What does $30k buy? Here’s 10 of NZ’s best SUV bargains
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The world of SUVs can be a murky and confusing one. Seven seats or five, petrol or diesel, German or Japanese — the buying experience can be very stressful.
But as they say, there's no pleasure without pain. There are plenty of great options out there for SUV buyers, and one of the magical price-points to consider is the $30,000-mark. The cheapest new SUVs hover around this price, as do plenty of larger or better-equipped second-hand models. Here in no particular order are 10 of the best, as listed right here on Driven.
It might have softened up a bit since its days as a 'boy racer' steed of choice, but the more modest and adult Foresters of recent years still carry a few aces up its sleeve.
The best of these is the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Those keen on SUV adventures should elevate the Forester in their considerations because of how remarkably capable they are off-road thanks to a system honed through decades of international motorsport competition in the world of rallying.
When searching for a Forester of this generation, look out in particular for the optional Eyesight driver assist system. This Auckland-based 2014 model comes with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, has just 38,198kms on the clock, and is priced at $22,500. Click here to check it out.
2. 2014 BMW X1
Those chasing after something with better brand appeal are spoilt for choice at the $30,000 mark.
The BMW X1 is one such car. By 2014, the model was at the very end of its first generation, with the second-generation model coming in 2015. It's worth considering a model from the end of a production run because it's far more likely that any issues a manufacturer had in early models will have been ironed out.
This 2.0-litre diesel sDrive20d Xline model is based in Tauranga and comes well optioned, with 18-inch wheels, heated seats, and a reasonably modern version of BMW's revolutionary iDrive infotainment system. It's priced at $29,900.
With BMW's incremental styling tweaks, this X1 is likely to fool a neighbour or two into thinking it's much newer than it is (aided by the fact that its replacement, the 'F48', looks very similar). Click here to check it out.
It won't snap any necks, but it's hard to see why the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the most popular plug-in hybrids on New Zealand roads.
This is one of the best examples of wrapping next-generation technology into a familiar package. The Outlander is a familiar, practical SUV. Rearward visibility is among the best in class, seating position is easygoing and comfortable. This white, low-km example is based in Auckland, and priced at $30,480. Click here to check it out.
This 2014 PHEV was produced when the technology was still in its relative infancy, so subsequently it has less range. At the time Mitsubishi claimed a 50km range on electric power alone, and don't expect to match that in reality. Still, this would be a no frills and practical way to enter the electrified race.
And, if all the EV chat leaves you a bit uncertain, know that a low-kms current-generation petrol or diesel 7-seater can be had for under $30,000, too.
Back to the Europeans. You cannot do an SUV list without looking at the Volkswagen Group's line-up of sister-vehicles.
The most common of the bunch of New Zealand shores is the Tiguan, and for good reason. A practical, stylish all-rounder straight off the bat, the Tiguan also drives very well and carries reasonable pep — namely thanks to its dual-clutch transmission options and small capacity turbocharged engines.
This current-shape 2017 example sits in Wellington with just 23,124km on the clock and an asking price of $31,995. Click here to check it out.
There are numerous vehicles based on the same MQB underpinnings as the Tiguan, and included in that group is the Skoda Karoq. The Czech-flavoured Skoda and Spanish-flavoured SEAT sister brands are the entry point to the Volkswagen Group line-up. So their versions of shared platforms tend to be the cheapest.
Admittedly, the Karoq isn't exactly a $30,000 car ... yet. This NZ-new example is advertised for $36,990, with just 500 delivery and demo kilometres separating it from being a new vehicle. But given that the Karoq only launched to New Zealand last year, give it time before expecting a strong undercurrent of second-hand vehicles to flow.
This model specifically is the Ambition+ TSI model. It comes equipped with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine linked to a 7-speed DSG automatic, with features including parking sensors, cruise control, and rain-sensing wipers. Click here to check it out.
When most people think about Toyota SUVs, they think of the iconic Land Cruiser or eternal RAV4. But the forgotten hero in the brand's line-up is the highly successful Highlander (also known as a Kluger in some overseas markets).
While it doesn't have the off-roading resume of a Land Cruiser, the slightly smaller Highlander ticks many of the same practicality boxes. They're a go-to choice for rental companies nationwide, due to a reputation for reliability.
This particular example comes in grey (boring to look at but good for resale), is equipped with a smooth 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that's driven just 61,800kms, and is priced at $32,990. Click here to check it out.
And now for something completely different.
Unlike Toyota, Jeep aren't particularly well-known for resale or reliability. However, what they're absolutely known for is style and off-roading prowess. Enter their most iconic nameplate; the Wrangler.
Paint a Wrangler in any colour and it will stand out, but the black-on-black-on-black of this example listed in Auckland just seems right. Behind the chunky looks is a practical cabin with plenty of headroom and vintage charm. And remember too that the hard-top is removable — perfect for gawking at landscape vistas while out off-roading. Click here to check it out.
The Vitara might be a well-known nameplate, but its current iteration is one of the most overlooked and underrated SUVs on the market.
Not that the plucky Suzuki has any particular tricks up its sleeve. It's reasonably practical, and sits on the small side dimensionally. But this makes them very easy to live with and very economical.
If the Vitara has anything resembling a secret weapon, it's in how enjoyable it is to drive. The turbocharged BoosterJet 1.4-litre engine (the same as what sits in the Suzuki Swift Sport) that comes in upper trims is quick enough, and the chassis feels light and fun in the corners.
Brand new Vitaras start under $30,000, but shop around and you'll find high-spec models for the same price as an entry-level model (or, for less). This two-year old 2WD Vitara Turbo has only 19,400km on the odometer, comes with a speccy looking set of aftermarket wheels, and is equipped with the more sought after engine for $26,990. Click here to check it out.
As new models come in, it's not uncommon for older models to flood the market and get a big chop in price. And that's somewhat been the case of the Hyundai Santa Fe.
A new model hit New Zealand last year, making previous-gen models like this 2014 Santa Fe in the Waikato prime purchases. The seven-seat Santa Fe is a key rival for the aforementioned Highlander, but carries a more car-like demeanour in the way that it drives. And, to our eyes, it looks nicer.
There are three engine options, with the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine in this example probably being the pick of the drivetrain bunch. This silver model has 75,060km on the clock and is priced at $32,950. Click here to check it out.
10. 2017 Mazda CX-5
Last but by no means least is the Mazda CX-5.
In recent years this has been a reviewers favourite thanks to sharp styling, balanced driving dynamics, and one of the best interiors of any vehicle in its class. What makes it particularly compelling these days is that face-lifted models like this 2.5-litre petrol model are starting to get into $30k territory (this Tauranga example is $31,990).
Along with a more streamlined face, the face-lift CX-5 also gets improved cabin materials. It might not have the largest boot, but is otherwise very practical. The 'Soul Red' colour scheme on this listed model is priceless. Click here to check it out.
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