What Car? Personal Shopper: Best family SUV for £35,000

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New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

Buying used

  • Our recommended choice: 2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI 190 quattro S line
  • Price: £34,900
  • Mileage: 8000
Audi Q5

Think big, and don’t sweat the small stuff. For this kind of dosh, we can look up a class from the XC40 and Q3 and X1, and get something that’s bigger and better and only a year old, and barely run in. Take this Q5, for one.

Why settle for that Q3 when you can have this even bigger and plusher Q5? This 2018 version is as new, with a mere 5000 miles on the clock. It’s got the powerful 2.0 TDI 190 diesel engine under the bonnet – good for seeing off the 0-62mph dash in just 7.9sec, which once upon a time was supercar performance – and yet this remarkably refined and immensely practical cruiser will also return an official average fuel consumption of 55.4mpg.

It’s quattro, too, so gets four-wheel drive for added security in poorer weather conditions, and the S line trim adds a sporty note to proceedings. It’s also fully loaded with equipment, and the classy interior’s a work of art. A new one would set you back £42,500, so it’s a used car bargain, because it’s a healthy saving on the new price. 

View this car in the What Car? classifieds, or read our used Audi Q5 review

  • Also consider: 2018 BMW X3 20d xDrive M Sport
  • Price: £34,000
  • Mileage: 8000

For all that we’ve said about stepping up from the Audi Q3 to the Q5, consider the same for the BMW X1 and the X3. What you’re getting is a more premium car for your money, and barely any sacrifice in age or condition.

There’s more interior space in the X3, and the feel is definitely more opulent on the school run. This 2018 model we’ve found comes with a 2.0-litre diesel that thumps out a welcome 188bhp, enough to propel this SUV from 0-62mph in eight seconds and still return an official 51.4mpg. Like the Audi, it’s four-wheel drive, too. It’s smooth, thanks to a seamless eight-speed automatic transmission, and spacious, and comes with a superb iDrive infotainment system.

View this car in the What Car? classifieds or read our used BMW X3 review

  • Also consider: 2018 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design
  • Price: £34,000
  • Mileage: 9600
Volvo XC60

In its first generation this was Europe’s best-selling premium SUV, and this second-generation car ups the ante by being even more desirable, much better to drive and a whole lot more refined to be in.

It’s large inside, too, and its comfortable and stylish interior is a Scandi-cool delight. There’s a huge iPad-style central infotainment system, which looks superb, even if in practice it’s not quite as straightforward to use as the more conventional Audi and BMW set-ups. Overall, though, the XC60 is nearly as quick and practically as economical as those two rivals, and if you’re looking for practicality and elegance at this age and price level, look no further.