Vauxhall Crossland Review
If you’re even a few minutes into your small SUV research, you’ll realise that it’s a very popular area of the car market at the moment. Almost every manufacturer makes one, and several of them are very good indeed. This is Vauxhall’s effort, the Crossland. It’s been substantially revamped for 2021 and has ditched the single letter suffix of its predecessor, the Crossland X.
Select's rating score* - 3.2 / 5
The Crossland X was first revealed early in 2017 and met rather lukewarm reviews in a sea of competent small SUVs. So for 2021, Vauxhall gave it a substantial facelift, with a dramatically revised look at the front and a slightly shortened badge at the back, having given the X suffix the heave-ho.
The look previews the style that Vauxhall will be applying to future models, and the rebranding is complemented by new trim level options and a choice of small, efficient petrol and diesel engines. Underneath the surface the mechanical bits have been tweaked too, to give a better driving experience.
There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines to suit different requirements and budgets, and different trim levels to choose from too.
Such is the breadth of the small SUV market now that there are cars to suit whatever kind of driving style you’d like, from the comfort-focused to the sporty. The Crossland sits at the cruisy, relaxed end of the market, with few pretensions to enthusiast appeal. It does a reasonable job, and the suspension keeps the worst potholes around town away from the passengers inside, although it can feel a bit busy and jostly at higher speeds. There’s quite a bit of road and wind noise at higher speeds too; it’s definitely a car that’s more at home around town. If you’re after outright comfort then it can’t match Skoda’s Kamiq or Volkswagen’s T-Roc but it’s not bad.
When it comes to handling, the Crossland again favours the urban environment, with light steering for easy manoeuvring. Out of town it’s entirely competent, but corner with any kind of enthusiasm and you’ll feel the softer suspension let the car lean over a bit, which dampens any thoughts of skipping down country roads. Compared to cars like the Ford Puma or the Seat Arona, it’s not particularly agile. But all that said, it does everything it needs to do.
Engine-wise, there’s a good spread of choice. For shorter journeys we’d recommend sticking with petrol, where the list starts with a non-turbo 1.2-litre, with 83 horsepower. This missed out on a few fuel-saving features, such as engine stop-start, so it’s probably better to start your search with the turbocharged 1.2, with 110 horsepower. This has a good amount of punch to its acceleration and will let you zip around town with ease. It also has just enough puff to not feel out of breath at higher speeds, although if you do a lot of motorway driving you might want the extra pep of the 130-horsepower 1.2. This is pleasingly zippy to drive, and the extra grunt could also be useful if you often have a full car. This 130-horsepower 1.2 engine is also available with an automatic gearbox.
The diesels could be more of interest if you do a lot of longer journeys, as they’re capable of excellent fuel economy, which could offset any higher leasing costs. There are two to choose from, both 1.5 litres in size, with either 110 horsepower if you want a manual gearbox, or 120 horsepower with an automatic. They’re a bit noisier than the petrols though, and perhaps have a less broad appeal.
Leasing costs for the Crossland are broadly similar to its main rivals; there’s not much to choose between them. You’ll pay within a few pounds of each other for the Crossland, the Ford Puma and the Renault Captur, although it’s worth noting that the Puma doesn’t have a diesel line-up and the Captur offers the allure of a plug-in hybrid model, which few rivals can boast.
All that said, there are some fantastic prices available on Skoda’s excellent Kamiq, which suddenly makes other cars look a bit pricey. You can pick up a Kamiq for nearly £50 a month less than a Crossland at the time of writing. The same is true of Seat’s Arona.
When it comes to fuel, the diesel models have the edge on consumption, with official combined fuel economy figures of up to 61.4mpg for the 110-horsepower 1.5 manual. That drops to 57.7mpg for the automatic version. In the poetrol range, the turbocharged 1.2, with 110 horsepower, actually gives you better fuel economy than the less powerful, non-turbo 1.2 with 83bhp – 47.9mpg versus 48.7mpg. And the more powerful 130-horsepower engine is more frugal still, with an official figure of 49.5mpg. That drops to 46.3mpg for the automatic.
Insurance groups start at 8 and rise to 19 of 50, so none should break the bank when it comes to premiums.
If you’re a company car driver considering a Crossland X, you might first want to examine the plug-in hybrid Renault Captur E-Tech, which has emissions and therefore benefit-in-kind company car tax that petrol or diesel rivals can’t match.
However, if you’re sticking with the Crossland then the diesels have the lowest emissions, at 120-123g/km for the manual, or 130-133g/km for the auto. That puts them in the 28% and 30% brackets for company car tax in 2021/22, respectively.
