Australia’s Best SUVs Compared

SUVs are growing more popular in Australia thanks to their ability to accommodate larger families and because they have room for everything you might need on a road trip. New models are released every year and there has never been a better time to purchase an SUV in Australia. But how do you know which model is right for you? How do you know the best SUV 2015 and 2016 has to offer?

Every SUV comes with different features and the quality varies greatly. We’ve brought together the very best models currently being sold in Australia so you can get an idea of which SUV is right for you and your family.

Related: Australia’s Best Small SUVs

Best SUV Australia 2015 – 2016

1. Mazda CX-3

The very first Mazda CX-3 is truly an excellent vehicle. It comes with the option of either a 1.5 liter diesel engine or a 2.0 liter petrol engine. Once you’re in the car you can choose to stick with two wheel drive or to use the excellent all-wheel drive option. The CX-3 also comes with the options of six-speed automatic or six-speed manual.

Mazda’s unique i-stop technology improves fuel efficiency in both engine types and the petrol-powered CX-3 comes with Drive Selection which includes a “sport” mode for extra fuel efficiency. The fuel consumption rate is typically 6.7 liters for every 100 kilometers.

As for special features, the Mazda CX-3 comes with a heads-up display that projects ongoing speed, navigation information and other crucial information to the driver in an easy to read format. Voice recognition software allows you to make audio commands, dictate text messages, turn on a Bluetooth headset and even turn the radio to your favourite station, all by speaking a few words.

The Mazda CX-3 also comes with many excellent safety features such as side and rear airbags for people in the back seats, anti-skid braking, traction control, dynamic stability control and emergency brake assist. This makes it one of the safest SUVs currently on the road.

2. Citroen C4 Hatchback

The Citroen C4 is an extremely attractive hatchback which offers an incredible fuel efficiency of 4.9 liters per 100KM. Priced at $29, 990 plus roadside costs, this makes the Citreon C4 an incredibly affordable model and a practical choice for any family.

A 7-inch tablet-style touch screen eliminates the need for dozens of buttons on the dashboard and gives the control interface a more intuitive feel. The touchscreen also provides a satellite navigation system to make getting around easier.

The Citroen C4 also provides many luxuries other models in the same price range don’t such as dual zone climate control and automatic lights and windshield wipers. An electro-chromatic rear view mirror, rear park assist and electric folding mirrors help make this an extremely easy vehicle to drive. And the PureTech drivetrain allows for simultaneous control over both the gearbox and the engine.

As for safety features, the Citroen C4 comes with emergency brake assist and electronic brake force distribution as well as traction control. The traction control is coupled with an electronic stabilizing system to improve stability.

The Citroen C4 also comes with a wide range of optional packages including extra safety features as well as little luxuries like metallic paint. All in all, this is an excellent and practical choice for just about any family in Australia.

3. Suzuki Celerio

This compact SUV is perfect for inner city driving and especially for people living in the suburbs. It is far more attractive than many other compact SUVs and with a price tag of only $12, 990 this SUV truly is a practical choice for inner city dwellers on a tight budget.

In spite of its cheap price tag the Celerio comes with many luxurious features to ensure a comfortable ride. These include air conditioning, power steering and electric windows.

The Suzuki Celerio comes with a tiny triple engine perfect for cruising at 80KM/hr or even going up to 110KM/hr on flat roads. It struggles with big hills, but the upside is a fuel economy of 5.2 liters per 100KM.

As for safety features, the Celerio is pretty well equipped for a car in its price range. It comes with six airbags, electric mirrors and stability control. This makes the Celerio the perfect first car, affordable and easy to ride, and it’s also a great choice for inner city families.

