Best used large SUVs and 4x4s 2021
The best used large SUVs and 4x4s in the business offer space, practicality, performance and low running costs
SUVs are all the rage at the moment; there’s barely a mainstream manufacturer around these days that doesn’t have at least one of them in their line-up. Even Lamborghini couldn’t resist making one.
The reasons for their popularity are numerous. Their higher driving position - plus the extra passenger and boot space - makes them more appealing to those who want a practical car that’s easy to live with. Advancements in fuel efficient mean there’s little penalty in running costs over a traditional family hatchback.
Then there’s the styling to consider. The bulkier, sportier looks give drivers an exciting alternative to the MPVs that sold in such big numbers over a decade ago.
For many drivers, the temptation of four-wheel drive is a big pull too. A 4x4 will take varied terrain in its stride, and while few SUVs are true off-roaders, those equipped with 4WD will be in a better position to deal with narrow country lanes and who knows what else when the going gets tough in the winter.
But what are the best used large SUVs and 4x4s to go for in today’s second-hand market? We’ve rounded up our favourites starting with the Used Large SUV of the Year from our 2020 Used Car Awards…
Best used large SUVs and 4x4s 2021
- Kia Sorento
- Skoda Kodiaq
- SEAT Tarraco
- Land Rover Discovery
- Volvo XC90
- Peugeot 5008
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
1. Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento, our Used Large SUV of the Year for 2020, is one of the roomiest seven-seat SUVs you can buy right now. It’s a comfortable family car and it offers decent value for money, although because of its size and weight, running costs can be a little higher than for some of its newer rivals.
But these more modern competitors aren’t as cheap to buy; a Skoda Kodiaq of the same age and mileage carries a £2,000 premium over the Kia, for example. Our pick is also a 2017 model, which means it’ll still be covered by Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty for another four years, which will provide great peace of mind for used-car buyers.
The engine range is simple, because there’s just one 197bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel unit on offer, and every single model comes with four-wheel drive as standard, which means the Sorento stands up well to more utilitarian tasks, such as towing or light off-roading. Sure, it’s not as capable as a Land Rover Discovery, but for a road-biased SUV, it’s great.
The engine is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, or an eight-speed auto on more generously equipped trims. Both options are good – the auto makes for a relaxing drive, while its short ratios mean the Sorento feels faster than its 9.1-second 0-62mph time suggests. Fuel economy stands at 39mpg, though, so while you might save a chunk over its rivals buying used, budget to spend a little more at the pumps.
Inside, the Sorento is upmarket, because it was the first Kia to offer a premium finish inside. The dashboard and door cards feature soft-touch plastics and gloss-black trim, while leather is standard on mid-range KX-2 variants and above. There’s a decent level of standard kit, too, including a seven-inch infotainment system, electric mirrors and parking sensors.
Check out the latest used Kia Sorento prices on our sister site Buyacar...
2. Skoda Kodiaq
The Skoda Kodiaq was launched in 2017, and it’s been one of the top contenders in its class ever since. This has coincided with an impressive purple patch for Skoda, with the company boasting its strongest ever line-up thanks to shared DNA with Volkswagen, its parent company.
Initially the Kodiaq was offered with a 1.4-litre petrol engine producing either 124bhp or 148bhp, a 2.0-litre petrol producing 178bhp, or a 2.0-litre diesel in 114bhp, 148bhp and 187bhp forms. Four-wheel drive could be found on the most powerful engines, with it being an optional extra on mid-spec powertrains. Mid-way through 2018, the 1.4-litre petrol was replaced with an improved 1.5-litre unit, while a sportier Kodiaq vRS arrived in 2019 with a twin-turbo diesel making 237bhp.
Now that depreciation has set in, you can net a 148bhp 2.0 TDI model in Skoda’s relatively well equipped SE trim for around £17,000. Diesel is your best bet for high fuel economy too, with an official figure of 51.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 143g/km. If you’re willing to opt for petrol power then prices dip as low as £14,000, however your running costs will be higher as none of the petrols are nearly as frugal. This is despite the 1.4- and 1.5-litre units employing cylinder shut-off technology.
If you can live with middling efficiency, the Kodiaq majors in practicality (Scout models come with seven seats), the infotainment system is slick and it drives very well indeed.
Check out the latest used Skoda Kodiaq prices on our sister site Buyacar...
3. SEAT Tarraco
The SEAT Tarraco is another large SUV with shared underpinnings, utilising the same platform as the Kodiaq. The SEAT is intended as the sportier offering, although this has more to do with the car’s styling than it does performance: the engine line-up is identical, although there’s no vRS equivalent of the Tarraco. If you want a SEAT with speed in mind, look at Cupra…
The 1.5-litre petrol feels underpowered due to its relative lack of torque, hitting 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds. Meanwhile the 2.0-litre petrol is much punchier with 320Nm at its disposal, taking the 0-62mph figure down to eight seconds flat. The 187bhp, 2.0-litre diesel is just as quick.
The more engaging feel of the Tarraco comes from the reduced ride height, which is 20mm lower than in the Kodiaq. As a result it performs a bit better in corners, and the ride is excellent over a variety of surfaces.
With all seven seats in use the boot measures 230 litres, rising to 700 litres with the third row folded down. Collapse the second row of seats as well and you’ll find yourself with 2,005 litres of space at your disposal, enough for transporting all manner of large goods when the need arises.
As the Tarraco only launched in 2019 you’ll struggle to get a used model for less than £20,000, while examples with four-wheel drive will be a bit more expensive again. Consider if you really need the added traction before taking the plunge.
Check out the latest used SEAT Tarraco prices on our sister site Buyacar...
