Toyota's Rav4 is the perfect compact off-roader


Nigel Williams and his wife have two cars – a 4x4 and a small hatch – but want to downsize to one that is compact but spacious, with a budget of £7,000.

A Car for the Head

Nigel needs one car that can do a lot of jobs and I think that Toyota's Rav4 would be the perfect compact off-roader. Given Nigel and his wife are sometimes cut off in winter and go on camping trips quite often, it is spacious and flexible enough to cope. Indeed, the Rav4 is reminiscent of a responsive small hatchback, but is slightly higher off the ground and has the ability to cross a slippery field. There's plenty of room, as rear-seat passengers can slide the rear bench for more legroom, plus the rear seats fold flat and there is a decent-sized boot. Standard equipment is excellent, with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows and CD player all standard. A 2005 XT-R with 2.0-litre petrol with 60,000 miles from a dealer would cost just £6,000.

A Car for the Heart

The Kia Sportage has always been a good-value buy when brand new, so when it's used, buyers get even more for their money. There is plenty of room inside, particularly in the back, so when Nigel is taking elderly relatives around they will be comfortable. The high-set cabin is also easy to get in and out of. When Nigel goes camping, the big boot and 60/40-split rear seats can swallow most loads. Standard equipment is impressive: even the most basic models have air-conditioning and four electric windows. It isn't that exciting to drive and some might find the ride a bit firm, but off-road the Sportage is very capable. Although many buyers would go for the diesel engine, the better-value 2.0 petrol is almost as fuel efficient and a 2006 version with 42,000 miles is just £6,000.

Looking to buy?

Email James Ruppert at, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

Search for used cars