Car's in the shop again... SUV options under 30k?

Hey gang

My Subaru Outback is in the shop… again… 2k worth of repairs this time.

Kind of making me want to just go get a whitegoods car and never have to worry about it. I don't drive enough (literally just for holidays and visiting family) to warrant a car that needs the occasional major repair. I want servicing only. What can I get that won't break? I've considered a diesel Forester or Outback but having had two Subarus with clutch issues I'm a little concerned now…

Suggestions for the following:

  • Diesel
  • 4WD
  • Manual or auto, not fussed
  • More ground clearance than say a Mazda Cx5 or something, but I don't need Landcruiser/Land Rover offroading ability - just light trails and snow.
  • New ish
  • Very reliable - I don't want to have to do anything other than routine maintenance.
  • Not heaps fussed on style (duh, I have an Outback)
  • More comfortable than an old Hilux, but don't need luxury.

Let me hear your thoughts!


    • When I said SUV I kind of meant 4WD haha.

      It's not necessarily that I need to go visit all these places the Outback couldn't handle, just I'd like the ability to. You write those things off your bucket list if you can't, so ya know.

      The Mitsi Pajero Sport and the MUX seem to get about 8L/100km which is about what my Subaru gets (when it's running) whereas the Klugers are more like 10-11L/100km from memory.

      • +1

        Yeah agreed, I was debating whether I went SUV or 4WD but ended up going 4WD for that very reason.

        Coincidentally I bought a Pajero Sport about 3 months ago, but my fuel consumption doesn't match that claim. I averaged 9.5l/100 km on my last tank of fuel (585 km to 55 litres). About 3/4 of that was strictly motorway, mostly with the cruise control set to 117km/h (works out to 111km/h on GPS). I think that's bloody fantastic for a car of it's size and aerodynamics, but it's not that much less than what my dad's petrol Ford Territory will get on the highway either.

        It's a great car by the way (if you were considering one). I test drove the MU-X back to back and it wasn't a bad car in its own right, but aside from the ride (the MU-X was a bit more plush on the rough stuff), I thought the Pajero Sport was better in every way, had more features, and was similarly priced.

        • From my reading I am on exactly the same page as you. MUX seems great but utilitarian, I love the truck engine aspect.

          Which model Pajero Sport did you get? Anytbing you hate or love about it? Would you get a different model if you chose again? Pretty strongly considering trying both MUX and Pajero, but maybe get another 9mo out of the Subaru first now that I've spent 2.5k fixing it…

          • +2

            @DisabledUser220804: I have a 2018 GLS, which is the mid spec model. It's the mid year update so it picks up autonomous cruise control, AEB and a couple of other bits and pieces which weren't in place before. Feels pretty luxurious for its price - it includes LED headlights, a very comfy set of leather seats, rear diff lock, Android Auto (and Apple Carplay) etc. I didn't think the upgrade to the top of the range model (Exceed) was worth it. In addition to the features and the premium feel, it's a pretty nice car to drive. Doesn't seem to be any major reliability issues according to user groups on Facebook. Factory bash plates are weak as piss but that's an easy fix. I sit close to the steering wheel and am 6'3" and I find getting in and out a little awkward, but otherwise I don't have anything to complain about. Haven't given it a serious run off road yet but for what I use it for, I'm not worried about its capabilities.

            I'm very happy with my PS. I'd buy it again, and I'd get the GLS again too. I test drove the MU-X (not a bad car, but very basic compared to the PS) and regular Pajero (felt even more dated than the MU-X, and was quite noisy because of the monocoque construction). I ruled out a Prado (too slow and too expensive) and Fortuner (same engine as Prado, hence too slow) after an extended hire of a Prado a year ago. So that pretty much left me with the PS.

            • +1

              @redvaldez: Thanks for answering! Great feedback :) I'll keep it in mind.

  • +1

    diesel are noisy and not worth the initial cost unless you're driving 500km per week.

  • +1

    If your after reliability cant go wrong with a Toyota or Nissan. I'd go with a second hand diesel Prado, can pickup a decent model under 30k

    • +2

      According to Choice, CRI and Dashboard light:

      For Compact SUVs Toyota or Mazda.
      For Mid size SUVs Toyota or Honda.
      For Large size SUVs Toyota.

      Basically, as beti_jet stated, purchase a Toyota for reliability.

      Also, If purchasing a second hand car perform a PPSR.

      PPSR is a report that provides car history including if it has been written off and the payments still owing.

      Choice Lemon car report:
      Car reliability index (CRI):
      Dashboard Light:
      PPSR ($2):

      • Thank you. Finally someone comes up with evidence rather than personal experience.

  • I don't need Landcruiser/Land Rover offroading ability - just light trails and snow

    Why not?? Wouldn't you like to have at least the option?

    • Sure but I'm not going to die on that hill. I could get a troopy and be set for life but it wouldn't be comfortable or nice on the highway.

