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The technology may be a bit outdated, but the 5.0L V8 engine is near bulletproof.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.

Family cars under $30,000. (NO SUVs)

SUVs may be all the rage right now, but it’s important to remember how good a family car can be. Unless you’re planning on doing some off-roading or need a higher seating position, a car is generally nicer to drive than an SUV, it should cost less to run and maintain, and can be just as safe and practical. But which cars make the best family transport for under $30,000? Here are our top 5 picks:

5. Honda Accord V6L (2017-current)

From a manufacturer renowned for exceptional engineering, the Honda Accord has been around in one form or another since 1976. For $30,000, you’ll be looking at ninth-generation 2013-2017 Accords and we highly recommend finding a post-facelift 2016 or 2017 V6L.

 

The engine is silky smooth and with 206kW, it’s also responsive and fun to drive. They have an excellent ride quality and the handling makes the Accord genuinely engaging to drive. The interior is spacious and beautifully laid out and the boot is huge. Plus, these things look and feel far more expensive than they are.

4. Subaru Legacy/Liberty 3.6R sedan/wagon (2014-2019)

In 4th place, here in Australia we call them a Liberty, everywhere else they’re called a Legacy.

 

Regardless of what they’re called, they’re bloody good. For $30,000, you’ll be able to find a sixth-generation 2014-2019 Liberty or Legacy and we’d recommend going for a 3.6R.

 

These 6-cylinder Subaru engines were great when first introduced back in the late 90s but now they’ve been refined and improved through the years, they’re a superb power plant.

 

Yes they can be a bit thirsty but when combined with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and performance-oriented suspension tune, the Liberty feels supremely safe, confident on road and incredibly enjoyable to drive.

3. Toyota Camry SL V6 (2018-now)

In third, they might be a little boring, incredibly sensible, and the automotive equivalent to buying a microwave, it’s the Toyota Camry.

 

From another brand renowned for superb engineering and mechanical reliability, for $30,000, the Camry we’d recommend is an eighth and still current generation in the SL trim spec with the 3.5-litre V6.

 

Ok, finding one of these for $30,000 could be a challenge but they are out there, they just may require some haggling. This current-gen Camry received a host of mechanical and equipment updates, a new platform equates to more interior space and a huge boot.

 

The all new 3.5i-litre V6 is silky smooth, pumps out an impressive 224kW and even sounds great. Safety tech is top notch, infotainment is hugely improved over earlier models and while the Hybrid variant is the way to go for fuel savings, the V6 will handle the weight of kids and their stuff more convincingly and is more fun to drive.

2. Lexus GS350 F Sport (2011-2015)

Bringing some luxury to the list, in second place, it’s the Lexus GS350 and in particular the F Sport. Ok, GS350 F Sports at this price will have quite a few kilometres on them but being a Lexus, that shouldn’t make much of a difference.

 

The GS350 in standard form is an exceptionally good car. Precision Japanese engineering, superb reliability and typical Toyota and Lexus build quality but the F Sport adds just the right amount of flair.

 

Equipped with a huge array of electronic gadgetry including a high-end 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, Head-Up Display and a super-sized 12.3-inch infotainment screen plus for the kids, the back seat is spacious and comfortable.

 

Plus it looks cool, drives incredibly well, the ride and handling more than matches its European rivals and it exudes a class and sophistication that will surely help when dropping the kids off at school.

1. Mazda 6 GT Wagon (2018-current)

In first place, it was a tough call between this car and the Lexus in 2nd, but for its practicality, we have to give the top spot to the 2018 Mazda 6 GT Wagon. We highly recommend trying to find one of these with the 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, which for $30,000, may be a challenge but trust us, they are out there and the hunt will be worth it.

 

The Mazda 6 GT Wagon is a fantastic car, it looks great, the interior is beautifully designed, challenging even more expensive luxury cars, the wagon form is supremely practical, the levels of tech and safety are excellent and with the turbo petrol engine, it has performance abilities to match its near perfect ride and handling. And being a Mazda, the build quality is superb and reputation for reliability is near faultless. We’ve seen this with our CX5 and Mazda 3 reviews, they have fantastic longevity.

