BUYING USED: Large (flashy) SUV under R250 000…

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Hummer H3

We help choose the ideal car for your needs and your budget…

Age: 50
Budget: R250 000
Status: Second family vehicle
Vehicle type: Flashy large SUV


Instead of buying a Toyota Corolla Quest or a Volkswagen Polo with three cylinders, our shopper wants something interesting to park next to the family’s main vehicle. They’re looking for a large SUV that will not only make an impression, but also be ready for a gravel adventure.

The vehicle

We’ve included three high-status SUVs: two from America and a German. The buyer doesn’t do much mileage, so would be happy with petrol power in the hope that maintenance costs would be more affordable than on a high-kilometre diesel.

Our choice: Hummer H3 Adventure AT

0 to 100 km/h: 10,52 sec
Top speed: 156 km/h
Power: 180 kW
Torque: 328 N.m
CO2: 342 g/km
CAR fuel index: 14,7 L/100 km

With Desert Storm credentials, the “baby” Hummer H3 caused a stir in 2005 when General Motors announced it would be building this SUV at its Port Elizabeth plant; we were the only country outside of the USA to manufacture H3s for local sales and export of RHD units. Sadly, it came to an abrupt end in 2010 when the stock market slumped and a need to trim oil consumption signalled the death knell. The H3 Adventure uses a 3,7-litre, five-cylinder Vortec engine from GM’s Atlas truck range and, while there was no diesel available, there was a V8 in the range. This vehicle is not as big as it looks but is wider than most with a smallish glass area that makes it look a lot meaner (but cuts visibility).

Drive modes include 4H with 40:60 front/rear torque split, 4H lock (50:50) and 4L. The vehicle also features a rear diff lock. A five-seater, the H3 offers a reasonable boot size thanks to the full-size alloy spare mounted on the rear door. Popular colours are yellow and black, but a white example looks great and tones down the bling a bit. Fuel consumption isn’t its strength and this H3 will consume somewhat more than the other models featured here. It has a tank range of just under 600 km. Parts and servicing might pose a challenge and you should do some research first before signing on the dotted line to see if there is someone nearby who can service it.

Space: 5 seats, 272-1 232 L
Safety and aids:  8 airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS
Cost of tyres: R18 540
Road test: June 2007

Option 2: Porsche Cayenne V6 Tiptronic

0 to 100 km/h: 8,15 sec

Top speed: 223 km/h
Power: 213 kW
Torque: 385 N.m
CO2: 322 g/km
CAR fuel index: 13,8 L/100 km

Low-mileage Cayennes are too expensive for our budget, so our buyer would have to settle for a well-used example. The ones we spotted within the budget had round 200 000 km under the belt. Thankfully, it’s a generally reliable vehicle. In 2007, the CAR team expressed shock that luxury SUVs such as this cost nearly R600 000 … and, back then, our test car still had a selection of options that added another R75 000. These days, of course, the cheapest new Cayenne is more than R1-million.

The Cayenne’s V6 packs a punch and, with 213 kW, has the most power and comfortably boasts the best acceleration stats among this group. An electrically retractable tow hitch is standard, but the list of options is vast, so individual vehicles vary. Check for options such as air suspension before you decide what you need or perhaps would prefer to avoid due to increased cost. That air suspension could, for example, require costly maintenance at some stage.

Drive is permanent 4×4, with a six-speed transmission and low-range transfer ‘box. It lacks paddle shifters, employing awkward buttons on the steering wheel spokes. While consumption doesn’t match the diesel, it isn’t bad for a 2,3-tonne vehicle and the tank can hold 100 litres of fuel. In terms of a spare wheel, its compressor-inflated space-saver is not ideal for South African roads. Servicing is required only every 30 000 km.

Space: 5 seats, 392-1 100 L
Safety and aids:  6 airbags, ABS with EBD
Cost of tyres: R11 408
Road test: October 2007

Option 3: Jeep Grand Cherokee 3,7 V6

0 to 100 km/h: 10,30 sec
Top speed: 185 km/h
Power: 148 kW
Torque: 315 N.m
CO2: 326 g/km
CAR fuel index: 14,0 L/100 km

This version of the Grand Cherokee was launched in 2005 and replaced the good-looking, more rounded previous generation. It was sold until 2010 when the current model took over. We first tested this generation in 2005 in the form of the 240 kW 5,6-litre V8 that has a cylinder cut-out function to reduce fuel consumption when all that power is not necessary. Still, the V6 is more economical, with an index of 14,0 L/100 km. In 2008, a facelift was implemented together with an engine upgrade to 157 kW and 319 N.m, plus hill-descent and trailer-sway control. Examples may be fitted with the MyGIG infotainment system that includes a 20 GB hard-drive.

Drive is permanent 4×4 with a low-range transfer case and electronic diff locks. Braked towing capacity is an impressive 3 400 kg. While the interior is spacious, the Grand Cherokee suffers from the same problem as the smaller Cherokee models in having a large transmission tunnel that reduces space for your left leg. The rear seats, however, fold completely flat for a useful load area. Steering operation was changed from recirculating ball (better for rock crawling) to rack-and-pinion for a more direct on-road feel.

The spare-wheel mounting is not your usual Jeep position on the tailgate but, for a more upmarket look, moved to under the body. Some owners complain about the transmission being problematic, specifically the bands and torque converter, so check for smooth operation.

Space: 5 seats, 344-1 568 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD
Cost of tyres: R11 448
Road test: August 2005 (Hemi V8)