A Sedan or a SUV?

I am in the market for a car. My budget is $20k-$25k. I just can't decide if I should get a sedan or an SUV. If a SUV, should I pay extra to get a 4WD?

I am looking at Camry, Rav4, Qashqai at the moment. Qashqai seems cheapest and have all the latest gadgets on the TI models.

What should I buy?

Edit: I am still single, planning to have family and kid in 2-3 years. Drive mostly on good road surface. I drive about 300-400km per week. Only going away about once a month. My budget would allow for a second hand car, not brand new. cheers

Poll Options

  • 227
  • 64


  • +22

    No u dont need 4wd.
    You can drive anywhere in australia on 2wd.
    Dirt tracks are fine for 2wd.
    Unleess your your going up steep rocky inclines or going on sand dont get 4wd.

    • -21

      I guess not then, i only going away once a month or less. I just have the mind set that 4wd give the car more power and thats the whole point of the SUVs, more power

      • +48

        No. SUV's don't have more power, if anything, they are usually heavier and lack power. Add a 4wd system to that and it just gets heavier. This in turn results in lower power and higher fuel consumption.

        Get a small 2wd SUV, because when you have kids in a few years, turning up in a sedan when all the other mum's are driving SUV's will make you feel like an outcast. Gotta keep up with those soccer moms!

        If 90+% of your driving is commuting to work, get a hatchback. You get the space of a SUV with the ride, comfort and fuel economy of a sedan.

        • +22

          Most of the city SUV's are basically just glorified hatchbacks anyway. Things like the Sportage, CX-3, Qashqai are basically just the hatchback platforms but with a taller body.

          • +6

            @macrocephalic: Exactly. I think this makes them perfect for what OP wants. Compact, fuel efficient, loads of space, easy to load kids and their associated carry-on and you fit in with everyone else at playgroup.

            But shouldn't discount the hatchback. Only mentioned it because the only two poll options are SUV or sedan. Hatchback should be up there as well.

            • @pegaxs: There more efficient then sedans? I think the OP would enjoy an sedan or hatchback more. I have a coupe with children and yeah it's harder to load up the kids but when your alone you really enjoy the ride. I think a sedan or hatch would be best of both worlds

              • +1

                @TerraFlop: I wasn’t very clear… a small 2wd SUV is more fuel efficient than a larger 4wd variant is what I was getting at.

                And yeah, I agree. With OP doing most of their vehicle work running around, a hatchback makes way more sense.

          • @macrocephalic: I was driving behind a Mazda CX5(?) the other day and I was just wondering at the fact that it was really no higher than my car (a sedan) and looked very very similar to hatchbacks we were passing.

        • +8

          Get a small 2wd SUV, because when you have kids in a few years, turning up in a sedan when all the other mum's are driving SUV's will make you feel like an outcast. Gotta keep up with those soccer moms!

          Car companies convincing soccer mums that they're better off in an SUV vs. your regular sedan or hatchback is legitimately one of the best marketing jobs I've ever seen.

          They stated off buy getting people to buy bigger (i.e. more expensive) cars than they really need, then started releasing smaller SUVs for people who wanted to fit in but couldn't afford the bigger SUVs. It's a masterclass in marketing and it effectively destroyed the Australian car industry.

          Maybe a bit of nostalgia, but the Camry/Aurion, VF Commodore, 7th gen Falcon are some of the best cars ever made and produced right here in our backyard. Objectively better than any of those mid-sized SUV imports people are buying.

          • +1

            @p1 ama: You're suggesting that Toyota, GM and Ford deliberately sabotaged their own brands to that they could close shop to sell more Kluger, Captiva and Territory?

            • +2

              @whooah1979: Well, not Territory, as it was Falcon based and made in Australia.

            • @whooah1979: No, they made really good cars (generally) which people no longer wanted to buy. Sales for the mid-sized family sedan has been falling for years before their collapse.

              It was no longer cool or hip to drive the regular old sedans, the rage was all SUVs and Euro hatches.