Related: Australia’s best midsize SUVs

BrandModelKey Features
Mazda CX-3CX-3 comes with 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual options & features the unique i-stop technology to boost fuel efficiency. Equipped with display for navigation information, ongoing speed, and other vital information for the driver. Voice recognition software for more driving convenience
Citroen C4 HatchbackThis is an incredibly affordable model with a 7-inch tablet-style touch screen for hands-free dashboard control. With satellite navigation system, this model is also equipped with PureTech drivetrain for simultaneous control over both the gearbox and engine, aside from other luxuries.
Suzuki CelerioThis attractive compact SUV is perfect for both city driving and those living in the suburbs. It is a practical choice for buyers with a tight budget but comes with several luxury features. The Suzuki Celerio has a tiny triple engine perfect for cruising from 80KM/hr - 110KM/hr on flat roads.
Volvo XC90This unit is a plug in hybrid car that comes with diesel or petrol engine, both 4-cylinder engines with 2.0 liter capacities. Both options are backed by 8-speed autos for more efficient road response. It includes an automatic braking system and “run off the road” technology sensor.
Audi SQ5This sought-after automatic four wheel drive vehicle is powered with a V6 engine and comfortably transports five passengers. It excels in fast and smooth transition to acceleration. The sturdily built interior is equipped with handsome furnishings with adjustable rear seats to make more room.
Porsche Macan TurboThe 5-passenger Porsche Macan Turbo features a 4-wheel drive automatic transmission and an impressive 400-hp 3.6 liter V6 engine. With luxurious seats, it drives and responds smoothly, making driving an immensely comfortable and enjoyable experience just like any other Porsche vehicles.
BMW X5Luxury plus performance spells the 5- passenger BMW X5 SUV. It has a 3-liter engine powerful enough for city driving or moderate off-road trips. It also features automatic transmission with a rear wheel drive train.
Mercedes-Benz GLE 350dThe luxurious Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d has a trendy, elegant and sleek design. It is equipped with a 3.0 liter engine which features both power and fuel economy in an all-wheel drive and automatic transmission. Capable of towing up to 3,000 kgs., it has a complete set of safety features.
Mitsubishi OutlanderThe Mitsubishi Outlander is top option when it comes to fuel efficiency with around 25 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway driving. This SUV is fitted with a 2.4 liter engine, automatic transmission and front wheel drive and has plenty of features. It accommodates seven passengers.
Renault CapturAnother fuel-efficient SUV is the Renault Captur that yields around 60-70 mpg. It has a smart, attractive design and comfortably seats five passengers. Its 1.2 liter engine has ample power for a front wheel drive with automatic transmission and the cabin offers adjustment and flexibility.
Lexus NX300hThe hybrid Lexus NX300h compact model comes in a front wheel drive, 2.5 liter engine and automatic transmission and fuel economy works around 35 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway. This SUV has a supremely comfortable and well-appointed noiseless interior with lots of space in the back row.
Porsche Cayenne HybridThe Porsche Cayenne is a hybrid SUV that offers good looks and high performance, plus mid-range fuel efficiency. Acceleration is quick and flawless with its V6 engine, automatic transmission and four wheel drivetrain. The well-furnished interior provides ample space and topnotch in comfort.
Ford EverestThe powerful Ford Everest takes you down country trails and side-roads with ease. Its on-road skill is brilliant while it becomes a force to rely on off-roads. This 4-wheel drive, 3.2 liter engine automatic transmission is overall spacious though it is not exactly luxurious.
Toyota FortunerThe 7-seater Toyota Fortuner has an excellent off-road performance. This vehicle is fitted with an all-wheel drive, 2.8 liter engine and automatic transmission that can carry you effortlessly through uneven terrain. It is built to last, can withstand the elements, and has an undeniably strong towing capacity of 3,000 kgs.

4. Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 is one of the most impressive luxury SUVs currently being sold in Australia. Its initial price is $90, 000 but optional extras can easily bring the cost up to $125, 000—and bring the XC90 up to the status of ultimate luxury vehicle. Still, this plug in hybrid car is well worth your attention.

The Volvo XC90 comes with a choice between a diesel or petrol engine, both 4-cylinder engines with 2.0 liter capacities. Both options move off smartly and are backed by 8-speed autos to make them incredibly responsive on the road.

As for safety features, the Volvo XC90 includes many of the features you would expect from such a vehicle as well as a couple world firsts. These include an automatic braking system that senses when you’re about to turn into an oncoming car at an intersection and  “run off the road” technology that senses when you’ve unintentionally left the tarmac and are about to crash.

Of course, the biggest luxury is the interior. The Volvo XC90 offers a wider interior than most of its competitors and a tilting second row makes it easy to access the very back seats. It also incorporates a digital dashboard and an iPad control panel for intuitive control.

There are many different SUVs currently being sold in Australia, but these models are by far the best available. Of course, before you purchase any car you should find a dealer who will let you test drive it. Every car is different and you might not enjoy driving it as much as you think you will. Test driving it is truly the only way to know whether or not you want to invest in a particular SUV.

5. Audi SQ5

One of the most sought after SUVs when it comes to performance is the Audi SQ5.  This automatic four wheel drive vehicle with a powerful V6 engine comfortably transports five passengers.  It excels in fast and smooth transition to acceleration.  Driving is also very responsive and it handles beautifully.  The sturdily built interior is equipped with handsome furnishings and the rear seats can be adjusted to make more room.