  • Had a Subaru Forestor which had heaps of turbo issues @ $2k a pop. Other than that it was a great car, but I wouldnt get another one as it was just too many major repairs. Obviously this is just my personal expereince and every car will have issues at some point.

  • I might get burnt for suggesting this, but if you don't drive that often, and only need it once in a while, would you consider renting?
    Obviously no need to worry about maintenance.
    Cheaper short and long term… IMHO.

    EDIT: as long as you don't trash it :)

    • Not a bad suggestion in terms of money, but as I said to someone else I'd really rather own.

  • +1

    Few coallegues around are screaming how wonderful their Isuzu MU-X.
    Assuming that they are not paid by Isuzu, can be considered as some sort of a genuine feedback.

  • What year is your Outback; have you always had it serviced on time?

    The repairs seem excessive for a Suby; my MY15 Forester is rock solid but I understand it's still new.

      1. Good service history.

      $2.5k worth of clutch and ignition repairs right now.

  • +3

    Stay away from diesel! Dpf issues galore. Especially with euro6 compliance. It’s why most manufacturers are dropping diesel.

    • I agree. Have owned three manual diesels. Tiguan was a great car but had DPF issues. Thousands of dollars in repairs (fortunately under warranty). Then had a Kia Sorento which didn't have any issues, but it didn't have a DPF. Current vehicle is a MY15 Forester which has had loads of DPF and other exhaust issues.

  • +2

    sportage… ? 7yrs warranty, 7 yrs fixed price servicing … can't beat that I guess if you are looking for reliability and fixed out of pocket costs.. can get the Si Premium for ~$29k driveaway

    • 2WD tho and no ground clearance!

  • +1

    I had a diesel Kia Sportage and loved it. The diesels only came in AWD. You can definitely get a 2014-2015 model in the "platinum" grade for under $30k and they come with all the nice stuff like dual panoramic sunroof, leather seats, keyless entry and push button start. They came with 5 year warranty and capped price servicing.

  • quick tip on automatic transmission, if the car is CVT and its not a Toyota, don't buy it. Absolute trash even the Honda especially Nissan CVT. But yeah seems like you have the typical gear box issue with Subaru, I wouldn't get any Nissan that are from 2000s onwards their quality is bad now, same with Mitsubishi with their auto. For Standard auto Transmission I'd get Honda/Mazda/Toyota.

  • +1

    Volvo XC60 D5.

  • Get a second hand Ford Territory, can get top of the range and only a few yrs old for under that price pretty easily

  • 2016-2019 Holden Captiva

    Generally positive reviews. Apparently the Diesel engine is quite noisy, even in the cabin, but seems expected for any diesel engine.

  • +1

    Suzuki Ignis,

    Small, economoical, very cheap, but jap quality

    Also floor height is higher than some SUVs

  • Get yourself a BRAND NEW 4WD diesel for $24,990 driveaway

  • +1

    mitsi outlander is ths answer

    • Not much of an off-roader though, are they?

  • Why are you after a suv? If it’s just space, consider large saloons like Mazda 6 and Camry. You will save heaps on the purchase price and fuel

    • Because Mazda 6 and Camry don't have that much space. I need 4wd and ground clearance anyway.

  • Have you considered the Mitsubishi Pajero 2 doors SWB DiD?

    • Aren't they quite old now?

      • You're correct they're old. The last time Mitsubishi Australia sell them was back in 2009 - I bought the second last Pajero NT X DiD 3.2L they had new in stock back then for work and it was excellent for both on and off road. Did over 120,000km within a year and never missed a beat. Fuel economy & power to weight ratio was excellent compared to the 4 doors Pajero as it's about 400-500kg lighter. Regretfully I traded it in for the 4 doors version due to growing family and missed it ever since.

        You'd be lucky if you can find the 2 doors Pajero NT X DiD 3.2L second hand as they're excellent on & off-road so owners rarely let go of them. If you could find a good one now I think they'd be between $18k to $25k max.

        Some photos of it in the wild

  • +1

    RAV4 if you can stretch your budget. Will keep its value well.

  • Dont get turbo.very expensive to fix and expensive to maintain. Assuming your mechanic does it right
    Dont get any transmission othr than auto or manual. Eg cvt
    Good video at

    The simplier the engine the more reliable and less to repair.
    Get fixed price servicing.
    Ive had my hyundai tuscon for 3 years no problems.

    • God damn I can’t stand that guy. He’s such a (profanity) and his views are very often blatantly wrong.

      • The simplier the engine the more reliable and less to repair.

        Absolutely. By a kombi, or any Holden with a 186 and a 3 speed.

        And yes, ‘autoexpert’ Is a tool with opinions developed by dinosaurs.

  • +1

    Any brand really, as long as its the correct size you are looking for, with at least 5 years warranty and some free services/capped services. The trade-in 2nd hand prices generally all suck and no brands hold their value like they used to.