Which small SUV should I buy?

There are so many SUVs on the market to choose from that finding the right one can be terribly confusing. We choose the three most affordable options.

With over 50 brands of cars sold in Australia, finding the right car is not always easy. We point one of our readers in the right direction.

QUESTION

I’m looking for a small to medium SUV for around $30,000. My elderly parents struggle to get in and out of my Hyundai i30 so I need more height. I drive 150 km round trip three times a week, so I want good highway driving and economy. I need DAB radio and sat nav; security packages are a bonus. I heard that the new Nissan Qashqai is coming soon, is it worth the wait?

Vanessa Svetets, Geelong

REPLY

With new car prices so high, the number of SUVs in the $30,000 range is limited. Built-in sat nav isn’t as important these days: Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, whichever I chose, does the job better as maps are always up to date.

Good height and size are key, as your parents’ comfort is a motivator to change cars.

CHOICE

KIA SELTOS SPORT WITH SAFETY PACKAGE, $33,790.

The Seltos win on style, backseat space for your parents, a decent 433L boot, five-star safety, and a seven-year warranty.

Services cost an average of $1,914 over five years. There’s built-in satellite navigation with 10 years of free updates, a great 10.25-inch touchscreen and DAB. If feels like a big deal on the highway and rides well with radar cruise control for long hauls.

On the negative, the average fuel consumption of 6.8L/100km (due to the rather boring four-cylinder petrol) isn’t ideal, and this Kia is so popular you’ll have to wait a long time for it. But it’s in demand because it’s a great all-rounder.

HAVAL H6 PREMIUM, $33,990

If you don’t mind buying a Chinese, the H6 is the most convincing Haval I’ve tested.

The only mid-range SUV here, since there are so few of those price tags, it looks attractive, has a spacious interior, plus a pair of 10.25-inch screens and plenty of driver-assistance tech.

The interior is presented surprisingly well, with plenty of head and legroom in the rear, and a boot capacity of 600 liters. No DAB or built-in sat nav, but Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is your fallback.

The biggest downsides are its 7.4L/100km economy and average driving experience, but it’s a comfortable and quiet cruiser.

Other wins are a five-star ANCAP rating, a seven-year warranty, and a cheap $1,560 for the first five services.

TOYOTA YARIS CROSS GX HYBRID, ABOUT $33,000

The Yaris Cross gives your parents higher ground clearance for easy access, but not a lot of room. The rear seats are acceptable as long as they are not too high.

On a positive note, an incredible 3.8L/100km fuel economy from the three-cylinder turbo-hybrid engine is a godsend for your long journeys when fuel prices are high. It feels small on the highway, but otherwise it’s competent and comfortable on most surfaces, and only runs on battery when coasting or in traffic.

Interior materials feel cheap in places, but it’s fun, cool, and chokers with a safety kit.

It has five ANCAP stars, a five-year warranty, and amazingly affordable services in that time for just $1,025.

DAB is enabled, but there is no built-in navigation on the main 7-inch screen.

FAKE CARD

NISSAN QASHQAI ST+, ABOUT $40,000 RIDE

Correct wildcard as we didn’t drive the new Qashqai.

After delays, it should finally arrive in the fourth quarter of this year. The ST+ has a massive 12.3-inch HD infotainment system with DAB, satellite navigation and a 360-degree monitor.

For elderly parents, rear doors that open 90 degrees make it much easier to get in and out. Foreign reports suggest that the 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is a little underpowered, but delivers an impressive 5.3L/100km.

The new Qashqai is significantly larger than before, with an impressive 480 liters of boot space, and independent rear suspension ensures a decent ride quality.

There is a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, but I’m afraid that its price will hit your budget.

VERDICT

For size, safety, price, trim levels, and reasonable fuel economy, I’d pick the Seltos – the Haval is too power hungry, and the Toyota probably too small.

The new Qashqai is too expensive.

Originally published as Which small SUV should I buy?