The petrols range between 131 and 139g/km depending on model, which means brackets of 30 or 31%.
The Crossland’s interior doesn’t have the funky looks that some rivals boast, such as the Renault Captur, but everything’s laid out in a logical manner and the look is inoffensive. If you do want to add some jazz, then you can have the dashboard outfitted in a range of bright colours. But only if you want them.
Build quality is decent – everything feels well screwed together – although some of the material quality is less classy, and can feel quite hard and brittle to the touch. Once again though, it’s all perfectly acceptable, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel on every model is a nice feature. The wheel adjusts for both height and reach and the seat can be adjusted for height too. You shouldn’t have too many issues finding your preferred driving position, although the pedals are slightly offset to the right, which might annoy some.
Every version of the Crossland gets a touchscreen infotainment system that, at the very least, will give you DAB digital radio, Bluetooth with handsfree phone connectivity, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for full smartphone integration. The screen is 7.0 inches wide on the SE and Elite models, but higher-end versions get an 8.0-inch system that adds satellite navigation and an extra USB connector for charging devices.
The system itself is fine; not as usable as those found in the Volkswagen Group products, such as the Seat Arona, Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Roc, but it’s easy enough to find your way around and the screen is quick to respond.
It might be relatively small, but Vauxhall has done a good job of maximising interior space in the Crossland. Passenger space is impressively roomy, with plenty of headroom for front and rear-seat passengers, even if they’re on the tall side. Legroom can be a bit tight in the back though, especially if the rear seats are slid forward to favour boot space. The Skoda Kamiq has it well beaten in this regard.
The boot is a very good size, especially if you’ve got the sliding rear seat, which is included in higher-spec models. This compromises rear leg room to give you up to 520 litres of space, which is loads in a car of this type. If you don’t have that feature, or have lanky rear passengers, the standard boot size is 410 litres, which is still pretty decent. Top-spec models also get an adjustable boot floor, which can raise up to ensure a completely flat surface when the rear seats are folded down.
There are various storage spaces dotted around the car, although some are rather small, notably the glovebox and door pockets.
The Crossland X was tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2017 and scored the maximum five stars. That said, other cars have scored higher in the individual elements that make up the overall test, and the Crossland didn’t excel itself when it came to pedestrian safety or the latest automatic safety systems. Automatic emergency braking isn’t included on any models, and isn’t even an option on the entry-level SE model. In an age when plenty of cars include as standard this on every model, that’s a shame.
All models get a lane departure warning system, which will let you know if you’ve inadvertently veered out of your lane. You’ll also get front, side and curtain airbags, and Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
There are four basic trim levels in the Crossland, although some have different versions with added extra features. All are fairly well-equipped.
The first is the SE, which includes air conditioning and cruise control, automatic LED headlights and 16-inch alloy wheels. You can also opt for SE Nav Premium, which gives you the upgraded 8.0-inch infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
Next up is the SRi Nav, which includes the larger touchscreen as standard and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and a colour instrument display between the dials behind the steering wheel. It also features storage pockets on the front seat backs, the sliding rear seats, adjustable boot floor and a contrasting roof paint colour.
Meanwhile, Elite reverts back to the basic infotainment system and loses the sliding rear bench and adjustable boot floor, but keeps the 17-inch wheels and adds a Winter Pack, consisting of a heated steering wheel and heated front seats. You also get the rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors. If you want the larger touchscreen back, then that comes with the Elite Nav model, which also adds a wireless phone charger.
Top of the range is the Ultimate Nav model, which has pretty much every feature mentioned above, as well as keyless entry and start, silver roof rails and Alcantara synthetic suede upholstery.
Options are limited to paint colours, including the option of a black or white roof.
This is a very popular area of the market, and virtually every manufacturer has a player in this game. The top players include Skoda’s affordable and practical Kamiq, and Volkswagen’s pair of twins, the T-Roc and the slightly smaller T-Cross. The T-Roc is a more tempting proposition in our book, with a comfortable ride, some great engines and strong levels of kit.
The Vauxhall Crossland is a big step forward from its predecessor, the Crossland X, with sharper looks and an improved driving experience. Taken on its own merits it’s a perfectly decent car, but when measured against the competition it looks less tempting. There’s little that the Crossland does badly, but when so many rivals do so many things so well, and often for less money, you’ll need to really fall for the Crossland’s charms to go for it. If you do, you’re unlikely to have a bad time, but you owe it to yourself to check out the opposition first.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Vauxhall Crossland
**Correct as of 22/05/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £1403.89 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.