If there’s one type of car that defines the decade, it’s the SUV. Huge demand means there’s a wider choice than ever – including an extensive range of family hatchback-sized models.
That means the best are cheap to run, easy to drive and simple to get in and out of. They also have that all-important raised driving position. New SUV owners are coming from cars of all types – coupes, hatchbacks and MPVs – because these models pack huge practicality into a stylish and appealing package.
Citroen C4 Cactus
The quirky C4 Cactus marked a turnaround for Citroen. Throwing caution to the wind, it launched the striking SUV with air-filled panels along the doors to shrug off parking dings. There’s a vast amount of space inside and clever weight-saving means all models are very efficient and comfortable to drive. Read the full Citroen C4 Cactus review
You can buy a brand-new Dacia Duster for less than £10,000, making it Britain’s cheapest SUV by some margin. It oozes rugged charm and is among the most capable off-roaders on this list. It does have some caveats, though: you’ll want to avoid the more basic models, as they’re spartan, and a so-so safety rating isn’t ideal, but for the money, the Duster is hard to ignore. Read the full Dacia Duster review
The Mazda CX-3 is based on the brilliant Mazda2 supermini, which guarantees it’ll be a fun SUV to drive. It’s equally at home on the motorway or country lane and ideal for a holiday – as long as you’re not taking too much luggage, as it’s not the biggest car here. It’s reliable and well equipped as standard, though. Read the full Mazda CX-3 review
The Q2 is the poshest small SUV in our list, thanks to Audi’s ability to distil the feel of its large cars into more compact models. You pay for the privilege, though, especially if you get carried away with the pricey customisation options. Engines are small, powerful and efficient and the Q2 is plenty big enough for family life. Read the full Audi Q2 review
The Niro is Kia’s first hybrid sold in the UK, and it’s a superb effort. Economy is a strong point, with over 60mpg possible in the real world. It’s smooth, comfortable and easy to drive and there’s a decent amount of space inside, although the boot is awkwardly shaped. But the Niro has a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty in its favour. Read the full Kia Niro review
If you’re looking for a small SUV with huge interior space, look no further than the Honda HR-V. Thanks to rear seat bases that flip up, you’ll enjoy more luggage space than the larger Nissan Qashqai. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is very efficient, but choose your HR-V carefully, as it can get very expensive. SE trim is our pick. Read the full Honda HR-V review
The Peugeot 2008 pulls off a clever trick of looking more expensive than it actually is. It’s handsomely styled inside and out, although some drivers might find the small steering wheel obscures the dials. Its petrol and diesel engines are cheap to run and the 2008 comes well equipped, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fitted to most models. Read the full Peugeot 2008 review
The Skoda Yeti is getting on a bit now, but there’s still lots to like. Its boxy exterior hides a big boot and an interior with plenty of headroom. Given that, it’s a surprise it also offers a really good driving experience. Two and four-wheel-drive models are available and engines range in size from 1.2 to 2.0 litres. Read the full Skoda Yeti review
The Tivoli is the best SsangYong yet, and by some margin. It’s tremendous value for money, with plenty of equipment fitted and has plenty of interior space. The interior is slightly low-rent, the ride is firm and the engines are quite noisy, but for a £13,000 starting price, it’s very easy to overlook these shortcomings. Read the full SsangYong Tivoli review
The Clio-based Renault Captur is the sister car to the big-selling Nissan Juke, but we think it’s a better all-rounder. It’s very spacious inside and the most efficient engines claim 78mpg. It performs well in ownership satisfaction surveys and comes with a four-year warranty, which is longer than most. Read the full Renault Captur review
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