 

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 cars you can buy right now

 

Now, there are some truly terrible cars out there and these 5 cars are at the top of the list. If you own one of these, we recommend getting rid of it as soon as possible.

5. Jaguar X-Type

The Jaguar X-Type is a prime example of a car company trying to pass off a low-quality product as a luxury vehicle.

 

Instead of designing a car from scratch to compete with the BMW 3 series, Jaguar took the underpinnings of a Ford Mondeo, put it in a poorly fitting Jaguar body, and added a questionable all-wheel-drive system.

 

The result was a car with seized engines, exploding transmissions and driveshafts, wheel hub failures, and falling apart interior and exterior trim.

 

Not to mention, parts and labor are expensive, the safety and infotainment technology is subpar, and it’s not even a pleasure to drive. This car serves as a reminder that luxury brands don’t always equate to quality products.

 

4. Chrysler PT Cruiser (Convertible)

In fourth place is the Chrysler PT Cruiser, particularly the awful convertible version. It’s understandable that Chrysler tried to combine retro styling with a practical and economical vehicle, but they failed miserably.

 

The PT Cruiser has terrible driving dynamics and a complete lack of build quality. It’s a retro wagon meets soft roader and it’s just embarrassing for anyone seen in one.

 

A mechanic even described it as “a horrendous piece of shit” and said they “want to stab [themselves] in the face and neck” every time they have to work on one. Avoid the PT Cruiser at all costs.

 

3. SsangYong Rodius/Stavic

In third place is the SsangYong Rodius/Stavic, which may be the ugliest car of all time. The goal of the design was to capture the essence of a luxury yacht, but it ended up as an awkwardly proportioned disaster of a vehicle that was even worse mechanically than it was aesthetically.

 

The SsangYong was heavily criticised for its poor build quality, lack of safety and tech features, poor performance, handling, and refinement, as well as an interior that was just as disappointing as the exterior.

 

Even when it was brand new, it was a terrible car, and it only gets worse with age. You’d be better off walking than getting in one of these.

 

2. Dodge Nitro

Second on the list is the Dodge Nitro. The only positive thing about this car is that it’s not unattractive. However, a quick Google search of “Dodge Nitro problems” will yield a long list of issues, problems, and even catastrophic failures.

 

To make matters worse, the Nitro is no longer in production and Dodge is no longer in business in Australia, making it almost impossible to repair if it has any issues, which it is likely to have due to its poor build quality.

 

The only reason to buy a Nitro would be to melt it down and sell the metal.

 

1. Hummer H2

The Hummer H2 is not just a bad car, it’s a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the world.

 

It’s a gas-guzzling, environmentally irresponsible, and overpriced monstrosity. It’s poorly built, has terrible handling and performance, and is a nightmare to maintain.

 

It’s also a magnet for people with terrible taste and even worse attitudes. Save yourself the hassle and stay far away from the Hummer H2.

 

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

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

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.

Best first cars under $5,000

 

They say that you never forget your first, and this is certainly true for your first car. Which is why it’s important to pick a car that will be worth your while.

But, how do you go about it? Well, the first step towards getting the right car is working out what it is that you are looking for in your new car or rather what makes a car ideal for first-time buyers. Ideally you want a car that packs in a lot of great features but is at the same time reasonably priced. You would also want a car that is safe and reliable but also easy and enjoyable to drive. You need a car that does not take up too much space but also has enough room for your family or friends when you need to. Finally, you want a car that offers great value but also looks like a million bucks.

Finding a car that offers all of the above can be really tricky, but here are 5 we think fit the brief perfectly.

5. Honda Civic (Eight-generation, 2006-2012)

In 5th place, we have the Honda Civic. Introduced for the first time in 1972, the Honda Civic has become one of the best-selling cars of all time.

 

The Civic family offers a wide range of cars that you can choose from. If you are looking for a car under $5000, we recommend the eighth-generation Civic, and, more specifically, the 2-litre Civic Sport.

 

Civics are known for offering refined driving and the 2-litre Civics are incredibly fun to drive. They come with some great safety features and are very reliable. For the price, the Honda Civic Sport is truly a stunner.