        • +3

          They are wrong to be driving SUV's, if everyone else is wrong, it is ok to stand out and do the correct thing rather than conform. Drive a car that makes sense. Lots of mums and dads have run over their children while reversing because their car was too big to see where they are reversing. If you do need something bigger than a station wagon, buy a panel van, it can store more and it has more utility.

        • +1

          I've had a SUV for 11 years due to back injuries & as im on DSP single & kids left home 10 years ago ive used a few but found Hyundai to be the best for fuel & the rest service tyres id recommend a Hyundai Kona or a Tuscon PLENTY of room for either family or single ive got a Hyundai ix35 & I get 750km per tank & service is 1 set price so if your going for a SUV have a look at Hyundai not just Toyota and Nissan See if you can take car for a weekend to see if it is the one you really want best way to really test the car you end up getting

          good luck on what ever you get.

      • +2

        You say you "go away" once a month. Can you elaborate what exactly you do when you "go away"?

        If that just means driving down the highway to your destination where it just becomes yet another vehicle on the road that's one thing.

        If you mean you actually take the vehicle down to the beach and actually drive on the sand (and have no other option, say to park nearby and walk down to the beach) that's another.

        Or maybe you like to drive through the bush for a couple of hours to get to your favourite secluded campsite to make that kid you're talking about.

        Maybe not even drive through the bush, but need the space to pack your tent and survival gear and everything including two kitchen sinks and your bonsai collection (they really need to be cared for daily!) when you go camping and really need the extra space an SUV offers.

      • +3

        4wd give the car more power and thats the whole point of the SUVs, more power

        LOL - tell that to my XR8. It keeps crushing SUVs at the redlight, and overtakes 'em big fat ones on the freeway with extreme prejudice. :-p

        In all seriousness, 4WD has nothing to do with power output. If you didn't know if you want an SUV or a Sedan, chances are that you need a sedan.

        • +1


          "Aww how cute" - SS 6.2L

          • +2


            "Aww how cute" - SS 6.2L

            Haha, those are the times when I pretend I never race off the lights. :-D

    • +2

      4wd opens up a whole range of beach activities if that's your thing, but you're right, you don't need it for much else.

      • +9

        And beach activities open up a premature end for whatever car you decide to get…

        • +2

          If you want a beach activity, cheaper to just hire a 4wd for the few days you want to go driving on the beach. Just make sure to check the T&C. Not all 4wd rental places let you take them 4wding.

          But we hired a 4wd to head up to Fraser for 4 nights. Can't remember the exact price but it was something around $350.

          • -4

            @Name: According to TheBilly next reply down says 4wd costs the same as 2wd, as efficient as one and costs the same to maintain, so no reason not to get the 4wd version.

            • +5

              @CMH: TheBilly is making some wild claims.

              • +3

                @Name: TheBilly is absolutely wrong.

        • depends on how stupid you are. if you forget about your car as the tide is coming in, or think you can drive on the area where the tide has just gone out it doesn't matter what car you have - it's going to sink.

    • -10

      I disagree… the cost difference is negligible. Why sell yourself short where a bit of bargain hunting or strong negotiation might net you a 4wd as well. There is the chance that OP would want to do something that may need it, and then that day comes and he thinks, 'oh crap'

      • +8

        Yeah, like the 1 week every 5 years that you think "I think it'll be cool to tow a caravan".

        I think for instances like these renting a car for the occasion might be a better choice than paying extra for the car, and extra running costs as well.

        • -3

           the cost difference is negligible

          Even if you towed a caravan for a day … it would make it worthwhile

          • +7

            @TheBilly: 4wd vs 2wd is less efficient, so your ongoing fuel costs are higher.

            It is also a more complex piece of engineering, so you're paying extra in upkeep.

            So even if you get a 4wd upgrade "free", there's still a cost associated with it.

            • -3

              @CMH: Most 4wds are permanently 2wd unless you flick the switch. The ones that are permanently 4wd have efficient technology to back it up. Eg. Volkswagen / Subaru / Audi. Have you done a cost analysis on this? I would like to see your figures.

