Used test – affordable SUVs: Hyundai Santa Fe vs Land Rover Freelander and rivals

We've just driven the new Hyundai Santa Fe, but how well does an older version stack up against its used SUV rivals? We're here to find out

Words By What Car? team

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Our Verdict

These cars are some of the best you can buy in the class, so it’s no bad reflection on the Toyota RAV4 that it finishes last. Its dashboard is classy and built to an extremely high standard, even if that side-hinged tailgate is rather impractical. It isn't blessed with the comfort or noise suppression of some of the other cars here, either, but its engine is strong and frugal while its sharp handling is guaranteed to raise a smile. It's also the most expensive to buy used.

The Nissan X-Trail isn’t as sharp as the RAV4 to drive; indeed, it doesn’t stand out in any one particular area, but it’s a great all-rounder. We love the fact that it’s so cheap to buy nowadays, not to mention cheap to service. However, it’s the thirstiest car here, and it could offer more leg room.

The real reason the X-Trail is in third, though, is not because it’s bad, but simply because the Land Rover Freelander is better. In fact, the Freelander is a smoother, classier and better-finished car than any of the others here. The problem is, you really know about it when the time comes to get your wallet out – and that’s something you’ll be doing again and again with the Land Rover, as it’s also costly to run and comes with the worst reliability record.

And because it’s so hard – nay, impossible – to justify all that extra outlay over the Santa Fe, the Hyundai pips the Land Rover to the top spot here. Granted, it isn’t as well finished inside as the Land Rover, and nor does it feel quite as classy to drive, but it’s still comfortable, easy to handle and quiet.

What’s more, the option to choose an example with those extra seats is something you get with no other car here, and with the engine’s extra punch, you’ll have all the pulling power you need when all of those seats are filled. And given the money you’ll save over an equivalent Freelander, that makes the Hyundai the affordable SUV you’ll want to find waiting on your driveway if you've got any long family trips planned this summer.

Read our review of the latest Hyundai Santa Fe

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1st – Hyundai Santa Fe

For Practical, spacious cabin with room for seven; smooth engine; big, but easy to drive; great value

Against Cheap-feeling dashboard; noisy over rougher surfaces; bland handling

Verdict Not the most inspiring drive, but seven-seat versatility and ease of use make it the most sensible bet here

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Hyundai Santa Fe review

Find a used Hyundai Santa Fe for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

2nd – Land Rover Freelander

For Strong image; lots of equipment; classy interior; smooth ride; quiet

Against Costly to buy and run; poor reliability record; limited boot space

Verdict The Freelander delivers in almost every area – but its talents come at an eye-watering price

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Land Rover Freelander review

Find a used Land Rover Freelander for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

3rd – Nissan X-Trail

For Cheap to buy and run; strong engine; good comfort and handling

Against Thirsty; gruff engine; short on rear leg room

Verdict Smart-looking and attractively priced, the X-Trail is the best choice for buyers on a budget

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Nissan X-Trail review

Find a used Nissan X-Trail for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

4th – Toyota RAV4

For Frugal; sharp handling; lots of go

Against Noisy; firm ride; feels cramped; frustrating rear tailgate; poor gearshift

Verdict The RAV4 is great fun to drive, but it isn’t as family-friendly as its rivals here

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full used Toyota RAV4 review

Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale in the What Car? Classifieds

Specifications: Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRTD GSi 7st

Engine size 2.2-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£22,630

Price today Β£2995

Power 148bhp

Torque 247lb ft

0-60mph 13.7sec

Top speed 111mph

Fuel economy 38.7mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 193g/km

Specifications: Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 GS

Engine size 2.2-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£23,435

Price today Β£4995

Power 158bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 11.8sec

Top speed 112mph

Fuel economy 37.7mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 194g/km

Specifications: Nissan X-Trail

Engine size 2.2-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£21,325

Price today Β£2995

Power 134bhp

Torque 232lb ft

0-60mph 12.4sec

Top speed 111mph

Fuel economy 37.2mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 203g/km

Specifications: Toyota RAV4

Engine size 2.2-litre turbo diesel

List price when new Β£22,815

Price today Β£5495

Power 134bhp

Torque 228lb ft

0-60mph 11.0sec

Top speed 112mph

Fuel economy 42.8mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 173g/km

Price today is for a 2006 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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