 

If you are looking for a used car, make sure you choose one that has the lowest possible mileage and a solid service history. There’s nothing wrong with the 1.8 litre VTi and VTi-L either but steer clear of the GLi and Hybrid models.

4. Toyota Yaris (Second-generation, 2005-2016)

In the 4th place, we have the Toyota Yaris, also known as, Toyota Vitz or Toyota Belta. It’s compact, cozy and perfect the perfect city car if you don’t need to carry lots of people or lots of stuff.

 

We’d recommend the second-generation Toyota Yaris XP90, manufactured between 2005 to 2016. The 5-door hatchback with the 1.5-litre engine would be ideal for first-time buyers. In Australia, it is known as the YRS or YRX model. Elsewhere, it is known as Toyota Vitz RS or Toyota Yaris TS.

 

The Toyota Yaris scores high with its stunning design and great build quality. It is also quite spacious for its price, with plenty of headroom and leg space to make for a comfortable ride. It is pleasant to drive and easy to manoeuvre. It performs well on all terrains and offers some great safety features. The bullet-proof exterior, in particular, makes it a steal at this price.

 

You may feel tempted to invest in the smaller 1.3-litre engine but know that it is slightly underpowered, making the already conservatively performing little hatch even more lacklustre behind the wheel. You will also struggle to save any fuel with the smaller engine as you will have to drive it harder to get anywhere. The 1.5-litre engine will be a safer choice in that regard.

 

3. Hyundai i30 (First-generation, 2007-2012)

In the third place, we have a car that has changed the face of its entire brand. We’re talking about the Hyundai i30. The first-generation i30 arrived in 2007 in all its magnificent glory and quickly elevated the status of Hyundai from being a manufacturer of cheap, subpar runabouts to a top-notch automobile brand with promising prospects.

 

Its sleek design and powerful engine made it a big hit from the very beginning. It offered loads of exciting features, a spacious cabin, adequate leg space, pleasant driving experience and fantastic factory warranties, making it one of the most sought-after cars in this range. More recent i30s have come to be some of the most popular small cars on the market, surpassing many Japanese and European rivals as the go-to car in its class.

 

The one we’d recommend is the Hyundai i30 SR. It boasts of a full suite of safety gear, a stylish body kit and some really funky alloy wheels. A decent 2.0-litre engine and locally-tuned suspension make this vehicle one of the best cars you can get under $5000.

 

2. Mazda 3 (First-generation, 2004-2009)

In second place, we have the cult favourite Mazda 3. You can find two generations of Mazda 3 under $5000. We’ll recommend the first-generation BK models, manufactured between 2004 and 2009, over the newer, second-generation Mazda 3.

 

This is because while the second-generation Mazda 3 is by no means a lesser car, its features are rather underwhelming when compared to its first-generation siblings such as the Maxx Sport or SP23 which offer better features for the same price. We highly recommend higher-spec models of the first-generation Mazda 3 such as Maxx, Maxx Sport and SP23. These come packed with excellent features, better safety measures and great efficiency.

 

Mazda 3 is known for its seamless performance, dynamic handling, spacious design, proven reliability and minimal repair costs. It is a very versatile and is available in two styles – sedan and hatchback. Both score high on practicality with nifty storage space, decent headroom, and folding rear seats. Despite being reasonably priced, it looks and feels premium. If you are someone who loves being behind the wheel, you will certainly love this car. Mazda 3 offers a great driving experience and should please everyone.

 

As with the other cars on this list, make sure to choose one that comes with the lowest possible mileage and an impeccable service history. You may also want to find a Maxx, Maxx Sport or SP23 that has been fitted with the optional electronic stability control or ESC which will make your overall driving experience considerably safer.

 

1. Toyota Corolla (10-generation, 2006-2011)

 

The number 1 car on our list is also the world’s highest selling car. We’re talking about the Toyota Corolla, also known as the Toyota Auris. Toyota has sold over 44 million Corollas since 1966 which isn’t surprising considering its impressive characteristics. Given the sheer number of Corollas that have been sold over the years, it should not be too hard to find one on the used car market.