              • +3

                @TheBilly: So… You're telling me 4wd costs the same as 2wd, just as efficient running, costs the same to maintain.

                Why isn't every vehicle 4wd then?

                • -2

                  @CMH: No I'm not saying that. If you took a Nissan Navara and a Nissan Navara, one being the 4wd and one being the 2wd. Your costs will be similar. If you took a Toyota Camry and a Toyota Prado your cost will be very different. If you took a Toyota Kluger and Toyota Kluger one being a 4wd and one being a 2wd your costs will be similar. The point I am making is, if you plan to buy a Toyota Kluger for example, Why not just buy the 4wd version as opposed to the 2wd version. If you are looking at a Camry versus a Prado that is not a comparison I am even discussing.

                  I'm hoping this registers.

                  • +4

                    @TheBilly: When you say similar, how similar?

                    Private price for 2016 model 2wd $43,600 - $47,500
                    Private price for 2016 model 4wd $46,300 - $50,400

                    Redbook price for Kluger grande 2016.

                    Just one of the examples you mentioned, but I found a small difference in fuel consumption as well.

                    I don't see how you could come to the conclusion that 2wd would cost the same as 4wd. You MIGHT be able to find 2 used vehicles come to the same price, but then a million other more important factors then come in, chiefly the condition of the vehicle itself. Could easily see how a trashed 4wd version costing the same as the 2wd version, all else being the same.

                    On top of that you still have to factor in maintenance.

                    Again, if the 2wd version costs the same as the 4wd, and there's absolutely no downsides to owning the 4wd, why is anyone buying the 2wd?

                    • -1

                      @CMH: people are buying the 2wd versions to save that $3000 on purchase price and because they want that extra safety in a big head on smash (many SUVs have 5 star safety ratings) for the identical car without the AWD/4wd drive train.

                      i spent the extra for light sand work and steeper dirt inclines that i couldn't go on before with 2wd.

                      • +1

                        @DisabledUser254352: You have a reason to need 4wd.

                        Those guys whose SUVs see nothing but highways… Why get a 4wd?

                        Plus Billy is arguing it doesn't cost anything more for an equivalent 4wd, which an extra 3k shows immediately it isn't.

                        And since we're talking equivalent vehicles, there's no extra safety features. Unless you're talking the 70kg or so that the 4wd drivetrain weighs over the 2wd.

                        • @CMH: most 4wd owners spend most of their time on asphalt anyway. unless they're a hardcore 4wd enthusiast doing outback expeditions most don't even need a 4wd train and can settle for an AWD for what they want to do and save well over 10k

                          it's all about balance. i couldn't do the stuff i wanted to do in a FWD so AWD is necessary and i didn't want to spend upwards of 50-60k for an even thirstier 4WD for the power to tow a caravan i don't have.

                          sometimes not having the capability means you can't do certain stuff that you didn't know you could do.

                          to clarify, SUV or AWD/4WD safer than a 2WD sedan is many types of crashes.

                          compare a holden barina/ford festiva/hyundai getz vs any SUV in a head-on. it's obvious who will come off 2nd best.

                          • @DisabledUser254352: It's about the only time a bigger vehicle is safer in a crash - a collision with another vehicle.

                            I wonder if there is any data suggesting an overall safety figure: something that compares the number of serious accidents that involve SUVs and sedan\hatchback\wagon. And maybe also compare the injury rates.

                            Looking at just one type of crash to determine it's the safest vehicle would be kinda silly don't you think?

                            • +1

                              @CMH: i'd say that the 'only time' is more like most of the time (head on vehicle accidents are sometimes unavoidable because of the idiot in the other car on his phone), whereas wrapping yourself around a tree because you were on your phone is natural selection.

                              but sounds like a pretty big deal if you ask me. there's other things like weight, airbags, crumple zones etc. that all play favourably in larger vehicles. but if you want ultimate safety may as well drive a truck around the burbs. the cars just bounce off! https://youtu.be/NiuBWPKHTPA?t=294

                              such data would need to consider the cause of accident and what the result would have been in a smaller vehicle. depending on what the argument is, details like this are often left out of statistical analyses. the small car salesmen trying to sell a little pocket rocket would just quote it like this, and across the road the SUV salesmen would just quote it the other way.

