If you’re buying on a budget, it’s hard to find Ulez- and CAZ-compliant cars, as most of the cars you’ll be looking at were built during the diesel boom.
It may not have occurred to you that the London ULAZ, or Ultra Low Emission Zone, has now been expanded – full details of which you can find in our full guide here. And Londoners facing hefty fines for driving in city centers are not alone: Clean Air Zones, or CAZs, are popping up in towns and cities across the country.
Where they affect private cars, most of these clean air zones echo the London Ulysses in exempting cars that comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations, as well as petrol cars that comply with Euro 4 and 5 regulations.
If you’re buying on a budget it becomes quite difficult to find Ulez- and CAZ-compliant cars, as most of the cars you’ll be looking at will have been built during the diesel boom – making petrol versions rare.
This is especially true if you are looking for an SUV. But it’s not impossible to find a Uleez-friendly SUV. And to prove it, we’ve brought together five of our favorite cheap basement SUVs for five different types of drivers that fit the bill.
for family buyers
Nissan Qashqai (2007-2013)
The first generation Qashqai was a game-changer; A car whose ‘tall hatchback’ stance proved to be exactly what the public was looking for, it created a template for mid-size crossovers that many manufacturers followed.
Affordable and very popular: Qashqai
Best in this breed are the post-2010 facelift cars, which had softer suspension and better quality interior plastics, although pre-facelift models are still worth considering if your budget is tight.
Either way, the Qashqai offers an SUV stance with family hatch compactness in an affordable and easy-to-use package that has made it hugely popular.
price to pay: from £3,000
We got: 2011 Qashqai 1.6 N-Tech, 77,000 miles, full service history, £4,900
watch out for: Failed ignition switch, suspicious key fobs, rattling rear suspension, leaking windscreen seal
For a touch of luxury:
Lexus RX (2003-2009)
The hybrid Lexus RX400h has been the vehicle of choice for SUV buyers looking to drive around the London area in an Uleez for some time now – and it’s driven prices up to such an extent that our £5,000 budget will actually buy you tired , high-mile example.
But why not take a look at the Pure Petrol RX instead? Granted it won’t be as economical (especially since the 350 is pretty thirsty), but the non-hybrid RX looks to be much better value with the same lavish equipment levels, equally comfortable ride and of course the same prestige. Excellent reliability as its electrified sibling.
price to pay: from £2,500
We got: 2007 RX350 LE, 64,000 miles, full service history, £4,990
watch out for: Water leak in boot, oil leak in rear of engine, air suspension failure on SE-L model
For an active lifestyle:
Skoda Yeti (2009-2017)
Yeti is one of the best cars from Volkswagen Group in recent years.
Beneath its quirky styling you’ll find one of the most versatile interiors of any car, with three separate rear seats that can slide, fold, collapse forward and even fold down completely. way out freely – allowing you to seat anywhere from two to five. People in whatever configuration best suits you.
Yeti is one of the best cars from Volkswagen Group in recent years
A range of optional accessories, still available from Skoda, means you can even use the roof rails as extra storage. And when you’re not trying to cram in mountain bike or watersports gear, the Yeti is roomy, comfortable, and cool to ride.
price to pay: from £4,000
We got: 2011 Yeti 1.2 TSI S, 98,000 miles, full service history, £4,489
watch out for: Rattling timing chain, neglectful maintenance, dicky automatic gearbox, slipping clutch
For large families:
Volvo XC90 (2002-2014)
The first-generation XC90 was always a great car, and now that you can buy one for peanuts, it’s not even less great.
You get a high quality, beautifully built interior, lots of toys and real seating for seven people. It’s comfortable by the standards of its time, not overly safe, and it benefits from the tough driving position most SUV buyers want.
Volvo XC90: Seven seats, therefore better for large families
Of course, there are reasons why the price is so low. In Uleez-friendly, twin-turbo petrol form, it’s quite thirsty. Then there’s the automatic gearbox, which can be troublesome and expensive to fix – so buy the best you can afford, and avoid anything used to drag.
price to pay: from £3,000
We got: 2005 XC90 2.9 T6 SE, 109,000 miles, full service history, £4,495
watch out for: Auto gearbox and transfer box problems (especially on former tow cars), electrical faults
For reliability and quality:
Honda CR-V (2007-2012)
Honda has an excellent reputation for reliability, and it also pairs this with superb build quality – the third-generation Honda CR-V is exemplary, with a smart interior that’s solidly put together, and ready to go. Has a strong track record. The miles keep piling up.
Roomy, comfortable and with a big boot: The Honda CR-V
The CR-V is comfortable and easy to drive, with a spacious boot and rear seats that slide and recline to make the most of it.
Most models come with some nice modern features, and the petrol engines are smooth and efficient. All these things make the CR-V a great all-rounder and a great buy in this budget.
price to pay: from £4,000
We got: 2007 CR-V 2.0 i-VTEC SE, 103,000 miles, full service history, £4,995
watch out for: Pulling steering, steering wheel judder at full lock, leaking rear light cluster, flat batteries due to faulty ignition switch