Best used SUVs and crossovers

Offering the prospect of good value, chunky looks and flexible, spacious interiors, the best used SUVs and crossovers make great family cars

BuyaCar team
Mar 8, 2022

You might refer to them as SUVs, off-roaders, crossovers or even 4x4s, but these cars all undoubtedly share a few things in common: they are designed to be stylish, offer a high driving position and be practical to live with, making life easier for parents dealing with children.

With a much higher driving position than hatchbacks and estate cars, the best SUVs offer a commanding view of the world, giving drivers a heightened sense of safety. Some seat five, others throw in a third row of seats to carry seven, but all of them offer enough space for gadgets and gizmos, books and bottles, and handy touches such as USB charging points and ventilation controls for those in the back to keep passengers of all ages comfortable, occupied and tantrum-free.

They may not be as economical as some other family cars, or feel as precise to drive, but the best SUVs will smooth out Britain’s crumbling roads as if by magic. They’re usefully taller than the average family hatchback too - making it easier to load and unload the child seats in most cases.

The choice of used models is plentiful and prices can be surprisingly affordable, as there are now so many models available. All you need to be aware of are potentially higher running costs; fuel bills, the cost of tyres and routine servicing can be higher than, say, an estate car.

The best used SUVs and crossovers 

So what's the difference between an SUV and a crossover? Well, from the outside you probably wouldn't notice the difference - that comes when you look beneath that bulky bodywork. In basic terms, a crossover will tend to be based upon a small hatchback, so all of the mechanical parts such as the engine and the suspension will be virtually identical. An example would be the Renault Captur, which is mechanically identical in many ways to a Renault Clio.

This means that despite its more rugged appearance, the Renault Captur is unlikely to be much better suited to off-roading than the standard Clio hatchback, bar its slightly higher ground clearance, which makes it less likely to scrape the floor when crossing rough ground. A traditional SUV, on the other hand, is more mechanically similar to a van, making it larger first off, but also stronger and better suited to harsh terrain and driving off-road. Don't be put off, though: most SUVs are very un-van-like when it comes to driving them.

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Best used SUV for seven seats in a compact package

Our pick Discovery Sport HSE TD4 180 7-seat
Used deals from £19,287
Monthly finance from £453*

Despite its name, this is not a particularly sporty car. Nevertheless, it is a terrific family car and it is enjoyable to drive.

The ace up its sleeve is that it is compact enough to be relatively easy to manoeuvre in a multi-storey car park, but inside all but the cheapest 'Pure' models come with seven seats. Just don’t expect adults to thank you for spending hours in the rearmost row; children are a much better fit.

Some models are available with two-wheel drive only, which reduces the weight of the car and improves fuel economy, but the majority come with four-wheel drive for when you need the extra grip, such as for towing or tackling muddy farm tracks. It isn’t the cheapest car of its type, but holds its value well, making PCP finance more affordable than you might think.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Skoda Yeti

Best used SUV for standing out of the crowd

Our pick Skoda Yeti SE 1.2 TSI
Used deals from £8,250
Monthly finance from £0*

With a name like Yeti, you know that Skoda’s SUV is going to be one of the more quirky options before you’ve even set eyes on it. And sure enough, it does have a pretty disctinct look with its bluff nose and boxy passenger compartment. However, depending upon the specification and colour the Skoda Yeti can be both striking and sophisticated.

Look beyond the obvious and you’ll find a car that’s surprisingly sprightly to drive and astoundingly practical. The rear seats, for example, slide on rails, the backrests tilt to help passengers get comfortable, they also fold down in 40/20/40 configuration - perfect for loading some woodwork or plumbing materials through the space in the middle - and can even be removed, providing a particularly large and useful load area.

The tried and trusted 2.0-litre diesel engine is by far the most popular engine, and some models feature four-wheel drive, but if you don’t do many miles in a year, try a cheaper 1.2-litre 'TSI' petrol instead, as this will cost you less overall. And if you want something sporty-feeling with added performance and all-wheel-drive grip, the turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol option is a great choice.

SKODA YETI BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Nissan Qashqai

Best used SUV for value for money

Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DiG-T Acenta
Used deals from £14,290
Monthly finance from £275*

This version of the Nissan Qashqai went on sale in 2014, and was recently replaced in 2021. This update helps to push down the prices of the previous-generation model, which still looks fresh and comes with plenty of kit.

It's not the best crossover for off-roading, but it’s capable on-road and well-liked by drivers, taking care of all their needs at a price they can afford with a name they recognise. The interior is well made, some versions come packed with technology - including electronic driving aids - and rear-seat legroom is impressive, but the boot is on the small side for a family SUV. For SUVs with larger boots, check these out.

It’s smooth and stable to drive, with pretty good fuel economy, but the lower-powered 1.5-litre diesel engine can feel a bit feeble if you're loaded up for a family holiday. We'd stick with the larger 1.6-litre dCi diesel for extra punch. Drivers turning away from diesel power will be pleased with the 1.2-litre and 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engines.

NISSAN QASHQAI BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volvo XC90

Best used SUV for safety and space

Our pick Volvo XC90 Momentum D5
Used deals from £27,000
Monthly finance from £0*

Volvo has a reputation for building safe cars and the XC90 is one of the safest SUVs so far. But did you know that since records of vehicle fatalities began, nobody inside a Volvo XC90 has ever been killed in Britain? (At the time of publication, at least).

So if you want your loved ones to be as safe as possible - and who doesn’t - then the Volvo XC90 is for you. A quick exploration of the interior suggests it was designed by someone who has children - lots of children. The space on offer is huge and comfort levels are very high - perfect for keeping parents relaxed and reducing how often shouts of 'are we nearly there yet?' are heard, too.

The XC90 is not as expensive as some may imagine, given how large it is and how upmarket it feels, and used versions of the latest model, sold since 2015, are coming down in price.

VOLVO XC90 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Range Rover Evoque

Best used SUV for style

Our pick Range Rover Evoque Dynamic TD4 180
Used deals from £14,690
Monthly finance from £384*

If you turn up with a Range Rover Evoque on your drive, the neighbours won't be able to help but notice that your life is going swimmingly. When it comes to getting envious looks from next door, few cars will have people peering past the curtains quite like this one.

There is a trade-off, however. The low roof that gives the Evoque its striking stance means the rear seats feel a little cramped - more like a coupe than a tall SUV. But in other ways, this helps by keeping the car’s weight relatively low and making it feel surprisingly sporty on a nice stretch of road.

Unusually, there’s a choice of three- and five-door models. It means this is one used SUV that could actually end up being more of a stylish fashion statement for many owners than the most practical family holdall. A new Range Rover Evoque hit the streets in 2019, but this older model represents great value now the pricey new model has arrived. The newer model is only available with five doors, but it's more efficient thanks to some mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Dacia Duster

Best used SUV for budget motoring

Our pick Dacia Duster Comfort TCe 90 4x2
Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £236*

Dacia offers outstanding value for money to budget-conscious drivers, and the Duster is the ultimate example of a cheap SUV

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