                              at the end of the day you can only really go on the factory crash testing and driving whatever you have to its known limitations. most would never even come close to rolling an SUV if they aren't being an idiot.

                              i've seen a sedan rolled over in a 60 zone on a slight bend right near the city. i knew it was just shit driving.

                              • @DisabledUser254352:

                                i've seen a sedan rolled over in a 60 zone


                                • @whooah1979: lol i hope he was hurt.

                                • @whooah1979: One of my replies does explicitly state rollovers aren't confined to SUVs, but is generally more of a problem in one.

                                  If you manage to roll over in a sedan though, that takes a lot of skill (I mean, lot of lack-of-skill). Or generally unlucky and your car got caught on something (seen a few of those on YouTube).

    • +7

      "You can drive anywhere in australia on 2wd."

      I'd like to see you drive on a beach or a muddy track in 2WD. Real 4WDs, not SUVs, have their place. If I lived closer to the bush instead of in the middle of Sydney I'd be using a 4WD more frequently.

      • +1

        I'd like to see you drive on a beach or a muddy track in 2WD.

        WTF - clueless!

        • depends on the beach. some metro beaches can be driven in a 2wd if the tide hasn't come in for a while. whereas more remote beaches really do need an AWD/4WD and the tyre pressures as low as possible with recovery tracks on hand if you get stuck.

          that said, very few people even care about driving on a beach. there's usually a car park nearby.

    • +1

      You can drive anywhere in australia on 2wd.

      Our other 2wd vehicles have been stuck on wet turf on a number of occasions after a night of rain.

      No such problems with a 4wd.

    • Get Mazda CX-3. That's probably a good alternative option if you don't want a Sedan.

    • +2

      whilst single… have fun! buy a "drivers" car. you won't regret it, and should only lose 4-6G on depreciation over the the two or three years.. and you get to drive an amazing car! Buy a series 2 or 3 mx5, or a honda s2000, or a bmw z4, or a nissan 350/370z, or a toyota 86/suburu brz, or a wrx 2004-8 or 2012-2014, or a clio sport or megane rs, or ford xr5, or polo or golf GTI. prices range from $9-22 grand. AND THEN… sell in a couple of years, and buy a "renowned for it's handling" 2 wheel drive hatchback or SMALL suv.

    • I agree with this, subject to ground clearance which is the biggest benefit to most 4WD's.

  • +1

    You don't need 4wd. Sedan vs SUV is really upto your personal preferences. The Camry and Qashqai are two very different cars - the Camry has more power and space but is obviously lower to the ground. The Qashqai is a little cooler I think and gives you a better field of vision with the extra height and has some better features. What do you value more?

  • How about you tell us what roads you drive on? what you want the car to do for you? (drop kids off only or go camping everyweekend) ? how many k's a year? new or used? GIVE US A CLUE TO WORK WITH

    • +1

      i only drive on seal road. The car is mainly use to get me to work. Mostly city driving with about 20 000 km per year driving. And my budget allow for a used car, preferably 3 years old or less.

      • +5

        For city driving you really don't want to drive anything bigger than necessary.

        You pay more for the vehicle, it burns more fuel, it wears brake pads faster, it needs bigger (and more expensive) wheels, more expensive maintenance generally….

        All so that you sit 20cm higher than the hatchback in front of you?

  • +5

    I think this is a wrong comparison. I would compare Hatchback vs SUV as their utility is similar, not the case with a sedan.

  • +18

    camry or 4WD?

    you can have it all

    • https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/gundagai/cars-vans-utes/hist...

      I always wanted a Tercel when I was a kid.

      • +1

        $5k though?

        • HISTORICAL heap of sh*t.

      • ! OMG !! definitely have 1 of those . Does it come with cumffy seats ??

    • +2

      OMG!! That Camry… So much want in one photo!!

