What Car? Personal Shopper: family car for £25,000

Want a new car but don't know where to start? Just send us your criteria and we'll give our new and used car choices, and tell you how much we can save you...

Kia Sorento vs Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Hyundai Santa Fe vs Nissan X-Trail

Buying used

  • Our recommended choice: 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport
  • Price: £24,995
  • Mileage: 22,000
BMW X3 vs Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Mercedes GLC

If we accept for starters that you want is a stylish SUV and not an MPV, why not aim for a premium product? Your budget could buy a lovely Land Rover Discovery Sport, a not-too-large and unhesitatingly upmarket SUV that offers seven seats (on some of its versions) and has three useable middle-row seats.

We found a two-year-old example with a punchy 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and a full service history that will easily accommodate a family of five and still have room in its spacious boot for a dog. Alternatively, a quick flip up of the two seats in the boot and the grandparents can come along for the ride, too.

With its quick steering and refined manners, the Discovery Sport is surprisingly good to drive as well as relatively cheap to run. Make sure you choose one covered by Land Rover's excellent used car scheme, which protects cars up to five years old with a 24-month, unlimited-mileage warranty.     

Read our used Land Rover Discovery Sport review

  • Also consider: 2016 Volkswagen Touareg
  • Price: £24,995
  • Mileage: 40,000
Volkswagen Touareg

The original Volkswagen Touareg was an instant hit, and this second-generation model, launched in 2010, upped the game by being lighter, roomier and more economical. So what you get is a two-year-old, handsomely styled SUV that drives well – sharing as it does a lot of its underpinnings with the sporty Porsche Cayenne – and has a roomy  interior with stretching room for three in the rear, a highly upmarket feel and loads of goodies. The Touareg has a big boot, too, so a family of five plus a dog should find it both practical and massively comfortable.  

We found a 3.0 TDI 262 diesel model with an engine that pushes the Touraeg along at quite a lick yet shouldn't upset the bank manager too much when it comes to filling up.

Read our used Volkswagen Touareg review

  • Also consider: 2013 Porsche Cayenne 
  • Price: £24,995
  • Mileage: 50,000
Used Porsche Cayenne 10-17

While we're on the subject, why not go the whole hog and choose the Porsche Cayenne itself? Admittedly what you get is a slightly older model (think a 2013 car with average mileage for the year), but in exchange for that, you'll get an unparalleled SUV driving experience, a roomy and magnificently upmarket interior and a prestige badge that will attract the envy of all on the school run. We found a 3.0-litre diesel-engined car that gives sprightly performance as well as reasonable economy, so you can have your cake and eat it. Not cheap to run, perhaps, but what price do you put on style?