Which SUV Should I Buy?

Kia Sportage

QUESTION

I am contacting you to get your advice on the purchase of my next new car. I have watched most of your videos and am a big fan of your no-BS approach.

In short, I am 32 years old and am keen to buy a new or second-hand SUV. I am ready to spend up to $45,000 on this vehicle. My partner wants a car with a 'premium' feel (leather seats for instance) and I want a car with more acceleration capacity than a soccer-mum car. We may drive off-road very occasionally (twice a year, maybe).

In that price range, it seems that I can get one of the following cars:

  • New Kia Sportage or Sorento
  • New Mazda CX-5
  • New Mitsubishi Outlander
  • New Nissan X-trail
  • New Hyundai Santa Fe or ix35
  • Used Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Used BMW X5
  • Used Audi Q5

After watching your review of the Ford Territory, I have removed it from my list.

What would be your advice regarding the purchase of my next car. From a financial perspective, I can afford a $1,000 yearly service if necessary.

I look forward to your reply, 
Matt

ANSWER

Happy to help with this. Thanks for the kind words about the reviews - I've tried to make 'no BS' my thing…

Removing the Ford Territory was a good call - dog of an SUV. More on that here >> 

Basically, $45,000 gets you a very nice SUV indeed - and there’s more than one right answer in that group - especially at that price. For $45,000 you will get most of the premium features your partner is expecting, as well as the performance levels you prefer.

MAZDA CX-5

Mazda CX-5

At the time of writing, Mazda CX-5 (above) is due for a mid-life makeover at some time in the coming months. If you buy one now it will take a big resale value hit when the upgrade happens. Otherwise it’s a solid entrant. Good diesel engine and the larger of the two petrol engines is also a good performer.

MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander

For me, Outlander (pictured above) is a scratching - just not up there with the rest. Mitsubishi (like Honda) is somewhat off its meds at the moment. Perhaps normal programming will be resumed soon ... but don't hold your breath.

BMW X5

BMW X5

BMW X5

NISSAN X-TRAIL

Nissan X-TRAIL

Nissan X-TRAIL

The Germans: X5 and Q5 are great value used - until something goes wrong (mate of mine got hit with a $12k quote to fix the transmission on his X5; caller on 2UE got quoted $1400 just to replace the wing mirror…) Parts pricing for prestige cars is extortionate, even though the acquisition cost of the vehicle itself can be quite reasonable..

Nissan X-TRAIL (above) is a fundamentally good SUV with the following quirk: five and seven-seat versions available - but you can't have seven-seat with AWD. Click here to watch my full review of the Nissan X-TRAIL >>

HYUNDAI SANTA FE

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

KIA SORENTO

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

Hyundai Santa Fe (left) is an excellent SUV, which has just had its 2015 update. Watch my full review of the Santa Fe here, and click here for the details on the 2015 Santa Fe update. Kia Sorento (2015 model, pictured at right above) is excellent too. It shares engine and other fundamentals with Santa Fe. They are the same vehicle with different detail design, but Hyundai has done a better job with Santa Fe. Kia Sorento is also due for a 2015 makeover - 2014 model still on sale at time of writing - so same resale scenario as for CX-5 above in the near future, should you buy the current model Kia Sorento today.

HYUNDAI IX35

Hyundai ix35

Hyundai ix35

KIA SPORTAGE

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage (above right) and Hyundai ix35 (above left) are another case of the same car; different details - and are also very close in execution. Too close to call, currently, for me. You better let personal preference dictate the choice here if it's down to these two.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

Grand Cherokee (right) has too many reliability horror stories to own out of warranty, and it has only a four-star ANCAP safety rating (the offset front crash test, designed to simulate a head-on crash, was the problem there: driver leg and chest injury risk).

CONCLUSION:

If it were my $45,000 it would be a Santa Fe Elite or the ix35 Highlander - depending on how low you can get the price of the Elite, and whether you need seven seats. The ix35 is smaller, well equipped, and will save you some money.

In all these cases I would be getting a diesel - because they go so much better than the petrol, especially at low to mid revs.

I'll get the brokerage to call you ASAP. 

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