Luxury SUVs under $50,000

 

We understand you’ve worked hard and you want an SUV that you’re proud of. Something that exudes class and sophistication. However, just because a car has a luxury badge, doesn’t mean it’s reliable or will provide years of trouble-free motoring. So, we asked mechanics, car dealers, and motoring journalists to find the top 5 most reliable luxury SUVs for under 50 grand. Here’s our list.

5. 2012 Infiniti FX50

In fifth place, the 2012 Infiniti FX50 may have polarising looks, but it’s unique and worth hunting down. With a price tag of around $115,000 when new in Australia, this funky, leather-lined, V8-powered SUV can be found for under $50,000 if you’re lucky.

 

The technology may be a bit outdated, but the 5.0L V8 engine is near bulletproof. It handles, rides, and performs just as well as many of its European rivals.

 

The interior is beautifully appointed and you’re almost guaranteed to stand out from the crowd with this unpredictable alternative.

4. Porsche Cayenne 3.6 (2013/14)

In fourth place, it’s important to note that this is a specific variant of the Porsche Cayenne – the 2013 and 2014 2nd-generation 3.6-litre petrol model.

 

Many models before, after, and around this one can be riddled with issues. However, these 6-cylinder models have proven to be reliable as long as they’ve been serviced and well maintained.

 

In Australia, this base model Cayenne had an asking price of around $105,000 when new, meaning just seven years later, you can find one for half the price.

 

While it may be the base model and may lack some of the luxury features of higher-spec models, it’s still a Porsche, which instantly gives it more brand credibility than the likes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

3. Lexus LX570 (2007-2010)

Coming in third place, it’s the third-generation J200 Lexus LX570 is based on one of the most formidable SUVs ever and brings serious off-roading capabilities to this luxurious list.

 

While it may be getting a bit older and is essentially a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series with a nicer exterior, it’s still a great option for those looking for a luxury SUV that can handle off-roading.

 

Forget worrying about unreliable Range Rovers, for this budget, this is the one to get. The Lexus LX570 may be built like a tank and is likely to outlast humanity, but the spacious interior is lined with leather, the 5.7-litre V8 engine gives it some serious power, and even the level of safety and infotainment technology is still impressive considering its age.

 

Plus, these vehicles were over $160,000 when new in Australia, making it a great bargain if you can find one around the $50,000 mark.

2. Lexus NX300 Luxury (2017-2018)

In second place, we have the 2018 and 2019 Lexus NX300 Luxury in two-wheel drive.

 

While it may not be the most accomplished when it comes to off-roading, let’s be realistic – how much serious off-roading are you actually going to do? Even though it may not take you deep into the wilderness, it still has the raised ride height of an SUV and can easily handle anything around town as long as it’s not snowing at blizzard levels or flooding.

 

The NX300 has a funky design, a beautiful interior, is built to typical flawless Lexus standards, is equipped with the latest technology and, as a current model, will most likely still be covered under a full factory warranty.

 

The level of luxury and value for money offered by the Lexus NX300 is unmatched, until you see the top pick on our list.

1. Lexus RX350 F Sport (2016)

In first place, we have another Lexus model, the 2016 RX350 F Sport. When we think of luxury, we think of quality, precision, comfort, and elegance, and the Lexus RX350 embodies all of these traits. Plus, being a Lexus, it’s likely to maintain these traits for many years to come.

 

While other luxury SUVs may be equal to the RX350 when new, after a few years of use, the fit and finish of other brands may start to deteriorate. The RX350 F Sport is the best option in the RX range, it’s powered by a quiet, refined, and proven drivetrain, the quality of the build, fit, and finish exceeds its asking price, and it’s loaded with all the technology and features you’ll ever need.

 

We weren’t expecting Lexus models to take the top three spots, but when you strip away the marketing and branding hype surrounding luxury car brands and judge these SUVs based on quality, reliability, and substance, it’s clear which luxury brand our motoring experts recommend.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

 

NOTE: This article was originally published in June 2021, so some pricing information may have changed.

Worst SUVs under $20,000 for single mums

 

If you’re a single mum looking to buy an SUV, you probably want one that has all the qualities that you seek in a prospective partner. You need an SUV that is reliable, respectable and stylish. You also want to make sure that your relationship with the SUV is hassle-free. You certainly do not want one that costs you a fortune down the line.

