Best used small SUVs

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

Simon Ostler
Apr 1, 2022

If you're after the high driving position of an SUV, but you don't fancy driving a really big car, you'll be pleased to know there is a wide selection of small SUVs on sale that will suit you down to the ground. In fact, the demand for small cars with a high driving position has grown so much that there's now a thriving selection of these models that have been designed specifically to meet that need.

Sales have been rising with a rocket-like trajectory for a decade, and the result is there are thousands of these small SUVs available to used car buyers looking for a good value deal. It all started with the Nissan Juke back in 2010, but since then pretty much every mainstream car manufacturer has offered its own take on the small SUV.

Indeed, when it comes to setting a budget, the best cheap SUVs start from under £150 per month on BuyaCar, which is enough for you to get behind the wheel of a perfectly capable small SUV. These cars tend to be built on the same foundations as small hatchbacks, and as used cars, they're similarly cheap to buy. Whether you opt for a Renault Clio or a Renault Captur comes down to which one you prefer, rather than which one you can afford.

If you're looking for a higher driving position, with more headroom, then small SUVs are going to be your preference, and because they're smaller, they're also cheaper to run compared to larger SUV models. The Captur with its 0.9-litre petrol engine is far cheaper to tax and insure compared to a larger Audi Q5 with a 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Best used small SUVs

1. Renault Captur

Best used SUV for all-round ability

Used deals from £7,100
Monthly finance from £166*

Underneath the metal of Renault's smallest SUV are the mechanical parts from the popular Clio. But the Renault Captur adds more practicality - you get a larger interior, a bigger boot, and a higher driving position providing much-improved visibility.

Like the Clio, the Captur isn’t particularly sharp and agile in corners, but it proves comfortable over bumps and it's surprisingly quiet inside too. An update on cars built from July 2017 brought higher-quality interior materials, standard digital radio across the range and a slight redesign, which is barely noticeable.

A new version of the Captur went on sale at the end of 2019, but used prices for the newer model remain about double those of the older model, so if you're looking for a cheaper deal, this is the one to go for.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Peugeot 2008

Best used SUV for interior space

Used deals from £6,350
Monthly finance from £168*

For a small SUV, the Peugeot 2008 is on the larger end of the scale, but that does mean it offers decent interior space for five adults. The 360-litre boot is a reasonable size, although it trails the Captur’s 377-litre offering. Interior quality is good, but not everyone will get on with the small steering wheel that has become a feature of all Peugeot models - you look over it rather than through it to see the instruments, which may or may not be to your liking.

In terms of efficiency, the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine is capable of returning around 45mpg in real-world conditions, but it's the diesel models you'll be after if fuel economy is a priority. The 2008 has been around for a while now so there are newer, more efficient alternatives out there.

Higher-specification 2008 models also 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 comes into its own on an icy morning.

PEUGEOT 2008 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Audi Q2

Best used SUV for quality

Used deals from £14,900
Monthly finance from £242*

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 in late 2016, so even the earliest Q2s are quite new compared to some of its rivals – don’t expect to get much change from £20,000.

The good news is, it ages well, so should feel almost box-fresh. The reassuringly heavy clunk of the doors, solid-feeling interior and soft-touch materials resist wear well and its general design has a stylish if a minimal sort of vibe.

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.

AUDI Q2 BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mini Countryman

Best used SUV for fun with practicality

Used deals from £8,441
Monthly finance from £280*

A new version of the Mini Countryman only went on sale in 2018, so bargain hunters are best off looking at the previous model for maximum choice and value.

The Countryman combines the charm of the Mini Hatchback with the extra space needed by families, offering enough rear legroom for most adults to get comfortable (although, we should point out that its successor is considerably more accommodating). The dashboard has a characterful design, with a big circular speedometer in the centre, above retro-look toggle switches, and it makes other small SUVs feel rather dowdy.

