Should I buy an SUV or an estate?

A reader needs to replace his estate car, but is struggling to find an SUV that fits all his requirements. Can we recommend one that fits the bill?...

Mazda CX-5 2.2d SE-L Nav+

I currently drive a 2016 Audi A4 Avant Sport Ultra, but my company car deal is going to run in a month’s time and, like about 50 percent of the UK population, I fancy switching to an SUV.

I cover 22,500 miles a year, so fuel economy is important as is the relevant BIK for company car drivers. I also need a car with a luggage compartment that’s big enough for two dogs in a large cage, and rear seats that are roomy enough for two teenagers, with USB ports for mobile phones. 

My budget is about £35,000. I like the look, sound and size of the Toyota RAV4, but I’m put off by the poor reviews it receives for its infotainment system. It doesn't have apple Carplay or Android Auto, which are essential in my opinion as I’m going to spend a lot of time in the car over the next three years. 

What is Apple CarPlay? Your complete guide

Other makes and models have their plus points, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Volvo XC40, but neither of these tick all of my boxes. Can you suggest some alternatives, or do you think I need to stick to an estate for its greater practicality? 

Mark Jardine

What Car? says…

We think you need a larger SUV than the ones you’ve been considering in order to have enough space for teenagers and dogs. We do agree with your concerns about infotainment systems – the minimalistic, touchscreen-controlled system in new Volvos isn’t as easy to use on the move as the rotary-dial controlled systems you’ll find in Audi and BMW models. 

However, BMW’s X3 has to be ruled out for you because, although you can add Apple CarPlay as an option, you’ll have to pay an annual subscription fee for it and you can’t get Android Auto at all. Audi’s Q5 comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s roomy in the back seats, has good connectivity and a good-sized boot, but it’s too pricey. 

Mazda CX-5 seats

Another five-star alternative that could fit the bill is the diesel variant of Mazda’s CX-5. Its boot isn’t the biggest on offer but should accommodate your dog cage, and the rear seats are roomy enough for two adults. It also comes with your preferred smartphone connectivity. Our target price for the Skyactiv-D 150 2wd Sport Nav+ is £28,048, so it’s also within your budget. 

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The best large SUVs and the ones to avoid

For many people, large SUVs have replaced big saloons as the ultimate expression of modern motoring, and they make great family cars, thanks to their spacious and practical interiors.

The best are also easy to drive, combining a calm ride with tidy handling and a lofty driving position with user-friendly controls. But with so many models to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here we count down our top 10 – and name the large SUV to avoid.

If any take your fancy, just click on the relevant link to find out more or see how much of a discount you could get by using What Car?'s New Car Buying service.

10. Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Tiguan Allspace

Take the regular Volkswagen Tiguan, add some more space and two extra seats, and hey presto, you've got the Tiguan Allspace. Its high-quality interior and flexible seating are impressive, and it's good to drive.

Pick of the range: 2.0 TDI 150 Match DSG 4Motion

Read our full Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace review or see our latest Tiguan Allspace deals

9. Volvo XC60

Used Volvo XC60 long-term test review

Volvo's used to be very much a step down from the models of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, both in terms of price and ability, but no longer. The latest XC60 is comfortable, well equipped and has a high-quality interior, plus it won the 2018 What Car? Safety Award, having performed brilliantly when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.

Pick of the range: D4 Momentum

Read our full Volvo XC60 review or see our latest XC60 deals

8. Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe is a spacious and practical choice in the large SUV market, with the option of seven seats for larger families. You also get plenty of equipment, with both Premium and Premium SE models coming with plenty of luxuries. We'd stick with SE trim, though, because this gets you everything you're likely to want, including rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and 18in alloy wheels.

Pick of the range: 2.2 CRDi 200 Premium 7 Seat

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