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The ultimate SUV buying guide

The ultimate SUV buying guide

You might be familiar with the term 'SUV', but do you know what really makes a car an SUV, or does it technically count as a crossover? 

Well, wonder no more! We've put together the ultimate comprehensive SUV buying guide, including a full rundown on the best SUVs on the market, both new and used. 

Angled view of grey Volvo SUV

 

What is an SUV? 

The initials SUV stand for Sport Utility Vehicle and became popular in the late 1980s. Before then, SUVs were sometimes known as four-wheel drives, jeeps or station wagons amongst other things. However, the name Sport Utility Vehicle doesn't really explain much about the car.

Traditionally an SUV is a larger car, with a spacious interior, and sometimes comes with four-wheel drive. Due to their robust nature, they were a popular choice for people who needed, or liked, to go off-road and take everything they needed with them. However, as they've become more popular and mainstream, manufacturers have made them more stylish and like other cars, sometimes neglecting their off-road abilities.

 

What's the difference between an SUV, a crossover and a 4x4?

Good question! Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, an SUV, crossover and 4x4 are all different cars with their own unique features.

A crossover is generally smaller than an SUV as they are often built off the same framework as a smaller hatchback, whereas an SUV often has a larger framework to begin with. Therefore, although they may look like a similar car, a crossover can also be less capable than an SUV when it comes to towing heavy loads or venturing off-road.

A 4x4 vehicle is a general name for a car with four-wheel drive; all four wheels are driven by the engine. This makes them great for tough terrain and for towing heavy loads. Because of this, some SUVs are technically 4x4 as they have four-wheel drive. However, not all do and therefore, if this is something you need in an SUV, double-check the specific car's capabilities.

 

What to look for when buying a used SUV  

Used SUVs are a popular choice for many and can be more affordable than their new counterparts. But, as with any used car, there are things you should be looking out for when trying to purchase a used SUV, including if you're looking for particular features like having 4-wheel drive. Here are some example questions you should be asking yourself when you start looking for your next used SUV:

  • Is the car 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive?
  • Are there any obvious signs of wear and tear, both outside and inside of the car?
  • Does it have the towing capabilities that meet your needs?
  • Are the tyres in good condition, and are they the correct specifications? 
  • Is the car's documentation up to date?

 

5 reasons to buy an SUV 

There are several reasons that we would recommend buying an SUV, such as:

  1. They have larger interiors, and are sometimes able to carry seven or eight passengers depending on the vehicle.
  2. They're highly practical and often have a large boot space. 
  3. They have a high towing capacity, perfect for a bike trailer, horsebox, or even a boat.
  4. They're known for having high safety standards due to their build and included features.
  5. There's a wide range of styles, features and designs to suit every driver - from individuals to larger families
Couple sat in the front seats of SUV smiling

 

What to consider when buying an SUV

When shopping for a new SUV, there are a few things you should take into consideration: 

  • Fuel efficiency - SUVs can often have a bigger engine and therefore might be a bit of a petrol guzzler. However, a lot of two-wheel drive SUVs are more aerodynamic and get better gas mileage, perfect for town living. As all cars are different, some SUVs have better fuel efficiency then others so best to do some research.
  • The size - an SUV is known to be a large vehicle, but you can get slightly smaller models, as well as the option for a crossover. If you're a family of four, a 5-seater will be plenty. But if you like to travel with lots of friends and family, a 7 or 8-seater might suit you best.
  • The drive - as previously mentioned, an SUV can be 2-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, or even all-wheel drive. If you're likely to go off-roading a lot or drive in bad weather, you'll need to consider which option works best for you and your lifestyle.

 

Best used SUVs on the market currently  

SUVs are as popular as they've ever been, and the range of used models currently up for grabs confirms that. Here are some of our top picks for the best-used SUVs on the market right now: 

Larger SUVs

  1. Skoda Kodiaq
  2. Peugeot 5008
  3. Jaguar F-Pace

Smaller SUVs

  1. SEAT Ateca
  2. BMW X3
  3. Volvo XC40

 

How do car magazines rate SUVs? 

So, we may have our favourite SUVs, but what do the tip car magazines have to say??

