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March 2, 2020

Review: 2020 Chery Tiggo 5X 1.5 AT Luxury

People of a certain age will remember Chery, and maybe not for the right reasons. Over the course of just 12 years, the brand has changed hands no less than three times before ending up with United Asia Automotive Group or UAAGI. Now, if this company sounds familiar, it should be—they’re responsible for making another Chinese car brand, Foton into a commercial vehicle powerhouse. The question now in everyone’s mind is, can they replicate the same success with Chery?

Well, there’s no better model to see how far Chery’s gone with this: the 2020 Chery Tiggo 5X. Positioned as their entry into the sub-compact crossover segment, the Tiggo 5X is going against pretty hefty competition all from the Middle Kingdom. The segment’s filled with a proverbial alphabet soup of offerings from the GS3, S5, S3, and the current king of the crop, the ZS. So where does the Tiggo 5X fit in all this?

For starters, it looks pretty solid. Disregarding the unfortunately coined, “tiger crouching front-end,” the design itself is clean, albeit maybe bordering on the generic. Nonetheless, proportions are all good, and the form factor, particularly its generous 1.83-meter width makes it one of the biggest in its class. Topping out at P 950,000, this Luxury trim is well-speced too with 17-inch wheels, power folding mirrors, and a sunroof. And while halogen headlights are an acceptable trade-off for this price range, the decision to fit no-name tires (in this case, Chao Yang) is an oversight.

With a ground clearance nearing 200 mm and high-mounted seats, getting aboard the Tiggo 5X requires more of a slight hop than simply sliding the butt into the seat. Admittedly, this feels awkward at first, but it’s something that’s manageable for as long as the driver flexibility isn’t hampered. Once inside, the cabin’s reasonably well-built. Except for the soft topper on the dash and near the transmission console, the materials used here are generally hard to the touch; but surprisingly enough, it’s less scratchy than typical Korean plastics. Overall, it feels solid too, but there are minor quips like the flimsy feeling power mirror controls and rear view mirror day/night toggle.

The Tiggo 5X’s horizontal dashboard motif is supposedly reminiscent of something European-inspired, and for the most part, it pulls it off. The large digital LCD instrument cluster in front of the driver, and the 10-inch LED touchscreen infotainment system are both nice touches in this price range, and so are features like the push-button start/stop and electronic parking brake. However, there are some minor bits that could use some work. For example, the use of digital screens looks great, but they wash out in direct sunlight making it difficult to decipher not just what radio station’s currently playing, but at what speed the car’s going or the remaining fuel left. Then, there’s the climate control system itself. Adjusting the fan speed or temperature (it’s a manual system, mind you) makes use of physical knobs, but since the display is a pop-up screen in the laggy infotainment system, it can cause the driver to second-guess whether his command to up the fan speed, or lower the temperature was actually received or processed by the car. It’s a minor inconvenience for sure, but it’s one that’s a source of constant irritancy as well.

In terms of room, there’s nothing to complain about too. Thanks to its generous width, the Tiggo 5X’s shoulder room is more compact SUV than sub-compact, while the head- and legroom are certainly agreeable for both front and rear passengers. The rear passengers too are treated fairly well with three 3-point seatbelts, and something rather uncommon in this class—a center arm rest (though the demo unit didn’t have one). Sadly, Chery should have opted to fit three individual headrests rather than two at the back.

As a sub-compact crossover, the Tiggo 5X is positioned more as a city runabout, yet its performance suffers in the urban confines due to one thing: its portly weight. Tipping the scales at 1,321 kilograms, it’s actually heavier than the Kia Seltos or Honda HR-V, and for that, it taxes the 1.5-liter engine so much. With just 114 horsepower and 141 Nm of torque, pulling all that mass requires lots of effort (and prodding). The initial throttle response is strong, but it loses steam fairly quickly. What’s more, the CVT gearbox neuters whatever remaining performance’s left. The revs go up to peak torque (3,800 rpm), and calls it a day. It refuses to go any higher unless the accelerator’s pushed all the way down, and even then, it’s not the rev-happiest of engines. The net result of an overweight chassis and an overworked engine? 6.66 km/L in heavy traffic (12 km/h average). That said, as the speeds build up, the tables are turned. Overtaking must be carefully planned and executed for sure, but this is one sub-compact crossover that can eat countless miles with little difficulty.

The Tiggo 5X’s ride and handling story is near parallel to that of the powertrain. This isn’t a corner carver, even in the remote sense; instead, it’s a cruiser with a quiet, cushy ride. With a relaxed steering and some copious amounts of body roll, it behaves much bigger than its size suggests. It trades some of that agility, for a plush, controlled ride. The suspension tuning’s soft, enabling it to glide through rough roads, and hushed on the highways. Actually, it’s pretty mechanically sound if not for those little odds-and-ends that make some noise like the brake pedal spring, the hill assist engaging on and off, and even the electric power steering whirring when being turned. Again, these are minor inconveniences to an otherwise well-built crossover.

Overall, the Chery Tiggo 5X still lacks the polish of the more established sub-compact crossovers out in the market. Nonetheless, it proves how far this Chinese brand has come in the past 12 years. Not only have they managed to shed the last bit of facsimile design and engineering that plagued them before, but they’ve come up with a solid, reputable choice that’s fitted with a long list of standard equipment that makes it a great value. That, together with a confidence-inspiring warranty program could be what Chery needs to finally make a dent in the local automotive scene.

2020 Chery Tiggo 5X AT Luxury
Ownership 2020 Chery Tiggo 5X AT Luxury
Year Introduced 2019
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact SUV
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers,
10 years / 1,000,000 kilometers (powertrain)
The Basic
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 114 @ 6,150
Nm @ rpm 141 @ 3,800
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 6.66 km/L @ 12 km/h,
10.87 km/L @ 26 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,358
Width (mm) 1,830
Height (mm) 1,670
Wheelbase (mm) 2,630
Curb Weight (kg) 1,321
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Chao Yang SU318a 215/60 R 17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear with Camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Assist Control,
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
Baidu CarLife
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

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