Canstar Blue’s 2021 SUV ratings has seen Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Kia, Mazda, Honda, Audi, Nissan, Subaru and BMW on their driving experience, reliability, car servicing, point of sale service, after sale service, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Picking a new car for yourself can be hard enough, but finding the right one for your family adds an extra element to the decision-making process. To help you along the way, we’ve once again surveyed nearly 1,000 Australian drivers for their feedback on the new SUV they’ve bought from a dealership in the last three years.
Respondents reviewed car brands on important factors including the driving experience, reliability, car servicing, point of sale service, after sale service, value for money and overall satisfaction. Brands that received the minimum required survey sample size of 30 responses are compared in our latest report.
This year, Toyota and Hyundai overtook the rest of the pack, both earning five star results across multiple categories, including overall satisfaction. Check out how each brand did in this year’s results, as well as what each brand has on offer in its SUV range.
Here are the best SUV brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Toyota and Hyundai came out on top with five stars for overall satisfaction, with Mitsubishi, Kia, Mazda, Honda and Audi rated four stars, with Nissan, Subaru and last year’s winner BMW all finishing on three stars for overall satisfaction. In addition to five stars for overall satisfaction, Toyota was rated five stars for value for money, car servicing, point of sale service and after sale service, while Hyundai was additionally rated five stars for value for money, after sale service, car servicing and driving experience.
Other notable five star results include Mitsubishi and Kia also scoring five stars for value for money, with Kia also being rated five stars for reliability and driving experience. Mazda was the only other brand to receive a five star rating, scoring five stars for point of sale service, after sale service and reliability.
Take a look at the brands below to see what’s on offer in the SUV market.
One of the most popular SUV brands in Australia, Toyota offers a number of models for motorists to choose from, including smaller SUVs such as the Yaris Cross through to the larger Fortuner. Toyota’s full range of SUV models include the Yaris Cross, C-HR, RAV4, Kluger and Fortuner, with hybrid models also available among select ranges.
The Toyota Yaris Cross is available as a GX, GXL or Urban model, with petrol or hybrid models available. The Urban model features 18inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, retractable door mirrors, heated front seats, 4.2inch instrument cluster, USB charging port, Head-Up Display and Blind Spot Monitor.
The C-HR, one of the newer models from Toyota, is available as a GXL, Koba and GR Sport, and is available either as a 1.2L turbo-petrol model, or as a 1.8L hybrid model, with models also available as a 2WD or AWD. The RAV4 on the other hand, is one of Toyota’s most recognisable SUVs, and is available as a GX, GXL, Cruiser or Edge model, with petrol and hybrid models available. The Edge petrol model features an engine output of 152kW, and comes with AWD, 19inch alloy wheels, moonroof, LED headlamps, heated and ventilated front seats, ambient cabin lighting, Off-Road Mode as well as a 7inch instrument cluster. If you need additional space, the larger Fortuner may be more your speed, with 7-seats available across the multiple models, which include the GX, GXL and Crusade.
One of many brands to recently double-down on its SUV range, South Korean brand Hyundai has a number of models available within its SUV line-up, including the smaller Venue and Kona, to the mid-size Tucson and the larger Santa Fe and Palisade for those who need to fit the troops in. The Venue is available as a base model, or as an Active or Elite model, with the base model available with a 1.6L petrol engine, 2WD and either an auto or manual transmission, as well as featuring an 8inch infotainment unit, heated door mirrors, 15inch alloys, roof rails and Daytime Running Lights.
The Kona, one of the more recent, and more popular Hyundai SUV models, is available as a base model, or as an Active, Elite, N Line, Highlander or N Line Premium model, with the top-of-the-line Highlander model coming equipped with 18inch alloys, LED headlights, 10.25 infotainment unit, Head-Up Display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, front park assist sensors and a 2.0L petrol engine.