 

We recommend the tenth-generation Corolla, manufactured between 2006 and 2011. Try to find a 2009 facelifted, top-spec Corolla Levin ZR. While all Corollas come with great features, the post-09 Levin ZR packs in an incredibly impressive range of additional features. A sophisticated infotainment system, comfortable upholstery, nicer alloy wheels and a visually appealing exterior gives it a premium feel. It combines economy with style in a way few cars in this price range do. It also boasts a superior set of safety features such as electronic stability control that solidifies Toyota’s reputation of producing surprisingly reliable cars at low prices.

 

Are Corollas the most exciting cars you will find in this price range? Certainly not. But, they sure stand out with their superior build quality and great reliability. They are cost effective and have great resale value. So while a Mazda 3 might be more entertaining, and a Toyota Yaris is perhaps better looking, a Corolla would be the most sensible choice under $5000. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i3o, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla.

 

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

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Sleepers (Looks normal, goes fast)

 

There’s not much cooler in the world of cars than the sleeper. A car that has the ability to wipe the floor with even the fastest supercars yet looks totally normal and completely understated. And there have been a host of awesome sleepers available over the years, but which do we think are the best? Here’s the ReDriven Top 5.

5. VW Golf R Wagon (Mk7 and 7.5)

In fifth, we had to have a wagon in this list, but will it be the only wagon? It’s the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf R wagon.

 

It may be able to hit 100 km/h from a standstill in just a touch under 5 seconds in standard form, but tweak the engine just a small amount and the Golf R Wagon will be embarrassing all but the very fastest cars out there.

 

Add to that its immense traction with a very intelligent all-wheel system, lightning-fast gear changes via its DSG transmission, and superb handling, and this brutally fast practical wagon will still fly under the radar as it looks nearly identical to a standard Golf wagon.

4. Audi RS6 Sedan (C6 2008-2010)

Still dabbling in the Volkswagen family tree, our 4th place winner is already well known for being a fast wagon, but it’s the sedan version that really nails the sleeper criteria. It’s the 2008 to 2010 C6 Audi RS6 sedan.

 

The recipe was insane but brilliant. Take the V10 engine from a Lamborghini Gallardo, bolt two turbos on it to make it the most powerful Audi engine to date, and then stick it in what essentially looked like a slightly lowered A6 fitted with some nice wheels.

 

But, Audi actually left some of the engine’s potential on the table, with a simple software tune, the standard 571 hp can be increased to around 650 hp, it is a weapon. Plus, only 1500 C6 RS6 sedans were ever produced, compared to the almost common, 14,000 Gallardos.

3. BMW M550i xDrive (2018-2021)

In third place, and like 5th and 4th, it’s another German, it’s the BMW M550i xDrive. The M550i recently received a boost in power, like it even needed it, going from 456 hp to 523 hp.

 

This propels the classy BMW from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds. To put that into perspective, the iconic and ballistic McLaren F1 does the same 0 – 100 km/h sprint in 3.2 seconds, so this thing, with its 5 seats, multi-zone climate control, enormous boot, and lovely stereo, is just a smidge over half a second slower to 100 km/h than a multi-million dollar hypercar, incredible.

 

And then there are the looks, or lack of looks, as while it is undeniably a very attractive car, it looks almost identical to a base spec 5 series. And because 5 series BMWs are commonly driven by people that are, well, old, no one is going to expect it to have “rip your face off” levels of performance.

2. Volvo V70R (2000 – 2007)

No one is expecting these to be fast, it’s another wagon, it’s from Sweden, it’s the second-gen 2000 to 2007 Volvo V70R.

 

Ok, compared to the power levels the previous 3 cars had, the 300 hp V70R may seem a little on the weak side but where the Volvo beats the Germans is in its under the radar appeal.

 

Short of those in the know, hardly anyone is expecting a Volvo station wagon to be bloody fast and like the Golf R Wagon, with a few tasty tuning mods, these things can be seriously capable.

 

Add to it all wheel drive traction and sports tuned suspension but a massive boot, leather interior and that very cool Swedish design aesthetic and this is one awesome sleeper.

