Best prestige SUVs for a growing family
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Dear What Car?,
My husband and I are expecting our second child later this year, and we want to upgrade from our current family hatchback to an SUV, because we want more space inside the car and because I want to see more of the road ahead, like I can in my sister's Nissan Qashqai.
My husband travels a lot for work, so he needs something that’s comfortable for long distances and which can also connect to his phone easily. Our budget is around £30,000; what would you recommend?
- SUV (large enough for a growing family)
- Diesel engine (based on your mileage)
- Easy infotainment system
- Comfortable for long journeys
- Around £30,000
Our recommended choice: Volvo XC40 D3 R-Design auto
List price: £34,085
Target Price: £32,769
Extend your budget by just a smidgen and you can drive away in the finest family SUV on the market – and our recommended version at that.
The Volvo XC40 comes with a boot full of accolades; it was our overall Car of the Year in 2018, and 12 months later it's still our reigning champion in the family SUV market.
Volvo XC40 D3 R-Design auto - interior
What makes it so good? Let's start with the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which mixes power and fuel economy to give you the best of both worlds. Then there's the comfortable, leather-wrapped interior, which is spacious for a growing family but also functions as a mobile office when needed.
Indeed, this R-Design version comes with kit such as sports seats, power-folding door mirrors, privacy glass and even ambient lighting. All very swish, and this one's got an automatic gearbox, so those longer journeys will pass in a breeze.
And then there's safety – something that will be high on your list of priorities. Every XC40 comes with automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and lane-keeping assistance. No wonder it smashed Euro NCAP's safety tests, earning a full five-star rating in the process.
Mazda CX-5 2.2d SE-L Nav+ auto
List price: £29,225
Target Price: £27,793
When it comes to SUVs, why settle for less? So if you find that the Volvo above is too small for your needs, stride on over to this Mazda CX-5 instead. It's a five-seat large SUV that's spacious, comfortable and loaded with kit.
Mazda CX-5 2.2d SE-L Nav+ auto - interior
SE-L Nav+ trim comes with front and rear parking sensors, a 7.0in infotainment screen and dual-zone climate control, among other luxuries, while this 2.2-litre diesel engine has plenty of pulling power.
BMW X1 sDrive18d SE auto
List price: £31,525
Target Price: £29,464
BMW's smallest SUV is a rival to the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLC but stands out in such good company by being good to drive and practical inside.
This sDrive18d version is responsive from low revs and has a decent amount of power without ruining your fuel economy.
BMW X1 sDrive18d SE auto - interior
SE is our recommended trim, coming with sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.
Our recommended choice: 2017 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S line
In matters of parenthood, size is everything. It's all very well to recommend a family SUV to our buyers – and it may very well suit them now – but small children attract paraphernalia like Brexit attracts arguments, and it won't be long before they'll be yearning for more space.
And that's where this immaculate Audi Q5 comes in. For your budget, you can have a 2017 version of one of our favourite cars in the large SUV class.
2017 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S line - interior
It's superbly refined and comfortable – especially so on air suspension – and has a wonderfully classy interior. It also has class-leading resale values.
Best of all, though, it has more space inside for the growing family than the new car choices, plus a capacious boot for buggies or activity equipment.
2018 BMW X3 xDrive20d xLine
Take everything that's good about the BMW brand and distill it into one large SUV package, and you've got the X3. It's good to drive, with rewarding handling and a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox.
2018 BMW X3 xDrive20d xLine - interior
On top of that, the classy interior is spacious and comfortable and the infotainment system is unbeaten anywhere. Our budget buys a one-year-old car with a full service history.
2017 Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum
There's no doubt that the Volvo XC40 is a very good car, but it'll soon be too small for Stephanie's growing family.
That's where all of these cars fit in, of course, but if you really wanted to stay on-brand – and with such a premium and popular brand at that – try this XC60 for size. Size is the word: it's huge in the back and the boot can easily cope with a baby's clutter.
2017 Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum - interior
It's good to drive, too, and exudes an air of quality. It's also extremely comfortable. This money gets you an 18-month-old car with a nominal mileage, from a main dealer.
Our recommendation: buy used
This was a very close call, but it comes down to space, and while the Volvo XC40 is the best car of its kind, the Audi Q5 is simply larger, plusher and more suited to a growing family and all the necessary clutter which goes with them.
Go for the Q5 and you'll enjoy one of the best large SUVs on sale today, with a high-tech, comfortable interior, a smooth 2.0-litre diesel engine that balances performance and fuel economy very well, and a ride that allows you to cover huge distances and still emerge fresh at the other end. And all of that bang on your £30,000 budget.
Our recommendation this time, then, is to buy used.