To help you dodge the SUV equivalent of the blind date that quickly turns into a nightmare of a relationship, here’s 5 to avoid.

 

5. Jeep Patriot

In fifth place, we have the Jeep Patriot. When you think of a Jeep, your mind probably conjures an image of a rugged Hulk of a machine that can take on anything. But, the only thing the Patriot can successfully take on is your patience. Unreliable, uninspired and underwhelming, the Jeep Patriot will constantly frustrate you with its long list of flaws. Its overheating engines, dodgy gearboxes, fussy electronics, wonky entry system, poor suspension and confusing design choices makes it one of the worst cars to drive.

 

This is not one car you should invest your money in.

 

4. Nissan Pathfinder

While Japanese automobile manufacturers have been historically known for their superior build quality, and Nissan, in particular, has seldom compromised with safety, it really dropped the ball on the 4th-generation Nissan Pathfinder that was launched in the 2013.

 

The CVT transmissions in the Pathfinder are bad enough to begin with. But as the car begins to age, the transmissions keep failing with an alarming frequency, resulting in repair bills that often mount to thousands of dollars. Add to that the front-wheel strut issues, shoddy windscreens, ill-conceived interior trims, proliferating electronic gremlins and you get a car that will ensure that you never drive in peace.

 

3. VW Tiguan

When it comes to automobiles, German engineering is as highly regarded as Japanese manufacturing. Volkswagen, one of the leading German automobiles brands, has, in fact, given us some of the finest cars in the world. Sadly, the Tiguan is not one of the and it falls way short of the lofty standards we have come to expect from Volkswagen. 

 

While brand new Tiguans perform remarkably well during the length of their full factory warranty, they rarely stand the test of time. Despite exuding that familiar, understated European suave image that Volkswagen cars have come to be known for, the Tiguan unravels once the warranty period is over. The DSG gearboxes fail, the turbos malfunction, the electronics falter, and some engines need replacing only after a few years of wear and tear. 

 

So, unless you enjoy shovelling your hard-earned money down the drain, you may wish to steer clear of a Tiguan that is past its prime. 

 

2. Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you think the Jeep Patriot is bad, wait till you drive its elder sibling, the Grand Cherokee. The WK model, in particular, is an unmitigated disaster. The WK2 model, while admittedly an improvement on the previous model, doesn’t fare much better on the road either. The reports of awful customer service further makes this car more of a liability than a treasure.

 

The Grand Cherokee is beset by a staggering number of problems. There have been multiple reports of electrical issues, transmission failures, overheating engines and clunky steering wheel can result in a very uncomfortable ride. The diesel models are plagued by an additional problems too. There have been reports of high pressure pumps failing which then pump metal shavings into the fuel system, completely destroying the fuel system in the process. 

 

Owning a Grand Cherokee, thus, comes with the risk of incurring repair costs that often surpass what the car is worth; and while, the quality of the car has seen some improvement in recent years, Grand Cherokees are still far too risky to invest in, especially if they have more than 40,000kms on the clock.

 

1. Holden Captiva

Holding the dubious honour of being the number 1 car on our list of the worst SUVs under $20,000 (for anyone, really, not just single mums) is the Holden Captiva, which frankly should be renamed to its colloquial title, the Holden Craptiva. 

 

This particular model is every car owner’s nightmare. There are a million things wrong with this car. Faulty transmissions, overheating engines, poor suspension, unreliable braking systems, frequent electrical problems and excessive oil consumption are just a few of the issues you can face with this car. 

 

So profoundly flawed is this particular model, in fact, that its manufacturer, General Motors, is currently facing several petitions and class actions suits on account of the damages caused by this car. If you care at all for your own well being and that of others, stay as far away as you can from the Captiva. This car should not be anywhere near your garage.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Tiguan and Holden Captiva.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Small SUVs under $15,000

 

Now, you need an SUV but it needs to be compact, efficient, safe, enjoyable to drive, reliable and hopefully not plummet in value yeah?

Also it can’t be more than 15 thousand dollars and would be nice if it were a little stylish too yeah, what should you get? Here’s our Top 5.

 

5. Hyundai ix35

In fifth place, it’s the Hyundai ix35

 

Ok it is getting a bit old and it might not be the most stylish of this list, but hence why it’s in 5th.

