Best used small SUVs

Small but spacious and affordable too: the best used small SUVs are ideal for a young family

John Evans
Feb 27, 2018

With compact dimensions and a high driving position, small sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are a doddle to drive and often surprisingly roomy.

Sales have been rising for almost a decade, and so there are plenty of used small SUVs to choose from, with prices ranging from around £115 a month for a four-year-old Peugeot 2008, to considerably more for the upmarket Audi Q2.

Most of these cars are based on superminis (such as a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo), using the same mechanical parts in a taller package. This usually makes them more spacious (certainly where headroom is concerned), and cheap to run, with good fuel economy. Many cars that were first sold before April 1 last year cost no more than £30 a year to tax; cars registered after this date incur a £140 fee.

The small SUV shape does come with one downside: to prevent these taller vehicles from leaning uncomfortably in corners, they tend to be fitted with stiffer suspension, which makes them more unsettled over dips and bumps. This means that they are typically less comfortable than a supermini.


Best used SUV for all-round ability

Renault Captur

Typical example Renault Captur 0.9 TCE 90 Dynamique MediaNav  Age 2015 / 25,000 miles
Price £9,250  Representative finance payments £150 per month

Underneath the metal of Renault's small SUV are the mechanical parts from the company's popular but unspectacular Clio supermini. To these unpromising ingredients the Captur adds more practicality in the form of a larger interior, bigger boot and higher driving position, which provides much-improved visibility.

Like the Clio it isn’t particularly sharp and agile in corners, but is comfortable over bumps and quiet. An update on cars delivered from July 2017 brought higher quality interior materials, standard digital radio across the range and a slight redesign, which is barely noticeable. These more recent cars have a C-shaped silver-surround at either end of the lower bumper, rather than the closed shapes shown above.
Read the Renault Captur buying guide



Best used SUV for quality

Audi Q2

Typical example Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI Sport  Age 2017 / 2,000 miles
Price £19,300  Representative finance payments £265 per month

The Audi Q2 is the upmarket option in the small SUV class and it shows in its styling and quality, as well as its price. It first went on sale last year, so even the earliest Q2s are quite new. Most of them feel that way too: the reassuringly heavy clunk of the doors, solid-feeling interior and soft-touch materials resist wear well.

These touches of quality put the Q2 above its rivals, as does the noise insulation, which makes it one of the quietest small SUVs on the market. You will have to put up with a firm ride, though, which can make for a bumpy ride over potholes and rough roads. 

There's space for adults in the back seats, but the boot is only an average-sized 405 litres.
Read the Audi Q2 buying guide



Best used SUV for fun with practicality

Mini Countryman

Typical example Mini Countryman Cooper D  Age 2016 / 10,000 miles
Price £14,000  Representative finance payments £206 per month

An all-new Mini Countryman only went on sale last year, so used car buyers are best off looking at the previous model for maximum choice and value.

The car is a reasonable attempt to combine the charm of the Mini Hatchback with the extra space needed by families, offering enough rear legroom for most adults to get comfortable.

The dashboard is a characterful design, with a big circular speedometer in the centre, above retro toggle switches. However, the extra weight and height over the standard Hatchback means that it's not as nimble, fast or fun to drive.



Best used SUV for interior space

Peugeot 2008

Typical example Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech Allure  Age 2016 / 12,000 miles
Price £9,450  Representative finance payments £148 per month

For a small SUV, the Peugeot 2008 is quite large, which means that it offers decent interior space for five adults. The boot is reasonable, although trails the Captur’s in size (360 litres compared with 377). Interior quality is good but not everyone will get on with the small steering wheel; you look over it rather than through it to see the instruments, which isn't to everyone’s liking.

The 1.2 PureTech petrol engine is efficient, returning around 45mpg in real-world driving. Higher-specification 2008 models come with Grip Control, an electronic system that boosts grip when accelerating on slippery surfaces. It's not as good as a proper four-wheel drive system but can help to get you moving on an icy morning.


Best used SUV for eye-catching looks

Nissan Juke

Typical example Nissan Juke 1.2 DiG-T Acenta Premium  Age 2015 / 18,000 miles
Price £8,395   Representative finance payments £126 per month

Despite being launched in 2010, the Nissan Juke's bold design remains as distinctive (and divisive) as ever. It's helped to keep the car selling strongly, even though it's behind rivals in terms of comfort, space and technoogy.

Fuel economy remains good, particularly if you choose a model built after summer 2014, when a more efficient 1.2-litre petrol engine became available. These more recent cars are also better buys because they have a 354-litre boot that's 40% larger than in earlier models, and optional extra safety technology, such as blind-spot warning.
Read the Nissan Juke buying guide



Best used SUV for value

Ford EcoSport

Typical example Ford EcoSport 1.5 TDCI Titanium  Age 2017 / 7,000 miles
Price £11,595  Representative finance payments £166 per month

The first version of Ford's EcoSport was a drab car with outdated engine technology and an uncomfortable ride on rough roads.

That's why it was quickly updated in 2015 as Ford brought it closer to the standard of its competitors. It's still not the best car in its class, but is quieter and more comfortable than the earlier model. It also doesn't come with a big spare wheel hanging on the bootlid.

Prices are cheaper than many rivals, which means that you could get behind the wheel of a 2017 car with a few thousands miles for under £12,000 or £170 a month. Zetec is the most popular trim but Titanium brings a useful rearview camera and climate control.
Read the Ford EcoSport buying guide



Best used SUV for off-roading

Suzuki Jimny

Typical example Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ3  Age 2015 / 15,000 miles
Price £10,000  Representative finance payments £182 per month

Suzuki's little Jimny is the Terrier of small SUVs, with tough and resilient performance that you might not expect, given its size.

Small and light, with heavy duty suspension and a choice of two-wheel or four-wheel drive, nothing can get in its way, as you’ll know if you’ve ever hired one on a Greek island. It'll drag you through most slippery and rough terrain just as well as a Land Rover.

Basic trims are just that but SZ4 spec does bring more equipment, with air conditioning and alloy wheels.



Best used SUV for quirky style

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus with airbumps

Typical example Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech Flair  Age 2015 / 20,000 miles
Price £8,250  Representative finance payments £134 per month

The Citroen C4 Cactus is the French car maker at its quirky best. it looks more like a tall hatchback than an aggressive off-road car, and its soft image is enhanced by the Airbump door protectors, which can help protect against car park bumps and scrapes.

It's comfortable too, but this does come at the expense of nimbleness; the C4 Cactus is best driven leisurely, or you'll find itself leaning heavily in corners, wallowing over the road.

Smooth driving also brings excellent efficiency. You can expect fuel economy of around 45mpg from the 1.2-litre petrol engine, and over 60mpg from the 1.6-litre diesel.

There's now an updated C4 Cactus without Airbumps, which means that deals on the earlier car are particularly good.
Read the Citroen C4 Cactus buying guide


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