 

Magazine

Car model 

Position 

Auto Car 
(family SUV)

Auto Express
(SUV)

Car Magazine
SUV)

What Car
(family SUV)

Audi Q5

Land Rover Defender

Aston Martin DBX

Volvo XC40

Land Rover Discovery Sport

SEAT Tarraco

Range Rover

Range Rover Evoque

BMW X3

BMW X5

Volkswagen Touareg

Skoda Karoq

Jaguar F-Pace

Renault Captur

Mercedes-Benz G-Glass

Nissan Qashqai

Skoda Kodiaq

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Lamborghini Urus

SEAT Ateca

Mercedes-Benz GLC

Jaguar I-Pace

Audi Q8

BMW X1

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Hyundai Tucson

Range Rover Velar

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volvo XC60

Skoda Karoq

Porsche Cayenne

Hyundai Tucson

SEAT Tarraco

Land Rover Discovery

Volvo XC90

Peugeot 3008

10

Kia Sorento

Kia e-Niro

Mercedes-Benz  GLE

Audi Q3

All four magazines differ in their top SUV but top manufacturers include Audi, Volvo, Skoda, BMW and Land Rover, though many offer their own SUV style vehicles.  

 

Looking for certain features? Here are the best SUVs on the market 

Every SUV is unique in its own way, meaning no matter what your preference for specific features, there's guaranteed to be a manufacturer and model to suit you.  


Affordable SUVs

Although SUVs seem expensive, there are some on the market which offer an affordable solution! Plus, it doesn't mean they scrimp on technology, performance and quality. Here are just a few of our favourites: 

Peugeot 3008

Average price new: £30,775

Average price used: £19,625

Economy: 55-60mpg 

Nissan Qashqai  

Average price new: £30,530

Average price used: £15,700

Economy: 37-44mpg 

Renault Kadjar

Average price new: £26,700

Average price used: £13,250

Economy: 44-55mpg


SUV driving offroad on rocky terrain

 

Best 4-wheel drive SUVs

Those looking for that extra injection of power and stability can opt for a 4-wheel SUV, giving you the best driving experience on any road and in any weather condition. Here are a few of our favourites: 

Audi Q5

Average price new: £45,000

Average price used: £30,500

Economy: 33-46mpg 

Land Rover Discovery

Average price new: £58,855

Average price used: £24,100

Economy: 30-35mpg 


Best 7-seater SUV

Giving you extra levels of adaptability, 7-seater SUVs are ideal for larger families who could use an extra seat or two! Here are some of our picks: 

Volvo XC90

Average price new: £70,250

Average price used: £42,500

Economy: 32-42mpg 

Peugeot 5008

Average price new: £33,250

Average price used: £22,005

Economy: 43-48mpg 

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Average price new: £43,300

Average price used: £25,700

Economy: 40-45mpg


SUV with the biggest boot

A benefit of an SUV is the cargo space and finding the one with the biggest boot space can be very important. Here are some SUVs with the biggest boot space, with the seats down:

Land Rover Discovery

Average price new: £58,855

Average price used: £24,100

Economy: 30-35mpg 

Boot size: 2,406 litres

Peugeot 5008

Average price new: £33,250

Average price used: £22,005

Economy: 43-48mpg 

Boot size: 2,150 litres

BMW X7

Average price new: £84,580 (standard seating)

Average price used: £73,500

Economy: 26-36mpg 

Boot size: 2,120 litres 

White Electric SUV plugged in and charging

Best electric SUVs 

With more focus on electric and hybrid cars, there are already some great SUVs on the market with green credentials, including:

Skoda Enyaq iV

Average price new: £41,850

Average price used: n/a

Economy: 205 miles per charge (average)

BMW iX3

Average price new: £60,435

Average price used: n/a

Economy: mpg 240 miles per charge (average)

Kia e-Niro

Average price new: £36,200

Average price used: n/a

Economy: 230 miles per charge (average)


Most reliable SUVs 

If you're on the lookout for an SUV that you can rely on, look no further than these top models: 

Skoda Kodiaq

Average price new: £35,660

Average price used: £23,500

Economy: 35-52mpg 

Hyundai Kona

Average price new: £23,775

Average price used: £16,080

Economy: 34-47mpg 

Mazda CX-5

Average price new: £31,175

Average price used: £20,050

Economy: 37-58mpg 


Find out more

If you are looking to buy to a new used SUV and need more help and advice, contact Carbase today. Our expert team of friendly staff are more than happy to help you select your next used vehicle today.

Sources

General information

  1. https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/best-cars/top-10-best-family-suvs
  2. https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-suvs
  3. https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/best/suv/
  4. https://www.whatcar.com/best/best-family-suvs-2021/n17116
  5. https://www.buyacar.co.uk/cars/family-cars/suvs/1603/suvs-with-the-biggest-boots
  6. https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/106746/best-4x4s-to-buy-now
  7. https://www.whatcar.com/best/best-7-seat-suvs-and-4x4s-2021/n2060
  8. https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/driver-power/86924/top-10-most-reliable-4x4s-and-suvs
  9. https://ev-database.uk/

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