What are the best second-hand small SUVs?

James Mills
Written by: James Mills
Posted on: 4 August 2016

Drivers can’t help but notice that Sports Utility Vehicles – better known as SUVs – are everywhere. This type of car has become a smash hit with young families and older drivers alike, or just those that look for status on the road.

For the first time, SUVs have become the most popular type of new car bought in Europe. They also go by different names. Some will call them 4x4s (although not all are four-wheel drive), others refer to them as crossovers. Many look chunky and ride high. But what all SUV owners tend to agree on is that they get a feeling of security behind the wheel: they sit high and have a commanding view of the world around.

New SUVs aren’t cheap, however. So which are the best used models for a budget of £8,000?

The £8,000 used small SUV with the longest warranty: Kia Soul

Kia Soul

Kia Soul

I was pleasantly surprised when researching the used values of the Kia’s most quirky and likeable SUV, the Soul. Kia’s used car locator shows that there is no shortage of 2013, first-generation, petrol-powered Souls for sale with very low mileage on the clock.

For drivers after an affordable SUV that’s cheap to run, this is very good news indeed. Kia supplies a seven-year warranty with its cars from new, so a 2013 Soul GDI will come with the peace of mind that it has warranty cover until 2020 – although buyers must check the small print carefully. The gremlins, if there are any, should be taken care of by your local Kia dealer.

And what about the rest of the car? Well, its styling proves that it’s possible to make a boxy, practical family car look interesting. Anyone who wears a 10-gallon hat will feel at home in the Soul, and the back seat takes three passengers, assuming they’re prepared to cosy up to one another. Yet it’s not much larger on the road than a Ford Fiesta.

The Soul may be no great ball of fire to drive, but that hardly matters. Of more significance is that the 1.6-litre engine’s fuel economy (44mpg) and exhaust emissions (149g/km) aren’t too bad for a petrol-powered SUV, helping to keep running costs manageable.

The £8,000 used small SUV that’s the best to drive: Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga

It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but when you drive a Ford Kuga everything feels just so. It would seem that the engineers at Ford concentrated on the Sport part of the SUV label, giving all the controls (including the steering, brakes, suspension and gear change) the sort of responsive feel that is often absent from other affordable SUVs.

The original Kuga was sold between 2008 and 2012, and came with a choice of engines and two or four-wheel drive. Only pick the latter if you know you’ll be towing or facing rough roads and tough winter weather; the front-wheel drive model is impressive in most driving conditions.

The driving experience isn’t the be-all and end-all of a family SUV, so happily the Kuga delivers in other areas. The cabin is reasonably accommodating for a growing family, and like the outside of the car it all looks modern and edgy. But it’s the driving experience that remains this car’s standout feature.

For £8,000, the Kuga will most likely be a 2009 2.0 TDCi diesel in either two or four-wheel drive specification. But mileages vary greatly so hunt around, using the likes of AutoTrader, and only test drive the best.

The £8,000 used small SUV that’s loved by owners: Skoda Yeti

Skoda yeti

Skoda yeti

Skoda likes to tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s a manufacturer of happy drivers. But what does that really mean? Well, for once, it’s not marketing flimflam. According to independent customer satisfaction surveys, the Skoda Yeti is one of the best cars to own.

In the authoritative 2015 Driver Power survey, conducted by Auto Express and which questioned more than 61,000 drivers, the first generation Yeti was ranked the second best car to own – and the best SUV. In last place, out of 201 cars was the Nissan Qashqai.

What’s making these Skoda drivers so happy? Well, they say they like driving it, claim it’s reliable, rate the build quality and are happy with the dealers. In short, the Yeti is the complete package.

It’s also eminently practical. The boot holds 416-litres of luggage, but drop the back seats and with 1580-litres it’ll rival a removal van. And those seats are individual, rather than a bench, so the Yeti is as practical as a people carrier-type car.

If there’s one more thing that should put a smile on the face of car buyers, it’s that £8,000 affords a 2010 diesel or petrol model from a Skoda dealer, and there’s plenty of choice. So haggle hard and get ready to drive happy.

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