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buying advice

€25k to spend? Here are the best SUVs for your money

How to buy big wheels on a budget.

DEMAND AND CHOICE in the SUV market has never been higher, but with that also comes a great selection of used models that can represent good value for money.

Here’s a look at some of the best models you should consider, including some left-field choices.

1. Hyundai Tucson (2015 onwards)

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The latest-generation Hyundai Tucson has been one of the bestselling cars in Ireland since its introduction in 2015. It was the successor to the popular ix35, but when Hyundai revived the Tucson name it also stepped up its design and quality a notch, too.

The styling that includes a larger front grille and sleeker headlights gives the Tucson the appearance of being bigger than it actually is – something many SUV buyers crave.

Most models that are for sale are the 1.7-litre diesel with front-wheel drive. This engine produces sufficient amounts of power for its size, and on longer runs should return good fuel economy. It drives well on Irish roads and remains practical for everyday commuting. Regarding specification, the best value is in ‘Executive’ models, which included sat nav, reversing camera, 8-inch touchscreen as well as 17-inch alloy wheels and cruise control.

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2. Dacia Duster (2012 onwards)

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The Dacia Duster might not be the most desirable nor coolest to be seen at the school gates, but hear us out – because it’s one of the best-value SUVs you can buy. Its looks certainly are more utilitarian than some other, more polished models that are for sale, but not everyone wants soft-touch fabrics and chrome window surrounds.

Higher-spec Dusters do come reasonably well-equipped, and it’s worth remembering that its diesel engine also features in other Renault and Nissan models. Most versions come with front-wheel drive, but you can have all-wheel drive if you wish.

Look past the cheap plastics, and you’ll discover an SUV that drives well and feels very at home on the urban commute – though it can hold its own on the motorway, albeit in a less refined fashion than some of its more expensive rivals. If you simply need a car and aren’t a badge snob, you’ll probably love the Duster.

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3. Skoda Yeti (2009 – 2017)

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Its looks may be best described as polarising, but there’s far more to the Skoda Yeti than meets the eye. By today’s standards, it is a somewhat unconventional-looking SUV, but it fits the category nonetheless. That boxy design gives it an enormous amount of space inside given its relatively compact exterior dimensions, while its raised ride height gives you an improved view of the road and makes access easier.

The Yeti still drives very much like a car, and it comes with a variety of petrol and diesel engines, including a range-topping 2.0-litre TDI with all-wheel drive. Models from 2014 onwards got revised exterior looks with single-unit headlights, but little else changed. The ‘Outdoor’ spec added a more rugged look while ‘Greenline’ models had more economical engines. This year will be the last of Yeti production, as it is being replaced by the Karoq, so keep an eye on prices.

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4. Volvo XC60 (2008 onwards)

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The Volvo XC60 has been on sale since 2008, and while newer models may still command big money, the design remained virtually unchanged throughout its lifecycle, so opting for an older version won’t leave you short-changed. Its conservative styling has given it real longevity and prevented it from becoming dated.

As you might expect from a Volvo, it is one of the safest SUVs on the market with numerous safety systems. It feels as well-built as any other premium SUV on the market. Underneath the stylish bodywork lies an impressive chassis that won’t be too challenged even on Ireland’s worst roads. All-wheel-drive models add to this, but if you’re sticking to the black stuff the front-wheel drive XC60 will serve you perfectly.

Generally, the build quality is excellent, especially the interior – many examples have been specified with leather upholstery, so it’s worth holding out for the right higher-grade model if you can. While more recent models remain expensive, this could soon change as there is an all-new XC60 arriving in mid-2017.

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More: €8k to spend? Here are 5 of the best family hatchbacks out there>