Discount-Club Challenge: Compact SUVs

Every few weeks, I get to shop at the local discount club and load up on 20-packs of paper towels, a few dozen chicken breasts and all those other essentials that cost less when you buy them in bulk. Chances are many of you also share in this routine, shopping regularly at Costco or Sam’s Club, but then have issues getting all your purchases — along with family members — into your car. Besides testing the fit of child-safety seats, this is one of those “you have to do it yourself” requirements in new-car shopping. Unfortunately, while dealers will usually let you install a seat into a prospective new car, they won’t let you run errands.

So we’ve done that for you in four compact SUVs: the 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander, 2009 Ford Escape, 2009 Nissan Rogue and 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan. We didn’t fold the second-row seats down, as any compact SUV would be able to handle the load doing that. We also wanted to show how capable these vehicles are as family cars. When you have to tow children with you to the store, you can’t fold down seats filled with booster, convertible or infant-safety seats buckled in. Even a family of four with teenagers still needs somewhere to sit.

Check out the video below and see how the four contenders managed.


I'd say it makes a big difference whether "fitting" requires obstructing the driver's view outside the rear window.


You should include a European solution i.e. Jetta wagon. They are more space efficient, better to drive and more fuel efficient.

Yeah, americans are not buying, but including one in the test at least gives a comparison.

I think you're right about wagons, but they don't sell as well here and wouldn't be as easy to get into a comparison like this.


I also agree with Tor; but dont just include wagons, do some sedans. Not everyone wants to buy an SUV, or wagon. Some people are looking for other vehicles. More often, you guys are comparing SUV's, and doing tests with them. I am not saying that you guys are not doing a good job, I think you guys are doing wonderfully. You are doing real world testing, and you are not biased, for the most part. But still, not everyone wants an SUV, so please test some other things for the rest of us.



Why no RAV4, CR-V or Forester?

We are planning on doing more of these comparisons with sedans and other types of cars. Keep an eye out.

Again, this is what was available to us for the segment and they -- besides the Outlander -- are all popular models.

I can guarantee you if we had the CR-V and Rav4 someone would have asked why we had included them since they're so popular.


This test is worthless. We already know that Outlander can fit more then Rogue and RAV-4 more then CR-V.
I've been arguing for years the point that none of these are good for the family with teenagers or on the long trips.
I found the solution - Highlander with 2.7L returns about same mileage as these babies and provides real comfort and cargo capacity.


hmm...he couldve fit in all of the cargo it he wouldve packed the Tiguan as much as he did the Rogue.


Dave T.

Why don't you throw in your own Outback into the mix on the side as well?
That would overshadow the competition as well.


funny thing that BOB's comment reminded me of -- crossovers or small SUVs or whatever you call those things can be very impractical. take the Infiniti EX35 -- it has a SMALLER cargo area than the G35/G37 SEDAN!! which brings me to my pet peeve -- drive whatever you want, but don't come up with excuses. if you think crossovers look "cool" or whatever, don't come up with excuses of cargo capacity or whatever. like so many people mentioned, wagons are truly the most practical vehicle choice for 99% of people and their needs. maybe if you are a park ranger in Maine, you might need something that can go off road all the time ...


It occurs to me that all of those vehicles have 60/40 split folding rear seats. In the event that a family of four needed to fit even more stuff into their compact SUV, I don't see why they couldn't fold the "40" seat back down even if one of those passengers was in a car seat.

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