The best compact family SUVs under $30,000
LOGIC doesn’t always enter into a new car purchase decision.
The closest most come to off-roading is driving over the kerb or parking on the school oval to help set up a cake stall. But that hasn’t quelled the desire to at least look a bit like you want to drive the rough way to Broome, via the Gibson Desert.
Let’s be clear — none of the cars listed here would be safe or ideal transport for that trek. For the school run or the supermarket safari? That’s where we’re at.
A stack of small and medium SUVs slides in beneath the $30,000 price point — myriad choice for new parents, emptynesters and anyone else who doesn’t want to break the bank.
All have a stability control system and five-star safety rating. The resale forecast is from Glass’s Guide.
FORD KUGA 2WD 1.6 AMBIENTE
Resale 46 per cent Price $27,990
PLUS Sync sound and emergency assist, rear sensors, hill-start, servicing, engine.
MINUS No auto (6-speed auto adds AWD; $31,490), 95 RON, steel wheels, weight, no rear camera, space saver.
Perky 110kW/240Nm powerplant can be well-stirred by decent manual. Entry-level Kuga is a classy cat that has a better interior package than many here. Cruelled by absence of auto.
HOLDEN CAPTIVA 5 2WD LT 2.4
Resale 50 per cent Price $25,990 (6-speed auto adds $2200)
PLUS Front and rear sensors, price versus features.
MINUS Lardy kerb weight, no standard spare, no rear camera.
Value for features is Captiva’s war-cry but it’s underdone in terms of materials and ergonomics. Don’t expect it to hustle without a big gulp from the tank — the 123kW/230Nm four-cylinder is propelling a real porker.
HOLDEN TRAX LS AUTO FWD
Resale 45 per cent Price From $23,490
PLUS Rear camera and sensors, MyLink connectivity, rear power socket, local chassis tune, capped service costs.
MINUS No standard spare, small boot, rear drum brakes, lacklustre engine, 95 RON.
Some good safety inclusions and strong value.
Sadly the Holden badge gets whacked on some mundane product and the Trax is in that group.
Styling is bland enough to be a Toyota and 103kW/175Nm drivetrain needs a cattle prod.
HONDA CR-V 2WD 2.0 VTi
PG’s Resale 51 per cent Price $27,490 (5-speed auto +$2300)
PLUS Peppy engine, rear camera, proper spare, big boot, ride quality, rear vents.
MINUS Hill-start helper on auto not manual, plastic steering wheel, no rear sensors, roof anchor points.
Chariot of choice for shifting children with no view to getting muddy (the car, not the kids). The smaller 114kW/190Nm front-driver’s engine has more character.
Good cargo and interior space only marred by child-seat anchor points in roof.
HYUNDAI ix35 II ACTIVE 2.0
Resale 48 per cent
Price $26,990 (6-speed auto +$2200)
PLUS Boot space, proper spare wheel, reversing sensors, capped service and roadside assist, five-year warranty
MINUS Steel wheels, no rear camera, plastic steering wheel, heavy, resale.
With a decent 122kW/205Nm engine and advice from the style counsel, Hyundai’s SUV is a far cry from the brand’s stodgy early days. It’s the segment sales leader yet resale ratings still hangs heavy around the brand’s neck.
JEEP PATRIOT 2WD SPORT
Resale 50 per cent Price $25,700 (CVT +$2000)
PLUS Alloy wheels, Jeep image, leather wheel, full-size spare, tyre-pressure monitor.
MINUS Five-speed manual, no rear sensors or camera, veteran interior, underpowered, no capped servicing, warranty.
The brand built on off-road prowess needs to revisit its softroader. A drivetrain makeover to improve on 115kW/190Nm, a diet and work on interior would be a good start. Coming Jeeps look more promising.
KIA SPORTAGE 2.0 Si 2WD
PG’s Resale 48 per cent Price $25,490 (6-speed auto +$2000)
PLUS Road manners, boot space, exterior design, maintenance program, proper spare.
MINUS No rear camera or rear sensors, no lightweight either.
One Kia that changed
perception of the brand, it also gets Australianised road manners that make it work. Good boot space but average rear vision means camera and sensors should be standard.
MAZDA CX-5 2.0 MAXX
PG’s Resale 52 per cent Price $27,880 (6-speed auto +$2000)
PLUS Dynamics, fuel use, reversing camera, tyre pressure monitor, 91 RON fuel.