The Hyundai Tucson is available as a base model, or as an Elite or Highlander, with the base model featuring a 6speed automatic transmission, 2WD, rear view camera, 8inch infotainment unit, 4.2inch instrument cluster, multiple driving modes, wireless phone charging 17inch alloys and two USB ports. The larger Santa Fe is available as a base model, or as an Active, Elite or Highlander model, while the largest SUV from Hyundai – the Palisade – is available in similar models, with the choice to also pick from a 7-seat or 8-seat model, allowing you to take everyone on that next roadtrip.
Offering a number of medium-sized SUVs, Japanese brand Mitsubishi’s line-up includes the ASX, Eclipse Cross and Outlander, each of which are available in a number of different models. The ASX is available as an ES, MR, LS, GSR or Exceed model, with the majority of the range only available as an automatic and petrol model. The entry-level ASX ES manual also features 18inch alloys, 8inch infotainment unit, Bluetooth connectivity, rear view camera and Forward Collision Mitigation, while the ASX Exceed includes an auto transmission, 2.4L engine, panoramic roof with LED mood lighting, heated front seats, smart key, privacy glass and rain sensing wipers.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is available as an 2WD or AWD drivetrain, with models including ES, LS, Aspire and Exceed, with most models further available as either a petrol or Plug-In Hybrid model. The Eclipse Cross ES Hybrid model features AWD, automatic transmission, 13.8KWh lithium-ion battery, regenerative braking system, 8inch infotainment unit, Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning and rear view camera, along with two electric drive motors.
Those looking for something a bit larger may be interested in the Outlander, which is available with either 5-seats or 7-seats, with most models also split between 2WD and AWD. The entry level Outlander ES comes with a 2.5L direct injection petrol engine, auto transmission, 9inch infotainment unit with Sat Nav, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection as well as Blind Spot Warning and Lane Change Alert for additional safety. The top-of-the-line Outlander Exceed Tourer includes 7-seats, AWD, auto transmission, two tone body colour, front massage seats, 10-speaker sound system, leather seat trim, panoramic sunroof as well as Head-Up Display.
Best-known for its small car range, South Korean brand Kia has grown its SUV range to become a mainstay within the market, giving motorists options to choose from, whether you’re after a small, mid-size or larger SUV. Kia’s range begins with the Stonic and Seltos, before moving up to the Sportage and large Sorento.
The Stonic is available as an S, Sport or GT-Line model, with the S model featuring an 8inch LCD infotainment unit, Forward Collision Warning System, rear view camera, Lane Keeping Assist, USB charging port as well as either an auto or manual transmission. The GT-Line includes a 7-speed transmission, 17inch alloy wheels, auto dimming rear view mirror, daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, rain sensing wipers and sports steering wheel.
The Seltos is available as an S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line model, with the Sport+ including a 110kW power output, electronic parking brake, 10.25inch LCD touchscreen infotainment unit as well as rear privacy glass and rear spoiler. The Sportage comes as an S, SX, SX+ or GT-Line model, while the larger Sorento is available as an S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line model, with the top-of-the-line GT-Line model available as a petrol or diesel engine, with the petrol engine capable of a 200kW engine output, with 2WD, 8-speed auto transmission, 20inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, daytime running lights, Blind Spot View Monitor, leather seats, hands-free power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, rain sensing wipers and paddle shifters.
Offering one of the largest SUVs ranges in Australia, Japanese brand Mazda has long been a stalwart of the SUV industry, with its popular CX-5 consistently one of the most popular SUV models. Mazda’s current SUV line-up includes the CX-3, CX-30, CX-5, CX-8, CX-9 and MX-30. The CX-30 is one of the latest from Mazda, and is available as a FWD or AWD model, with G20, G25 and X20 models available with the wider line-up. The X20 AWD includes a 2.0L engine, hybrid system, 132kW output, rear spoiler, sunroof, daytime running lights, adaptive LED headlights, two USB charging ports, heated front seats, paddle shift and Sat Nav.
