Buying a SUV - The Best SUVs in July 2010

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The Best SUVs and MPVs

Selecting the right SUV/MPV is a difficult task at the best of times but when the market is crowded with marquee names as it is now, the task becomes a lot harder. This extensive review of some of the best SUV’s/MPV’s should make your decision a little easier.

Daihatsu TeriosThe Best SUVs and MPVs Daihatsu Terios

This funky looking SUV comes in the most unusual colours. It is compact, yet quite roomy. It handles very well in traffic and in the great outdoors. It is good value for money and particularly handy when your finances are doing well. At 7.9 litres per 100 km you have economy all the way.

Suzuki SX4

The Suzuki SX4 has great features which won’t cost you an arm and a leg. You get power steering with tilt adjustment for the steering wheel, electric windows and mirrors, AC, dual front airbags and ABS brakes. The more luxurious GLS, in both five-speed manual and four-speed automatic comes with a host of plush add-ons. This model is powered by a 1.5 litre, four cylinder, multi-point fuel injected engine. It is sporty and bold, although it might strain a little in high altitude.

Nissan Qashqai The Best SUVs and MPVs Nissan Qashqai

Named after a desert dwelling nomadic tribe in south western Iran, the Nissan Qashqai is available in three petrol models – 1.6 litre Visia, 1.6 litre Acenta and 2.0 litre Acenta. The 1.6 engine delivers 81 KW and 154 Nm torque while the 2.0 delivers a peppy 102 KW and 198 Nm torque. The Qashqai has high, comfortable seating and all the safety features you could ask for. This does not come at the cost of handling, as it is easily manoeuvrable. The retail price includes a 3 year/90,000 km service plan as well as a 3 year 100,000 km warranty.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 was recently labelled the greenest off roader by UK's Environmental Transport Association (ETA) annual awards. If that isn’t reason enough for your consideration, there’s also excellent fuel economy, low vibration and lots of power. It is high on safety features with seven airbags, ABS brakes and traction control. Unfortunately, for those used to automatic drives it may be a disappointment, as the car comes in a 6- speed, manual gear box version only.

Suzuki Grand VitaraThe Best SUVs and MPVs Suzuki Grand Vitara

The Suzuki Grand Vitara, with a 122 KW 2.4 J24 VVTi engine, is more powerful than its previous avatar. Besides, it sports minor modifications on the body like indicators in the wing mirrors. The body structure blends car and SUV chassis designs. It is a comfortable and affordable compact SUV for urban driving and recreational use on dirt tracks. A unibody chassis offers improved rigidity, safety and handling.

Landrover Freelander 2

Landrover's new baby, the Freelander 2 gets pride of place because the pedigree is unmistakable. It's handling on and off road is remarkable. No surprise therefore that it was awarded the Best Small SUV title at the 2007 Fleet News Awards in London. Both the 3.2 i6 171 KW petrol engine and the 2.2 TD4 118 KW eat up the miles so thriftily that you won’t look around for a petrol station in a hurry. Reliability on any terrain is a hallmark for this perky newcomer. The Freelander 2 comes with a 3 year/100, 000km maintenance plan.

BMW X1The Best SUVs and MPVs BMW X1

The smallest of the 'X' cars in BMW's SUV line-up, the BMW X1 may not be as tough as a Landrover while navigating rough and undulating terrain, but its big wheels and raised position give you the impression of an SUV from the inside. Its narrow chassis helps in easy manoeuvrability. This diesel SUV has amongst the lowest emissions in its class and also scores very high on safety features. It is available in both two and four wheel drive versions. If you’ve always pined for a BMW but could not afford it here’s a good chance to take the plunge!

Renault Grand Scenic

The Grand Scenic is quite a commodious car although it may not appear so. It is ideal for camping trips as it has lot of little storage spaces including drawers under the seats. It has independent sliding and reclining seats at the rear which is always welcome on long drives. The 1.6 litre engine is not designed for speed freaks but it is a good car to cruise around cities and go on long drives. The digital dashboard is definitely not one of its best features.

Peugeot 3008Peugeot 3008

This car is a trifle short compared to the normal dimensions of an SUV/MPV. However, it comes in seven variants to suit every pocket and need. There’s a plain vanilla Comfort version as well as turbo versions with premium trims, with and without grips. Since it is a front drive version you may like to opt for the Grip version if you have to navigate dirt roads. The Peugeot 3008 is a powerful little beast with its 2.0 litre 110 KW 340 Nm diesel engine, which can do a sprightly 100 km /h in 9.7 seconds. It has all the standard safety features. Being a Euro 5 version, it is very low on consumption and emission.

Chevrolet Captiva

The Captiva is definitely a looker with style and panache. With three rows of seats, It is roomy enough for a bunch of kids. The Captiva is available in a 2.4 litre, four cylinder petrol version in front wheel drive and all-wheel drive option. There’s also a 3.2 litre, V6 petrol engine and 2.0 litre, four cylinder diesel version, both with all-wheel drive. The control panel is very impressive with some useful gauges.

Mazda CX-7Mazda CX-7

This SUV has classy yet sporty looks with bulging side guards, chunky wheels and exposed exhaust. Add special features like reversing camera with LCD screen, Bose sound system with six-disc changer, nine speakers pumping out 240 W of power and the view becomes more compelling.  The downside?  Leg room in the rear and the boot space are wanting. The 2.3-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine produces 175kW and 350Nm – sounds impressive, but the exhilaration that one should experience when gunning the car forward is missing. City driving is still quite pleasurable. The CX-7 comes in two models, the standard and luxury.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

This latest offering from Mitsubishi outdoes its predecessors in riding comfort, both on dirt roads and in the city. Women drivers too will relish riding this behemoth, the ultimate macho symbol! It has ample legroom and boot space. The 3.2 litre turbo diesel with four-speed automatic gear box feels less powerful than similar models in its class but rugged good looks and eye catching interiors compensate. Not exactly thrifty on fuel consumption, but you can't have it all.