 

Plus, if you want one, they’re now really affordable, if you can find one for sale.

 

1. Ford Falcon G6E Turbo (2008 – 2014)

First, and look yes we’re getting a bit patriotic here but these things are seriously quick and bloody boring to look at, making them the perfect sleeper. In first place, it’s the Ford Falcon G6E Turbo.

 

If you’re into cars at all you’ll most likely know that Ford’s turbo charged 6 cylinder Barra engine, even when completely standard, is a weapon of a power plant.

 

But, with only minimal mods, these things can produce deep into the 500hp range and with some more serious modifications, they’ll easily top 1000hp.

 

Now, here in Australia, the Falcon was commonly associated with being a taxi or a hire car, and many Falcons were sold as part of fleet car packages for local businesses and governments and councils.

 

The G6E added some leather and chrome touches to make them feel a little classier but to have a car that looks so plain and unassuming yet is powered by this monster of an engine, surely must be one of the all time great sleepers.

 

Check out our review of the Golf R Wagon.

 

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

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Fast Fords

 

Ford has been producing cars for nearly 120 years, and many of them have prioritised speed and performance. But which ones have executed their objective the best? What are the best fast Fords of all time? We asked Ford owners, mechanics, dealers, and fans on Reddit, Facebook, and Ford owner groups for their recommendations, and these are the results:

 

5. 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Of course, there was going to be a Mustang on this list, and in fifth place is the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. It produces 567 kilowatts, or 760 horsepower, from its 5.2-litre supercharged V8, making it the most powerful production car Ford has ever built.

 

But it’s not just a straight-line drag racing car. With bespoke suspension, enormous Brembo brakes, sticky Michelin tires, and genuine aero, the GT500 has the dynamic and performance ability of smaller, lighter sports cars. Plus, it retains the Mustang’s everyday appeal and just listen to it!

 

4. 1987 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth RS500

In fourth place is a homologation special: the 1987 Sierra RS500 Cosworth. A homologation special is a road-going version of a race car that is required in order to be allowed to race.

 

The standard Sierra RS Cosworth was already an incredibly special vehicle, but the RS500 variant took the “race car for the road” concept even further.

 

It had a larger turbo, larger intercooler, strengthened engine block, and upgraded fuel and oil systems, providing more power and torque. Only 500 RS500s were ever built, and nowadays you’ll need over $200,000 to purchase a good one.

 

3. 1970 Ford Escort Mk1 RS1600

If the RS500 is a race car for the road, third place is a rally car for the road: the 1970 Mk 1 Escort RS1600.

 

This is where it all started for the legendary RS brand. The recipe was simple: take some genuine thoroughbred racing mechanicals and wrap them in a small, light, beautifully balanced rear-wheel-drive body.

 

Under the hood was the first example of the now-famous Cosworth-designed BDA engine. Although its 85 kilowatts of power may seem underwhelming nowadays, keep in mind that a standard escort only produced 30 kilowatts.

 

The RS1600 began Ford’s long domination of rallying, leading to generations of Fords conquering some of the toughest rally stages in the world.

 

2. 1984 Ford RS200

In second place is another rally car for the road, but this one is a lot more extreme than the RS1600 in third place: the RS200.

 

Like the RS500 in fourth place, the RS200 was built as a homologation special in order to allow Ford to enter the most extreme rally category ever, Group B.

 

Group B was introduced in 1982, and while there were some restrictions, the rules were very relaxed, resulting in some of the fastest and most dangerous rally cars ever built.

 

The RS200 was an immensely complicated machine. The Cosworth-engineered 1.8-litre turbocharged engine was mid-mounted, while the gearbox was at the front and the car was, of course, four-wheel drive.

 

It had double-wishbone suspension all around with twin dampers at each corner, a fiberglass body, and in race trim, the engine produced between 250 and 300 kilowatts. The road-going version produced a more modest 185 kilowatts, but it weighed less than 1,200 kilograms, and this was in the mid-1980s.

 

1. 1966 Ford GT40

In first place, by a unanimous decision, is the 1966 Ford GT40. In the 1960s, if you wanted to race in the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you had to build 25 road-going versions of your race car.

