Buying your first car can be a tough experience, especially when you’re doing it yourself. There are so brands, shapes, sizes, plus there are a heap of conflicting reports as to what is and isn’t reliable – it can be very confusing, not to mention daunting.
If you’re a teenage girl looking for an SUV, it can be even harder. And that doesn’t matter whether it’s your first, second or third car, either.
Working out the criteria
To work out the best SUV for you, it is helpful to break down your criteria into smaller sections.
For example, working out what you need from you car, whether you’ll be using it off road or not, and what price you’re willing to pay.
Then there’s the luggage capacity, how many people you want to carry around, whether you need to store things in it – a change of clothes, extra toiletries, etc – and how far you’re going to travel with it.
Of course, some things can’t be accounted for, but if you’re realistic with your day-to-day activities and what you require from an SUV, then it’s going to be a lot easier.
Figuring out your budget
If you’re buying your vehicle with cash, then well done – you go girl! Unfortunately, not all of us are flushed with moolah, so we have to finance our machines. If that’s the case, we’ve written a handy little guide to the six most common mistakes people make with finance. Have a read of that one first.
Once you’re clear on setting boundaries on finance, then it comes down to what you can afford.
And while we’d love to help you out on that front, that’s something you’re going to have to work out yourself. Take into account every item you spend money on. Your daily coffee, the gym membership, your phone bill, rent, and plenty of other expenditures quickly add up. So, that compact SUV you really wanted may be a bit more out of reach than you’d expect.
Some sacrifices may have to be made to get the extra money you need. For example, can you have one less coffee a day? Can you go for a run each morning instead of going to the gym? And do you really need a brand new iPhone every year?
Of course, you didn’t come here for financial tips – you want to know which SUV to get. But we do have one major tip for you. Once you’ve set your budget, stick to it!
Wants versus needs
Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty. You may want the latest Range Rover. But all you need is something to get you to Uni and back. Or you may want an F-truck because it feels safe. But the fuel bill is going to sink you. So do you need something that big?
Being able to work out actual needs is easy to write down, but tough to stick to, especially when that shiny black Wrangler just looks so good on those chunky wheels.
Unless you’re going off road, though, you may not need it, so it will cost you a lot more just to have a want rather than a need.
Let’s be practical (and safe)
As we said before, you need to know your SUV is going to have enough storage and be able to carry around a few girlfriends. After all, who wants to be stuck in a tiny back seat when the people up front are having all the fun?
So, making sure there’s enough room is crucial. But also, are you going to want to carry around some cargo occasionally? Will the back seats fold down? Are you ever going to have to sleep in your car?
These are some things to think about. In addition, let’s talk about the safety aspect.
Most cars after 1996 got dual front airbags, so it’s worth discounting any vehicle before then. We all know the importance of airbags and seat belts. But what about ESC?
ESC stands for electronic stability control, and most cars from the mid-2000s onwards had ESC fitted as standard. If you don’t know exactly what it does, and why it’s beneficial, this video should help.
As you can see, it’s definitely worth having. And that means buying something a bit newer.
But it looks so cool
Some cars do. But sorry, that’s not really enough. If you want it to be safe, reliable and practical, sometimes we have to sacrifice looks. The truth can be harsh sometimes. But if it keeps you alive and doesn’t roll over when you change lanes quickly (which some tall SUVs can do), then it’s worth it.
The best SUV options
So, because we road test new cars, and not older, second hand vehicles, we can only give you recommendations on newer vehicles. Which is why this list below has current models.
But these are all supremely safe, drive well, and have excellent quality. You won’t be embarrassed to head out on a Saturday night in any of these.
- Subcompact SUV – Hyundai Kona
- Compact SUV – Nissan Qashqai
- Small SUV – Volkswagen Tiguan
- Large SUV – Volvo XC90
Click on the headings below to read the reviews.
The Kona’s funky styling is very cool, and it comes in some pretty outlandish colours. But with its big wheels and all wheel drive system, there’s a lot of grip. It pairs easily with a smart phone, drives well and has a great warranty. Of course, it’s a little on the small side, but there’s enough space to carry a few people around when you need to.
The Qashqai is undoubtedly Nissan’s best looking vehicle to date, and there’s a heap of room inside. More than its compact tag would suggest. But the safety systems on board are second to none, and it’s super easy to park. Resale value is good, too.
One size up from the Qashqai, the VW Tiguan has the best visibility of just about any SUV on sale. It’s built very well, has excellent quality and has an absolutely huge boot. Like, massive. The room inside is tremendous, and it’s cheap as well. That it drives well is the icing on the cake.
The Volvo is a bit pricey, no doubt. And it’s likely that few teenagers will be able to afford it. But those who can (or can even afford a second hand XC90) will find a machine that amazing quality and luxury, but it’s the safety that makes this worth its recommendation alone. It’s also a seven seater, which is worth considering when you need to carry people around.