 

The good news is that the ix35 is proving to be very reliable, it’s efficient, practical and it’s nice to drive plus $15 grand should easily get you into the petrol powered top spec Highlander meaning you’ll get some delightful alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather interior and a host of other extras.

 

4. Subaru XV

In fourth place, this one comes with a condition, it’s the Subaru XV or depending on where you are, the Crosstrek

 

15 grand will get into a first-gen 2012 to 2017 XV in most likely in the base spec 2.0i but do try to find a 2.0i-S as it’s the sweet spot of the range.

 

We’ve actually done a review on one it’s just up here.

 

The XV is a great looking and genuinely capable little SUV but all is not perfect, if you need an SUV with an automatic transmission, avoid the XV.

 

These are fantastic with a manual gearbox but we know of far too many horror stories with the CVT auto, they’re best to be avoided.

 

3. Kia Sportage

In third place, it’s the Kia Sportage.

 

Avoid the earlier models and stick with the very handsome third generation 2010 to 2015 Sportage.

 

This generation Sportage marked Kia’s transition from cheap, unfortunate looking and uninspiring forms of transport to genuinely attractive and very satisfying vehicles that you’d no longer be embarrassed to be seen in.

 

The Sportage drives really well, it’s super practical, is proving to be really reliable and if things do go wrong, parts and labour shouldn’t cost a fortune. 

 

The one to get for 15 grand is the All Wheel Drive Sportage Platinum with the 2.4-litre petrol engine. 

 

2. Mazda CX-5

In second place, it’s my personal favourite, it’s the Mazda CX5.

 

The CX5 for large chunks of time has been Australia’s most popular SUV and with good reason. It’s attractive, it’s practical, the interior is a lovely place to be and it’s really entertaining and enjoyable to drive.

 

And now with a few years under its belt it’s proving to be really reliable.

 

For 15 grand you’ll be looking at pre-facelift CX5’s from 2012 to 2015 and we’d recommend finding a Maxx Sport with the lowest kilometres and best service history that your budget will allow.

 

1. Toyota RAV4

Right, in the top spot, it’s the Toyota RAV4 but, a very specific model.

 

It might be getting a little long in the tooth and it’s not exactly a looker but the third generation 2006 to 2012 RAV4, and here’s the important bit, with the V6 engine, is a cracker of an SUV.

 

That bulletproof 3.5-litre V6 is not only found under the bonnet of the RAV4, it’s used to power everything from Toyota Camry’s to various Lexus models and even certain Lotus Exige and Evoras.

 

The V6 adds a level of maturity to the RAV4, it’s torquey and enjoyable around town and soaks up highway and country driving with ease.

 

Plus, being a RAV4 it’s still ultra practical, incredibly reliable and arguably invented this category of car in the first place.

 

And you can pick up a good condition one for as little as 11 grand, leaving 4 thousand dollars left over to update the infotainment system, fit some nice tyres and maybe upgrade the suspension. Brilliant.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Subaru XV, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Most underrated used cars

 

Why don’t people make a bigger deal about these cars? Maybe it’s that they were ahead of their time or maybe the marketing department dropped the ball, but here are our top 5 most underrated used cars.

5. Kia Pro_cee’d GT

In fifth place, it’s the Kia Pro_cee’d GT. While this isn’t exactly a hot hatch, it’s definitely on the hotter side of warm.

 

150kW of power and 265Nm of torque in a superbly balanced, beautifully designed yet practical hatch body from a manufacturer that’s quickly becoming renown for excellent quality and reliability, what’s not to love. 

 

Throw in the fact that these can be had for as little as $14,000 and it seems crazy more people aren’t snapping these up. Also, I have it on good authority that if you ‘massage’ the ECU on these, they come alive, I think I want one.

 

4. Honda Accord Euro (Acura TSX)

In 4th it’s the Honda Accord Euro. This is one of the first cars that truly blended Japanese reliability and engineering expertise with European styling and good looks.

 

These things are the car equivalent to fitting a bulletproof Japanese Seiko watch movement in a stylish European Omega watch body and now 15 years on, can be had for the car equivalent of Casio watch prices.

 

That’s right, these beautifully designed, fun to drive, practical and incredibly reliable sedans are asking as low as $5000.