      • -1

        Surely everything good about Camry was lost in that modification

        • economy
        • reliability
        • engineered resilience

        So now all that is left is

        • utility
        • ugliness
        • cheapness
        • age and wear

        For most purposes a Hilux really is a Camry, just a more robust one. That thing however is probably a Landcruiser chassis, so along with economy, a lot of comfort would be lost as well.

    • I hope Toyota engineers are trolling ozb for ideas.

  • +2


  • +2

    If you are driving 300 to 400kms per week, I would look at the fuel consumption rather than the body shape. Although whatever you choose, since you are still single, maybe choose something presentable at the same time.

  • +39

    I am still single, planning to have family and kid in 2-3 years

    Have you met your partner yet? Does she know about this?

    • +4

      If you haven't met your partner yet, then your pickup line might be: "Want a kid in 2-3 years?"

    • +8

      Mail order allows you to prepare your future like this

    • Sorry, i am not married but have a GF so yeah plan to have kids in 3 years time

      • +77

        That was quick, 7hrs ago you were single.

        • +49

          Tinder is a gamechanger.

    • +1


      Down to family!

  • +8

    Many motoring scribes still try to dissuade buyers from considering SUVs. They say "get a wagon" and I agree.
    It's the bridge between the two and often the perfect compromise, particularly if you choose carefully (hint: AWD wagon).

    • I intended to make it all the way to AWD (turbo) wagon, but stopped just short of there with the Superb 206 tsi 4x4 lift back sedan. I agree with the wagon being a lot more practical for a lot of other models though.

      Edit: Unless you're talking Subaru, there isn't a lot of AWD wagons in OP's budget?

    • SUV better ride quality and safety in height for some types of accidents.

      easier to load shopping/put kids in baby seats when ride heigh is higher (but not so high you need a step ladder to get in)

  • Unless you NEED AWD/4WD or the ride high there is no question that a sedan is better.

  • +1

    get toyota corolla

  • +1


    • +6

      Cvt - noooooooooooooooooo

    • +11

      No, they have AWD. There is a big difference. If you don’t know this, you shouldn’t be giving car advice. Subrarus also do not have plenty of power. They are renouned for being under powered.

      • Define for me, exactly, what the difference is?

        People like to say there's a difference, but when it comes down to the strict demarcation between them it's all a bit airy fairy. In common nomenclature 4wd cars are those which are designed to be used offroad, and awd cars are cars which drive all wheels. Where exactly the line is is up for debate; we can all agree that a porche 911 carrera 4 is not a 4wd, and we can also agree that the Landrover Defender is a (part time) 4wd, but where do we put things like the Triton fall, where they have a locking centre diff [transfer case], but not locking axle diffs at either end?

  • +2

    Unless you're constantly on unsealed or damaged roads, or carrying large cargo, a sedan is a better option.

    I also wouldnt buy a car for a plan 2-3 years from now. In 3 years, if the car really doesn't suit, just sell and get another, or get an extra car.

  • +1

    My wife went for the Mini Countryman when we had our first kid

    I know new one would be out of price bracket but we had the JC works model if I was going to have a kiddie car it needed something fun about it.

    It's a SUV actually bigger than I thought (basically a jacked up sedan with a hatchback)

    Key reasons for the type

    Flat boot so push chair didn't have to be lugged out over the ledge of typical boot.

    Doors opened up with good room to move to get baby in and out of restraint.

    Vision from driving position was great.

    You can fit more things in it than you would believe possible.

    Seat height was just right for her didn't have to climb in or out while pregnant and getting into a sports car was ridiculous.

    we drove the base model and ok not a performance car but certainly nowhere near worst I've driven.

    The AWD model was really good and stable and for a baby car it was still fun to drive.

  • The poll is 12 to 3 as I post this comment. This doesn't reflect Australians preference to suv/ute/4wd over other passenger vehicles.

    • +2

      I think yummy mummies are under represented in the ozb demographic.

  • Op, you should consider a suv/ute. They may have a higher tco, but worth it for the added benefits.

    • The poll tipping over to sedan.
      What would be your reason to get a SUV over a sedan. Does SUV give more space apart from higher driving position?

