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Buying a small SUV

By raccars Published

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If you're looking for a small SUV, don't be confused by the overwhelming choice out there.

The small SUV or crossover sector is huge, with offerings from every major manufacturer to choose from. An elevated ride height, modern design, economical ownership and a practical layout make them a popular choice for buyers from all demographics. This is good news for used buyers because it means that there are plenty of good examples out there.

The best options from the small SUV sector

Nissan Qashqai

Britain's best-selling SUV is almost single-handedly responsible for the explosion of the sector. Released in 2007, it's offers the perfect combination of price, practicality, style and performance. The Qashqai is also famously reliable, which is not to say that it has been entirely without problems. Listen out for a knocking from worn rear shock absorbers and beware of worn clutches.

Toyota RAV4

One of an earlier breed of SUVs, the RAV4 fell out of fashion with the arrival of more modern choices such as the Qashqai. However the third generation RAV4 has a lot to offer, including a comfortable ride, excellent handling and the reliability guaranteed by a Toyota badge. Beware of a notchy gearbox on high mileage models.

Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is starting to become available used, which is great news for buyers looking for a well-equipped, spacious and affordable small SUV. The efficient engine is the CX-5's biggest selling point, making it one of the most economical and environmentally friendly choices in its class. Plastic inserts on the dashboard mark easily so check the condition of the cabin carefully before buying.

Volvo XC60

The XC90 might grab most of the attention but Volvo's smaller SUV is just as impressive. It's a roomy and comfortable option with a fantastic 655 litre boot space, making it one of the most practical choices on the market. And, of course, that Volvo badge is a reassuring guarantee of a safe ride. It's not the cheapest small SUV out there, and check that recall issues have been remedied before you buy.

VW Tiguan

Volkswagen's first crossover displays the brand's consistent build quality and smooth ride. It's not as high riding as some other small SUVs but five adults can travel in comfort and handling is very good. The boot is not one of the largest in its class but is cleverly designed to maximise the space available so you won't lose out. Check the integrity of the handbrake release mechanism as a costly known fault can cause problems. Check that all door handles release easily too as these have been known to stick and prevent doors from opening.

Ford Kuga

The Kuga is one of the best looking and best handling small SUVs out there but is less spacious than rivals. However it's great to drive, affordable and economical. Avoid the diesel models if you live in a town or city as the diesel filters don't respond well to repeated short journeys and can be expensive to fix once out of warranty.

Hyundai ix35

A transferable five year, unlimited mileage warranty makes a nearly new ix35 a value for money buy in itself, but the Hyundai is also well kitted out, practical and economical, in two wheel drive format at least. The cabin doesn't wear well under harsh treatment so check the condition of interior plastics and make sure that the infotainment system is functioning as it should.

Skoda Yeti

The quirky looking Yeti has been a massive success for Skoda, inspiring huge loyalty from owners. It focuses on practicality over style with a comfortable and deceptively spacious cabin and smart driving dynamics. The boxy shape doesn't favour aerodynamics or refinement but the Yeti is a reliable and sensible choice. The only reported issues are some electrical faults.

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