Hyundai iX35Hyundai iX35

This mid-size SUV with European styling has three variants – Active, Elite and Highlander. The Active is a two wheel drive powered by a 2.0 litre engine that develops 122 kW power. Standard features include six airbags, active front headrests, electronic stability control, downhill brake control, 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, driver's electric adjustable seat and an iPod compatible USB port. The Elite has stylish interiors. More thrust too, powered by a 2.4 litre four cylinder petrol engine developing 130 kW of power and 227Nm of torque. Top of the line is the Highlander, for those requiring more power. It is also the thriftiest in fuel consumption, at 7.5 litres/100 km.

Volvo XC60

Volvo prides itself on safety and the XC 60 is no different. Its low speed collision avoidance/mitigation system is a useful feature if you accidentally fall asleep at the wheel. Other safety features: four-wheel anti-lock (ABS) brakes, electronic brake distribution (EBD), stability and traction control, six air bags, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), fog lights and headlamp washers. The car is stylish, luxurious, comfortable and drives well. It has an enormous 655 litre boot. There are three engines with two five-cylinder, 2.4-litre turbo diesels of 122 or, for the D5 version, 138kW, and a 3.0-litre, 210kW, turbo straight-six petrol.

Audi Q5Audi Q5

Be it the Xenon Plus Headlights, Aluminium Wrap-Around Tailgate, LED Daytime Running Lights or the unmistakable Singleframe Grille, this MPV/SUV from Audi looks stunning. The roomy interior is magnificent, with a Panorama Sunroof, aeroacoustics, leather seats, climate control, Audi Advanced Key, and a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers. The Q5 is also equipped with the Audi music interface and Audi MMI Navigation Plus. Drive with confidence in this six-speed Tiptronic marvel that also features the Electronic Stabilisation Programme, Hill Descent Control, central locking and six airbags.

Nissan Murano

Powered with an ‘intelligent’ CVT transmission, the beautiful all-wheel-drive Murano from Nissan features a 265 hp V6 engine and push button ignition. The interior is luxurious with premium leather heated seats, flexible amenities, and a dual panel moon roof. It is also equipped with hi-tech features such as Driver Memory System, XM NavTraffic, Automatic Temperature Control, rear-view monitor, Bluetooth, power windows/lock, and Nissan Intelligent Key. Safety features include impact protection, Vehicle Dynamic Control, ABS, ALR/ELR seat belts, traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, and immobiliser, and reinforced side doors.

VW CaravelleVW Caravelle

The perfect family-outing MPV for large families, the Caravelle from Volkswagen is spacious, flexible, and built with great attention to detail. It features a 4 cylinder EURO 5 compliant engine with a six speed manual or seven speed automatic transmission. Safety features include a second generation Electronic Stabilisation Programme, immobiliser, Electronic Differential Lock, airbags, Anti-Spin Regulator, traction control and ABS. Other highlights include Dynamic Route Guidance, sat-nav, Climatronic air conditioning, and electric/heated mirrors. The Caravelle is available in a range of solid, metallic, and pearl effect colours.

Land Rover Discovery 4

You can customise the Discovery 4 just the way you want it. Choose from metallic or non-metallic exterior colours, six interior colours, three models, three engine options, petrol/diesel, and manual/automatic transmission. The all-terrain Discovery 4 has a commanding presence on the road thanks to its titanium-finish air intake, split rear tailgate, heated windscreen and Oberon-finish door handles. The multifunction steering wheel, button start, climate control, trip computer, adjustable lumbar support seats, cruise control and sun roof will make your driving experience pleasurable and safe (EPB, airbags, EBA, Perimetric alarm, ABS and autolock on drive away).

Lexus LX570Lexus LX570

The LX 570 comes with a 5.7 litre V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. This luxury-utility vehicle is loaded with dozens of features such as Smart Access with button start/stop, four-zone climate control, memory seats, remote windows and moon roof, and power doors/locks. You’ll love the plush interiors, heated flexible seats and electroluminescent console. Other specs include HDD navigation, Lexus Safety Connect (Automatic Collision Notification, Emergency Assistance Button), trip computer, traction control, Vehicle Stability and Crawl Control, ABS/EBD, puddle lamps, tyre pressure monitoring, and ALR/ELR seatbelts.

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

Available in six versions and nine colours, this SUV/MPV from Toyota comes with a 4L V6 VVT-i or a 3L Turbo Diesel engine, and a six speed manual or 5 speed automatic transmission. Equipped with 4WD and Adaptive Variable Suspension, the Prado is a strong vehicle with hi-tech interior features such as Multi-Information Display, Electro Multi-Vision screen, light-sensing headlights, electric/heated flexible seats, rain-sensing wipers and Smart Entry/Start. Also featured are seven SRS airbags, multi-terrain monitor, Active Braking, Vehicle Stability/Traction Control, Crawl and Radar Cruise Control, parking sensors, and rear-view camera.

Renault KoleosRenault Koleos

Blending the poise of a sedan and the functionality of an MPV, the Koleos is the first 4x4 crossover vehicle from French automaker Renault. This is the perfect car for family outings and adventure activities. The Koleos has a distinctive design, with a split tailgate, prominent nose, and a sleek and minimalist aesthetic. Other features include a six-speed manual transmission, panoramic sun roof, automatic climate control, sat-nav, 3D mapping, keyless ignition, and a Bose sound system. Safety features include automatic wiper activation and headlamps, tyre pressure monitoring, hill assist/descent, airbags and cruise control limiter.

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