With the extra weight and height over the standard Hatchback, it's never going to be as nimble, fast or fun to drive, but for its type, this is one of the more satisfying small SUVs drivers can buy, particularly if you go for the Cooper D diesel version or the Cooper S - the more affordable, less powerful Cooper drags its heels once passengers are on board.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mazda CX-3

Best used SUV for enjoying the drive

Used deals from £10,000
Monthly finance from £229*

The Mazda CX-3 is one of those cars that’s easily overlooked. But spare a thought for the smallest SUV in the Japanese carmaker’s range, because it is surprisingly good.

For starters, it looks good. This is at once both stylish and different, something that’s hard to achieve in such a crowded part of the car market. Then there’s the price. The most affordable models, dating back to 2016, cost from about £10,000, which is good value.

And finally, this relatively unknown model pretty much sets the bar for its rivals to match, because it’s surprisingly good to drive. There’s a diesel available, that can return up to 48mpg, but we prefer the free-revving petrol, which helps get the most from the CX-3 responsive road holding. It’s also pleasingly practical, with room for a family of four, a fair size, 350-litre boot and a stylishly designed dashboard that feels built to last.

MAZDA CX-3 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Range Rover Evoque

Best used SUV for style

Used deals from £13,159
Monthly finance from £384*

The Range Rover Evoque is the smallest car in the Range Rover family, and older models available on the used market can cost as little as a new Ford Focus. Despite its perceived age, the Evoque remains one of the most fashionable small SUVs you can buy today. The used market affords you plenty of choice too - diesels, petrols, three-door, five-door, convertibles, two-wheel-drive, four-wheel-drive, we could go on.

The rear seats are cramped, and the boot, at 420-litres, is also on the small size, but there are few other cars available at this price that offer quite so much luxury and comfort, not to mention prestige courtesy of the Range Rover badge.

It's also relatively capable off-road in four-wheel-drive form, much more so than many of the other options on this list. So if you live out in the countryside a small SUV takes your fancy, the Evoque may well be your first choice.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Toyota CH-R

Best used SUV for hybrid power

Used deals from £13,500
Monthly finance from £0*

It’s one of the most striking-looking SUVs on the road but there’s another significant reason why a driver would part with their hard-earned money to own a C-HR: it comes with a hybrid engine.

Toyota has fitted its smallest SUV with the same petrol-electric hybrid system that features in the Prius. The Japanese carmaker refers to it as self-charging, meaning the driver never has to think about how things are working as the car’s computers control the petrol engine a battery-powered motor to give the most efficient drive possible while maintaining the charge of the battery.

Introduced in 2017, this is not a cheap option – the most affordable are about £17,000 - but it does provide an option for those who want the fuel economy of a diesel without having to worry over what’s coming out of the exhaust. Look out for mid-range Excel trim models, as they come with additional safety equipment that helps keep all aboard safe.

TOYOTA C-HR BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Citroen C4 Cactus

Best used SUV for quirkiness

Used deals from £5,994
Monthly finance from £261*

The Citroen C4 Cactus is the French carmaker at its quirky best. Its most noteworthy feature is its protective rubber body panelling, called 'Airbumps', which can help protect against car park bumps and scrapes. After putting them to the test, against a kid’s bike, a wheelbarrow and a football, we can report that they do indeed stand up to knocks.

It's a comfortable car with suspension that smooths over Britain’s poorly surfaced roads, but this comes at the expense of nimbleness; the C4 Cactus is best driven leisurely, or you'll find it leans heavily in corners. 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.

CITROEN C4 CACTUS BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Nissan Juke

Best used SUV for eye-catching looks

Used deals from £5,895
Monthly finance from £305*

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 technology.

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, including blind-spot monitoring.

A brand new Nissan Juke hit the roads in early 2020, so with a bit of patience, you could find that this outgoing model becomes an awful lot cheaper to buy - or go the other way and opt for a brand-spanking-new one instead.

NISSAN JUKE BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Suzuki Jimny

Best used SUV for off-roading

Used deals Limited stock

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.

Drivers looking to keep the costs down should consider a previous-generation model, however the latest model should prove more fuel-efficient, and comes with more equipment as standard.

SUZUKI JIMNY BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta Titanium:

Monthly payments over 48 months: £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage allowance: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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