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Top 5 Best Large SUVs under $45k

With SUVs there’s often crossover between medium and large on buyer’s shopping lists . Here we list the top 5 best large SUVs under $45k.

SIZE sometimes isn’t everything. Occasionally you need smarts, and smarts are often done with a ‘less is more’ mindset. Not everyone who needs seven seats wants a bloated behemoth, and not every family has more than $45,000 to spend.

Here we sample the best value, most frugal seven-seat ‘large’ SUV models around, although technically some are medium. Don’t worry, we have size covered here too. Just be prepared to lose some equipment and efficiency for the privilege at this price point.

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Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 110TSI Comfortline – $40,490+ORC

The Tiguan Allspace 110TSI Comfortline wins this section for purely pragmatic reasons. Not only is it $2500 cheaper than most of the below rivals, but it is virtually just as well-equipped, uses only front-wheel drive, and that means its seemingly too-small 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder engine can do really great work without taxing you at the petrol bowser.

Top 5 Best SUVs under $45k

As seven seaters go, the Volkswagen is at the 5+2 end of the spectrum. The third row is for kids only, but for under $45K that’s the reality for all except the Holden Acadia below. At least there’s great packaging, with a 230L boot volume with all seats in place competitive with larger and heavier rivals.

Plus, you get a sliding centre bench with tray tables and air vents, tri-zone climate control, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, automatic on/off LED-headlights and wipers, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology and more, along with fuel consumption of just 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres…

Servicing? Standard annual or 15,000km intervals costing $1304 to three years or 45,000km, backed by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI 4×4 – $42,990+ORC

The Kodiaq 132TSI 4×4 is bigger and better than its Volkswagen sibling above, but perhaps not worth $2500 extra. It’s all-wheel drive, which is great if you need all-weather traction, but it’s 90kg heavier than the Tiguan, dulling the benefits of its 1.8L turbo engine – which claims 7.6L/100km, a litre of petrol more than above.

Top 5 Best SUVs under $45k

Okay, so you get adaptive cruise control thrown in here, too, as well as a slightly more legroom in each row and a 270L boot when all seats are in use – up 40L on the above rival. Yet you also trade tri-zone climate control for dual-zone; pay Peter, take from Paul.

With both Skoda and Volkswagen offering five-year, unlimited kilometre warranties, what we’re now talking about is degrees of difference – spend on Kodiaq and get more traction and marginally more space, or save on Tiguan then have money to spare on luxury options…

Servicing, meanwhile, is an even more affordable $950 to three years or 45,000km.

Peugeot 5008 Allure – $45,490+ORC

It’s outside our budget by $500, but there are deals to be had at Peugeot, so best ignore the list here. And you get adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitor standard, where they are optional on Tiguan.

Top 5 Best SUVs under $45k

The 5008 Allure is where French designer-chic meets pragmatism. Each side of the third row of seats can fold or come out of the car, making for 780L of space – 80L more than Tiguan. Meanwhile up front its dash and dials are sleeker than those in the VW or Skoda, and part-leather trim is much nicer.

Other than a higher price, where the Pug falls just short is in areas of ride and refinement, which are good but not great, while its 1.6L turbo and auto combo aren’t quite as polished as those in the above. It uses 7.0L/100km too, despite being front-wheel drive. Even so, some will overlook that for the Allure of this admirably spacious and stylish seven seater.

Servicing might seem costlier at $1722 to three years, but 20,000km intervals mean you can travel 60,000km over that time – whereas the above rivals will need another paid check-up.

Kia Sorento Si – $42,990+ORC

The Sorento Si strikes a brilliant balance between the smaller, efficient, lighter contenders above, and the bigger and heavier Acadia below. The Kia’s interior is the best of this five, with a superb mix of quality and space. Unlike the above, it’ll even give third-row riders air vents and fan control, while adults can fit more easily back there than the top duo.

Top 5 Best SUVs under $45k

For medium-sized families, this is the one to buy. The Si is well equipped inside despite being a base model, with only the likes of an electric tailgate and keyless auto-entry missing compared with the above contenders.

The Sorento steers and rides beautifully, and is backed by a seven-year warranty plus $998 servicing to three years or 45,000km.

The only real caveat is a heavy kerb weight that further affects the already thirsty 3.5L V6. It’s a sweet petrol engine that delivers great performance, but being only front-wheel drive it struggles to get its power down, which isn’t helped by poor tyres. And at a claimed 10.0L/100km it’s officially 34 per cent thirstier than the Volkswagen, affecting its place here.

Holden Acadia LT – $43,490+ORC

If the Acadia LT had the fit-and-finish of the Sorento Si, and its 3.6L V6 had the refinement of the Kia, it would win here.

For sheer space for nix, as in proper three-row room backed by air vents in each row and a big boot, then the Holden bests its similarly big Toyota Kluger and Nissan Pathfinder size-rivals, while undercutting a Mazda CX-9 on price.

Top 5 Best SUVs under $45k

Not only is the cabin big, but it’s well equipped and the seats are as comfortable as the superb ride quality. Add in slick steering and a terrific touchscreen, and it’s a winner. Well, almost. The V6 can easily push out its 8.9L/100km claim, the auto is flawed, and the front-wheel drive layout has even less chance of putting its power down than the above Kia does.

The all-wheel drive costs $4000 more, yet it’s a must-have and should be standard – so bargain hard. Or you can save on the fact that servicing costs just $817 to three years or 36,000km (as the intervals are annual or 12,000km, shorter than the others… though even going to four years or 48,000km costs $1176…)


Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi