SUVs under $60k
With up to $60,000 to spend, your SUV budget breaks into the often coveted realm of premium brands as well as unlocking some of the largest models from the mainstream marques. Lots of options can make a decision even harder though, so it pays to have a list of must-haves in mind before you go shopping. Our top recommendations cover a broad selection form this diverse segment to help you get off to a good start.
With front-wheel drive and weenie 1.4-litre engine, Audi’s entry-level Q2 is a little lacklustre, but stepping up to the full-fat Quattro changes everything. It has a muscular 2.0-litre engine, all-wheel drive and the chassis to match it. The Q2 is on the small side inside and out, but its styling and proportions make it easy to recommend.
Surprisingly uncompromised, BMW’s baby SUV takes much of the X1’s virtues and rolls them into a prettier shell. Getting all-wheel drive combined with 2.0-litre diesel power just tips over the $60k cap but the 2.0-litre petrol is versatile and the front-drive chassis has the same frivolous nature as the Mini from which it is borrowed. If you insist on more space, the X1 will fit your budget too.
If leaving the road behind is your thing, $60k will get you into the competent AWD Everest with a 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel. Despite its smaller capacity, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel outperforms the larger five-pot but at this price it’s only available with rear-wheel drive and best put to work on the road. Both options have seven seats and plenty of space.
Forgettable in almost every way apart from its generous specification and genuinely respectable off-road manners, the H9 is worth a look as a bargain basement entrant in this price bracket. Haval shamelessly poached a Toyota engineer for its development and it shows in places.
With locally tuned dynamics, a strong V6 engine and huge cabin, the Acadia is the most compelling new Holden in years. Your budget will stretch to higher grades if you wish, but this more affordable version’s drivetrain is common to all grades and offers a lot for the cash.
The latest generation of Hyundai’s largest SUV is almost unbelievably well rounded. It’s diesel is powerful and economical, it’s fun to drive, there’s tons of space including room for seven, comfort ranks highly and its interior is premium. Avoid the entry Active petrol but if you can find an extra 500 bucks, the range topping Highlander has the lot for $60,500.
If you can live with its slightly agricultural feel, the Isuzu has strong all-terrain ability for a bargain price. A $60k budget will snare you the top-shelf LS-T 4WD with enough cash left over for a roo-bar and camping fridge.
Quite horrid to drive on the road but possibly the most capable off-road vehicle you can drive out of a showroom. Take your pick of the two-door or longer four-door, but don’t bother opting for the higher-grade versions because all sub $60k options have the same 3.6-litre V6 and eight-speed automatic, and you’re going to splash out on a bunch of Motar modifications anyway aren’t you?
Like its closely related Sante Fe sibling, the Sorento packs in a lot for the money. Mid-range SLi diesel makes the most sense but you’ll not stop thinking about all the GT-Line goodies.
If you’ve always aspired to be a Lexus owner, you’re going to love the UX compact SUV. Not only is it the Japanese luxury band’s most affordable model, it also happens to be one of its most attractive thanks to a sharp chassis and conspicuous styling. This mid-range variant takes advantage of Toyota hybrid tech and bundles it with F-Sport styling touches. The sweet spot indeed.
A 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine takes Mazda’s mid-sized SUV from benign to brisk. For this cash you can pair the excellent engine with top-shelf Akera specification for a very desirable machine and we recommend that you do.
There isn’t enough space here to explain all the reasons this car won Wheels Car of the Year in 2017 and it still worries a lot of newer offerings in the segment. A $60k budget will get you into a version with recommended all-wheel drive and Touring specification.
If you’re after an affordable plug-in hybrid SUV then this is it. The Outlander PHEV offers a modest electric-only range and excellent fuel economy but you’ll have to ditch the battery and go for a petrol version if you want to fit in seven occupants.
With a 3.5-litre V6 in its nose, the Pathfinder packs a surprising punch and pairs that with a huge cabin and great off-road ability when rolling on an all-wheel drive transmission. There’s also an affordable hybrid version.
Don’t let the seven seats of this bubbly French SUV fool you – they are a gesture at best, but it does have a lively chassis, decent diesel engine at the top of the range and, it’s best feature, bags of European styling and panache.
It doesn’t matter if you choose the 132TSI petrol or 140TDI diesel, Skoda’s large SUV is hard to beat. Its dynamics feel more hot hatch than family high-rider, it has seven seats, it’s screwed together like a German car (because it has a lot in common with Volkswagen models), but doesn’t charge Euro money. It’s also full of brilliant features and delightful design touches. Sportline attire takes this Czech high-achiever into territory you might not have thought possible for the cash.
It might be well below the cap for this segment, but the Forester is such a compelling package that it is well worth considering even among some more expensive company. Its full-time four-wheel drive is almost unstoppable when the sealed road comes to an end, there’s cutting-edge technology safety, and refinement that Subaru may well be surprising itself with.
If you had to hit the road and circumnavigate Australia in an SUV that costs less than $60k, you will find it hard to do better than the Prado. Think baby LandCruiser with few sacrifices and you are close. Not the best on-road ride but demolishes the outback. If you like to change gears for yourself, grab the manual GXL, which sneaks in under budget and adds a bit more comfort.
A great way into German engineering and desirability, without the price. The 162TSI has an impressive engine and fantastic looks. Step up to an R-Line version or the Wolfsburg for the ultimate in style and substance.
It doesn’t take long to realise why this car won the Wheels Car of the Year award in 2019. All variants have the same Swedish design, attention to detail and thoughtful features, but the range-topper packs the best turbo 2.0-litre petrol with a serious 185kW and 350Nm. It’s a brilliant little SUV that compromises on virtually nothing.