TOP 6 MID-PRICED SUVS
An SUV offering safety, reliability, space and technology wrapped up in the cachet of a luxury-car badge?
Look no further than these six contenders put together by Gumtree Cars to inspire your next purchase.
BMW X5 (2007-2013)
Fortunately, BMW didn’t suffer the notorious difficult second album with this follow up to its landmark original X5.
The ‘E70’ X5, while arguably still the best-looking BMW X5 of all generations, offers poised handling and super-precise steering that hasn’t been matched by more recent X5s.
And this X5 is blessed with a range of engines that fail to disappoint regardless of spend, including the popular base model 30d with its punchy and economical 3.0-litre turbo diesel.
If the budget can afford an MY11 model onwards, efficiency takes another step up with an automatic transmission featuring eight rather than six gears.
You’ll find more versatile cabins elsewhere in this luxury SUVs segment, but this is the first X5 available with an optional third row of seats to make it a seven-seater and the boot is among the biggest for the class.
In a tech-first, this X5 was also the first luxury SUV available with a head-up display that projects vehicle speed and navigation guidance onto the windscreen in front of the driver.
LEXUS RX (2009-2015)
The RX has never been that easy to pigeonhole as its size has straddled the medium and large luxury SUV segments. Let’s call it medium-large, then.
Lexus also goes its way on power trains, because above the entry-level four-cylinder RX270 (2012 on) and V6 RX350 petrols, the RX450 flagship during this period was a very rare petrol-electric hybrid SUV.
The world’s most powerful, in fact, with its V6 petrol engine and electric combining to produce 220kW. And with the ability to drive solely on electric power at lower speeds, the RX450h had stand-out fuel economy of 6.4 litres per 100km.
Lexus is also renowned for equipping all its models generously, which includes an occupant-protection feast of 10 airbags for every model. Want more features, you simply climb up the trim-grade tree.
For example, the mid-range Sports adds radar cruise control, and the range-topping Sports Luxury adds the likes of headlights that can peer around corners for better vision at night and a head-up display.
Image credit: Gumtree Cars seller
MERCEDES-BENZ GL-CLASS (2006-2012)
The original Mercedes-Benz GL-Class of 2006 was meant to replace the military-inspired G-wagen, but both models have continued as quite different beasts.
You could say the GL, Mercedes’ biggest SUV, is a bit of a tank at more than five metres long and nearly two metres wide, though it’s a luxurious one.
All models were chock-a-block with gear, but find a GL350 fitted with the optional Vision Package and extra features include an audiophile’s dream audio: a Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system.
The audio is standard on the GL500, which swaps the GL350’s V6 turbo diesel for a faster (though thirstier) V8 petrol.
As for the family troops, you can fit up to six of them plus the driver with versions equipped with an extra (two-seat) row. Or fold all the seats behind the front occupants and fire a gun-salute to an enormous 2300 litres of load capacity.
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT ALLTRACK (2012-2018)
The Passat Alltrack is technically a wagon, but it’s officially classed in the industry as an SUV, so excuse us if we run with it as a choice in our luxury SUVs top list.
It’s certainly not a conventional Volkswagen Passat wagon, as the ‘Alltrack’ badge that debuted here in 2012 brings SUV cues such as a higher ride height and extra body protection. VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive is standard, naturally. It’s an on-demand system that mostly powers the front wheels until extra traction is needed.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbo diesel for the Alltrack, though the engine has upgraded over the years – including the all-new 140TDI introduced in 2016.
Official fuel consumption is just 5.4 litres per 100km, and there’s a small-boat-friendly braked towing capacity of 2200kg.
Of course, you still get all the pleasant driving manners, as well as the classy and spacious cabin, of the Passat.
Boot space is even bigger for the newer Passat wagon (and incidentally larger than the boot of the Touareg SUV coming up next!) – with a boot floor length exceeding two metres with the rear seats folded. That swallows a whole lot of bags, or bikes.
VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG (2011-2017)
Right, no question this is a proper Volkswagen SUV. The Touareg in fact is the German brand’s biggest sports utility vehicle (although still only a five-seater).
As expected for its size, there’s good cabin space in the second-generation Touareg that’s our focus here – with versatility boosted by a sliding second-row bench.
A tailgate that opens and closes electrically is a standard feature, providing easy access to a big boot.
The Touareg’s smart interior presentation was noteworthy when this generation launched in 2011, and it holds up well today.
A V6 petrol existed only briefly (2011-2012), so expect your engine choices to boil down to a couple of V6 diesels with different levels of power and torque (lower in 150TDI, higher in V6 TDI).
There’s even a V8 turbo diesel with a mighty 800Nm, though that’s a circa-$110,000 model when new so don’t waste time looking for one under this budget cap.
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE (2011-2016)
If Evoque sounds like a playful spin on the word ‘evocative’, that was no doubt Land Rover’s intention.
The ‘baby’ Range Rover model has been a smash-hit since its 2011 debut thanks to an inspirational, wow-factor exterior design almost unchanged from the stunning LRX preview concept.
There’s even a three-door ‘coupe’ that more exactly copies the LRX, though the five-door ‘wagon’ is the more popular variant.
The design, plus a fairly posh interior, could make the driving experience irrelevant for many buyers, yet the Evoque is satisfying to drive and available with a choice of decent petrol and diesel engines.
Just a note of caution if cabin space is a priority. The Evoque is a compact SUV so it’s fairly cramped inside (and rear vision isn’t great, either).
Otherwise, the Range Rover Evoque’s appeal verges on irresistible, making it a must for your top list of luxury SUVs.