My new family car, what cars I considered and what I chose.

It’s been 4 years since we agreed a PCP deal with Audi on our second Audi Q7. This second Q7 has been reliable, done it’s job and no major issues from my side. Frustratingly I took out a third party warranty with Motoreasy at a costs of around £2000, and never needed, doh!. But if something major goes wrong with a large expensive car, like on our first Audi Q7 (rear suspension needed to be replaced), then it’s going to be expensive (£4000 from memory we were quoted to replace/ fit rear suspension by Audi). So with 4 months left on our current PCP deal, my wife wants to replace the aging Q7 (2015 car) before costs get more unbearable, parts begin to fail (warranty has now expired, and I will not be extending), and costs of diesel fuel are high and with our “good for the planet hat on” we want a better car for the planet.


Current car = Audi Q7

The Audi Q7. For us as a family we do around 12,000 miles, and are filling up the car with diesel three times a month at around £140 to fill up. MPG is not great and most journeys we do are 5-20 miles. This probably sounds familiar to you if you also have a large SUV or estate car.

Car positives

Large: we can fit up to 7 people and the dog.

Luxurious: It is comfortable, refined and has all the gizmos (sat nav, parking sensors, DAB radio, bluetooth, etc.) Heated seats (front only). Only thing I will say is that if you are large adult, either vertically or horizontally large, then you probably would not he comfortable in the very rear seats (seats 6 and 7), or the “boot back” as our family call it.

Good looks: It’s subjective I know, but of all the SUVs the Audi Q7 does have nice curves, no odd or weird bumps or shapes. It’s as aesthetically pleasing as an SUV can be.

A true utility vehicle: With rear seats lowered the boot/ rear of the car is massive.


Large: If you have poor spatial awareness then it is a large car to maneuver, and tricky in tight spaces.

Running costs: It’s not a cheap car in the first place, so any repairs, replacing tyres, fuel will all be above average. My wife fills up the car three times a month (on average), and at the time of writing with Diesel fuel at 172p per litre its costing £140-150 to fill up. £450 per month. On top of fuel we have to add Ad Blue to the car every few months, so that’s approximately £150-200 a year.

That’s about is to summarize the Audi. It’s a great car for our family, 5 people + dog. But like all things it’s time to move on. So what cars did we consider and look at, wither online or see in person and test drive, and what did we choose.

Let’s start with the remit. My wife’s wish for a new car was as follows (not in any particular order): reliable, comfortable, heated seats, better for the environment, better MPG, lower monthly costs (on PCP and running). You know what they say, happy wife, happy life.


The cars we considered.

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

The Kia Sorento: Whatcar? stated: “The Kia Sorento is pretty expensive, with a higher starting price than top-spec examples of the Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq and even the entry-level Land Rover Discovery Sport. That’s mainly due to the singular trim level, which gives you all the bells and whistles regardless of which engine you go for. 

Among four-wheel-drive large SUVs, the Sorento HEV’s CO2 emissions are relatively low – although the Hyundai Santa Fe is available in lighter two-wheel drive form, so it pumps out even less. If you’re looking to pay as little company car tax as possible, you will be best served by the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Sorento, which emits just 38g/km and has a respectable electric-only range (both help to reduce benefit-in-kind tax massively). The PHEV takes around 3.5 hours to charge from 0-100% using a home wall box.

The HEV model managed a very respectable 37.1mpg in our real-world True MPG tests, with the diesel model averaging 42.3mpg. That’s far from amazing compared with the Honda CR-V hybrid, but not at all bad for such a hefty car, and way better than the petrol-powered Discovery Sport P200.

The Kia Sorento is a brilliant seven-seat SUV and, while it’s relatively expensive, it comes with loads of standard equipment and great practicality. Most buyers will be best served by the hybrid (HEV) model, although the plug-in (PHEV) will appeal to company car drivers.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 4 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £49,500

Our view. Nice car. For the £50k price tag we were quoted we were not sure this was right for us, and there were better options. It seemed a sideways move from the Q7, and not as much cache in owning a premium brand. Me wife did not think it a contender, so no test drive taken. WE were also told by the Reading dealership there was a 15 month wait for a new one.


Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage: Whatcar? stated “The Sportage is a great all-round family SUV that offers a generous amount of space front and rear, plus a large boot and one of best interiors in its class. In our favourite 3 trim, you get loads of equipment, and entry-level trims make a lot of sense compared with pricier rivals. The Hyundai Tucson is slightly cheaper, but the Sportage is a more polished alternative.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 5 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £26,675

Our view. Nice car. For the £40k price tag we were quoted it is a nice car, with all the equipment you’d need. It was a contender for us. We did a test drive. My wife liked it, and it would have been a contender if she had not driven the Lexus NX350h prior. The Lexus is just the little bit more special.


Toyota Rav4

The Toyota Rav4 Whatcar? stated “If you’re looking for a large SUV and don’t want a hybrid, there are cheaper options than the Toyota RAV4, including the Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 5008. However, the RAV4 is priced broadly in line with its closest hybrid rival, the Honda CR-V, and undercuts the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento by a healthy margin. You can only have the PHEV version in higher trim levels, so it costs a lot more than the equivalent Citröen C5 Aircross Hybrid or the excellent Ford Kuga PHEV. In fact, it costs a similar amount to the premium Range Rover Evoque P300e, which is arguably a better car in most areas.  

Company car drivers might find the RAV4 compelling, though. The hybrid produces less CO2 than the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, so you’ll have low company car tax payments. The PHEV’s electric range and CO2 emissions put it in an even lower tax band, but the list price means it’s not a noticeably cheaper company car than the Kuga.

In our What Car? True MPG tests, the two-wheel-drive RAV4 hybrid achieved 49mpg overall, with an astonishing 91.9mpg in the urban section. That efficiency beats the vast majority of conventionally-powered SUV rivals. You probably won’t get close to the claimed 282mpg fuel economy of the PHEV, but if you keep the battery topped up and make mainly shorter journeys, you might rarely have to fill up. When the battery runs down, you can expect up to 50mpg with careful driving. The PHEV’s maximum charging speed is 6.6kW – quicker than the mechanically similar Suzuki Across – so if you plug it into a home wall box charger you’ll get a full charge in two and a half hours.

The Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has an impressive all-electric range and low emissions, but the extremely high list price limits its appeal for private buyers and company car buyers alike. The regular front-wheel drive RAV4 hybrid is the sweet spot in the range. It’s fairly ordinary to drive, but strong resale values, astounding economy and a fantastic reliability record make it a tempting option in the large SUV category.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 4 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £30,000

Our view. It’s okay, but the luxury and prestige factor is way below the cars we are used to, our previous cars being a 2005 Lexus RX400h (top spec) and current 2016 Audi Q7. We did not test drive. We did not see as a desirable car for us.


Volkswagen ID.Buzz

Volkswagen ID Buzz

The VW ID.Buzz Whatcar? stated: “On the face of it, the Volkswagen ID.Buzz seems very expensive for a “van with windows”, but here’s the thing: it’s not actually a van. It sits on the same underpinnings as the VW ID 4, and although you can get the windowless VW ID Buzz Cargo version, that’s more of a trendy company vehicle rather than a proper workhorse.

Besides, incredibly slow predicted depreciation means you’ll get a lot of your investment back when you decide to sell. It also means monthly PCP finance repayments are respectable – often cheaper than for equivalent electric SUVs, such as the BMW iX3 and Jaguar I-Pace. Those two do use the energy stored in their batteries more efficiently, though.

The Buzz can charge at up to 175kW from a suitable CCS charging point, for a 10-80% top-up in as little as half an hour. A full (0-100%) charge using a regular 7kW home wallbox will take around 12 hours.” Whatcar? also gave this car a 5 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £57,000.

Our view. Well this is actually my view, as my wife just did not want a van, no matter how cool it is. I like this car/ van from the first time I saw it debut at Goodwood FoS 2 or 3 years back. Disappointingly it is not the same as the concept car which was much cooler with lots of nice features. I may be doing it an injustice, but that’s my first impressions of my 5-10 minutes with the car. I did not test drive it. Many of the cool features on the concept car have not made it to the production model. The car was also not as big as I thought it would be. Not considered in our shortlist.


Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace

The Jaguar F-Pace Whatcar? stated: “There are other large SUVs out there that are more spacious and ride more comfortably, but the F-Pace stands out for its fantastic driving dynamics, generous amount of standard kit, smart interior and strong resale values.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 3 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £47,000.

Our view. Not considered. Too small for our family of 5 and dog.


Land Rover Discovery

We considered this car last time around when looking for out family car in 2013. You can read that article here.

The Land Rover Discovery What’s car? stated: “It has a number of important strengths. It’s desirable, practical, great off road and cheaper than some rivals (if you choose one of the lower trim levels). Reliability is a real weak point, though, and the Discovery isn’t as sophisticated on the road or as plush inside as an Audi Q7 or BMW X7.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 4 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £59,500.

Our view. Again for me I did just not feel it was the right car for my wife, too big, not luxurious enough, a backward step from the Audi Q7.


Land Rover Defender 110

Now I have a 2012/2013 Land Rover Defender 110, so I was interested in looking and considering this. However, at the back of my mind I knew it was likely to be a non-starter for my wife, as she will not drive the current 110, as it’s too big and hard work (clutch, gear changes, etc.).

The Land Rover Defender What car? stated: “The Defender is a rugged SUV that fuses fantastic off-road ability with decent on-road manners. If that’s the blend of abilities you’re after, it’s effectively in a class of one. There is also, handily, a version for everyone, with three bodystyles so you can anything from five to eight seats.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 5 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £57,500.


2023 Lexus NX350h

The Lexus NX350h What car? stated: “If you can’t easily plug in your car, the NX 350h is a good compromise. It’s not as frugal or hushed as the 450h, but it’s competitively priced, more efficient than non-hybrid rivals and should benefit from Lexus’s legendary reliability.

The NX 450h attracts our full five-star rating on account of its plush interior, impressive refinement, good electric range, low CO2 emissions and low company car tax rate.”

Whatcar? also gave this car a 5 out of 5 in its review. Prices start at £44,430 – £65,295

The car we test drove was priced at £54,000 and was an F Sport model Prem Plus with Panoramic roof. Black leather interior.

This car is very luxurious, easy to drive, a nice place to be. It had the edge over most of the other cars that we had driven, test drove, reviewed.

So what car did we go for. Yes you guessed it, the 2023 Lexus NX350h. It was the most comfortable, most luxurious, and with heated and air conditioned seats, heated steering wheel, apple car play, front and rear cameras for recording journeys, my wife fell in love with it.

For me having owned a 2005 Lexus RX 400h SE-L, from when our twins were born, and driving that car to 120,000 miles without fault, and to this day that car was the most reliable and hassle free, buying another Lexus was a non-brainer. The Lexus NX350h is now the third Lexus I have owned to date. This car gets a massive thumbs up for me, and a few months into ownership, all the family love it. Happy car hunting and if you’d like any advice, please ask away in the comments section below, and I will try to come back to you quickly.

My final thought, and I should know having worked in sales all my life, the car dealerships we went to, most of the people working there were very poor with their attentiveness and customer service, which really took me by surprise. Whilst looking around all the cars in all dealership not one salesperson came to talk to me and ask me if I needed help or assistance. I had to go and drag them away from their desks. Shocking. Come on people, pull your finger out.


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