Which comfortable, dog-friendly SUV can replace our too-small Ford Puma?

Honda HR-V
The Honda HR-V has limited boot space, but the rear seats can be flipped up - Honda

Dear Alex,

We downsized our BMW X1 for an ex-demonstrator Ford Puma ST-Line Vignale two years ago. However, over time we have realised that it’s a bit too small for us, while we dislike the harsh ride from the upgraded 19-inch alloy wheels specified by the dealer. We need a petrol or hybrid with a comfortable ride and an automatic gearbox; no bigger than the X1 but roomier than the Puma, with heated front seats and steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera, an electric tailgate and a boot big enough for our small dog. Our budget is £30,000 and we would consider a nearly new car. What do you suggest?


Dear KM,

Size is going to matter here, so let’s set out your limitations first. The Puma is 4.2m (13ft 9in) long and the BMW 4.5m (14ft 9in), so we need something between the two.

You’re going to be looking for a high-specification used version to get all of the equipment you’ve listed; buying new is an option, but chances are all your requirements will push the price above your budget.

The exception to that rule is the Honda HR-V. You’ll need to spec Advance trim to get the items you need, which costs £33,160 brand new. However, several Honda dealers are offering delivery-mileage HR-V Advances, in stock and available immediately, for £29,995.

At 4.34m (14ft 3in) long, the HR-V is only a little bigger than the Puma and the boot is rather small at just 319 litres – although, since your dog is a small breed, it should be large enough.

Of course, that doesn’t leave much boot space for anything else, but here’s where the HR-V’s trump card comes in. It’s fitted with Honda’s Magic Seats, which means you can flip up the rear seat bases and stow your luggage there instead.

The HR-V’s comfortable ride should be a breath of fresh air after the Puma, while its full hybrid powertrain will make it even more economical.

If the HR-V is still too small, you might consider a used Nissan Qashqai. You can buy a year-old example in Tekna form, with all the equipment you require, along with a mild hybrid powertrain and 3,000 miles, for just shy of £30,000.

By setting such strict equipment requirements, though, you do leave yourself with relatively few options. Could you, for example, forgo the electronic tailgate?

If so, you could afford a Kia Niro 3 Hybrid that’s a few months old with 1,000 miles, which would tick all your other boxes and have the majority of a seven-year warranty remaining.

Alternatively, if you’re after something more upmarket, try the Mercedes-Benz GLA. In AMG Line form, this has all the equipment you are after, except for a heated steering wheel (an optional extra, so you might find one so equipped). A 2022 GLA 200 AMG Line Executive with 16,000 miles can be yours for your budget.

Having said that, I would pick the newer, fresher Honda or Kia instead.

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