 

Sure they’re lacking in modern tech, may not be as safe as even the cheapest modern hatchbacks and aren’t going to set any land speed or acceleration records but now that they’re so affordable, and still so good, why have they been forgotten?

 

3. Ford Kuga

Now in third place it’s the Ford Escape. This thing has a very punchy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, it’s all-wheel drive, it’s a compact yet stylish European SUV that’s fun to drive and has a full leather interior. Why aren’t more people buying these?

 

Maybe Ford’s marketing department just dropped the ball on this one because, as long as you get the 2-litre ecoboost variant, these things tick so many boxes. But, it seems like everyone has forgotten they exist.

 

It’s ultra practical and its leather-lined interior is a lovely place to be yet, even when standard, is respectably quick and awesome to drive

 

Like the Kia in 5th place, we have it on good authority that even with some mild attention paid to the ECU, this thing can put out over 230kW and over 500Nm of torque, that’s properly quick. 

 

2. Lexus IS350

In second place it’s the second generation Lexus IS350. Even when new, this thing was often overlooked and even then it made no sense because it was and still is truly one of the most complete packages for a car in its class.

 

What’s not to love about the IS350. A powerful, smooth and refined 233kW V6 engine, excellent driving dynamics that can become genuinely fun when pushed, superb value for money, stylish good looks that are ageing gracefully and the peace of mind that comes with Toyota, sorry Lexus reliability.

 

Here in Australia, these second-generation IS350s will set you back at worst 30 grand but we’ve seen good examples go for as low as 17 grand. 

 

Sure these are pushing 10 years old now but remember these things were around 70 thousand dollars when new, so 20 grand for such a superb car feels like a bargain to us.

 

1. Mazda 6

Now in first place, thanks to everyone falling in love with SUVs over the last few years, these brilliant cars are far too often ignored, it’s the Mazda 6.

 

In particular we’re talking about the face-lifted and turbocharged 2018 to current Mazda 6 Atenza or GT spec 6s.

 

Seriously, go drive one of these and tell us it isn’t on par or if not better than a load of luxury brand alternatives costing tens of thousands of dollars more.

 

Plus with Mazda’s excellent reputation for reliability and longevity, the 6 will probably outlast its more expensive European competitors

 

Actually, check out our Mazda 3 and Mercedes S-Class reviews to see how a Mazda hatch could teach even the flagship Merc a thing or two about interior quality.

 

We can’t put this strongly enough, the Mazda 6 deserves far more attention than it receives and if you’re in the market for a used 3 Series BMW or C-Class Merc, go check these out before you hand over your cash.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Kia Pro_Cee’d GT, Ford Kuga & Honda Accord Euro.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Most overrated used cars

 

We just don’t get it. These are the cars that everyone raves on about but in reality, they’re actually pretty bloody average at best.

Either they are unreliable or they’re well below average to drive and live with or they’re just not worthy of their hype. Here’s our top 5 most overrated cars on the used car market.

5. Minis

In fifth place, Minis. Ok this one hurts because I kinda love these things, I love the aesthetic and what they’re all about but, once you remove all the image and quirkiness, they’re just, not very good.

 

But which Mini? Well, all of them.

 

We get it, they’re funky and cool and there’s not much else on the road like them but that is all novelty and look, novelty wears off.

 

What you’re left with is a car that really isn’t that well made, is becoming renowned for having some very serious mechanical issues and excluding any of the really rare performance models, will depreciate like crazy.

 

As far as what goes boom, CVT automatic transmissions fail, timing chains fail resulting in incredibly expensive engine failures, water pumps fail, many of the engine components are plastic and they tend to fail over time, there are radiator support problems, power steering problems and a whole host of electronic and computer issues.

 

Then there’s the depreciation. A 2020 Countryman Cooper S is going to set you back around 65 grand, you know how much a 2015 version of that car is, a little over 25 grand.

 

So it’s lost $40,000 in value in just over 5 years which might be ok if it was some groundbreaking incredible car, but they’re just not.

 

4. BMW X6M

 In fourth it’s a car that is despised by motoring journalists around the world yet people still buy them and people It’s the BMW X6 and in particular the X6M.

 

The X6M is an SUV that is utterly useless at being an SUV, drinks fuel like it genuinely hates the environment, depreciates like the Titanic floats and if driven enthusiastically, is building quite the reputation for being a mechanical nightmare, which means you should avoid doing the one and only thing the X6M is good at. 

