Know how much you can spend on a second-hand car but haven't made up your mind which one to buy? We recommend two sensible options, plus a left-field choice. This time, we're looking at a premium midsize SUV/crossover for under R450 000…

SENSIBLE: Range Rover Evoque Si4

0-100 km/h: 8,25 seconds
Top speed: 217 km/h
Power: 177 kW
Torque: 340 N.m
CO2: 191 g/km
Fuel consumption: 10,00 L/100 km

The appearance of the Evoque certainly turned heads on local introduction in 2011 and the first generation still does. The exterior looks compact and squat, giving the appearance of minimal headroom. On taking your seat, however, you discover that the packaging is well executed with sufficient room for four adults (legroom aft is more than the X4’s, for example, but not quite as good as the Lexus’).

Motive choices are a 140 kW turbodiesel or 177 kW turbopetrol, all with four-wheel drive and six-speed transmissions. The 2014 updates included new nine-speed ZF gearboxes all-round. This switch resulted in improved fuel economy. Ground clearance is impressive at 215 mm, so this is a competent adventure-seeker.

The interior is plush Range Rover fare, with the Jaguar/Land Rover rise-up gear selector and decent trim.

Opt for a vehicle with a smaller wheel size (Pure has 18-inch) as the 19- and 20-inchers mean a harder ride quality. The diesels have particulate filters to reduce emissions. These are self-cleaning but need a frequent good run to be effective, so avoid excessive stop/start driving.

The Evoque has a five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan. While owners mentioned some problems, they weren't recurring ones. Still, aim for an Evoque with some free services left.

Space: 5 seats, 264/856 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control
Cost of four tyres: R11 500
Road test: February 2012

SENSIBLE: BMW X4 xDrive28i

0-100 km/h: 6,40 seconds
Top speed: 232 km/h
Power: 180 Kw
Torque: 350 N.m
CO2: 162 g/km
Fuel consumption: 8,40 L/100 km

The X4 arrived after BMW’s flagship crossover, the X6. While the X6 stood out with its sporty, oversized styling, the X4 proved more understated, which is part of its appeal to some.

As expected with BMW, there are several diesel and petrol models but, power-wise, this 28i strikes a good balance. Despite the model designation (later changed to 30i) and history of legendary straight sixes from the brand, this is a 2,0-litre turbopetrol. Thankfully, the acceleration is rapid. The diesels were more popular due to the excellent driving experience, great torque and good fuel economy, so finding a 28i might be trickier than locating a 20d.

The big hatch makes loading goods easy but rear visibility is restricted. The X4 has by far the biggest boot of the three but has no spare wheel. Instead, you get a mobility kit to treat a basic puncture.

Problem areas aren't plentiful. The diesels can suffer from EGR valve leaks while the petrol engines may have issues with the turbo wastegate (dump valve) not performing properly. Signs are an engine malfunction lamp or intermittent noises. Some say you need to replace the entire turbo assembly but get an independent opinion; the valve is replaceable.

A five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan should provide some support, but ensure the plan is active.

Space: 5 seats, 368/992 L
Safety and aids: 6 airbags, ABS with EBD and EBA, stability control
Cost of four tyres: R13 140
Road test: November 2014 (xDrive20d)

LEFT-FIELD: Lexus NX200t

0-100 km/h: 8,25 seconds
Top speed: 200 km/h
Power: 175 Kw
Torque: 350 N.m
CO2: 183 g/km
Fuel consumption: 9,48 L/100 km

Not such a strange or quirky choice this time but the Lexus is often not the first marque that springs to mind when considering a lifestyle crossover. However, you can’t fault the NX’s high quality, stellar level of standard features and fair value.

The NX models we spotted on Gumtree were a year or so younger than the others here and had mileages of under 50 000 km; just run-in, some would say for a Lexus (or Toyota).

A six-speed auto transmission and all-wheel drive are standard but the transmission can be a touch sluggish. Thankfully, the engine is a good one. The 2,0-litre uses a twin-scroll turbocharger plus variable valve timing to match the two rivals’ torque outputs.

The interior boasts plenty of buttons and it’s impressive in terms of quality and ultimately easy to use (aside from the oft-maligned trackpad scroller). An electric driver’s seat, electric steering wheel adjustment, dual-zone climate control and loads of stitched cabin leather are on the EX model’s features list.

A four-year/100 000 km maintenance plan is shorter than those of the other options. Again, while there are no serious reliability concerns, boutique SUVs can be pricey items to maintain so do check that the maintenance plan is still valid or has been lengthened.

Space: 5 seats, 280/1 168 L
Safety and aids: 7 airbags, ABS with ABD, stability control
Cost of four tyres: R10 432
Road test: April 2015

Second hand cars for sale

See Full Lexus NX price and specs here