Best used ULEZ-compliant SUVs for less than £20,000

There have been a few scary stories about the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) that's coming in April, but our top 10 list proves you can still drive a diesel SUV in London on a budget...

Best used ULEZ SUVs for less than £20,000

From 8 April 2019, you won’t be able to drive a diesel car that doesn't meet Euro 6 emissions standards or a pre-Euro 3 petrol car into the centre of London without incurring a £12.50 fee on top of the standard Congestion Charge.

This has understandably sent a lot of motorists into a frenzy. But we’re here to help allay your concerns by offering a top ten list of the best ULEZ-busting diesel SUVs on the used market today.

Firstly, what is ULEZ? Well, it stands for Ultra Low Emissions Zone, and it will replace the T-charge (toxicity charge). It will initially cover 8.1 square miles of central London – the same area as the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) – but will be expanded in October 2021 to encompass the entire area within the North and South Circular roads.

It should be fairly easy for drivers of petrol cars to avoid the charge, since all mainstream models produced from 2005 onwards are Euro 4-compliant, but when it comes to diesels, only those that were registered from September 2015 meet the grade.

London residents who are registered inside the CCZ fear not, because there will be a grace period until 24 October 2021 before you're subject to the ULEZ charge. You'll still have to pay the T-charge until that date, but you'll continue to receive the current 90% discount.

And if you think this is only important for those living and working in London, think again, because there are plans for similar charges being applied in other major cities around the UK in order to tackle air quality.

So, for those of you who have a long commute into the nation’s capital, are a resident in the current or future ULEZ or just want to know what diesel SUV you should buy next, take a look at this list.

10. Nissan Qashqai

Used Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai is an old favourite in the small SUV market, because it’s just the right size for urban driving while still having plenty of interior space for five. There’s a plethora of equipment fitted as standard, but N-Connecta cars add extra safety technology including rear cross-traffic alert, a driver fatigue monitor and blindspot monitoring.

It won’t rock your world when it comes to the driving experience, but that’s not the point of the Qashqai; instead, it's safe, predictable and very comfortable. Its 1.5-litre diesel engine isn’t overly intrusive at a canter and manages exceptional fuel economy in everyday driving.

We found: 2018 Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi N-Connecta, 2796 miles, £16,560

Read the used Nissan Qashqai review here

9. Hyundai Tucson

Used Hyundai Tucson (2015-present)

You get a lot for your money with the Hyundai Tucson. It isn’t as if the car you’ll be getting is wanting for equipment, either, with SE Nav models receiving sat-nav, a rear-view camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control, climate control and heated front seats.

You might be a little underwhelmed by an interior that favours grey plastic, but it's well made and should stand up to the challenges of family life. Space inside is good, although the rear seats don’t fold or slide like they do in some rivals. The driving experience isn’t particularly engaging, either. However, it's comfortable enough and its light steering takes the stress out of parking.

We found: 2018 Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi Blue Drive SE Nav 2WD, 3862 miles, £17,280

Read the used Hyundai Tucson review here

8. Kia Sportage

Used Kia Sportage 16-present

Just like the Qashqai, the Kia Sportage isn’t for those who value driving. Instead, all of its controls are light and easy to manage in a perfectly pleasant sort of way. The ride is firmer than some rivals', but as long as you stick with mid-range models on 17in wheels, it won't be uncomfortable.

Even if you go for only a mid-spec 2 car, you’ll still get sat-nav, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, rear privacy glass and some additional safety tech.

Kia's 1.7-litre diesel engine suits the Sportage, because its extra low-down torque makes for a more relaxed driving experience. A combined fuel economy figure of 61.4mpg (NEDC) should make it cheap to run, too. Also, if you buy a Sportage that’s less than two years old from Kia’s approved used programme, the warranty will be topped back up to seven years.

We found: 2018 Kia Sportage 1.7 CRDi ISG 2, 3103 miles, £18,000

Read the used Kia Sportage review here

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