Q: What is the best SUV in Australia?
A: What’s ‘best’ for you depends on your personal needs, and your wants – do you need an SUV primarily for moving the kids about, towing things like boats and caravans, or for serious off-roading? The good news is that there’s an SUV for everyone these days, so finding a new SUV that suits your situation shouldn’t be difficult.
In 2022, SUVs are now the most popular model of car on the Australian market, and they come in a wide variety of styles: big, small, fat, thin, built for the city, built for rugged off-roading – and colours.
There’s an argument to be made that having a high seating position isn’t the most ideal way to drive, but that’s beside the point – people love SUVs, and while they keep buying them in huge numbers, expect not a whole lot to change.
The popularity of SUVs also means there’s no shortage of them on the second-hand market, should you want to buy one from the many used car dealers out there.
Read on for our thoughts on what the best SUV in Australia is for a variety of popular categories.
10. Toyota LandCruiser: Most Reliable SUV in Australia
Launched in Australia over 60 years ago, if you can believe it, the Toyota LandCruiser four-wheel-drive (4WD) has built a rock-solid reputation over the decades for being the most reliable large SUV on the market.
If you want proof of said rep, head into the Australian Outback, where LandCruisers are numerous in the same way that petrol stations aren’t.
While the tried-and-trusted 70 series and 200 series are still available, Toyota has recently launched a 300 series with a V6 twin-turbo diesel engine that delivers 227kW of power and 700Nm of torque, and a stronger power-to-weight ratio, making it even more capable and fuel efficient than ever.
Who should buy one: Folk who want an SUV that does what an SUV was originally designed to do: be a tough-as-guts off-roader.
9. Jaguar I-Pace: Most Fuel-Efficient SUV in Australia
If you’re after an SUV that’s fuel efficient, you’re not really going to beat one that uses no fuel whatsoever, are you?
Such are the joys of electric vehicles (EVs) like Jaguar’s I-Pace, a sleek all-wheel-drive (AWD) SUV that runs on electric power and delivers instant torque of 696Nm.
The I-Pace, which pleasingly looks great both inside and out, runs on a powerful 90kWh battery pack that offers a claimed 470km of driving range on a full charge – more than enough to get you from point A to point B with plenty of charge to spare.
Who should buy one: Drivers who want to cut out their fuel costs, and/or do their bit for saving the planet by cutting out carbon emissions.
8. Audi SQ7: Best Diesel SUV in Australia
Diesel-powered SUVs don’t often look as shapely or feel as luxurious as Audi’s SQ7, a deceptive seven-seater that looks all class on the outside, but packs some serious high-performance sports car punch on the inside, thanks to an engine that produces 320kW of power and an enormous 900Nm of torque.
The fact the SQ7 is a diesel-hybrid means that it’s more fuel-efficient than a lot of other SUVs, and it functions just as well as an urban family car as it does a workhorse that’s capable of towing up to 3500kg.
Oh, it can also rocket from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, just in case there was any doubt about the power the SQ7 packs.
Who should buy one: Those who want high-performance power packed into a family-friendly SUV.
7. MG ZS: Best value SUV in Australia
The Chinese-owned British brand has gained some solid footing in the Australian marketplace thanks to its range of low-priced cars that offer decent bang for your buck, including the MG ZS SUV, with prices starting from a very attractive $22,490 (the all-electric MG ZS EV is also the cheapest EV on the market, going for $46,990 drive-away).
It’s small, but packs in an array of solid features including 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-look seats, a sunroof, Apple CarPlay, an eight-inch colour touchscreen and a rear-view camera.
A seven-year warranty is a good indicator that MG also believes in its product, which should offer buyers some peace of mind.
Who should buy one: Those who want style and substance for a low price.
6. Lamborghini Urus: Best luxury SUV in Australia
Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini knows a thing or two about high-performance sports cars, luxury and iconic design, and it has managed to transfer all of that – unbelievably – to an SUV named the Urus (not an infection of some kind, even if it may sound like one).
As you’d likely guess, they aren’t cheap: prices start from $390,000, although you’ll get a slew of bells and whistles – and crazy power – for the price.
The Urus AWD has a powerful 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 850Nm of torque, and it’ll zip from zero to 100km/h in a brisk 3.6 seconds (top speed is a truly absurd for an SUV 306km/h).
Who should buy one: Anyone with deep enough pockets and the need for speed.
5. Hyundai Santa Fe: Best family SUV in Australia
Hyundai has perfected the art of combining style and practicability, and it’s a solid go-to for anyone seeking out a reliable, comfortable and affordable family car (prices start from $45,550).
Its Santa Fe seven-seater SUV comes in either diesel or petrol variants, offers AWD as an option and has plenty of space for your family and all of their assorted belongings.
Who should buy one: Families after an SUV that confidently covers all bases.
4. Toyota LandCruiser 200: Best Towing SUV in Australia
Simply liking an SUV for the way it looks is no crime, but if you’re after the ultimate SUV that both looks the part and delivers the kind of beefy power and performance that’s not to be trifled with, the iconic Toyota LandCruiser is the 4WD SUV that you’re looking for.
A big diesel engine and sizeable braked towing capacity of 3500kg makes the LandCruiser 200 more than capable of towing a heavy load, whether you need to shift a boat, caravan or camper trailer.
Who should buy one: Anyone hitting the open road who requires the ability to haul a heavy load.
3. Mazda CX-9: Best large SUV in Australia
Anyone who’s sought out a large SUV knows that there’s a sweet spot between ‘looks big on the outside, feels small on the inside’ and ‘I feel like I’m driving a tank, and undercover car parks fill me with dread’.
The Mazda CX-9 seems to hit that sweet spot by being big and spacious enough to carry the whole family in comfort, while also feeling like you’re driving something smaller that is still packed with power (a 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine sees to that).
The fact that it looks stylish and packs in a tonne of features is also a bonus, with prices starting at $45,990, and climbing to $73,881 for the most kitted-out version.
Who should buy one: Families on the larger side who want the perfect blend of space, style and comfort.
2. Nissan X-Trail: Best midsize SUV
Battling it out with Toyota’s RAV4 and more as one of Australia’s most popular mid-size SUV is the Nissan X-Trail, and it offers up plenty of choices to suit your particular needs, including all-wheel drive or front-wheel-drive.
The design may border on outdated with a new model around the corner, but the X-Trail still has plenty to offer: decent space inside, a powerful 2.5-litre engine and that optional AWD which offers more road grip – a safety factor that should appeal to drivers with families.
Who should buy one: Drivers with modest space requirements who still want the feel and function of an SUV.
1. Volvo XC40: Best small SUV
Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has moved on from its days as a peddler of boxy sedans and wagons, now offering up something entirely new: stylish and functional SUVs that put the company in line with current trends.
The XC40 is the smallest in the Volvo SUV range, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking: clever engineering means it has ample space despite its compact size, and a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine makes sure it packs a decent punch under the bonnet.
Prices start at $47,490 for the base model and go up to $56,990, with Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and EV models available as well.
Who should buy one: Anyone who wants an SUV perfect for city driving that also doesn’t feel like it’s making a sacrifice in terms of space.
By Stephen Corby
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