 

The GT40 is iconic, as demonstrated by the movie Ford vs Ferrari, and it’s no small feat to beat Ferrari at what they do best. Ford built only 31 examples of the road-going GT40, which differed little from the Le Mans-winning race versions. Wire wheels, carpet, fabric map pockets in the doors, and a cigarette lighter were the main changes, and understandably, buying one today will set you back many millions of dollars.

 

The Mk-1 GT40 wasn’t perfect and required many modifications to secure its race-winning reputation, but when it came to counting the votes for this list, even though second through twentieth were incredibly close, the GT40 was a clear and resounding winner.

 

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.

Performance cars under $10,000

 

A great performance car for under $10,000, surely that’s impossible! Well, no it’s not, there are some absolute bargains out there for fun cars on a budget and here is our top 5.

5. Toyota Celica SX (1999 – 2006)

In fifth place, a car that’s been around since 1970, it’s the Toyota Celica.

 

For 10 grand, we’d recommend looking for seventh-generation, 1999-2006 Celicas in the best possible condition you can find.

 

This generation Celica is hugely underrated. Typical bulletproof Toyota reliability, a funky coupe body, excellent driving dynamics the already excellent Celica is a genuinely superb and still very affordable performance car.

 

Ok, it’s not the fastest thing in a straight line and has to be revved hard to get the best out of it, which is incredibly fun, but the biggest issue this generation Celica had was that when it was new, it was commonly compared to the now legendary Honda Integra Type R.

 

But while Integra Type Rs now asking immense amounts of money on the used market, the Celica is an absolute bargain.

 

4. Nissan Skyline 350GT

In fourth place, it’s rear-wheel drive, it has a stylish coupe body and like the Celica, has a name plate that goes back decades, it’s the Nissan Skyline 350GT.

 

Sharing its platform and engine with the Nissan 350Z, the eleventh-generation V35 350GT did weigh a little more and was set up to be more of a grand tourer than an outright performance car, hence the GT in 350GT.

 

But, make sure you buy a manual, give the engine a mild tune, fit some quality suspension, brakes and tyres and you’ll have yourself an excellent performance car for thousands of dollars less than a decent 350Z.

 

3. Suzuki Swift Sport (2010)

In third place, this thing is an absolute barrel of laughs and a genuinely talented little car, it’s the Suzuki Swift Sport.

 

Motoring journalists raved about the Swift Sport when it was released and now these first-generation 2005-2012 Swift Sports can be had for well under 10 grand, they make for brilliant bang for your buck.

 

A punchy, high-revving, 1.6-litre engine with a notchy mechanical 5-speed manual in a little hatch body with wheels positioned at the extremities of the body, sports-tuned suspension and just the right amount of visual flair makes the Swift Sport an incredibly appealing proposition.

 

2. Honda Civic Type R (2008)

In second place, it’s possibly the least popular of a very popular line of performance cars, it’s the Honda FN2 Civic Type R.

 

The FN2 Civic Type R is cracking good performance car but its issue is that, with some of the FN2’s suspension changes, it just isn’t as special as the Civic Type Rs that came before and after it.

 

But, it still has the truly superb high-revving 2.0-litre K20 engine up front, a gear change feel many car companies still can’t get close to, a chunky squat appearance that almost looks like an angry little space ship and the ability to give whoever is behind the wheel immense levels of fun and interaction.

 

10 grand is pushing it to find a decent FN2 and chances are it might need some TLC but, it’ll be worth it.

 

1. Mazda NB MX5

In the top spot, it’s the Mazda MX5 or Miata.

 

These days, for 10 grand you’ll only really have one variety of MX5 to choose from and it will be the second-generation NB with the 1.8-litre engine, and obviously you’ll get it with a 5-speed manual because the auto should be eradicated from the face of the earth.

 

While the original NA keeps climbing in value and is fast becoming the collector’s choice, the NB is arguably a more resolved and better overall car while still delivering an equally addictive level of driving experience.

 

Plus they’re proving to be reliable, if they do break they’re easy to work on and parts aren’t expensive and if modified correctly and intelligently, can make the already brilliant MX5 truly phenomenal. 