      • +1

        Higher seats, 8 seats, high ground clearance, wider tracks, greater mass, better view of the roads, etc.

        Higher tco.

  • For family I suggest you look at Honda CRV .

  • Sedans are out of fashion at the moment. Get a high-spec, late model used one that's good on fuel. You're driving 20,000km a year, you need fuel efficiency as one of your primary concerns.

    An SUV is only going to have two positives:

    • Higher ride position
    • More room to take stuff with you

    Whilst it will have the negatives of:

    • Being more expensive
    • Being worse on fuel
    • Being uglier (imo)
    • Being less fun to drive
    • +8

      You forget more likely to roll over.
      Heavier so harder to make emergency maneuvers (braking/swerving) on top of being worse on fuel.
      Bigger means harder to park.

      • -5

        All of these ideas applied in the 1980s. Not anymore.

        • +18

          Have we figured how to overcome physics now have we?

          Higher centre of gravity = more likely to roll over. Clever suspension work negates it a little, but physics is physics.

          Heavier = more inertia. Wider tyres can negate this a bit, but again physics is physics.

          At best you can argue it's less of a problem compared to before, but whatever magic they can put in SUVs they can put in cars as well, because all those issues aren't exactly confined to SUVs. They're just more of a problem.

          • @CMH: OK, so the negatives:

            More expensive: not true. A BMW X5 3.0 D retails for $110k on the road, you can get them for $100k. A 530d would retailed for $120-130k.

            Being worse on fuel. Marginally. The X5 and 530d are both very fuel efficient. 5l/100km vs 8l/100km

            Uglier is subjective

            Less fun do drive on a race track, sure. On the road, you could never tell. On a slippery road, I'd rather the AWD.

            Then your post:

            CG? Doesn't matter in a roll over. Since the advent of stability control, roll over risk has been largely mitigated. You'd have to be driving (crashing) awfully fast to roll a modern SUV. If you crash that fast, it doesn't really matter if it rolls over. Car like SUVs (X5 as an example) have worked to lower the CG for improved handling.

            Heavier- Sure, around 2 tonnes for a midsize SUV, so ball park 200-300kg heavier than a current generation midsized sedan. Does it matter? Not really, you're not a race track. Will it handle slightly worse, sure. Will you notice? No. Will fuel consumption go up a little, sure. Will you notice? Nope. Will you be safer in a car on car accident? 100%. More inertia. Physics is physics.

            • +1

              @Burnertoasty: OP's budget is 20-25k.

              In that price range SUVs are dearer than a comparable hatchback.

              Not even sure why you picked the 530d as a comparison vehicle to the x5.

              Quote from Wikipedia for your reference:

              Electronic stability control (ESC), also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology[1][2] that improves a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding).

              Not sure what any of this has to do with rolling over. Rolling over means the top of your vehicle ends up above your vehicle's wheels.

              For arguments sake, let's say you claim this reduces the chance your SUV goes out of control, therefore less likely to roll over.


              Which means it's back to status quo: SUVs higher centre-of-gravity makes it more likely to roll over in a collision than a sedan/hatchback.

              But in any case, ESC doesn't help prevent or reduce rollovers directly.


              According to https://cars.lovetoknow.com/List_of_Car_Weights, a midsize SUV weighs on average 1936kg, while a midsize car weighs 1590kg, approx 350kg difference or 22% heavier. This is quite significant, and you WILL feel it when driving, most importantly when turning. Coupled with their higher centre-of-gravity, you need to brake earlier and harder than a car would for a turn.

              The implication of this, as it has eluded you (since you think it's only applicable on a racetrack) is that if you need to perform an emergency maneuver, your SUV is less likely to be successful than a smaller car, which is much more nimble because of its reduced mass.

              These emergency driving maneuvers can pop up for anyone, even the most careful driver. Another idiot on the road might just pop out from a blind corner, or maybe skippy would from behind a bush. Worse still would be a small child out of nowhere.

              But it's all ok because whatever you hit, you'll be fine because of your extra mass right?

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