6. Porsche Macan Turbo

Another five-passenger SUV that receives top marks in performance is the Porsche Macan Turbo.  It features a four wheel drive automatic transmission and impressive 400 horsepower 3.6 liter V6 engine.  It also has the signature unique Porsche style with seats that are the ultimate in luxury.  It drives and responds smoothly as well.  With this SUV, city driving becomes an immensely comfortable and enjoyable experience.

7. BMW X5

If you’re looking for a luxury SUV that highlights its performance, you won’t be disappointed with the BMW X5.  Built for five passengers, this SUV has a 3.0 liter engine which is a powerhouse on the city roads and is even capable of moderate skill off-road.  It also features automatic transmission with a rear wheel drive train.  Driving is flexible and responds quickly.  Comfort-wise, the interior looks plush and feels wonderfully cozy while offering plenty of technology.

8. Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d

There are only a few brands that are synonymous with luxury and Mercedes-Benz is one of them.  Among SUVs, the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350d is also a star in its class with its trendy but elegant and sleek design.  This SUV is equipped with a 3.0 liter engine which features both power and fuel economy with an all-wheel drive and automatic transmission.  It’s also capable of towing up to 3,000 kilos and it has a complete set of safety features.

9. Mitsubishi Outlander

For a more fuel efficient option, the Mitsubishi Outlander is quite a prize.  Its fuel economy shows around 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.  This SUV is fitted with a 2.4 liter engine, automatic transmission and front wheel drive.  It also has plenty of features which are more than what others offer including infotainment and especially safety, such as the auto emergency braking system.  It accommodates seven passengers and provides significant head and leg room for complete comfort.

10. Renault Captur

Also heading the list for fuel-efficient SUVs is the Renault Captur, which yields around 60-70 mpg.  It has a smart, eye-catching design with a seating capacity for five.  The 1.2 liter engine is sufficiently powerful, with automatic transmission and front wheel drive.  The driving feel is smooth and fluid, with quick responses.   As for the cabin, it offers adjustment and flexibility.  At the same time, it does not lack for space and is exceptionally comfortable.

11. Lexus NX300h

A hybrid SUV with bold, striking looks, the Lexus NX300h, is a compact model that offers attractive features.  This SUV comes with a front wheel drive, 2.5 liter engine and automatic transmission.  Fuel economy is pretty good at around 35 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.  It has a supremely comfortable and well-appointed interior with a lot of space in the back row.  You’ll also appreciate how the cabin keeps out noise.

12. Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

The Porsche Cayenne is a hybrid SUV that offers a great balance of looks and performance, with a bonus of mid-range fuel efficiency.  Its fuel economy skill is passable and it’s more known for its agile handling.  Acceleration is also quick and flawless with its V6 engine, automatic transmission and four wheel drivetrain.  The interior meanwhile provides ample space.  It’s also well-furnished and topnotch in comfort.

13. Ford Everest

You’ll have no trouble going down country trails and side-roads with the powerful Ford Everest.  This SUV’s on-road skill is brilliant and off-road, it becomes formidable.  It has a four wheel drive, 3.2 liter engine and automatic transmission.  It’s spacious overall but could do with more legroom in the back row.  The interior is also comfortable enough and organized with useful features, although it’s not exactly luxurious.

14. Toyota Fortuner

A top contender for off-road performance is the Toyota Fortuner.  A seven seater that’s perfect for families, it’s equipped with an all-wheel drive, 2.8 liter engine and automatic transmission.  It can carry you virtually effortlessly through uneven terrain.  The Fortuner is also built to last and withstand the elements, plus it’s undeniably strong with a towing capacity of 3,000 kilos.  Inside, it has standard useful features and a soothing, quiet cabin.

SUV Buying Guide

Sports-utility vehicles, or SUVs, are available in various designs, sizes, and prices. The medium-sized models normally provide the most balance when it comes to interior space, engine power, and fuel economy. If you are looking at buying an SUV, take a look at this buying guide before heading out.

Important Things to Consider

One of the most important things to look for when purchasing an SUV is the size. You have to determine how big you want your SUV to be by knowing your passenger, cargo, and traveling needs. In terms of powertrain, your options will normally range from four-cylinder engines to the powerful V8s. Some medium and large models will offer diesel powertrains.

