Top 3 used luxury SUVs for £35,000
“Dear Carbuyer, I want a used luxury SUV for my next family car. What do you recommend for a budget of £35,000?”
Since the very first examples started hitting the road more than 20 years ago, the luxury SUV has firmly established itself as a popular choice with UK buyers, who are increasingly choosing premium high-riding models over luxury saloon and estates.
Most luxury SUVs share platforms, engines and gearboxes with a saloon and estate model. This means you get a wide choice of engines to suit a variety of budgets, with affordable running costs and fuel economy.
Most are equipped with a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox and offer a cosseting driving experience combined with punchy performance and a commanding view of the road ahead. Nearly all have four-wheel drive, offering security on road and enough capability for occasional, light expeditions off it.
As you’d expect of expensive premium models, nearly every luxury SUV model is well equipped, with features such as leather upholstery, climate control, sat nav, heated and massaging seats, a premium stereo system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They also have an array of safety tech, with front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree view camera, parking assistance and automatic emergency braking (AEB) often all offered as standard .
They’re also practical too, with a big enough boot for most requirements and ample interior space that makes longer journeys comfortable.
Our reader has a budget of £35,000 for a luxury SUV with enough space for a family. Every one of our picks has an upmarket interior, powerful engines and is decent to drive.
Audi Q5: the sleek choice
- For: Classy cabin, easy to live with, digital dash display
- Against: Least exciting car of the three to drive
Mainstream Audi models typically prioritise technology and cabin design over outright driving dynamics, and this is the case with the Audi Q5, which is the least involving car here to drive. It’s by no means compromised, but the X3 and F-Pace are more rewarding from behind the wheel. The Q5’s well built cabin is less dour than the X3’s, though.
Your budget nets a 2020 242bhp 45 TFSI Q5 with 4,000 miles on the clock or, if you’d prefer diesel power, a 187bhp 40 TDI diesel of comparable age and mileage.
The Q5’s cabin is one of its key selling points. Although the BMW’s is slightly better built, the Audi’s interior contains more thoughtfully chosen materials, and the technology – including the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital dashboard – impresses.
Neutral, predictable and ever so slightly dull, there is nothing to dislike about the way the Q5 drives, but nor is there anything here to quicken the pulse. And, while Audi’s reputation for harsh-riding cars has softened over the years, the Q5 can still be a bit crashy when fitted with larger alloys
See the latest prices for used Audi Q5 models on our sister site Buyacar.
BMW X3: the rounded choice
- For: Rides well, solid interior, excellent iDrive system
- Against: Not the most elegant car, myriad options
Blending practicality, performance, technology and decent fuel economy, the BMW X3 does almost everything. It may not be quite as sharp to look at or to drive as the F-Pace, but its cabin and infotainment are superior.
The 20d with its 190bhp 2.0-litre diesel is by far the most common model, and £35,000 gets a 2020 1,000- mile example. The 265bhp 30d brings more poke, should you need it, while the petrol 192bhp 2.0-litre 20i and the rapid six-cylinder, 355bhp M40i are both within budget.
With a sense of solidity so great it almost feels hewn from rock, the X3’s interior is impressive. The iDrive infotainment, meanwhile, is one of the best in the business, although some may find the rim of the M Sport steering wheel too thick.
It was once the case that BMW’s appeal centred around the engaging driving experience its cars offered and, while that’s still the case up to a point, the X3 is outclassed by some rivals in this area. It’s still enjoyable to drive, though, and the ride quality is good, so it occupies a happy middle ground here.
See the latest prices for used BMW X3 models on our sister site Buyacar.
Jaguar F-Pace: the driver’s choice
- For: Fantastic handling, handsome looks, large boot
- Against: Cabin and infotainment lag behind rivals’
Even the most die-hard SUV cynic would struggle to call the Jaguar F-Pace anything but handsome, and it looks as fresh today as it did when it was unveiled in 2017. Plus, while it’s by no means perfect, the Jaguar has enough talents to make it an attractive premium family SUV.
This budget nets a 2017, 17,000-mile 355bhp 3.0-litre S petrol, or a 2018 296bhp V6 diesel. If you’d like a 2.0-litre F-Pace, a 2020 177bhp diesel with 4,000 miles, or a 2019, 12,000-mile 247bhp petrol, are both within reach.
The Jag’s cabin is by no means unpleasant in any way, but the German competition is mighty tough, and the F-Pace’s design, materials and infotainment are slightly off the pace. Its 650-litre boot is 100 litres up on both the Audi’s and BMW’s, though.
Composed on the motorway (the 3.0-litre engines are the most refined), the F-Pace really comes into its own on smaller roads, where the sharp steering and excellent balance of ride and handling combine to make it the best car of these three to drive. The standard torque converter gearbox is smooth, too.
See the latest prices for used Jaguar F-Pace models on our sister site Buyacar.
Carbuyer’s choice, as picked by deputy editor Ben Hodges
While all of our picks are excellent, my choice would be the Jaguar F-Pace. Of the three, it’s the best to drive, is available with a great range of engines and has a fantastic, high-quality luxury interior.
The big Jag is also the easiest to live with, thanks to a very refined driving experience, plenty of space for the family and a vast boot. Its more powerful engines give it performance similar to a hot hatch and it’s generally a bit cheaper to buy than the Audi or BMW, which helped make it my winner.
Read our top 10 picks for the best luxury cars you can buy today.