By Alexi Falson, 15 Oct, 2021
10 SUVs worth a test drive
November 02, 2020
SUVs are popular, and they’re here to stay. According to the latest car sales data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, when combined with utes, SUVs make up two thirds to seven-in-ten new vehicles sold in any given month.
Overtaking market share from sedans and hatchbacks, SUVs are loved Australia-wide for increased ride height and practicality, with many including decent off-road capabilities. So, if you’re in the market for an SUV, what are some makes and models worth a test drive?
Check out our top 10
With a fairly wide range of engine options and trim levels, the Pajero Sport namesake is a popular one for both on the bitumen and off the beaten path. The range maxes out at about $46,000, and for that you get the GLX model with a turbo diesel engine and 4x4.
9. Isuzu MU-X
Get into some ‘mucks’ with the MU-X. The Isuzu model comes with a 3.0L turbo diesel engine as standard, with 4x4 on most models. Arguably the most popular model is the ‘LS-T’ edition, which costs about $48,000 drive away.
8. Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 has arguably been the benchmark in ‘softroaders’ for the last few years. The CX-5 offers a decent blend of luxury and value, with a range of trim levels on offer. The range tops out with the ‘Akera’ trim level, which has a 2.5L turbo petrol engine, and all the safety and technology you could hope for, costing around $58,000 drive away.
The Suzuki Vitara is one of the cheapest SUVs on this list, starting at less than $30,000 drive away for the base model. The base model comes with a manual transmission, 2WD and a 1.6L petrol engine. However, for a bit more ‘wow factor’ you’ll probably be spending closer to $37,000, which gets you a turbo engine, and 4WD along with some other goodies.
20 years ago, Subaru walked so other brands could run - it was one of the first brands to offer excitement and ‘everyday’ sensibilities in the SUV space. The Outback is one of the pioneers of this, and in the third decade of the 21st century, the Outback loses none of its pedigree. The 2.5i ‘X 5GEN’ model comes with AWD as standard and costs about $49,000 drive away.
For a bit of luxury, a Tiguan could be the answer. With a 2.0L turbo petrol engine as standard, there’s a range of trim levels, and topping the range is the ‘162TSI Highline’ model at just under $72,000 drive away. However, there are plenty of models around $62,000 or less. Base ‘110TSI’ models come with a 1.4L turbo petrol motor and 2WD, however.
The venerable Landcruiser has been king of Australian roads for easily the past 30 years. The name carries with it serious off-roading pedigree. While top models can fetch upwards of $90,000, base ‘Workmate’ models start at around $72,000. For that you’ll have to row your own gears. But where the Landcruiser name doesn’t compromise is off-road capability, along with a massive fuel tank up to 180L, and a 3,500kg towing capacity.
In a different change of pace from the Landcruiser above, the Koleos is perhaps more at home on city streets than the Northern Territory. The Koleos goes for around $36,000 drive away, and for that you’ll get a 2.5L petrol engine, and front wheel drive. With some French design quirks, the Koleos is perhaps a popular left-field choice.
Nissan has somewhat changed direction of the Pathfinder name. Where it used to go toe-to-toe with the Landcruiser, it’s shifted gears to be more comfortable with the suburban crowd. Base models can be found for a tick over $40,000 and come with 2WD, while to get 4WD and a more luxurious interior you’ll pay upwards of $60,000, with prices maxing out at around $75,000. Most of the time you’ll get a 3.5L six cylinder engine as standard, with some hybrid models also on offer.
The Santa Fe is the value-seeker’s choice in the SUV market. With prices starting at around $43,000 drive away, the Santa Fe packs in a lot for the money. It’s one of the few seven-seats-as-standard models in this list, with a six cylinder 3.5L engine as standard. It also has an eight speed auto transmission, backed by Hyundai’s 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
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