The SUV has come a long way, from utility vehicles barrelling off the beaten track to crossovers that now fill the largest slice of the Australian car market. Let’s look at the key benefits of today’s SUVs so you can find the one that delivers the performance and practicality you’re looking for.
Best SUVs in 2020 and 2021 for safety
The medium-sized Toyota RAV4 is Australia’s most popular SUV. It’s a class leader in safety, scoring an impressive 88.6% ANCAP overall score. Later models include features such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring to keep eyes all around your vehicle while you concentrate on the road.
The VW Tiguan offers economy bristling with safety features including multi-angle reversing cameras, lane assist, auto parking and driver fatigue monitoring. It’s also packed with a complete array of side, front and curtain airbags. Look out for optioned-up models including the Driver Assistance pack with 360-degree cameras and blind-spot monitoring.
A large SUV, the Volvo XC90 is also big on safety, holding a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating. It has a full suite of airbags including knee bags up front and curtain bags for the third row. It’s ideal for city driving with high-tech cameras and radars that can differentiate between other cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Best SUVs in 2020 and 2021 for space
A seven-seater that confidently competes with its high-priced rivals, the Hyundai Santa Fe is packed with luxury features and superb functionality, all powered by a 2.2-L turbo diesel and controlled by its HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. It can hold 547 L of cargo with the seats up and 1,647 L when folded flat.
Combining terrific all-terrain technology, heavy towing capacity and an immense interior, the Toyota LandCruiser is a leader of the large SUV pack. There’s plenty of room for seven people and with the third row folded away there’s 1,276 L of space for holiday luggage or the family dog to stretch out.
This big seven-seater combines luxury and performance with the flexibility to configure the interior space to meet your specific needs. The second row splits three ways and the electronically controlled seats provide room for adults to travel in comfort. With that row out of the way, there’s an impressive 770 L of cargo space.
Best SUVs in 2020 and 2021 for work and play
Like all Toyota 4WDs, the Toyota HiLux is hard to beat, combining prowess on the dirt with performance on the tarmac. This is a utility with a superbly appointed interior (in double or single cab) and tray or ute versions that can carry 995 kg or 1,260 payloads respectively. Plus, it has an outstanding 89% ANCAP overall safety score.
It’s a dual-purpose dual-cab designed to carry everyone in comfort to your favourite family waterholes (when it’s not loaded to the gunnels on the worksite). In the WhichCar 2018 Ute Test, it outshone the Toyota Hilux and was only eclipsed by the Volkswagen Amarok V6, though the Amarok has no rear seat airbags like the Ranger.
Best luxury SUVs in 2020 and 2021
While not as roomy as the BMW X7, the X5 is supremely comfortable with four-zone climate control. It combines outstanding crafting with advanced features including a heads-up display, a panoramic glass sunroof and BMW’s seventh-generation infotainment and Park Assist technology. This can flawlessly retrace (in reverse!) the last 50 m of your trip.
Priced well below prestige SUVs such as the Mercedes Benz GLE and Lexus RX300, the Kia Sorento offers outstanding luxury and value. The 2020 Sorento model, in particular, is the most high-tech we’ve seen yet, with advanced safety features, a BOSE sound system, heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats and USB ports for everyone in all seven seats.
Your reasons for wanting to get behind the wheel of an SUV are uniquely yours. On Gumtree you’ll find a model that does just what you need it to, whether it’s for running errands around town, escaping the city for weekends away with the kids or heading off road with confidence.