They’re the trendy, do anything, go anywhere car for the 21st Century. The SUV, or Sports Utility Vehicle, has come a long way from the first Jeep and Range Rover models that blended 4×4 ruggedness and car-like comforts, but the image of unstoppable practicality and country living has remained true for all. Even when they lose the ability to go off-road!
When looking for a second hand SUV, you’re now spoiled for choice, and you’ll find it relatively easy to get a bargain. Think about your needs first, though – do you simply want a taller family car that’s easier to get the kids and shopping in and has a better view of the road, or do you want all-weather, off-road potential? There’s no sense paying for – and meeting the extra running costs of – 4×4 if you don’t need it. Before setting your budget, get a valuation on your existing car via the Value My Car tool – and you can use the same tool to compare the cars you want to buy, too.
The great news is that unlike those Jeeps and Range Rovers that started it all, modern SUVs are economical, comfortable and handle well on motorways and fast roads as well as in fields. There’s never been a better time to buy a bargain SUV.
The best SUVs for towns and cities
Some might say the best car for a town or city is small – but when you’re surrounded by vans, lorries and other SUVs you want to be seen too.
The Dacia Duster [https://www.parkers.co.uk/dacia/duster/suv/review/] is a top choice if you want the best value from a used SUV. Rugged, small enough to park, big enough for friends or family, it’s unpretentious yet remarkably well made in 2018-on form. Some might argue the bargain is the new one, but there’s a facelift due out – so watch out for three-year old models being traded back in. Better yet, there’s a BiFuel version which provides the flexibility of LPG from the factory.
If you want peace of mind, the Kia Sportage [https://www.parkers.co.uk/kia/sportage/] has the advantage of a long manufacturer warranty. It is also quite small, but offers a substantial boot and great flexibility with the seats down as well. Like the Duster, you can get a 4×4 version – but most are front-wheel drive and ideal for town driving.
The best SUVs for the country
As a used buy, the BMW X5 [https://www.parkers.co.uk/bmw/x5/] is a really good large family estate car with extra space. Older models are available for a bargain price as they’re excluded from London’s ULEZ, but be prepared for high tax bills on the larger-engined versions. Away from the urban sprawl it’s has good handling in the BMW tradition, smooth straight-six or V8 engines, and an image of being capable off-road, but not too crude.
You can’t associate the country and 4x4s without looking to Land Rover. Forget the posh Range Rover and crude (or fancy for the new one) Defender, the 2004 to 2017 Discovery [https://www.parkers.co.uk/land-rover/discovery/station-wagon/review/] is the one to get. Square, rugged looks, a massive 2,500 litres of space with the two rows of rear seats folded, and unstoppable off-road potential meet remarkably good used values as modifiers prefer earlier cars.
How to get the best deals
Shop for an SUV in summer – people think more about 4x4s after October and dealers hold out for stronger prices, though with models like the Discovery the prices can vary more on condition than time of year. Check the car thoroughly, and look over the MOT history at the .gov.uk website [https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history] – it’s free, and can reveal areas to look at before you go and view a car (it’s one reason dodgy sellers cover the numberplates in adverts now).
Look for less popular models. If you don’t do many miles in a year, look for a petrol version where other drivers will want a diesel; if it’s an upmarket SUV you want, think about manual models, or unpopular colours and trims.
Also Read: What to Expect From an Off-Road Outfitters
A bargain doesn’t have to be cheap outright, either. If you can get the SUV you want with 40,000 instead of 80,000 miles, it has potentially much more useful life left in it – so don’t shy away from the highest-priced examples, they could work out cheaper in the long run.
The best deal on any used car, however, is the one where you get some factory warranty. Toyota has added a ten-year, 100,000 mile [https://www.parkers.co.uk/car-news/2021/toyota-relax-10-year-warranty/] warranty to Lexus and Toyota cars sold in the UK – all you need to do is get a service from a main dealer for another year of cover. Choose a Lexus RX [https://www.parkers.co.uk/lexus/rx/estate/review/] or a Toyota RAV4 [https://www.parkers.co.uk/toyota/rav4/estate/review/] and you could get a car with three years of cover – as you would get from new. The biggest saving you want in a used car isn’t cash, it’s stress – and this is the key to a long-term bargain.