Often described as the motoring equivalent of a wellington boot, the Subaru Forester is tough, dependable and useful no matter what the occasion. True, it’s pretty bland both inside and out, but it’s built from sturdy materials and feels incredibly well screwed together. And while its lower ride height does mean you get a less commanding view of the road, it also means the Forester drives tightly, without the slack and sloppy feeling of some other SUVs here.
We found: 2005 2.0 X, 106,000 miles, full Subaru service history, £1995
Big, heavy and agricultural, the Mitsubishi Shogun won’t be your first choice if you’re after an SUV that’s easy to drive. However, if you need something with which to tow heavy loads, or to carry seven people in relative comfort, it should be at the top of your list. The Shogun has a reputation for solidity and dependability, and most examples are well equipped, so while you’ll have to live with a jiggly ride and sluggish handling, at least you know it’ll get you there in some comfort.
We found: 2.8 TD GLS, 100,000 miles, full service history, £1995
5. Lexus RX300
Don’t be fooled by the Lexus RX300’s high-riding stance; this is no off-roader, and it isn’t as good as some of its bigger, clunkier rivals at towing. But the payoff is that the big Lexus is smooth, quiet and comfortable on the road, with power coming from a lusty 3.0-litre petrol engine. As you might have guessed, though, that makes it rather thirsty, and there’s no diesel option. Still, that high fuel consumption will be mitigated in part by the Lexus’s excellent reliability.
We found: 2001 SE, 108,000 miles, full service history, £2000
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