JOHANNESBURG - The SUV market has been the biggest in the automotive world since 2015. 

In South Africa in 2018 there were a staggering 88 different models on the local market classified by NAAMSA as SUVs.

The range here now stretches from compact entry level to super luxury - from a Mahindra to a Bentley - as manufacturers of all kinds have entered the space, attracted by the higher margins they can get compared to routine passenger vehicles.

SUV as a term has only gained popularity in the last twenty years or so, prior to that we called them 4x4’s or station wagons or by a brand name like Jeep or Land Rover. And the exact definition of an SUV is contested but usually means a family-sized vehicle with some degree of off-road capability through raised ground clearance and the availability of 4-wheel or all-wheel drive. Bakkies are in a different category.

The appeal of SUVs for South Africans is clear. They offer a perception of safety, can handle our poorer road surfaces and deliver the prospect of some wilderness exploration (even if many of them will only be Sandton Tractors for the school run and shopping).

One downside of SUVs is heavy fuel consumption but that has got better with new models. The other is price. They can be costly but entry-level SUVs are all the rage and through smart pre-owned buying it’s possible to get a good SUV for well under R330,000.

In this category, the 2016 Mazda CX5 2.0 Active was the winner in the pre-owned awards last year. The judges believed it held its resale value best, had low running costs and offered excellent performance. Currently, you can find Mazda CX5s on Gumtree, Drive360 and other online marketplaces with mileage below 90 thousand kilometres for around R259 000 or less. Provided they stand up to inspection, that’s incredibly good value.

The runner-up in our awards in this category was the 2016 Toyota RAV4 2.0 GX, with the Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite, the Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium and the Nissan X-Trail 1.6dCi XE (T32) also listed as finalists. All of those vehicles, in good condition with low mileage, offer a great buy.

With smart searching and due diligence, it’s very possible to get your family into an SUV and off road at a reasonable price.

IOL MOTORING