 

And then there are those looks, which yes, are subjective, but in my opinion, the X6 is genuinely one of the all time ugly cars.

 

Because it’s based on the X5, which is not a sleek design by nature, the sloped roofline on the X6 makes the whole thing just look bulbous and awkward.

 

Plus that sloping roofline eats into your cargo space, and creates the mother of all blind spots.

 

If you really need a fast BMW SUV, buy an X5M, you’ll still have all the mechanical gremlins and plummeting depreciation but at least people won’t laugh at you.

 

3. Maserati Ghibli

In third place it’s the Maserati Ghibli. Many excuse these things because they are Italian and they have heritage and pedigree, it’s just a shame that nothing else about them matches the romance.

 

On paper it sounds great, a rear-wheel drive, leather-lined Italian styled sports sedan with a Ferrari-engineered power plant from luxury brand Maserati. But in reality, it was a horrendously thrown together dog of a car from the Fiat Chrysler group.

 

While it sourced its engine from Ferrari, pretty much everything else was from various Jeeps, Dodges and Chryslers and these are companies not exactly renowned for quality or reliability, hence why the Ghibli is truly horrific when it comes to things that go wrong.

 

Then there are the ergonomics. Anyone larger than a toddler will struggle for room in the back seat and up front, because the Ghibli is basically a concoction of various bits and pieces from other cars, nothing feels right, or in many cases, works as they should.

 

Then there’s the fact that even though Ferrari helped with the engine, the Ghibli is not actually all that fast, and it doesn’t drive all that well, especially when compared to its competition.

 

Finally, because these things are genuinely terrible, the depreciation is horrific. Back in 2015 a new Ghibli with a few options would have cost you over $150,000 here in Australia, these days (back in 202 when this was written) a 2015 Ghibli, will cost around 50 grand. So it’s lost two thirds of its value in just over 5 years or putting it another way, about $415 a week. What a joke.

 

2. Old School Mustangs

In second place it’s the first-generation, 1964 to 1973 Ford Mustang. We’re talking about the base model, inline 6-cylinder, not the V8s…..which, also aren’t all that great.

 

There’s no denying the Mustang is cool, it looks incredible and thanks to Steve McQueen and Carol Shelby, the Mustang has become one of the all-time iconic cars.

 

But, and this comes from experience, unless it’s been modified to a point where it’s hardly a Mustang anymore, in our opinion, they drive like utter crap and just do not live up to all the hype.

 

Firstly they are slow, a base model Hyundai i20 would leave it for dust, the ride quality is somehow harsh and floaty at the same time, the steering is more a suggestion than a tool to actually turn the car, the build quality is a joke and it will need constant repair.

 

I’ve driven a bunch of old school Mustangs and after the 15 minutes of romance and novelty wears off, I’ve just always been left disappointed and feeling totally underwhelmed when driving these things.

 

And it’s not an age thing because every time I drive an old 911 or Alfa Romeo of the same vintage, I’m generally blown away and trying to work out which internal organs I can sell to buy one.

 

Again, sorry, but old school Mustangs, excluding the fire-breathing ones, are massively overrated.

 

1. Range Rovers

In first place, it’s Range Rovers.

 

The sad thing about our top pick is the engineering that goes into these to make them incredibly capable deserves to be applauded, it’s just a shame they have a real habit of falling apart.

 

And even though you could probably steer it up and over Mount Everest while keeping cozy and safe, the vast majority of these are purchased as a status symbol or fashion accessory.

 

When we were doing the research for this list, we quizzed mechanics and automotive engineers and went through dozens of consumer satisfaction reports, vehicle reliability reports, and the car that consistently came out worst, Range Rover.

 

But even though people keep buying them, which Range Rover or Range Rovers should you avoid?

 

Well, we’d steer clear of the Evoque, the Range Rover Sport, the Discovery Sport, the Velar, the Discovery and the range-topping Land Rover Range Rover. Actually, I think that’s the entire line-up…

 

Yes, they look stunning, they’ll probably be great for your image and when they work, they’re a joy to drive. But, the looks will fade, serious things will start going wrong, which will be very bad for your bank account, and you won’t get to enjoy driving it because it will spend most of its life up on a hoist in some mechanic’s workshop. Plus the depreciation is insane!

