Automotive

Past Models of SUV's with Stellar Reputations

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  • Feb 20th, 2020 9:00 am
[OP]
Deal Addict
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May 26, 2006
1214 posts
222 upvotes
Toronto

Past Models of SUV's with Stellar Reputations

In the market for an SUV soon, and while I'm not completely opposed to buying brand new, I wanted to explore the second-hand market, specifically looking into certain generations of models that that are known to have a great track record of reliability and be fairly trouble-free. That said, I completely understand there are no guarantees with used vehicles.

I currently drive a 2005 BMW 330Ci, which despite the common notion that older BMW's and German cars come with a lot of maintenance and reliability headaches - this car has behaved essentially like a new car, needing nothing more than routine maintenance in my few years of ownership. I was very diligent when searching for it, ensuring I found one that was very well taken care of, and I'm sure a bit of it is luck as well. I'm hoping I can find something similar in the SUV market.

Anyway, hoping for suggestions for specific years and models to look into.

Criteria is:
1. known to have good reliability
2. good (ideally great) fuel economy
3. has some fun-to-drive factor

*2 and 3 likely contradict each other in many instances, so I might be willing to seek out a balance and give up *some* fuel efficiency for driving fun, depending on the car.

Appreciate any and all suggestions!
13 replies
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2013
2523 posts
3097 upvotes
Edmonton
What size SUV? What is your budget?

Mazda CX-5.

Toyota Venza V6 if you are ok with typical V6 fuel economy. It's like a lower version of a Highlander / raised Camry wagon with 20" wheels that is much more fun to drive and quite fast. Absolutely bullet proof. Source: I own one. If you care about active safety tech, you'd look elsewhere though.
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Mar 7, 2007
3296 posts
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Used Toyota Highlander hybrid.

I had one and it was close to mechanical perfection IMHO. It never needed anything other than oil changes.

However, the CVT transmission can put you to sleep on a long trip. Also, the doors developed significant rust (along the bottom of the door, on the inside). It didn't perforate, but it would eventually happen (I sold it).

The hybrid system had one significant recall (something called the inverter)... it was handled by Toyota Canada very professionally. They ended replacing more parts (beyond the recall). Fuel efficiency was better after the recall, it was like brand new again...

A real life fuel economy of between 9 to 9.5 lt / 100 kms... could be worse if you are heavy on the accelerator. But it was excellent compared to the competition at the time...
Deal Expert
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Jul 30, 2007
26398 posts
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Toronto
Some fun to drive ? That basically rules out 99% of SUVs
Deal Fanatic
Sep 1, 2004
5397 posts
4063 upvotes
What you are missing are:

1. Size (There is actually 5 sizes now)
2. Offroad?
3. Price
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
11278 posts
5760 upvotes
Brampton
Porsche Macan or Lambo Urus.
Deal Addict
Apr 22, 2013
2325 posts
1584 upvotes
Markham
Gmas wrote: Criteria is:
1. known to have good reliability
2. good (ideally great) fuel economy
3. has some fun-to-drive factor

*2 and 3 likely contradict each other in many instances, so I might be willing to seek out a balance and give up *some* fuel efficiency for driving fun, depending on the car.

Appreciate any and all suggestions!
#1 isn't too difficult to find as things like the RAV4 have been around for quite some time and most held up rather well. #2...not so easy because you're picking a vehicle type that is notoriously bad for this, the older it is the disproportionately crappier fuel economy is for SUVs and CUVs for that matter. New ones are way better on fuel economy than their predecessors...but that's the same case for regular cars and pickup trucks, in the case of cars they're getting incredible fuel economy today. #3, I've driven enough of these that especially on the CUV side all are pretty terrible its just a matter of how less terrible, if you're getting a body-on-frame SUV some of those can drive nice and are reliable but their fuel economy is atrocious.

What you're asking is the unicorn SUV. The one that drives like a sports car, has fuel economy of an econobox, as reliable and durable as a simple truck. That just plain doesn't exist. Frankly in your criteria is actually kind of a pick 2 or in some cases pick 1. Seems you prioritize fun to drive...Cadillac CTS wagon if you can find one. Alright reliability, so-so fuel economy but is fun to drive and has the practical wagon form factor. If you don't mind the car looking like a minivan, Mazda 5 is unexpectedly fun to drive, nothing is actually bad about it and should be extremely affordable.
Deal Guru
Jan 15, 2006
14329 posts
11470 upvotes
Richmond Hill
Bronco. It served OJ quite well.
Sr. Member
Feb 5, 2007
549 posts
100 upvotes
4Runner, bullet proof, long life and great resale down the road
Banned
Apr 27, 2019
406 posts
285 upvotes
It's a great question, and the answers are equally great here.

OP understands that newer not necessarily better as CRV with oil dilution or Hyundai engine blow-ups have shown us.

RAV4 from 2011 or 2012 is ideal because of lower control arms were fixed. 2013+ has very busy transmission and less horsepower. 2008 & before is out due to defective piston rings that can burn oil in some 4-banger engines. The V6 is highly sought after and worth paying a premium for (test drive to see).

So yes, you can pay A LOT LESS for certain SUV's and I wouldn't sneeze at an older model.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Oct 5, 2008
12661 posts
6572 upvotes
Toronto
Gmas wrote: In the market for an SUV soon, and while I'm not completely opposed to buying brand new, I wanted to explore the second-hand market, specifically looking into certain generations of models that that are known to have a great track record of reliability and be fairly trouble-free. That said, I completely understand there are no guarantees with used vehicles.

I currently drive a 2005 BMW 330Ci, which despite the common notion that older BMW's and German cars come with a lot of maintenance and reliability headaches - this car has behaved essentially like a new car, needing nothing more than routine maintenance in my few years of ownership. I was very diligent when searching for it, ensuring I found one that was very well taken care of, and I'm sure a bit of it is luck as well. I'm hoping I can find something similar in the SUV market.

Anyway, hoping for suggestions for specific years and models to look into.

Criteria is:
1. known to have good reliability
2. good (ideally great) fuel economy
3. has some fun-to-drive factor

*2 and 3 likely contradict each other in many instances, so I might be willing to seek out a balance and give up *some* fuel efficiency for driving fun, depending on the car.

Appreciate any and all suggestions!
SUV that's fun to drive and great on gas yet he doesn't post a budget.

:facepalm:

Tesla Model X P100D

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