The classic CX-5 is available as FWD and AWD, with the range including the Maxx, Maxx Sport, Touring, GT, GT SP and Akera, with the middle-of-the-road Touring model including either a 2.2L diesel or a 2.5L petrol engine, auto transmission, AWD, 17inch alloy wheels, auto-folding side mirrors, rear spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and paddle shifters. If you’re after a hybrid model, the MX-30 features M Hybrid Technology with a lithium-ion battery, working together with the E-SKYACTIV engine, which has an output of 114kW, 18inch alloys, 7inch infotainment unit, Bose sound system, 7inch instrument cluster and 360-degree view monitor, and is available as a Evolve, Touring or Astina model.
Honda’s short but sweet range of SUVs includes the HR-V and CR-V, with the HR-V ideal for those after something smaller, while the CR-V may be suitable for those with larger families or prefer the extra space. The HR-V is available as an VTi, VTi-S, RS or VTi-LX model, with the entry-level VTi featuring 16inch alloy wheels, City Brake Active System, reversing camera, 1.8L engine capable of 108kW output, LED headlights, 7inch infotainment unit, electronic parking brake and Magic folding seats to help with storage capacity.
The larger CR-V is available as a Vi, VTi, VTi X, VTi 7 or VTi L7 model, with the range split into 5-seaters and 7-seaters. Additionally, if you’re after an AWD model, the CR-V is available as a VTi L or VTi LX model, giving motorists a few options to choose from to help fit the family and get to where you need to be. The VTi model includes 17inch alloys, Honda SENSING safety features, a 140kW engine output, keyless entry and push button start, while the larger VTi L model includes 18inch alloy wheels, 7-seats, panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, wireless charging, heated front seats, Sat Nav and 500L boot capacity.
Offering one of the largest SUVs ranges in Australia, German luxury brand Audi offers small, mid-size, hybrid and sports SUVs, offering plenty for you to consider. The entry-level Audi Q2 SUV includes 18inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather upholstery, 8.3inch infotainment unit, wireless phone charging, a 1.5L petrol engine that can deliver 110kW of output, all as standard. The Sports SQ2 bumps this up to 221kW, with 19inch alloys, red brake callipers, ambient interior lighting and adaptive cruise control all coming as standard.
The larger Q7 model includes 7-seats, 2,050L storage capacity, 170-210kW of engine output (depending on the model), 12.3inch infotainment unit, daytime running lights, park assist, roof rails, heated front seats, as well as a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, 21inch alloy wheels and aluminium inlays if you opt for the more expensive models.
If you’re looking for a hybrid model, the e-tron may be the vehicle for you, which is also available in a Sportback model for those looking for a bit of additional power. The standard e-tron – the e-tron 50 – features a 230kW engine output, 400V lithium-ion battery, 20inch alloy wheels, cross traffic alerts, rain sensing wipers, collision avoidance, keyless entry, heated front seats, ambient lighting, two USB ports, 10.1inch infotainment unit with Sat Nav as well as a Head-Up Display in the Premium Package.
Japanese brand Nissan has long been operating within the larger SUV market, but has since expanded its range to cater for those after smaller models, introducing the Qashqai and the Juke over recent years. The Juke is available as a ST, ST+, ST-L, ST-L+ or TI model, with the base-level ST featuring a 3-cylinder 1.0L turbocharged petrol engine, auto transmission, 84kW output, 17inch alloy wheels, 8inch touchscreen infotainment unit, LED headlights and Intelligent Lane Intervention, along with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
The Qashqai is available in similar models to the Juke, but also features the Midnight Edition, which includes a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, auto transmission, suede seats, 19inch black alloy wheels, black exterior accents and additional styling features to stand out on the road. For those after something with a bit more heritage behind it, the Nissan X-Trail is the brand’s flagship SUV, and is available as an ST, ST-L, Ti and TS models, with the TS model coming equipped with a 2.0L turbo diesel engine, intelligent emergency braking, push button start, flexible cargo system, rear view camera, 4WD, 130kW output, 17inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear spoiler and a 7inch touchscreen infotainment unit.