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

 

Worst family SUVs Under $35,000

 

So you need an SUV to lug your kids, their friends and all their stuff around. If your priorities are that this SUV needs to be safe, reliable and dependable, then it sounds like you’re an excellent parent making responsible decisions.

But, if those priorities take a back seat to say, having a European badge, projecting a sense of superiority or having the ability to distract you from your immense lack of self esteem, steering you towards onlu a luxury SUV, then it sounds like you’re potentially a bad parent and you’re probably not going to like this list. Here are the Top 5 worst family SUVs under $35,000

 

5. Audi Q7

In fifth place, it’s the Audi Q7. While it might share its platform with the likes of the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne, don’t be fooled into thinking that premium badge translates into premium quality.

 

For under 35 grand you’ll be looking at first-gen 2005 to 2015 Q7s. Unfortunately, we have read and heard countless reports of these Q7s suffering various electronic issues from just not starting to randomly going into limp home mode, to screens and infotainment systems just turning off to drive system errors, to start stop systems failing, even to parking sensors being faulty from new.

 

Then there are the multiple reports of diesel particulate filter faults, various oil and coolant leaks and ECU gremlins.

 

Also, don’t be fooled by the whole ‘made in Germany’ quality thing because Q7 was made in Slovakia, Russia or India.

 

4. Mercedes Benz ML350

In fourth place, another luxury German SUV that isn’t made in Germany, actually it’s not even made in Europe, it’s made in India, Indonesia, Thailand or the US, it’s the Mercedes Benz ML350

 

For 35 grand you’ll be looking at 2012 to 2015 ML350s and according to multiple consumer reports, the ML350 is one of the most complained about and problem riddled Mercedes Benzs of all time.

 

Oil leaks, electronic issues, transmission failures, melted motor mounts, stretched timing chains, and reports of these things just randomly giving up and stopping are common.

 

Then you have the cost of labour which is huge.

 

See, because Mercedes fits all the engine stuff into this beautifully engineered tight little unit to make it super efficient to manufacture, the problem is, getting into that tight little unit to fix all the stuff that goes wrong is incredibly difficult and takes loads of time and time is money, so repairing these, it generally costs a fortune.

 

3. BMW X5 

In third place, it’s yet another German Luxury SUV that, isn’t made in Germany. This one is from Mexico, Russia or the US, it’s the BMW X5… and… X6, but unless your eyesight is at Stevie Wonder levels of accuracy, you’ll obviously avoid the X6 because it’s as ugly as F….

 

For 35 grand you’ll be looking at the second-generation E70 series X5 but which exact variant and configuration of X5 should you avoid, well, all of them.

 

Engine failures, transmission failures, water pumps fail, oil leaks, coolant leaks, ECU, computer and electronic problems, injectors fail, timing chains fail, valve stem seals leak. The issues just go on and on.

 

Plus parts cost a fortune and like the Mercedes in fourth place, the labour costs will be horrific.

 

Also did I mention the X6 is ugly as F…

 

2. Range Rover Sport

In second place, and wow… haven’t these things turned into utter crap, it’s the first-generation Range Rover Sport.

 

Yet another SUV wearing a luxury badge doing its best to con you into thinking it’s worthy of some inflated sense of superiority. When in reality, it regularly finishes at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys. The Range Rover Sport’s issues are immense.

 

Major suspension issues, engine failures, the electrics are terrible, air conditionings fail, gearbox drivetrain and diffs all have major problems or fail. 

 

Then are the copious leaks from the engine, interior trim failures, sunroof and tailgates that leak are also known issues.

 

In general, these things are just shit. The parts cost a fortune and we know of reports where repair work can take weeks to both diagnose and fix so the labour costs will send you broke.

 

Not only that, when we were researching this list, it was hard to choose which Land Rover or Range Rover product to include as they all have horrendous reputations for reliability, no matter which model or generation. 

 

1. Jeep Grand Cherokee

If you’ve done any research on the net about these, it’ll start to feel like the words unreliable and Jeep Grand Cherokee fit together like wealthy and Bill Gates, it’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee in first place.

