What are the best SUVs on the market?
Australian SUV sales overtook those of passenger cars in 2017 and, now the baton has finally changed hands, the gap is widening – SUV sales to the end of March were up 10.9% year on year, while the passenger cars’ slice of the pie shrank another 5.7%.
No surprise, then, that car makers are stoking the fire with more and more new SUVs – which is good, but also potentially overwhelming. With most SUV segments now covering a multitude of possibilities, just where does the prospective buyer start?
This collection of benchmark SUVs is the answer to that question.
Small – Toyota C-HR, from $26,990
This Toyota is practical, economical, safe and one of the segment’s sweetest-driving and most visually interesting packages. Only budget buyers (it’s not cheap) and small children (they’ll struggle to see out the back) are likely to have serious grizzles.
Honourable mention: Mazda’s CX-3 cedes space and refinement to the Toyota but offers a lower entry price, more choice and plenty of style, safety and driving flair.
Medium – Volkswagen Tiguan, from $31,990
There are cheaper medium SUVs than this Volkswagen, and its double-clutch transmission can be hesitant in low-speed driving, but none offer such a well-rounded combination of space, safety, technology, driving flair and upmarket presentation.
Honourable mention: Mazda’s CX-5, just like the CX-3, is no benchmark of space or refinement but serves up a solid mix of good looks, quality, practicality, safety and value.
Medium 5+2 – Peugeot 5008, from $42,990
This Peugeot packs the most versatile, user-friendly cabin of the compact seven-seater segment, then backs it up with standout elegance and competitive safety, technology and driving credentials. But like its closest rival, Skoda’s Kodiaq, you do pay a little more for the privilege.
Honourable mention: Nissan’s X-Trail isn’t as stylish, refined and appealing as European alternatives but its value and clever 5+2 cabin make it a great budget family hauler.
Large seven-seater – Mazda CX-9, from $43,890
This Mazda’s value, space, versatility and safety are bang on target for larger families, and it throws in plenty of charisma, quality and driving appeal for good measure, along with the best petrol engine in the segment. Just don’t go looking for a diesel option.
Honourable mention: Kia’s Sorento lacks the sheer talent and appeal of the CX-9 but is sharp value, offers a diesel option and has the longest warranty (seven years).
Heavy-duty – Toyota LandCruiser Prado, from $53,490
This isn’t the most attractive, slick to drive or best value heavy-duty off-roader but its rough-road nous, vast off-road ability and huge 150-litre fuel capacity come into their own back of Bourke.
Honourable mention: Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport can’t match the Prado’s space, comfort and sheer rough-and-tough ability but it’s cheaper, has a five-year warranty and stacks up well against other ute-based heavy-duty 4WDs.
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