 

For the money, we don’t think any other car will make you laugh and connect you with the essence of driving quite as well as the MX5.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Mazda MX-5, Honda Civic Type R, Suzuki Swift & Toyota Celica.

 

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

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Cars under $30,000 for single dads

So obviously a car in this category has to be practical, safe, reliable and under 30 grand. But this is a car for single dads, it has to exude a sophisticated cool, it has to say ‘yes I’m a dad, so I’m doing my best at being a responsible adult but, hey I’m single and I’m ready to mingle’. It might also help if it frustrates the ex a little bit too.

So, what are the best used cars under 30 grand for single dads? Here is our Top 5

5. Subaru WRX

In fifth place, it’s our performance car pick, the Subaru WRX.

 

For 30 grand, single dads should be on the hunt for the 2014 to 2018 VA WRXs and ideally in the premium trim but if you really want to annoy the ex, get one with the optional wing attached.

 

The WRX is fast but practical, it’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system will keep you and the kids safe while also firing you out of corners like a ballistic missile and while the WRX becomes more mature and refined with every new generation, there’s still something fun and almost juvenile about the WRX.

 

And you just know there’s going to be some great satisfaction when the ex says “you bought a WRX?”

 

4. Lexus IS350 F Sport

In fourth we have our more luxurious choice, but it’s still dipping its toes in the performance car pond, it’s the Lexus IS350 F Sport 

 

The IS350 is an exceptionally good car, but the F Sport is something special. It blends luxury and performance with genuine reliability and practicality. Also, if you happen to be picking someone up for a date, the F Sport just oozes class and cool.

 

30 grand should get you into a 2013 to 2016 F Sport, and at that price it will have a few kilometres on the clock, but, it’s a Lexus so that shouldn’t matter too much.

 

3. BMW E28 5 Series

In third, it’s the E28 5 Series BMW and specifically, the M535i. Like the Lexus, this does its best to dabble in the luxury feels but it does it with some old school charm.

 

Ok, it might not have anywhere near the safety credentials of modern cars but the E28 is practical, it oozes cool, it’s fun to drive, especially in M535i spec, and you’re kids will love the old school charm.

 

Understandably you might have some concerns when it comes to reliability but E28s in this 30 thousand dollar area are generally in incredible condition and should have thorough service histories to give you some peace of mind.

 

Plus, they are pretty simple machines with not all that many electronics so hopefully, that means there is less to go wrong. God they’re cool.

 

 2. Toyota Prado

In second place, we’re getting into adventure mode and this is probably the most sensible car on the list, it’s the Toyota Prado.

 

30 grand should get you behind the wheel of 2012 to 2014 Toyota Prado in either standard trim with lower kilometres or modified and heavily accessorised but with higher kilometres.

 

We’d recommend finding one with some tasty mods and four by four accessories but, make sure it has been cared for and has a full service history.

 

The Prado has loads of room for the kids, with a few mods it will get you about as far away from your ex as is humanly possible. And, with Toyotas incredible reputation for reliability, it should easily last longer than your marriage did.

 

1. Ford Ranger XLT/Wildtrack

In first place, it’s not fast, it’s not luxurious but it will take you, your kids and loads of their stuff far off the beaten track, it’s the Ford Ranger.

 

We had to have a 4×4 dual-cab ute on this list and for 30 grand, our pick is the Ford Ranger, particularly a post-facelift XLT from late 2015 and into 2016.

 

The XLT is the sweet spot of the Ranger lineup and for good reason. It’s loaded with all the kit you and your kids will need, is arguably the nicest to drive on road and will tackle some very serious terrain off road, meaning your kids won’t shut up about how awesome dad’s new truck is to their mum.

 

Plus they’re showing pretty good reliability, as long as they haven’t been abused and if you want to know all the graphic details, we’ve made a video on one.

 

We’ve reviewed versions of the Subaru WRX, Toyota Prado & Ford Ranger.

 

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

 

Find all our video reviews over on YouTube.

Join the ReDriven Community

© 2022 ReDriven All Rights Reserved