 

For under 35 grand, the ones to avoid are the 2011, 2014 and 2015 Grand Cherokees, oh and the 2012, 2013, 2016….actually they’re all pretty bloody horrible. What goes wrong, well what doesn’t go wrong…

 

Engines blow up, transmissions fail, there seem to be endless electronic and ECU issues, interior trim falls apart, exterior trim falls apart.

 

These things are so shit there was actually a class action lawsuit filed against Jeep regarding the Grand Cherokee.

 

Then you have Jeep’s truly horrendous reputation for after sales service, trust us, do not buy a Grand Cherokee.

 

We’ve reviewed versions the Audi Q7 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

 

Family SUVs under $35,000

 

We get it, you’ve got a bunch of kids, they have a bunch of friends, they’ve all got a bunch of scooters and you need to haul them all around.

 

But, you’re not ready to announce to the world that you’ve given up on life and become a glorified taxi driver for your offspring and their accessories.

You’re still cool, you still have some style and you need a car that communicates that, but it still needs to be practical, reliable and dependable and not cost more than $35 grand. Here’s our top 5.

 

5. Toyota Kluger

In fifth place, it’s the Toyota Kluger or if you’re not in Australia, it’s a Toyota Highlander.

 

For 35 grand, the variants to go for are 2014 to 2018 models in either all-wheel drive, mid-spec GXLs or front-wheel-drive top-spec Grandes.

 

Klugers, or Highlanders, have been a sales success due to their ability to swallow 7 humans pretty easily with their practical and efficient use of space, good looks and Toyota’s reputation for reliability and their incredible support network. But it’s last on our list for a reason, a few reasons actually.  

 

Firstly the infotainment system is rubbish, yes it can be upgraded with an aftermarket system but the lack of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even any decent navigation system just isn’t good enough.

 

Then you have the lack of USB ports. If you’ve got a bunch of kids, you’re going to need a bunch of USB ports, all over the car. These things have 1 USB port and it’s towards the front of the car in the centre console.

 

And finally, yes that V6 engine is smooth, refined and reliable but once you’ve loaded up with a few kids and all their stuff, the big Toyota can feel heavy and cumbersome to drive. Plus, it has quite the appetite for fuel, especially once it’s loaded up.

 

4. Kia Sorento

 

In fourth, sort of, it’s the Kia Sorrento. We’ll get to why it’s a ‘sort of’ soon.

 

The one to hunt for is a post-2017 Sorento Platinum as you’ll get all the lovely mid-life update editions to what is already a superb family hauler. 

 

A budget of 35 grand may require some serious haggling but it’ll be worth it.

 

The Sorento is loaded with kit, it’s lovely to drive, it’s spacious, safe, fuel efficient, it’s ageing really well in terms of fit and finish, it’s showing superb reliability and thanks to ex-Audi designer extraordinaire Peter Schreyer, it looks very stylish too.

 

Add to that Kia’s 7 year warranty and what’s not to love, which brings us to why it sort of came 4th.

 

3. Hyundai Santa Fe

See, we pretty much had a tie between 3rd and 4th place as these two SUVs are very nearly the same thing. In 3rd, by the tiniest of margins, is the Hyundai Santa Fe.

 

Hyundai and Kia are two brands owned by the one parent company and under the skin, the Santa Fe and Sorrento are incredibly similar and they share a lot of common underlying engineering.

 

So what pushed the Santa Fe ahead of the Sorrento in this top 5?

 

Well with a budget of $35 grand, it’s going to be easier to get behind the wheel of an updated 2016 to 2018 top-spec Santa Fe Highlander than it will be a Sorento Platinum. You might still need to haggle, but it should be much easier to get in the Hyundai.

 

Like the Sorento Platinum, the Santa Fe Highlander is drenched in equipment, safety tech and an intelligent use of its interior space. 

 

Its drivetrain is refined and reliable and its locally-tuned suspension makes for a comfy and bloody enjoyable driving experience.

 

The Hyundai Santa Fe does just about everything right.

 

2. Mitsubishi Pajero

Now, in second, we felt we needed to include a more adventure ready SUV on the list, something that can easily tow a boat or climb a mountain in the middle of nowhere, something that really embraces the SUV name.  It’s the Mitsubishi Pajero.

 

If you’re after a civilised, refined urban runabout that can accommodate a bunch of humans and tackle some very light off-roading, maybe the Pajero isn’t for you.

