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

BuyaCar team
Mar 25, 2020

If you're after the high driving position of an SUV, but you only really need the space you'd get with a standard hatchback, you might be thinking you're asking for too much. Well, you aren't actually, because car manufacturers seem to agree that it's a very desirable combination.

In fact these small crossovers have become some of the most popular cars in the UK. Sales have been rising with rocket-like trajectory for a decade, meaning that used car buyers now have a broad choice to suit all manner of tastes, budgets and practical needs.

Indeed, when it comes to setting a budget, a starting figure of under £150 per month can get you behind he wheel of a decent car. These cheaper models may have covered a fair few miles in their lifetime, but if they're accompanied by a complete (and clean) service history then there's no reason why they shouldn't be good for a fair few more.

Models in this mini-SUV market are usually based on smaller models within a range (the Audi Q2 for example is based on the A3 hatchback), using the same mechanical parts in a taller package. This usually means there's more headroom on offer, and ensures they are usually cheaper to insure, tax, fuel, and service.

Best used small SUVs

1. Renault Captur

Best used SUV for all-round ability

Latest Renault Captur deals from £5,995
Monthly finance from £114

Underneath the metal of Renault's smallest SUV are the mechanical parts from the popular but unspectacular 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, it 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 delivered from July 2017 brought higher quality interior materials, standard digital radio across the range and a slight redesign, which is barely noticeable.

A new Captur went on sale at the end of 2019, so prices for the older generation model are likely to drop and you ought to find yourself a pretty handsome deal.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Peugeot 2008

Best used SUV for interior space

Latest Peugeot 2008 deals from £5,550
Monthly finance from £101

For a small SUV, the Peugeot 2008 is quite large, and it offers decent interior space for five adults as a result. The 360-litre boot is a reasonable size, although it trails the Captur’s 377-litre offering. Interior quality is good, too, 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

Latest Audi Q2 deals from £14,499
Monthly finance from £202

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 – don’t expect 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

Latest Mini Countryman deals from £7,550
Monthly finance from £147

An all-new 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 car 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 was 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 aboard.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mazda CX-3

Best used SUV for enjoying the drive

Latest Mazda CX-3 deals from £10,000
Monthly finance from £159

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 as good as sets the bar by which competitors are judged, as 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

Latest Range Rover Evoque deals from £17,998
Monthly finance from £275

The smallest car Range Rover makes was replaced in early 2019, helping bring the prices of these older models down to Ford Focus levels.

And despite being old hat now, they still remain 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 buyers love its compact dimensions, raised seating position, light steering and front and rear parking sensors.

By the by, Victoria Beckham, despite what she says, didn’t design it. She did however help design the interior of a special edition, self-effacingly named the Victoria Beckham Special Edition.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Toyota CH-R

Best used SUV for hybrid power

Latest § deals from £12,879
Monthly finance from £170

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 car maker 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 came with additional safety equipment that help keep all aboard safe.

TOYOTA C-HR BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Citroen C4 Cactus

Best used SUV for quirkiness

Citroen C4 Cactus with airbumps

Latest Citroen C4 Cactus deals from £6,248
Monthly finance from £125

The Citroen C4 Cactus is the French carmaker at its quirky best. Its most noteworthy feature are protective rubber body panels, 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.

There's now an updated C4 Cactus without Airbumps, which divided opinion.

CITROEN C4 CACTUS BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Nissan Juke

Best used SUV for eye-catching looks

Latest Nissan Juke deals from £5,495
Monthly finance from £111

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 warning.

The brand new Nissan Juke is due to 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

Latest Suzuki Jimny deals from £12,998
Monthly finance from £239

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. It's recently been replaced by a new Jimny, which will help keep the prices of these old ones down.

SUZUKI JIMNY BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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