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Top 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

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 $45K 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. Introducing our top picks, specialising in various areas here and there that may be best applicable to you.

Of the below top 5 large SUVs over $45K we have one that takes down premium contenders by feeling genuinely luxurious, one that is efficient and superb value, a couple that are consummate all-rounders, and a final contender with unrivalled third-row stretching space.

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

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Mazda CX-9 Touring AWD – $55,390+ORC

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, 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, heated and electrically adjustable front seats all for under $60K.

All Mazdas now offer a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, while this one asks $1048 in servicing to three years or 40,000km (with intervals every year or 10,000km). And if the CX-9 is too big or costly, then best see below…

Mazda CX-8 Sport AWD – $46,490+ORC

Meet the narrower, littler brother to the CX-9 – the Mazda CX-8. In base Sport spec for well under $50K it still comes loaded to the hilt with features, while the thirstier turbo-petrol engine of its larger sibling is swapped out for an efficient 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder.

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

Build quality is superb, the interior is beautifully finished and comfortable, while you’ll notice only a slight reduction in third-row room and boot space compared with the above Mazda. On the upside though, it’s about $10K cheaper, so call it the pragmatic option.

Where the CX-8 is let down is in terms of its model line-up. There’s this Sport, then a huge stretch to the top of the range model at over $60K. And that allows the below two South Korean rivals to slip through and make fiercer competitors.

Servicing is similar at $1037 to three years/40,000km, but otherwise, here, it’s base or bust.

Kia Sorento SLi AWD – $50,490+ORC

The older Sorento just beats its newer Santa Fe cousin – both hail from Hyundai/Kia, owned by the same South Korean conglomerate – for two good reasons. For a start, its equivalent 2.2-litre turbo-diesel mid-to-high-spec model is $3500 cheaper, 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 – 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 below Elite is, but, hello, priorities people!

The Kia gets rear-seat air vents, and is brilliantly packaged, despite being somewhere between the CX-8 and 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.

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite – $54,000+ORC

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

TOP 5 Best Large SUVs over $45k

Similar size, too, which given the popularity of the previous-generation means that 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.

Toyota Kluger GXL AWD – $58,950+ORC

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 a 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 are 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 $57,990 driveaway with Toyota’s new 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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Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi