The big switch - Our motoring experts' guide to the latest crossover and SUV options
THE switch from traditional family saloon/hatchback to Crossover and SUV is one of the most dramatic developments in motoring over the past few years.
And it shows no sign of abating with analysts forecasting even greater numbers buying - especially compact SUVs - next year and beyond.
SUVs may be particularly relevant to farm families, as they provide not just carrying flexibility, but varying degrees of ruggedness and, often, impressive 4x4 traction.
At the same time 2WD versions of SUVs and Crossovers can suit families whose demands are mostly on, rather than off, the road.
Here's a quick run-through, with succinct verdicts, of what's out there.
Just to note that although new VRT rules mean 'commercial' SUVs no longer benefit from lower VRT rates, many brands are still advertising them. That's most likely because vehicles were pre-registered and there is a continued supply for a period. Prices here reflect that where applicable.
First up there are the real workhorses: 2dr 4x4 commercials. They're traditionally the van conversions of the SWB Toyota Land Cruiser and SWB Mitsubishi Pajero.
2. Large SUVs
Then there are the large SUVs, including the LWB versions of the above, which have offered 'business' versions with 5-passenger accommodation.
Real rugged vehicle. SWB and LWB versions (longer one in Executive grade trim). Price from €30,891+VAT. A powerhouse on or off the road.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Powered by a 2.8 diesel. Price from €43,950 inc VAT. Probably the best all-rounder of its kind.
Power comes from two versions of a 3.0 diesel, all with 4WD. Prices from €65,395 inc VAT. Promoted as a premium option. Impressive motor. New one imminent.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
This brand-topper is loaded with technology and has three 4x4 systems. Power is from 3.0 diesels. Price €71,750 inc VAT. Pricey and outgunned by top rivals.
Large SUV from Ford. Four grades. Powered by 180hp and 210hp versions of a 2.0 diesel. Price from €47,995 inc VAT is pushing it a bit. Too expensive, we reckon.
Land Rover Discovery 5
Aluminium structure makes it lighter and more nimble. Four grades, 2.0 and 3.0 diesels including a 340hp powerhouse. Automatic (€POA). Massive performer off road. Seven seats a big plus with families.
High level of technology and luxury. Three spec levels. Engines: 190hp/235hp diesels and powerful hybrid. Prices from €74,250 inc VAT. Seven seats, great drive.
One of those big comfortable SUVs with a bit of style presence that doesn't overwhelm. Quality interior. Power is a 2.2 diesel, with an auto option. In FWD and AWD versions. Price from €37,790. Often overlooked but has seven seats and good price.
3. 'Compact SUVs/Crossovers
Available in 2WD and 4WD. Durable, stylish, comfortable. Power from 1.5 EcoBoost petrol, 1.5 and 2.0 diesels. Prices from €33,395. Roomy, effective operator.
Hyundai's SUV commercial comes with lots of technology; 1.7 and 2.0 diesel engines. Price from €24,222+VAT. The country's best seller for several years now - for good reason.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The larger Santa Fe SUV has good levels of comfort and safety. Powered by 2.2 diesel. Price from €41,995 inc VAT. With seven seats it ticks a lot of boxes for families.
More a soft roader. Engine currently a 1.6 diesel. Automatic option. Price from €32,575 inc VAT. Diesel going from new model (next year) so it will be hybrid or petrol.
Recent addition to the range. Engines: 1.4 petrol; 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. Price €27,995 inc VAT. Hard to enthuse, though it does a lot of things well.
Plenty of room, nice interior, 2WD and AWD versions. Power from 2.0 and 2.2 diesels (140hp-200hp); there are 9spd auto options. Prices from €41,350 inc VAT. Hasn't set the world on fire.
Looks and feels like a bigger car. A 1.7 diesel powers the FWDs and a 2.0 diesel the AWD. Prices from €27,995 inc VAT. Popular with families. Regular Top 10 seller.
Powered by a 2.2 diesel or a plug-in hybrid. Price from €26,260+VAT. You lose two of the seven seats with the plug-in (from €39,900). Nice package on the road.
Nissan Qashqai / Nissan X-Trail
The Qashqai and X-Trail SUV commercials are both based on the 5-and-7-seat passenger vehicles respectively, with 1.2 petrol and 1.5 diesels (Qashqai) and 1.6 diesels (X-Trail), and automatic and 4x4 options. Smart lookers and good drives. Price from €28,370/€33,100 inc VAT respectively. Qashqai hugely popular with families.
Opel Grandland X
Based on the Peugeot 3008. Three grades. Power from 130hp 1.2 petrol and 120hp 1.6 diesel engines; there are automatics. Price from €28,395 inc VAT. Reasonable option.
Award-winner. Engines are 1.2 manual and auto, and a 1.6 petrol automatic, and 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. Price from €26,595 inc VAT. Outstanding cabin and cockpit.
A 7-seater with five grades, powered by 1.2 petrol and 1.6 and 2.0 diesels, with automatics available in all. Price from €29,345 inc VAT. Great family car.
More than holds its own in a crowded segment. Engines include a 1.2 turbocharged petrol, 1.5 and 1.6 diesels. There are automatics. Prices from €25,490 inc VAT. Popular buy.
Choice of two 4-cylinder diesels - 1.6 130hp and a 2.0 175hp. Smaller engine for 2WD vehicles with 4WD having 175hp; 6spd manual or automatic transmissions. Price from €34,490 inc VAT. Only a 5-seater but lots of boot space as a result.
New SUV sits just below the popular Kodiaq. Space for five. Engines: 1.0, 1.5 petrols, 1.6, 2.0 diesels, the last with AWD option. Autos available throughout. Prices from €27,715 inc VAT. Ticks all the boxes but lacks drive appeal.
It's a mostly 7-seat motor (5-seater in minority). Four grades and a ruggedised 'Scout' version. Engines: 1.4 petrols, 2.0 diesels. There are 7spd autos. Prices from €28,795 inc VAT. The car everyone wants. Good room, lovely drive.
Smart and comfortable interior. Engine D 2.2; Price from €19,546 + VAT. Well priced.
SsangYong Rexton W
SUV with a high level of spec (two or five seats). Engine D 2.2. Price from €29,057 + VAT. Dated now but well priced.
Tough contender with outstanding ability and reputation for reliability. AWD. Engine D 2.0; Price from €27,564 plus VAT. Goes forever.
Engines are 2.0 diesels, 2.5 petrol hybrid. AWD only in the hybrid. Prices from €31,950. New, hybrid, early next year. Worth waiting for.
Serious compact SUV. We'd point you towards the longer Allspace version (seven seats for additional €770). Engines 1.4 petrol and 2.0 diesels. Prices from €29,350 inc VAT. Much better proposition than old one. Good, solid buy.
Good to drive and look at. Three grades. Engines: 190hp and 235hp diesels as well a hybrid with a whopping 407hp. Prices from €54,250 inc VAT. A class act.
4. World's Apart: Bargain basement vs Costly Posh
It has been a year of extremes for farmers so here's one from the motoring side of the road:
The Dacia Duster is a budget crossover. A brand new one has just gone on sale which they claim is the best value on the market. Straightforward all-you-need capability. Power from a 1.5 diesel or 1.6 petrol with three grades. AWD and 2-seat commercial coming in 2019. Price from €17,390 inc VAT. A lot of car for the money.
In contrast a few lucky people could decide to splash the cash on an Audi Q5/Q7 from €48,680/€74,800 inc VAT respectively.
Or a BMW X5 from €75,355 inc VAT.
Or a Jaguar F-Pace from €43,700 inc VAT.
Or a Jaguar E-Pace from €38,060 inc VAT.
Or a Jaguar i-Pace - the all-electric SUV, showing at the Ploughing. Prices from €86,565.
Or the Lexus RX from €71,450 inc VAT.
Or the Mercedes GLE - €61,125 inc VAT.
And then there is the Porsche Cayenne (POA) … etc, etc.