Holden Equinox
Holden Equinox

Best mid-size SUV options for on-road driving

A READER has up to $40K to spend on a medium SUV. He won't tow or go off-road. We check the shortlist.


My wife and I are in our 70s and are considering an SUV. We have looked at and test driven some of them. However, the more we look, the more confused we become. We are prepared to spend $40,000 and have narrowed it down to the Holden Equinox, Nissan X-Trail, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. Our preference at this stage is the Holden. We don't need to tow a caravan or boat and travel mostly on sealed roads over long distances. What are the pluses and minuses?



With most of the cars you selected, you don't need to spend $40,000. The dearer models have big wheels with low-profile tyres that are not as smooth over bumps and are noisier on the open road. You also get a lot of standard equipment in lower grades these days.


Holden Equinox LS Plus, $31,990 drive-away

Holden Equinox LS (2018). Picture: Supplied.
Holden Equinox LS (2018). Picture: Supplied.

The Equinox is massively underrated and the LS Plus is the pick of the range. It has a super efficient 1.5-litre turbo matched to a six-speed auto, which is surprisingly zippy yet frugal and can run on regular unleaded. Its full suite of safety tech includes autonomous emergency braking (it can prevent a crash at low speeds and mitigate a crash at freeway speeds), blind zone warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assistance that can be turned off, dusk sensing headlights and electric park brake. Its five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and low running costs sweeten the deal.

Nissan X-Trail ST $28,990 drive-away

Supplied Cars Nissan X-Trail Ti
Supplied Cars Nissan X-Trail Ti

The X-Trail's pricing is all over the place. The base ST is excellent value - down from $34,400 drive-away - because Nissan is overstocked on that version. The next model up in the range, the ST-L, is $40,675 drive-away (there is wriggle room of a few thousands dollars but dealers tell us the price is not likely to limbo to $33,000, as it should be given the discount on the ST). The X-Trail drives well and is available with a five-year warranty as a special deal. But the base model lacks the standard safety aids of the Equinox. The ST-L comes close to the Equinox on equipment but is $8000 dearer.

Kia Sportage Si Premium $31,990 drive-away

MY19 Kia Sportage
MY19 Kia Sportage

This grade is the pick of the Sportage range, with decent standard safety kit including AEB and lane keeping assistance, but it lacks the blind spot assistance and rear cross-traffic alert that are standard in the Equinox for the same money. Pluses: it is one of the few with a full-size spare and the only one with a seven-year factory warranty.


Hyundai Tucson Active X $32,990 drive-away

Hyundai Tucson 2018
Hyundai Tucson 2018

As with the Sportage, the Tucson has just been updated. AEB is optional on the cheaper versions where the prices are sharp. Add the relatively affordable but comprehensive 'SmartSense' safety pack ($2200) and you revert to full retail pricing - the well-equipped Active X leaps to $40,000 drive-away. Dealers can't drop it to $35,000 drive-away because the factory is funding the discount. Five-year warranty, low service costs and full-size spare add to its appeal but price weighs against it.


The Equinox LS Plus is my current pick among SUVs at this price point. It has the most standard equipment for the money plus a decent warranty - and it's good drive.

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