4. Land Rover Discovery
If off-roading really is your thing, then look no further than the Land Rover Discovery. It’s ability to tackle the toughest terrain is unparalleled in the large SUV sector, thanks to permanent four-wheel drive, a huge amount of torque and - on the latest edition of the Disco - a diet that’s stripped almost half a tonne from the previous car.
The current engine line-up consists of a 2.0-litre petrol producing 296bhp, a 2.0-litre diesel with 237bhp and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel boasting 302bhp. All Discos get an eight-speed automatic gearbox, air suspension for that can be controlled electronically and a Terrain Response system that allows you set up the diffs, ride height and traction control to suit whichever conditions you find yourself in.
The latest Land Rover Discovery is also the best yet in terms of driving on the road. Refinement is excellent and ride comfort is excellent, especially on the smallest 19-inch alloy wheels. Despite the improvements, fuel economy is poor: you’ll struggle to draw more than 30mpg from any of the engines, while high CO2 emissions figures only serve to drive up road tax costs.
The Land Rover badge should at least guard against heavy depreciation: SE, HSE and HSE Luxury models are expected to hold up to 59 per cent of their value after three years, so you shouldn’t lose too much money if buying a used example that’s 12 months old.
Check out the latest used Land Rover Discovery prices on our sister site Buyacar...
5. Volvo XC90
These days the Volvo XC90 is a bona fide alternative to the likes of the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. The Swedish company’s approach to interior design makes the XC90 an exquisite place to watch the miles tick by, while the ride is one of the most comfortable in the SUV market.
Engine options consist of three 2.0-litre, four-cylinder units, the most powerful of which is the 296bhp T6 which harnesses both a supercharger and a turbo charger for good measure. There’s also a plug-in hybrid T8 Twin Engine variant that adds an electric motor into the mix for a whopping 385bhp. The latter of these will do up to 30 miles on battery power alone, which can really drive down running costs with regular charging. There’s a diesel too, with the B5 replacing the D5 in the line-up recently with the addition of mild-hybrid tech.
As you’d expect from a car that - even after a couple of years - costs £40,000 or more on the used market, the XC90 is tremendously well equipped. Even the most basic model comes with cruise control, keyless start, LED headlights, a reversing camera, parking assistance, an electronic tailgate and much more besides. Even with the third row of seats in place you’ll still have 356 litres of boot space to play with, which is mad considering the most powerful model will hit 0-62mph in under six seconds.
Check out the latest used Volvo XC90 prices on our sister site Buyacar...
6. Peugeot 5008
The Peugeot 5008 is about as good as it gets when it comes to large SUVs at this end of the price spectrum. No, it’s not as premium as the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery, but it gets the basics spot on and thanks to a lack of weaknesses, it’s one of the best all-rounders on the market.
The engine line-up features a 1.2 PureTech 130 petrol, a 1.6 PureTech 180 turbo petrol and a 2.0 Blue HDi 180 diesel. Previously there was a 1.6-litre diesel as well, but this was replaced by a 1.5-litre unit in 2018, with the new engine offering more power and improved fuel economy. At 57.3mpg according to official tests, this is one of the most fuel-efficient cars of this size.
The Peugeot is lighter than most of its rivals, so even the smallest petrol engine packs enough punch to offer reasonable performance on the road. Inside you’ll find an eight-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital screen behind the steering wheel for ultra-clear information on the move. With the exception of a few materials in the lower part of the cabin, the 5008 is a high-quality place to sit, belying its status as one of the more affordable cars in its class.
2020 examples are changing hands for less than £25,000 in some cases. With three-year-old cars holding their value fair well, the 5008 should be a safe bet.
Check out the latest used Peugeot 5008 prices on our sister site Buyacar...
7. Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of our favourite large SUVs at the moment: not only does it boast lots of space inside, but it’s also very comfortable and comes with a very reasonable amount of kit as standard. There are two trim levels - Premium and Premium SE - and it’s the latter that adds bigger, 19-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, and ventilated front seats for those stifling summer days.
There’s only one engine available in the Santa Fe, a turbocharged, 2.2-litre diesel that produces 197bhp and 440Nm of torque. All cars are four-wheel drive, although you’d be wise to stick to the road in the Santa Fe as the 4WD is really only designed to give extra grip on the asphalt, as opposed to off-road ability.
The set-up works though, as the Santa Fe is one of the more composed SUVs when it comes to navigating B-roads. It doesn’t roll very much in corners, and self-levelling suspension means it doesn’t lumber from one extreme to the other.
Residual values aren’t its forte, which means used prices tend to come down quite quickly in the first 12 months of the car’s life. Around 40mpg isn’t groundbreaking either, so you’ll need to factor that into the total cost of ownership.
Check out the latest used Hyundai Santa Fe prices on our sister site Buyacar...
8. Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace is derived from - you guessed it - the standard Tiguan SUV, however the Allspace is 215mm longer and therefore more spacious inside. In five-seat form there’s a whopping 760 litres of space in the boot (145 more than in the standard car), and in its seven-seat configuration there’s still 230 litres to space.
VW says the Allspace is designed for growing families, and with three-zone climate control, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system and automatic lights and wipers, you’ll have everything you need to make life on the road as straightforward as possible.
The Allspace is offered with five petrol and diesel engines, although most buyers go for the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, which produces 148bhp. If you’re likely to go on longer journeys - especially with the car close to fully laden - you might be better off with the top-of-the-range turbodiesel and its 237bhp. The 2.0-litre TDI with 187bhp is a great all-rounder too.
While the Skoda Kodiaq is cheaper and even more cavernous, there’s plenty to like about the Tiguan Allspace. Not least the exterior styling, which looks a tad more sophisticated than its Czech sibling.
Check out the latest used VW Tiguan prices on our sister site Buyacar...