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buying advice

How to buy a great SUV on a €15k budget (and 3 to check out first)

SUVs might be large, but that doesn’t have to mean sky-high costs.

BUYERS CAN OFTEN be confused by the difference between crossovers and SUVs.

These days the line separating the two has become increasingly blurred, but generally speaking, SUVs refer to larger sized vehicles, whereas crossovers are more closely related to conventional hatchbacks in both size and (sometimes) cost.

But while SUVs are larger, that doesn’t always mean they cost a lot more. Here’s our take on some quality SUVs that you can pick up for less than €15k.

1. Honda CR-V (2007-2012)

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Honda may be better known for its smaller hatchbacks like the Civic, but the CR-V is one SUV that doesn’t always make it onto buyer’s radars. The CR-V isn’t the most exciting looking car, but its functionality more than makes up for any deficiency in kerbside appeal. It may only be a five-seater but there is plenty of room in the cabin, while the generous 556-litre boot includes a sturdy shelf that allows for useful separation of items.

Its 2.2-litre diesel is quite common and is one of the more economical engines in this segment of the market. Honda also enjoys a pretty solid reputation for reliability and the CR-V is no different, with a good track record and few mechanical gremlins to watch out for. There is also a 2.0-litre petrol version, which may suit those who cover less mileage.

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2. Lexus RX400h (2005-2009)

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Few SUVs can deliver impressive performance without sacrificing fuel economy, but the Lexus RX400h is one that manages to do both. Lexus pioneered hybrid drivetrains in its cars long before it became as popular is it is now.

One downside to its large battery is a slightly smaller boot at 439 litres and it remains a five seater but it still provides a higher driving position and decent levels of performance. The added plus to this is that despite being a larger capacity petrol engine, its hybrid system reduces fuel consumption around town thus making it more economical at the pump.

The downside is that its larger capacity engine means that you will have a higher annual motor tax bill than some other SUVs. Its hybrid system only provides electric drive at lower speeds and doesn’t require plugging in.

Reliability is one of the things Lexus is well known for, and even being a hybrid there are few common issues to look out for. The hybrid battery is a sealed unit and only the engine requires servicing.

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3. Volvo XC90 (2002-2015)

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The venerable XC90 earned Volvo many customers for life in the 13 years of its existence. It was far from cheap when it first arrived on the scene but people saw value in it, and many buyers kept and ran XC90s for much longer than the usual period of car ownership. Its good looks, roomy interior that could seat up to seven, and the underlying sense of safety that is synonymous with the Swedish car maker, made it a popular choice even if it was a costly car to keep running.

Equally expensive is the annual motor tax as the 2.4-litre D5 engine was the smallest that was available. However, the values of this model are coming down as used versions of the newer XC90 begin to come onto the market. If you’re willing to swallow the higher-than-average running costs the XC90 makes for a solid SUV that should keep going for many more years.

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More: Keen driver with a €12k budget? Here are 4 of the most exciting cars you can buy>

More: Need a seven-seater and change from €20k? Here are 5 you should see>

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