If you need something roomy and it has to be an SUV but you don’t want to blow the budget completely, then this list is for you. Here are the Top 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k.

AT UNDER $45,000 size might not be everything. But chances are if you’re spending beyond that price, space could be the final frontier – your family is big, and you want a seven-seater with a massive interior to match. Helping you shortlist vehicles which fit that bill we’ve compiled an updated list of five consummate all-rounders.

In short, you won’t do better than with one of these 5.0-metre-long family cars.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite – $54,000 plus on-road costs

Think of the latest Santa Fe as a slicker Kia Sorento. It trades a bit of lounge-chair cushiness and quiet homeliness for a more fashionable and sportier charm. It uses the same diesel engine and eight-speed automatic as the in the Kia, as well as packing broadly similar equipment.

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

It’s a similar size, too, which given the popularity of the previous-generation means plenty of Aussies like the sound of that. This is more than a 5+2-seater but less than the gargantuan CX-9 (or Toyota Kluger, to be sure).

There’s plenty of goodies at this level, such as leather, powered front seats, Infinity premium audio, adaptive cruise control and more, though sadly no heated seats. For $55K!

Servicing is a simple $1197 to three years or 45,000km – unsurprisingly, little different from the Kia that uses the same engine/auto.

Skoda Kodiaq 132 TSI AWD Sportline – $51,490 plus on-road costs

Something with a European flavour that won’t completely break the bank, Skoda’s capacious Kodiaq offers plenty of room for a family and the Sportline adds some bling if posing on High Street is your thing. Think 20-inch alloy wheels and blacked-out body parts.

It’s a clever layout inside, with sliding seats and plenty of legroom plus the Czech brand’s hallmark hidden secrets, like umbrellas that pop out of the front doors to save you on a rainy day, an LED torch tucked away in the boot and little bins integrated into the front doors. Those are pretty great when the kids are making a mess on a long trip. 

It also carries a five-star ANCAP safety rating, with AEB, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control standard equipment.

The drivetrain is energetic enough, motivated by a 2,0-litre turbo four producing 132kW and 320Nm, and everything is backed by Skoda’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing intervals are every 15,000km or 12 months, and the first five years’ of servicing can be prepaid for $2100.

Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD – $55,390 plus on-road costs

Forget looking at an Audi Q7 or Mercedes-Benz GLE. We can tell you right now that the smooth and quiet 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the CX-9 Touring bests them both, especially when allied with a plusher ride and tighter build quality, not to mention better value.

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

This Mazda large SUV is big but not huge, plush but not palatial. Its downsides are few, and they include a lack of third-row headroom for taller teens, a lack of rear-row air vents and a sloping tailgate that can affect boot volume somewhat. But that’s really about it.

Choose the all-wheel drive (AWD) because it drives better than the front-wheel drive version, even if it costs $4000 more. The Touring is also the sweet spot in the range, with equipment such as leather and heated and electrically adjustable front seats for under $60,000.

It comes with Mazda’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and asks $1048 in servicing to three years or 40,000km (with intervals every year or 10,000km). 

Kia Sorento SLi AWD – $50,490 plus on-road costs

One of the eldest models on this list, the Kia Sorrento will be soon replaced with an all-new generation. And that means Kia is offering tremendous value on this great all-rounder. For a start, this 2.2-litre turbo-diesel mid-to-high-spec model is $3500 cheaper than the equivalent Santa Fe sibling, while you also get two extra years of warranty coverage at seven years or unlimited kilometres.

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

This SLi AWD also has nicer interior quality, and its ride quality is smoother and suppler than the Hyundai – far more in tune with family priorities than its overly firm home-town rival. It isn’t quite a sharp, flat-handling, dynamic large SUV like the Elite is, but what one must question what is it exactly a family needs from a large SUV?

The Kia gets rear-seat air vents and is brilliantly packaged, despite being somewhere below the CX-9 in size. Many will find that just fine, plus you get all the benefits of diesel economy.

Even $1240 servicing to three years or 45,000km is competitive in this class.

Toyota Kluger GXL AWD – $58,950 plus on-road costs

We were going to put the Holden Acadia LTZ AWD in here, but three out of three tested press vehicles had build quality issues – something Toyota would never accept.

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

This Kluger GXL must be had as an all-wheel drive, not front-drive model, because the latter is hairy given all the power on tap. There’s nothing sophisticated about this large SUV, with a firm ride and flabby steering, while the 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine is brilliant but thirsty.

What every Kluger excels at is space and storage. This is the biggest interior of the above five, with a huge third-row with air vents, and a big boot. There is an unrivalled number of spots to store things up front, while the GXL gets kit such as leather trim. At the time of writing it’s also on sale for $60,093 driveaway (3000, Victoria) with Toyota’s five-year warranty…

Servicing is sadly every six months or 10,000km, but the first four are a cheap $180 each.


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The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.

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