Rugged and reliable, the X-Trail is hardly the last word in sophistication, but it’s pleasant enough to drive, and very practical too. It has a huge boot, lined with a plastic floor that you can rinse clean. Up front, meanwhile, both driver and passenger have plenty of room; rear leg room is limited, though. The slabby styling won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and there are some cheap-feeling plastics to be found on the dashboard. So, while the X-Trail does a decent job as a family SUV, the Honda CR-V might be a better bet.
Smart looks, a stylish interior, and rugged off-road ability made the Freelander a popular choice. There was also the small matter of that Land Rover badge, with its reputation to die for. A small boot didn’t put buyers off, and neither did quite a bit of body lean in bends. With the exception of that trait, though, the Freelander drives well and rides very comfortably, and when powered by the Ford-sourced 2.2-litre diesel engine, it offers a good blend of fuel economy and punch.
2. Ford Fiesta
As a used car, the Ford Fiesta makes a huge amount of sense: it’s involving to drive, comfortable, practical, efficient, and cheap to buy and run. And because it’s so popular, there are plenty around to take your pick from. Later models with the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine are peppy and fun to drive, but even earlier cars with the 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrols are delightful. Granted, the interior looks rather cheap and is fussy to use, but that’s a small price to pay for one of the best small cars of our age.
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