Top 6 Budget Family SUVs Under $10,000

Red Toyota RAV4 Budget SUV Car Australia Family Friendly SUV Feature

TOP 6 BUDGET SUV OPTIONS FOR FAMILIES UNDER $10,000

Families have been hit by the budget SUV bug since the late 1990s, and it seems car manufacturers can’t stop making enough of them.

That’s great news for used car buyers though, as that means an almost limitless array of options, even if you’re on a super-tight budget.

Here’s Gumtree Cars’ guide to family-friendly budget SUV options you can buy for $10,000 or less, while still ticking boxes for reliability, fuel economy, interior space and safety.

 

Image credit: Gumtree Cars Seller

HONDA CR-V (2007-2013)

This third generation of Honda’s famous CR-V became more SUV-like in its appearance, with more curves to the body design and the deletion of the external spare wheel on the tailgate.

In sadder news, this Honda CR-V ditched the quaint removable picnic table of the first two versions, though this Honda remains a practical vehicle with lots of storage.

Its dash is smartly presented, and outward vision is good. Best to buy a Sport or Luxury trim grade that featured curtain airbags as standard, or otherwise get the base model from 2010 onwards when these were added as part of an update.

The smooth petrol engine works nicely with a five-speed auto, powering the front wheels most of the time but using the rear wheels when needed via Honda’s ‘Real time 4WD’ system.

Ideally, though, you want to buy the better fourth-generation CR-V if you can find some extra budget (see Gumtree Cars’ Top 6 Budget SUVs $10K-$15K).

Image credit: Gumtree Cars Seller

MAZDA CX-7 (2006–2012)

Australia’s favourite budget SUV, the Mazda CX-5, was released in 2012 but is still too new, relatively speaking, to fall within range of a maximum $10,000 budget. But its predecessor isn’t!

The CX-7 isn’t a seven-seater as the badge might suggest, but it does offer a five-seater layout with decent space throughout the cabin – and backed by a classy ambience.

For parents who appreciate a high level of confidence in the way an SUV handles, the CX-7 is one of the most poised on country roads.

It’s also sprightly if you go for the 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol, although a word of caution: this engine is notorious for its thirst (and need for more expensive premium unleaded).

Expect that to be the most common engine out there at this money, though models from late 2009 onwards offer alternatives.

The Diesel Sports variant is the most frugal with its 2.2-litre turbo diesel, and our pick for value provided you don’t mind using a manual gearbox (there was no auto option for this engine).

Or opt for the simpler, entry-level Classic with a regular 2.5-litre petrol engine powering only the front wheels where other models are all-wheel drive.

 

TOYOTA RAV4 (2006–2012)

The third-generation RAV4 doesn’t so much as give you bang for your buck as give you space for your dollar.

Bigger (and stronger) than the previous RAV4, this version offers one of the roomiest cabins compared with rivals of the time.

RAV4 is an abbreviation for Recreational Activity Vehicle 4WD, and an on-demand four-wheel-drive system is good for some light off-roading thanks to its ability to bring the rear wheels into play when the front wheels are struggling for traction on slippery surfaces.

There is a front-wheel-drive model (nope, Toyota decided not to call it the RAV2), though while it was a more affordable variant it doesn’t save a significant amount of fuel over AWD RAV4s.

From October 2008, safety improved with all RAV4s coming standard with electronic stability control, active front head restraints, and a driver’s knee airbag on all but the base models.

 

Image credit: Gumtree Cars Seller

SKODA YETI (2011–2013)

A left field choice, perhaps, but there’s nothing oddball about this SUV’s practicality. The Yeti cross-bred Skoda’s quirky design and clever thinking with the technology and quality of parent company Volkswagen.

The Yeti, in fact, is based on the VW Tiguan. Yet while both are compact SUVs, the Skoda – introduced in 2011 – offers the more versatile interior with more than 20 different seating combinations possible.

This allows Skoda Yeti owners to chop and change the rear seat configuration to more easily adapt the interior to the amount of cargo or number of people needed to be accommodated.

Need to fit a whole stack of gear for the snow including skis and still have space for four people? No problem. Just fold down one of the rear seats to make room for the skis, leaving the two other seats available.

You can even help someone move to a new house or flat if you wanted, because the Yeti can be transformed into the equivalent of a small van by removing the rear seats completely.

Like its German twin, driving manners are polished, with easy handling and a comfortable ride. It isn’t only the driver and front passenger given an elevated view; rear passengers benefit from a bench positioned 20mm higher than the front seats.

 

Image credit: Gumtree Cars Seller

SUBARU FORESTER (2008–2010)

Subaru’s renowned permanent all-wheel drive and reputation for reliability and build quality mixed into a budget SUV package. It’s no wonder the Forester is the Japanese brand’s most popular model in Australia.

A $10,000 budget gives you access to the third-generation Subaru Forester sold between 2008 and 2013.

Which is handy, as this is a Forester where lanky teens and tall adults could finally rejoice in some generous rear-seat space after the somewhat cramped first and second iterations of Subaru’s SUV.

Every door pocket can hold a large drinks bottle, and the glove box is big enough to hold an iPad – or even spare nappies!

For this price range, you should easily find a mid-range XS Premium that adds a number of features over the regular XS, not least the X base model. These include electric-adjust driver’s seat, leather interior trim and a sunroof.

If you’re lucky, you might find a range-topping XT that provides a big jump in performance by swapping out the 126kW 2.5-litre engine of other models for a turbocharged 2.5-litre with 169kW.

 

Image credit: Gumtree Cars Seller

VOLVO XC90 (CIRCA 2002–2010)

Scandinavian design if famous for combining form and function, and the Swedish Volvo XC90 is no exception.

The biggest trick up the sleeve of this large budget SUV (first introduced in 2002) is a pair of extra seats secreted under the cargo floor, which lift up to turn the XC90 in a seven-seater.

The XC90’s cleverest trick, though, is a pop-up child booster cushion integrated into the centre middle-row seat, saving you the bother of installing a semi-permanent booster seat.

Cabin versatility is further extended with a second-row of seats that could slide forwards and backwards depending on passenger/cargo needs.

The Volvo XC90’s generous proportions mean there’s a big boot as well as generous space in all three rows.

Fuel economy isn’t great, however – becoming respectable only with the 2006 introduction of a D5 turbo diesel variant that finally put official consumption into single figures.


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Jez Spinks

Automotive Journalist