The large Patrol features 7seats and 4WD, and is available as a Ti or Ti-L model. The main difference between the two models comes in the form of a sunroof, roof rails, heated front seats, second row entertainment screens, intelligent rear view mirror and larger sound system, meaning if you’re looking for more comfort or fun during the road trip, the Ti-L may be more your speed.
Offering the XV, Forester and Outback models, Japanese brand Subaru has expanded its SUV line-up, with hybrid models of the XV and Forester also available. The base level XV 2.0i AWD features Intelligent Drive, 17inch alloy wheels, 4-cylinder petrol engine, multiple driving modes, rear spoiler, daytime running lights, paddle shifters, 4.2inch instrument cluster and 6.3inch LCD infotainment unit. The entry-level Forester – which is also available as a 2.5i, 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Sport, 2.5i-S or hybrid model – has an engine output of 136kW, along with AWD, 17inch alloy wheels, brake assist, electronic parking brake, reverse camera, Lane Change Assist, LED daytime running lights, two USB ports, push button start, 8inch infotainment unit and leather steering wheel.
The Subaru Outback is available as a standard model, alongside the Sport or Touring models, all of which come equipped with AWD, 4-cylinder petrol engine, 138kW output, 18inch wheels, 2-tonne towing capacity, anti-lock braking system, reverse camera, distraction warning, heated door mirrors, rear privacy glass, paddle shifters, 4.2inch cluster display as well as rear USB ports. The Touring model also comes equipped with an electric sunroof, sports pedals, heated steering wheel, leather seat trim, 9-speaker sound system and even a CD player if you really want to make use of the sound system.
Luxury brand BMW offers the X range for those after a SUV model, with the range including the X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X7 and the iX hybrid range. The small X2 is a sports-inspired SUV, and features either an sDrive18i, sDrive20i or M35i petrol engine, with engine outputs ranging from 103kW to 225kW, as well as 19inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, front heated seats and multiple optional packages if you’re looking for more features. The BMW X5 offers a 5-seat or 7-seat model, with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrids available. Models include the Essence, Balance or Signature range, with the Signature model featuring a TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, Head-Up Display, surround sound system, 22inch wheels and leather upholstery.
If you’re looking for something a bit more environmentally sustainable, the BMW iX3 SUV may be a good fit, with a fully electric engine, with a range of up to 460kms. It also features a panoramic sunroof, Driving Assistant Professional, a 12.3inch touchscreen infotainment unit and a 12.3inch instrument cluster, sports seats, adaptive suspension, a recuperation system to convert kinetic energy, as well as the option to add the M Sport Package for additional specs and comforts.
A new car can be expensive, and that can particularly be the case with SUVs, with the starting price for a small SUV around $30,000, with the larger, more luxury models easily costing well over $120,000. In Canstar Blue’s latest research, survey respondents spent, on average, over $43,000 on their SUV, meaning most are opting for the middle ground within the SUV market.
Despite SUVs often coming with a hefty price tag, it’s clear many Aussies are still wheelie happy to hand over their hard-earned cash. The majority of owners (89%) believe they got a good deal on the price of their new car, with most survey respondents (83%) also having researched their car online beforehand or negotiated a lower price with their dealer (79%).
So, what makes consumers so revved up for SUVs? One reason is that they’re particularly ideal for motorists who want plenty of cargo space and legroom, but don’t want to go for a larger 4WD option, with plenty of small and mid-size options available, making them suitable for both long car trips as well as short dashes through the city.
With plenty of car manufacturers now jumping on the SUV bandwagon, as well as offering electric or hybrid models, Aussie motorists are becoming increasingly spoilt for choice. As a result, which SUV you decide to call your own will come down to your individual preferences, your driving habits and of course your budget. That’s why it’s important to shop around and test drive different types of models to make sure you’ve got the best vehicle for you.
Photo Credit: Aleksandar Malivuk/shutterstock.com
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Content Projects Lead, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 12,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have bought a brand new SUV from a dealership in the last three years – in this case, 933 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here are the past winners from Canstar Blue’s SUV vehicle ratings: