Top 10 used bargain SUVs
Tuesday 06 April 2010
Our pick of the top 10 bargain used SUVs prove you don’t have to be a landowner to afford your own off-roader.
From the classy Audi Allroad to the utilitarian Jeep Cherokee, there’s an SUV to suit all tastes and budgets.
Daddy of the really big 4×4 market, the Shogun’s mix of kit, toughness and brute force have won it many friends.
For off road driving or towing, this is the real thing. Interiors are ballroom-sized and hard wearing, if not the last word in subtly. Most will have Mitsubishi’s well-liked 3.2 diesel engine, but a few have been sold with 3.5 V6 petrols. Favoured transmissions tend to be automatics.
Good looks, car-like driving characteristics and a reputation for toughness have helped sell succeeding generations of Toyota’s RAV4.
Both 2.0 petrol and 2.2 diesel motors have a reputation for going on forever, and offer decent performance and refinement.
If you want a three-door RAV4, then it will have been made before 2006, when the present, five-door only version appeared, but there’s a wide choice available, as Toyota has sold a lot of these cars over the years.
Neat 4×4/estate crossover that makes an attractive buy for families and the green wellie brigade alike.
Subarus consistently do well in customer satisfaction surveys, and the Forrester has the marque’s mix of longevity and quality build.
Its permanent four-wheel-drive system is bomb proof and gives the car good on road handling and the ability to cope with conditions that would leave other cars floundering.
Its distinctive-sounding flat four petrol engines (diesels are a very recent innovation) will rack up huge mileages if properly maintained.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe makes a good, budget-friendly Discovery or even Freelander alternative.
With both generations of the car, which first appeared in 2002, you get plenty of room and a long list of standard equipment.
Build quality is good, and the various engines fitted to the Santa Fe over the years (think 2.0 and 2.2 litre diesels 2.4 four-cylinder and 2.7 V6 petrols) have proved long lived.
The Santa Fe might not have the ultimate towing ability of the just-replaced Kia Sorrento, but makes up for this with more genteel road manners.
A bit of a 4×4 sleeper, the Sportage is well liked by owners.
It has genuine off-road ability, is solidly put together and does well in the metal-for-money stakes.
Inside there’s a decent amount of space for a family and its luggage, and you’ll find on all post-2005, second generation models kit like air conditioning, alloy wheels, all round electric windows and mirrors.
Power comes from 2.0 litre petrol four cylinder or 2.7 litre V6 diesels or a 2.0 diesel.
Full new Kia Sportage gallery:
Not a car for shrinking violets, the Nitro’s square cut styling is distinctively all-American.
Power comes from a 2.8 litre diesel, mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, and it’s possible to manually select either two or for wheel drive. Inside there’s plenty of room for four, and the equipment levels are strong.
The Nitro is something of a rarity in Britain, so if you find a one you’re guaranteed a distinctive set of wheels.
Unique looks and rarity value make Nissan’s Murano a stylish alternative to ‘lifestyle’ 4×4s like the Lexus RX.
Despite the rounded styling, there’s plenty of space inside, and Murano drivers do not go short of equipment, with features like cruise control and a rear parking camera.
The car’s rarity means that there’s little information on how reliable it is, but the 2005-2008 first generation model seems to have had few problems, although only being offered with a 3.5 litre V6 petrol motor –shared with the 350Z sportscar – makes it very much a niche product.
Those looking for all-wheel-drive and a lot of space might consider Chevrolet’s Captiva.
Not the ultimate off roader, the Captiva makes up for this with a generous equipment list, big passenger compartment and generous boot.
The car can either be had with a 2.4 petrol or 2-litre diesel motor, and makes an affordable alternative to perhaps better known 4×4s. It’s a bit of a rarity, so if you have trouble finding one, remember the Vauxhall Antara is the same thing with different badges.
Audi has taken decades of four-wheel-drive road car experience and applied it to the A6 estate to create the Allroad.
With its raised ride height and tough-looking body kit the car makes a bigger, plusher alternative to a Subaru Legacy estate or Volvo’s XC70.
You can expect the usual German attention to detail, and a classy feel to the interior. Not the cheapest car to run and maintain, the Allroad is still a quality item.
The all-American Jeep Cherokee has been around for donkey’s years, but only came to these shores officially in the early 1990s. The original model’s 2.5 diesel is the engine to seek out, as the fuel economy of both the 2.5 and 4-litre petrols was poor.
A new model arrived in 2001, offering better build quality, refinement and equipment. It was pitched as a rival for high-spec Freelander, as by this time a more luxourious Grand Cherokee rivalled the Discovery.
In 2008, the third-generation arrived, which came with only one engine – a strong 2.8-litre diesel. More luxury and better on-road manners mean it’s the one to choose, but naturally, it will be the most expensive.