Used car buying guide: Best £10,000 SUV

Best £10,000 SUV Discovery is a contender

Land Rover Discovery 3: luxurious, practical and capable. (Picture © Land Rover)

The popularity of Sports Utility Vehicles is such that buyers looking for a £10,000 SUV are spoilt for choice. Although compact SUVs are selling in ever growing numbers, there’s still a healthy choice of larger cars. Here we look at three models that will appeal to buyers looking for very different things in their family hold-alls.

Best off-roader: Land Rover Discovery 3
When it was launched in 2004, Land Rover’s Discovery 3 turned the large SUV market on its head with its impressive combination of attributes. Offering the flexibility to carry up to seven people in comfort, allied with peerless ability off-road, a Discovery 3 can be yours for £10,000.

Land Rover Discovery 3: Seven seats and two engines
The Disco 3 has a cabin that’s usually well-built and in all models apart from entry level there are two extra seats in the boot that will make it a seven-seater. The boot is large and cabins are luxuriously appointed. There’s a choice of two engines. The 4.4-litre petrol V8 is 18mpg thirsty. It is therefore not as desirable as the less powerful 2.7-litre TDV6 meaning prices are lower.

Land Rover Discovery 3: Reliability
Discovery 3 reliability can best be described as patchy: some cars are trouble free; some aren’t. If you’re considering buying one, a service history, preferably from a dealer network is preferable. That way you can be sure all the software updates have been done to keep things running smoothly. Check all settings on the ride height switch; sensors can fail causing problems. Also, try to verify with the seller that the various recalls the car has been subject to have been carried out. And if the car is seven years old or has done 105,000 miles, check the status of the timing belt: it may need changing.

Land Rover Discovery 3: What you get for £10,000
It shouldn’t be hard to find a car that’s worth buying within this price bracket. For £9500 we came across a 2006 56-reg TDV6 SE Auto with 145,000 miles, one owner, a full service history and the cam belt work done. For £9995 we found a 2005 05-reg TDV6 S with a manual gear box and full history.

Best value: Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai is perhaps a surprise pick for a line-up of big 4x4s. But it’s a clever choice, features seven seats and if you’ve never considered a Hyundai, it makes a surprisingly competent all-rounder.

Best £10,000 SUV Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe: Value for money but very talented. (Picture © Hyundai)

Hyundai Santa Fe: Well-equipped cabin
For our budget, we’re concerned with the previous generation Santa Fe that was built from 2008 to 2012. It came with seven seats, the cabin is remarkably well equipped with features such as 12v power sockets and the boot is cavernous. It’s much cheaper than rivals that are a similar size but it’s still reasonably good quality. The downsides are some areas of the cabin are made of cheap looking plastic and the soft suspension set-up – although comfortable – can make it lean a bit much in corners for some drivers’ tastes.

Hyundai Santa Fe: Only one engine
There’s a choice of engines but the only one worth considering is the 2.2-litre turbo diesel. It’s smooth, has plenty of urge and comes with either five-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Unlike rival 4x4s, the SUV isn’t overly endowed with off-road settings. It’s primarily designed for life on a sealed surface. Drive goes to the front wheels unless a lack of grip demands it to be sent automatically rearwards.

Hyundai Santa Fe: What you get for £10,000
As the Korean brand majors on value it’s no surprise that for £9995 we found a 2010 60-reg Premium model with a manual gearbox. It had covered 116,000 miles but as Hyundais come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty it should still be under guarantee. To illustrate the spread of models there was a 50,000-mile 2009 09-reg GSi automatic for the same money.

Best on the road: BMW X5
When the X5 was launched in 2000, it gave drivers a glimpse of the future: a car that had an off-roader’s raised driving position but handled as well as a typical performance saloon. It wasn’t long before rivals followed suit but none managed to make an SUV that coped with corners quite as well as the X5. This model still delivers a comfortable ride, plenty of power and even some modest off-road ability.

Best £10,000 SUV BMW X5

BMW X5: As good to drive as a sports saloon. (Picture © BMW)

BMW X5: Engineered for fun
The model we’re looking at here is the first generation. You can get some second generation models but for this budget they tend to be very high mileage (leggy in car dealer speak). There isn’t a weak engine in the range but the V8 petrols tend to be thirsty so the 3.0-litre diesel is the popular choice. Whichever engine you choose, you get a car that has precise steering and minimal body roll.

BMW X5: Basically reliable
The advantage of buying a model that’s coming towards the end of its production run is that any new model gremlins should have been ironed out. As with other BMWs, the X5 is solidly built and basically reliable but can be prone to expensive failures. Remember: this is a performance car and needs to have been serviced regularly so discount any without a full service history. According to experts, X5s have a reputation for getting through brakes and CV joints. There is also much debate about whether the fluid in the automatic gearbox should be changed or not. And turbos on diesel models have been known to fail.

BMW X5: What you get for £10,000
For £9995, we found a 95,000-mile 3.0d Sport. It was a 2007 07-reg and well equipped with a full service history. For £9950, there was a 2005 55-reg 3.0d Sport, again with a full history but this time with 72,000 miles. The good news is there is masses of choice so if one doesn’t tick all your boxes, you’ll easily find another.

Leave a Reply