 

But if you want a truly off-road-capable SUV with serious towing ability, a post-2015 GLS or Exceed Pajero should be at the pointy end of your list.

 

The Pajero has been around since the Pyramids of Egypt were just some pharos wild property development idea but in that time, Mitsubishi has tweaked, adjusted and honed the Pajero into a bulletproof, yet quite refined off-roading monster.

 

Plus the Pajero is about 20 grand cheaper than an equivalent Prado so it excels when it comes to value for money too.

 

1. Mazda CX-9

Taking out first place and let’s be honest, it’s the looker of this group, it’s the Mazda CX-9

 

The CX-9 provides a more luxurious fit and finish and offers more tech and a more engaging driving experience than the Kluger.

 

Its very clever turbocharged 2.5-litre four delivers really strong performance while still offering excellent fuel economy without having to turn to diesel like the Kia and Hyundai.

 

Its interior is more spacious, luxurious and comfortable than the Pajero and the whole car feels about 300 years newer, although the big Mitsubishi will take you much further off-road.

 

Plus now they’re populating the used car market, they offer incredible value for money.

 

The CX-9s to look for for under 35 grand are the 2016 CX-9 GT or Touring and preferably with all-wheel drive however, if you’re keeping on the black stuff, the front-wheel-drive variant is still a fantastic thing.

 

We’ve reviewed versions the Toyota Kluger and the Mitsubishi Pajero.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Road trip cars under $15,000

What if you’re not ready to live in something the size of a walk in wardrobe but still want to travel and explore your own backyard without committing to buying a van.

What you need is a road trip car, and here’s our top 5 picks under $15 grand.

 

5. Honda CR-V

In fifth it’s the 2007 to 2012 Honda CRV

 

The one to get is fabric-trimmed, mid-spec Sport as the leather in the Luxury spec isn’t ageing all that well and in our opinion, the leather isn’t as comfy on a long trip.

 

The CRV makes for an enjoyable drive, it’s supremely practical with a huge boot, is quite fuel efficient and being a Honda, is extremely reliable.

 

Plus with on-demand all-wheel drive, will handle some off-road adventuring, as long as that off-road is basically just a dirt road, or a normal road with some dirt on it.

 

4. Kia Sorento

In fourth place, it’s the 2009 to 2014 Kia Sorento

 

The one to get is a diesel 4×4, preferably the top-spec platinum trim as this will get you excellent fuel efficiency for those long trips, a spacious and very comfy interior and the ability to do some off-road exploring with its all-wheel-drive system.

 

3. Toyota Kluger

In third it’s the 2007 to 2009 Toyota Kluger.

 

Like the Sorento, the one to get is a higher-spec, all-wheel-drive version like a KS-S or Grande and being a Toyota, these things are bullet proof and have an excellent support network.

 

Plus, the Klugers interior is spacious and comfy, the higher-spec models have loads of extras and they soak up kilometres with ease.

 

But, there is a negative, being powered by a V6 petrol engine means they’re not the most fuel efficient.

 

2. Nissan X-Trail

In second place it’s the T31 Nissan X-Trail

 

The one to get is the post-2010 Ti as you’ll not only get the full suite of X-Trail upgrades and features but you’ll get the X-Trails robust yet comfy interior, willing and efficient engine and, as long as you get a manual, as the CVT auto has had a few issues, pretty decent reliability.

 

On the used market, these T31 X-Trails offer great value for money and nails that balance between decent on-road dynamics and capable off-road ability.

 

1. Subaru Outback

If ever a car offered the perfect recipe for a road trip, it’s the Subaru Outback and for $15 grand, you’ll want a 2009 to 2014 3.6R Premium.

 

Even Outbacks from back in the late 90s and early naughties still make excellent road trip cars, but these 4th-generation Outbacks, especially with the superb 3.6 litre flat 6, exude refinement, quality and offer even more interior space than previous generations.

 

Throw in the fact the Outback steers and handles more like a car than an SUV yet still retains decent ground clearance and superb tractions with its symmetrical and constant all-wheel-drive system and you have yourself an excellent road trip car that will embrace your adventures just as easily as it tackles your day-to-day needs.

 

We’ve reviewed the Toyota Kluger & Nissan X-Trail.

 

In the market for a used car? Check out all our ReDriven Cheat Sheets.

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

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