Used car dilemma: Sedan vs SUV

Holden Cap

Trying to decide on which to buy, a Sedan or an SUV?

It’s always hard to decide on a new purchase, especially when that purchase is substantial. Price is always a big factor, but you should also take the following into account when making your decision:


The sedan is the most common body design of cars.  Sedan’s are affordable and user friendly. Sedans usually have better comfort, leg room and interiors.
  • Light
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • Sports
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury


Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) is a vehicle designed to be like a light truck. Generally, they are tougher, bigger and more powerful than a sedan.
  • SUV-Small (Compact)
  • SUV-Medium
  • SUV-Large
  • SUV-Luxury

Let’s compare the pair as they say.

How many people can sit comfortably?

Sedan: A family sedan can sit 4 or 5 people
SUV: Can sit up to 7 people

What are the car compartments?

Sedan: Three compartments for the engine, passengers and luggage
SUV: Two compartments for the engine, passengers and luggage. The back area of an SUV usually has space for fold down seats and language in the back.

What’s the fuel consumption like?

Sedan: You will get much better bang for your buck, when it comes to fuel consumption and get a lot more KMs out of your tank.
SUV: It’s a larger vehicle, so it’s going to drain your fuel at a faster rate.

How does it ride?

Sedan: Designed for comfort, the suspension is softer and easier to drive. Great for the city.
SUV: Designed for the outback and going off road. The suspension is tight to withstand rugged journeys. Great for the country.

How often does it need maintaining?

Sedan: As they’re mostly for city and highway travel. There’s less wear on the car, so it’s going to have less maintenance and therefore less cost.
SUV: Driving in the country and taking the vehicle off road will lead to more wear on the car. There’s more maintenance needed on an SUV and therefore will cost you more.


When it comes to budgeting for a car purchase, be sure to account for other costs in addition to insurance. You’ll need to register your vehicle, manage the cost of fuel and budget for cleaning as well as regular maintenance.

If you’re buying a second hand car from a dealer, shop around on Gumtree to find the best offers dealers are making.

Car condition

Even cars of the same age can vary widely in condition, have a good look at the car inside and out. If it looks to be in good condition, it’s more than likely that the engine has been looked after. To be 100% sure, get an inspection done by a professional.

Naturally, you will want to note the number of kilometres the car has covered and it’s a good idea to find out the number of previous owners.

Always test drive the car. Head for a 80km/h road to make sure the engine and transmission are functioning well. Try to find bumpy road to see how the suspension feels.

Safety features in used cars

Different vehicles boast a wide variety of safety features,  it’s worth carefully researching how many safety components are included in the models you’re considering.

It’s important to note both the model and the year of manufacture. Car manufacturers are changing and improving safety features all the time – even within the same vehicle model.

Before buying any vehicle – as noted in the “Inspections” section below – it ‘s vitally important that you check all the vehicle’s safety features to make sure each is in full working order.

The right car for you

To get an idea of what options are available, make a checklist of the factors and features that are most important to you. Search online to get an idea of the range of makes and models that match your needs. Make a shortlist for easy comparison between one offering and another.

Review sites are an excellent source of information, once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a short list of preferred car models, it’s worth referring to reviews and learn the details of the features as well as benefits.


Inspecting a car prior to purchase is key to finding the right car. If you feel it’s the right purchase, get a second opinion from an independent motoring organisation or a local mechanic for any visible or potential problems.

Here are some handy hints for carrying out a car inspection:

  • Always view the car in daylight
  • Check for dents, scratches or rust on the bodywork
  • Look out for signs of welding, which may indicate that the vehicle has been damaged in a collision
  • Check the oil level – plenty of oil indicates that the owner has taken good care of the car
  • Ensure the tyres are in good condition
  • Check that the front wheels align perfectly with those at the rear – misalignment can indicate a twisted chassis
  • Make sure the seatbelts and all other safety equipment are in full working order
  • Start the car from cold
  • Take it for a test drive, checking steering, braking, gears and/or clutch
  • Trust your instincts. How does it look and feel?

If you’re buying privately, ensure you visit the seller at their home address and that this address is the same as the address on the registration certificate. Make sure to have a friend or family member with you for safety.

Here are a few sedans and SUVs that tick the boxes:

2013 BMW X1 E84

Price on Gumtree: $26,800.00

Click here or on the image below to view the ad.

2016 BMW 318I

Price on Gumtree: $43,990.00

Click here or on the image below to view the ad.

2017 Holden Captiva

Price on Gumtree: $34,490.00 

Click here or on the image below to view the ad.

2016 Holden Commodore

Price on Gumtree: $51,999.00

Click here or on the image below to view the ad.

How to buy a car on Gumtree

Download the Gumtree app to find the right car and save your search with Gumtree Saved Search to receive weekly notification of specific cars being listed near you.

Gumtree lists thousands of cars from a variety of individual sellers and dealerships across the country.


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