORS LIMITED (Tel: 6319 0100)

3. LEXUS RX300

A quick look at the roads in Singapore and you’re likely to see more Lexus RX SUVs than any other make. The reliability, performance and all-round usability of a Lexus speak for themselves, and the SUVs have become the models of choice from Lexus.

Unveiled at the Singapore Cars@ Expo in October 2019, Lexus launched the facelifted RX Range, revealing evolutionary updates to the SUV, which will no doubt turn heads for those looking to trade up.

Off the mark, the new RX retains its elegant and dynamic faced, albeit with newly sculpted front and rear bumper designs. In details, the lower bumper is now linked to the rear pillar, blending with the window graphic for a distinctively integrated look.

But perhaps the biggest change introduced in the latest RX is one that the eye can’t really see. If you’ve ever driven a Lexus SUV, perhaps the one thing you felt could be improved was a better ride experience with reduced roll from cornering. Well, Lexus has listened and changed the suspension and increased body rigidity in the 2020 iteration.

Laser Screw Welding (LSW) and spot welding have been extensively employed throughout the vehicle; combined with the stiffening of stabiliser bars and enhanced hub rigidity, the result is a more immediate steering response. With the new and intuitive Active Cornering Assist (ACA) feature, the 2020 Lexus RX is also capable of suppressing understeer when stepping on the throttle in mid-corner. The redesigned RX’s shock absorbers are now equipped with a new Friction Control Device (FCD)*4, which further reduces high-frequency vibrations caused by minute road surface imperfections while enabling the RX to conduct flat cornering and achieve better responsiveness.

The brand’s new Lexus Safety System+ boasts a range of features that include Pre-Collision System, which uses an in-vehicle camera and front grille-mounted millimetre-wave radar to help spot cyclists during daytime and pedestrians during low-light conditions; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Lane Departure Assist; and an Adaptive High-beam System that automatically reduces brightness in specific regions ahead of the car to avoid harshly illuminating oncoming vehicles or those in front of the vehicle.The driving experience within the Lexus RX has always been exemplary for its ergonomics, sensibility, and attention to detail. The 2020 version is no different; in fact, it has been enhanced with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the introduction of touchscreen and touchpad options. Furthermore, through the car’s native cloud connection or through Apple Siri and Google Assistant, you can talk to your new RX as well, bringing a touch of the future to the here and now.

PRICE  S$248,800 WITH COE (RX300 EXECUTIVE)
ENGINE  1,998CC IN-LINE 4-CYLINDER, 16-VALVE, DOHC, TWIN-SCROLL TURBOCHARGER AND INTERCOOLER WITH DUAL VVT-I AND D-4ST
TRANSMISSION  6-SPEED AUTOMATIC
POWER  234BHP @ 4,800–5,600RPM
TORQUE  350NM @ 1,650–4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  9.2 SECONDS
DISTRIBUTOR  BORNEO MOTORS (S) PTE LTD (Tel: 6631 1388)