Used Car of the Year Awards 2023: SUVs

With living costs on the rise, getting a good deal on your next car is more important than ever. That's where our Used Car Awards come in. These are our favourite SUVs...

Used SUV of the Year

Mazda CX-5

What Car? Used Car of the Year Awards 2023 logo

Price from £15,000 Our pick 2.0 SE-L Nav

In the pantheon of desirable used SUVs, ranging from the weeny Suzuki Ignis at one end to the mighty Bentley Bentayga at the other, you might think that picking out just one as an exemplar of the breed would be hard work. But as it turns out, it’s surprisingly easy, with the Mazda CX-5 standing head and shoulders above all others.

Now in its second generation, Mazda’s distinctive family SUV has always been one of our favourites. For starters, keen drivers who aren’t ready to sacrifice their ideals on the altar of family-friendly transport will love it for its agile handling. The CX-5 has built up a reputation over the years as one of the better driver’s cars in the SUV sector, and it’s well deserved, with echoes of the marvellous Mazda MX-5 sports car in the way it can attack roundabouts or dispatch a winding country road. It’s much more fun to drive than a used Hyundai Santa Fe or used Kia Sorento, for example, and more economical than both of those rivals to boot.

New Mazda CX-5 dashboard

Meanwhile, families will love its interior. For the driver, it offers a lofty seating position and easy-to-use controls, including an intuitive dial between the front seats for operating the infotainment system; this is easier and less distracting to use than a touchscreen when on the move. Occupants get to enjoy acres of space, too; indeed, the CX-5’s slightly larger dimensions give it the edge on practicality over five-seaters such as a used Seat Ateca or used Skoda Karoq. Furthermore, the CX-5 is handsomely equipped, robustly built and full of high-quality materials.

Not only does the CX-5 have an excellent reliability record, but when it comes to value, few can match it in any class. What do we mean by value? Well, you can put a 2018 CX-5 on your driveway now in our favoured 2.0 SE-L Nav trim for as little as £15,000 – less than half the price of a new one – while a 2019 example will set you back only around £17,000 and a barely used 2020 model a very reasonable £20,000. At such prices, it easily fends off the likes of the BMW X1 and Volkswagen Tiguan, both of which are far more expensive to buy at the same age.

Also consider...

Best for tight budgets

Seat Arona (2017-present)

Seat Arona 2020 RHD front wide tracking

Price from £10,000 Our pick 1.0 95 TSI SE Technology

One fact that’s reiterated every year at our used car awards is that if you’re looking for a competitive car on a tight budget, you’d be well advised to start with the Seat brand.

For example, buyers after a small SUV should seek out a used Seat Arona, for the simple reason that here is a compact car that is stylish, practical and perky. Bought used, it’s pleasingly affordable, too; with prices starting at around £10k, it’s much cheaper than rivals such as the Audi Q2 and Volkswagen T-Cross.

Despite its compact size, the Arona is surprisingly roomy inside. It rides well, being more comfortable than the Mini Countryman, and it’s more agile and fun to drive than the Renault Captur and Suzuki Vitara.

All of its engine options are decent, with the frugal 1.0 TSI 95 petrol being nippy enough for most people’s needs. On top of that, the Arona is well equipped and should prove cheap to run.

Read our full used Seat Arona review >>

Find a used Seat Arona for sale >>

Best for driving pleasure

Porsche Macan (2014-present)

Porsche Macan front

Price from £25,000 Our pick 3.0 Diesel S

Sports SUVs have become all the rage in the past few years, but one of the true pioneers of the class was the Porsche Macan. It was one of the first to combine a truly high level of driver involvement with the raised-up stance of an SUV. It’s still terrific fun, with a choice of engines ranging from pleasingly punchy to distinctly rorty, as well as well-balanced handling and ultra-precise steering.

These excellent driving manners give it the edge over rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Cupra Formentor, as does its wonderfully classy interior.

The Macan is an expensive car new (upwards of £50,000) and retains its value well, but nonetheless, there are used bargains to be had, especially if you opt for the impressive six-cylinder diesel version, which was dropped from the line-up in 2018.

Read our full used Porsche Macan review >>

Find a used Porsche Macan for sale >>

Best for luxury

Audi Q5 (2017-present)

Audi Q5 driving

Price from £10,000 Our pick 1.0 95 TSI SE Technology

If you want a premium SUV that majors on comfort and luxury, a used Audi Q5 is a great choice. It looks and feels wonderfully plush inside, and all the materials on show are top notch and nicely tactile. Meanwhile, it’s blissfully quiet at motorway speeds and rides superbly; indeed, it’s more comfortable and refined than upmarket rivals such as the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.

Added to all that, the Q5 is great to drive, with sharp handling and a good choice of suitably refined engines. It’s even practical, with plenty of room for five and a large boot, plus it’s much more reliable than the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Given how luxurious it looks and feels, the Q5’s affordability as a used buy is all the more remarkable. You can pick up a 2017 example of the punchy and economical 2.0 TDI model for as little as £20,000, but we’d spend up to £25,000 for a clean, lower-mileage car from 2019.

Read our full used Audi Q5 review >>

Find a used Audi Q5 for sale >>

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