MINUS Steel wheels, temporary spare, no rear sensors, no rear vents.
The entry CX-5 has a chassis for corners but won’t de-skin a custard with this drivetrain (the diesel AWD is the pick). Rear seat space is adequate, boot volume less so.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER 2WD 2.0 ES
Resale 50 per cent Price $27,740 (CVT adds $2000)
PLUS Trimmed weight, rear vents, rear camera and sensors,
connectivity, maintenance plan.
MINUS External styling not to always admired, another gear ratio needed.
Not the prettiest but one of the nicer conveyances in this group, with a quiet cabin and decent boot space and ride quality. Not the punchiest with 110kW/90Nm nor the paunchiest at 1395kg.
MITSUBISHI ASX 2.0 2WD
Resale 50 per cent
Price $24,990 (CVT +$2000)
PLUS Reversing camera and sensors, five-year warranty, capped servicing, roadside assist, connectivity.
MINUS Engine needs stirring, rear space tight, awkward look.
So good Peugeot had to pinch it; the quiet achiever picks fights with larger SUVs and scores points.
Sharp pricing on this 110kW/197Nm soft-roader is key to Mitsubishi’s volume growth.
NISSAN DUALIS ST 2WD
PG’s Resale 50 per cent Price $25,990 (CVT +$2500)
PLUS Satnav, reversing camera, cabin comfort and space, ride.
MINUS Optional rear sensors, vanilla styling, no rear vents.
Effective rug-rat transport, if a little slow and snoozy with 102kW/198Nm shifting 1371kg.
Three-year roadside assistance and standard satnav are welcome (and all too rare for the segment).
NISSAN JUKE ST 1.6 2WD
Resale 50 per cent Price $22,090 (CVT +$2400)
PLUS Distinctive styling, climate control, roadside assistance, economy
MINUS Sluggish 95 RON powerplant, space-saver, tilt-only steering, no rear sensors or camera.
Looking like a bullfrog on meth, the base model lacks allwheel grip as well as key safety gear.
If you could get four driven wheels, the turbo and a manual gearbox it’d be a real giggle.
NISSAN X-TRAIL 2.0 ST 5-SEAT
Resale 46 per cent Price $27,990
PLUS 40/20/40 splitfold, styling, perky new powerplant, connectivity, rear storage.
MINUS No auto in base model, space-saver, no rear sensors.
The newest kid on the block only slides in under $30K as a manual (a CVT is on offer with the carry-over 2.5, at $30,490).
But the new look for the once-boxy X-Trail will get attention.
App-based infotainment and active ride control among the other new bits.
SKODA YETI 77TSI
PG’s Resale 56 per cent Price $23,490
PLUS Keyless entry, seven airbags, rear-view camera, 17-inch alloys
MINUS Manual only, 1.2-litre just adequate.
Check this then buy the 90TSI for $25,790 with standard auto. Love Yeti’s modular Varioflex seating.
SUZUKI S-CROSS 1.6 GL
PG’s Resale 45 per cent Price $22,990 (CVT adds $2500)
PLUS Lithe, cabin and cargo space, airbag count, warranty and servicing.
MINUS No hill-hold on manual, plastic helm, no rear sensors or camera.
Based on the SX4 but larger, leaner and meaner, the S-Cross adds to the Suzuki soft-roader arsenal.
Outputs (86kW/156Nm) look anaemic but the skinfold test shows no fat with 1085kg kerb weight.
Design gurus have conjured good cargo space.
TOYOTA RAV4 2.0 GX 2WD
PG’s Resale 48 per cent Price $28,690 (CVT +$2000)
PLUS Heritage, rear camera and sensors, decent boot, 91 RON fuel.
MINUS Weighty and underpowered, plastic steering wheel, steel wheels, no USB.
The RAV4 in base guise looks it and is a leisurely machine. It relinquished its sales throne in the segment to the CX-5 last year but is neckand-neck with it so far this year.
VW TIGUAN 118 TSI 2WD
Resale 50 per cent Price $28,990 (6-speed DSG +$2500)
PLUS Clever powerplant, leather helm, quality interior, audio.
MINUS Portly, no rear sensors or camera, maintenance costs, thirst for 95 RON.
The Golf on stilts has found many friends and the drivetrain and road manners have done more than anything else to win them over.
Boot space is a little underdone and servicing is capped but pricey.