Most non-hybrid SUVs are now more fuel-efficient than before, but the larger models of this kind have poor gas mileage. The three-row SUVs are great alternatives to the minivans as they can accommodate up to eight passengers. However, some models with three-row seats have lesser space to manage the same number of people. If you need to accommodate more than five passengers regularly, it will be wise to check the rear seats first before purchasing.

These factors will help you determine what SUV type you will need: small, compact sporty, medium, and large. It will lead you to fewer options, helping you decide better. Each type of SUV has a wide range of models for you to choose from, so this is a helpful move toward having your shopping list.

Two Major Kinds of SUVs

Sports-utility vehicles, as mentioned earlier, come in different designs and sizes. There are two basic types of SUVs: car-based and truck-based.

  • Car-based SUVs: Car-based SUVs, also known as crossovers, have a unibody construction. The body and frame are bonded into one unit. Most CUVs have a completely-independent suspension that provides better ride comfort and handling than the truck-based models. They often come as an all-wheel drive and can manage off-road conidtions, but are not generally designed for the more challenging terrains like deep water and high rocks. In addition, their towing capacity is usually limited.
  • Truck-based SUVs: These vehicles are harder to find these days. This is because the market has started shifting to crossovers. Truck-based SUVs have a body-on-frame construction. They normally offer greater towing capacity and cargo space than a car-based model. They are also better equipped to handle the more serious off-road conditions when fitted with a four-wheel drive.

However, truck-based SUVs have a cumbersome handling, and the ride experience can be unsettled and bouncy. Most of them use a solid rear axle, like that on a pickup truck, but some have independent rear suspension.

Different SUV Sizes

SUVs are split into five major size categories, namely:

1. Subcompact: Examples of subcompact SUVs include the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, and the Jeep Renegade. These models generally have a smaller cargo and passenger capacity, but they do have a higher seating position. Some of them are even surprisingly spacious inside. Subcompact SUVs are also available with all-wheel drive. What’s great about their size is the ease of maneuvering and parking. You cannot expect a large cargo volume or even a serious off-road capability.

2. Small: Small SUVs are suited for people who want more space than a sedan. These vehicles offer a higher driving position, and a flexible cargo space than cars. Some models have off-road capabilities, as well, which will delight adventurous drivers. If you want more cargo space, then you will want to consider a hatchback or wagon as they have better fuel-economy and are normally more affordable. There are wagons that offer all-wheel drive, as well as elevated ride height, like the Subaru Outback.

3. Compact Sporty: These performance-oriented sports-utility vehicles usually have quieter cabins, better handling, nicer finish, and more amenities than the small models. However, the price and fuel-economy are the common trade-offs. Majority of models in this niche are from Japanese or European prestige brands.

4. Medium: Medium, or mid-sized, SUVs have become great alternatives to minivans. They satisfy the needs of many drivers who want a larger SUV. Most families prefer this size as it offers the best balance of interior space, power, cargo, and safety features. While many medium SUVs offer third-row seat options, they are usually cramped and cannot accommodate adult passengers.

5. Large: Most large SUVs have more power, towing capacity, and interior space than the previous sizes. The only possible disadvantage would be their bulky size and thirsty tank. If you plan to haul a heavy trailer, then this size might just be for you. People who primarily want more cargo and seating capacity, then you might be looking for larger mid-sized models or a minivan.

Features to Look For

By now, you should have an idea about what type of SUV you should look for. Another important factor to consider when searching for the best SUV would be the features. Below are the key features that you need to note:

  • Engine power and fuel-economy: Small SUVs are normally powered by   four-cylinder engines, while the bigger ones use either a V6 or V8.
  • Drive Wheels: All SUVs come with either all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with a two-wheel drive option.
  • Off-roading: Most models can handle off-road situations, but not all can tackle the more serious ones.
  • Access: Most models offer wide front- and rear-doors, but you might want to look for one with wider rear doors for better third-row seat access.
  • Seating: Most models can seat up to five passengers, but some have third-row seats that can accommodate two to three more people.
  • Cargo: Truck-type models have more cargo space than the smaller counterparts.
  • Other features: You will also want to check the safety features, entertainment and audio systems, and the navigation and connectivity.

Bottom Line

Sports-utility vehicles come in various sizes and designs. It is ideal to determine your driving needs and budget to see which type of SUV you should check. You should also consider the other features that will improve your driving experience, such as entertainment and safety. Take note of the tips above to help you narrow down your options, and eventually purchase the SUV of your choice.

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