Jess is in the market for a used medium SUV. She has two young children, so space and load-lugging potential are right at the top of her wishlist, as is safety. It needs to be dependable and economical but she doesn’t want a diesel. What are her options?
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Up to $20,000
Contenders from pretty much every big brand are plying their trade in the medium-SUV segment and – because many have been doing so for generations – the going is just as good for used-car buyers.
Jess’ criteria and budget, however, do strike more than a few potential candidates from the list. Neither Ford’s Kuga, Mazda’s CX-5 nor Volkswagen’s first-gen Volkswagen Tiguan are an overtly practical example of the medium-SUV breed.
Hyundai’s ix35, Kia’s Sportage, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and Toyota’s RAV4, while better family haulers than those cars, ultimately lose out here to fresher, better designs that offer access to some potentially tempting safety technology in this budget range.
2012-17 Honda CR-V, from $12,700*
This Honda’s big back seat, 556-litre boot and plentiful storage make it one of the most practical, versatile medium SUVs of this vintage.
Every model gets a reversing camera and you might just pin down autonomous emergency braking with a suitably optioned VTi-L model. It’s a comfortable, composed drive and finding one with a year or two left to run on Honda’s five-year/100,000km fixed-price servicing deal shouldn’t be hard in this price range.
Base 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive models, however, lack the muscle for fully loaded applications. 2.4-litre all-wheel-drive models, while more responsive, still aren’t as relaxed or frugal as rival offerings.
It asks for more frequent servicing than some alternatives (six-monthly/10,000km) and has been subject to a couple of recalls that will need to be checked (including the Takata airbag recall).
Read Drive’s Honda CR-V reviews:
Used-car review: Honda CR-V
Long-term review: Honda CR-V
She says, he says: Honda CR-V VTi 4WD
Road-test comparison: Mediums SUVs
2014-on Nissan X-Trail, from $15,000*
This Nissan keeps the Honda honest for cabin and boot space (550 litres) but has the more versatile back seat (it has a 40/20/40-split rather than 60/40) and its boot can be reconfigured to suit the load.
Its 2.5-litre petrol drivetrain is a more flexible and thriftier than the CR-V’s 2.4 equivalent (8.3L/100km versus 8.7L/100km in the case auto AWD models). It asks for less frequent servicing (yearly/10,000km) and has more fixed-price servicing coverage (six years/120,000km).
But entry-level 2.0-litre models have similar performance question marks to their Honda rivals. It’s a comfortable, easy drive but not as surefooted as the CR-V through the bends.
While a reversing camera is mandatory and topline Ti models come with a smattering of driver aids, auto emergency braking wasn’t introduced until a 2016 update and an X-Trail of this vintage isn’t really on for this money. It has this group’s only space-saver spare tyre.
Read Drive’s Nissan X-Trail reviews:
Road test: Nissan X-Trail Ti AWD
She says, he says: Nissan X-Trail ST
2012-on Subaru Forester, from $14,600*
This Subaru has this group’s smallest boot (422 litres) and none of the Nissan’s user-friendly tricks (i.e. 40/20/40-split back seat, reconfigurable boot).
Don’t expect to tap into its maker’s three-year/75,000km fixed-price servicing regime in this budget range and it asks for six-monthly/12,500km servicing. 2.0-litre manual models are just as wimpy as the wimpiest-engined versions of its rivals.
But it has the back-seat space to keep a young family happy, a still-handy boot and mandatory reversing camera. Its 2.5-litre petrol engine/CVT auto combo delivers decent performance and economy (8.1L/100km), and it’s a surefooted, comfortable drive that has more to offer than its rivals here when the tarmac ends.
And where they either miss out on auto emergency braking or force you to search for a suitably optioned example to get it, it makes things easy – all topline 2.5i-S models have it and it was optional on the middle-tier 2.5i-L.
Read Drive’s Subaru Forester reviews:
New-car review: Subaru Forester
Head to head: Hyundai Tucson vs Subaru Forester
The X-Trail goes closest to satisfying Jess’ fundamental wish for a spacious, versatile family hauler, and backs it up with competitive economy, solid safety and this group’s easiest ownership. It could be better to drive but, against these criteria, it’s this group’s standout all-rounder.
That is unless Jess absolutely has to have safety technology such as auto emergency braking. In that scenario, a CR-V with the right options starts to look like a winning package. The Forester, meanwhile, remains a standout for anyone looking to scratch an off-road itch, though they do need to sacrifice a sliver of ultimate practicality to get it.
* Values are estimates provided by Redbook based on an example averaging up to 20,000km per annum and in a well-maintained condition relevant to its age.
source : drive.com.au