Cool practical cars
Cool practical cars
Looking to choose from a range of great SUV cars? Here, our experts bring together a selection of the best. SUV means Sports Utility Vehicle and they are also sometimes called Crossovers too. Originally, SUV cars were vehicles you could drive off-road. These days SUVs can be four-wheel-drive but many are two-wheel-drive only. It is SUV cars’ high driving position, modern styling and their family-car practicality that car buyers love. Here, our experts have got every SUV covered – everything from seven-seat SUVs to small SUVs, from petrol SUVs to hybrid SUVs. If you’re looking for an SUV, one of these will be right for you.
Best SUVs on sale
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High-riding SUVs look suitably imposing, give you the ever-popular raised driving position and are big enough to carry a family and its luggage without breaking a sweat. Lots even come with four-wheel drive to give you peace of mind if things get slippy. If this sounds like your kind of thing and you want to choose your ideal new model, we’ve narrowed down a list of the best SUVs currently on sale.
The Volvo XC40 is the best SUV, with a stylish interior and space for five adults. All models come with plenty of kit – including a nine-inch portrait touchscreen infotainment system – and loads of flashy interior trims while top-spec cars get gorgeous unvarnished wood inserts made from actual driftwood. Lovely.
The Skoda Kodiaq is a hugely practical family SUV with room for five tall adults inside. Pay a little extra and you can get it with an extra row of kid-sized seats in the boot, too. All models get a minimalist – if slightly monochrome – cabin that feels impressively robust and a high-resolution infotainment system that’s bright and easy to use.
When it comes to eye-catching interiors, the Peugeot 3008 SUV has the competition licked. Its small steering wheel and the high-mounted digital display that replaces conventional analogue instruments really feel a cut above the rest. It’s pretty roomy, too – there’s space in all five seats for adults to get comfy. The boot’s pretty generous too.
The Audi Q7 is a luxurious seven-seat SUV that’s more at home on the Autobahn than romping through the great outdoors. Sure, the Q7 is significantly more expensive than some cars in our list, but it does come loaded with bundles of high-tech kit and you can get it with Audi’s super-sharp digital Virtual Cockpit display instead of conventional analogue dials.
The five-seat Skoda Karoq is an affordable – it won our Car of the Year Value Award – but still very practical small family SUV. It has one of the biggest boots of any car its size and some roomy back seats with enough space for three adults to sit side-by-side. Everything in its sensibly-laid-out cabin feels solid and an intuitive touchscreen infotainment system is standard across the range.
Best small SUVs
Their go-anywhere image and chunky styling mean small SUVs have more appeal than a run-of-the-mill small car. The best small SUVs are practical, easy to drive with a great view out and come with reasonable running costs.These are our experts’ favourites…
The Suzuki Vitara has distinctive looks and a range of options that let you stamp your own personality on this small SUV. It’s not just its looks that are appealing, though, the Vitara has a decent amount of interior space for its size, is easy to drive and its reasonable price means you can overlook the interior’s cheap-feeling materials.
If you’re after a funky looking, small SUV then the Citroen C3 Aircross is a great option. It’s highly customisable, eye-catching outside and in, and is seriously comfortable. Overall it’s a great all-rounder.
The Mazda CX-3 comes with eye-catching styling and a sporty driving experience. Its direct, accurate controls combined with sporty suspension mean it good fun to drive. The interior is well put together, although some of the plastics lower down in the cabin feel a bit cheap.
The Hyundai Kona Electric gives you a surprisingly good, electric-powered alternative to the other small SUVs here. OK, so the batteries eat into boot space and rear seat space will also be tight for tall adults, but you do get plenty of room up front and the Electric also feels nicer inside than a regular Kona. The best thing about the Kona Electric is its range though, you’ll go much further in a Kona than in any other comparable electric car.
The Audi Q2 just about has it all for a small SUV – a premium badge, a luxurious cabin, plenty of space, powerful engines and a relaxed driving experience. Equally, handsome looks dominated by its large upright grille and a contrasting patch behind the rear door help it stand out in a car park.
Best large SUVs
The new BMW X5 not be the most revolutionary design, but each aspect of this large SUV has been honed to perfection. It’s very roomy, and there’s a seven seat option. Also the interior build quality is second to none while the infotainment system has so many different modes of input that there’s one to please everyone.
The Audi Q8 is based on the Q7 but it’s been set up for a slightly sportier drive yet the standard fit air suspension means it dances over bumps like ballerina. Inside it gets Audi’s latest and greatest technology and ice cool interior design.
The Audi Q7 is a well built large SUV and has excellent technology. The engines are smooth and punchy, it corners better than it has a right too and with the optional air suspension it’s one of the comfiest car ever. The cabin is very roomy too.
The Volvo XC90 is a large SUV that’s almost as posh as BMW or Audi, yet refreshingly is a lot cooler and less ostentatious. It’s a genuine seven-seater too and even with the third row in use, the boot is still a decent size.
With its huge exterior presence and plush interior, the Mercedes GLE has everything you’d expect of a large SUV. Inside, the huge infotainment screens make you feel like you’re at the IMAX. And they’re available with Merc’s cool augmented sat-nav.
The Toyota RAV4 is the best hybrid SUV. It has a spacious interior and robust build quality which means it’s an ideal choice if you want a dependable hybrid SUV. It sips fuel, runs on silent electric power for a few miles and is quite quick. Note, however – it isn’t exempt from paying London’s Congestion Charge.
The Lexus RX looks and feels luxurious, has space for the family and is a very relaxing car to drive. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s more affordable than alternatives and its combination of a 3.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor make it surprisingly cheap to run.
The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin-Engine feels posh and has seven seats big enough for tall adults. Its petrol-electric powertrain provides startling performance, yet the XC90 is exempt from London’s congestion charge. Running costs are low, but only if you have a short commute.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the first car to be offered as a plug in hybrid SUV – it’s exempt from paying London’s Congestion Charge and is also cheap to run. It doesn’t get the seven seats fitted to other Outlanders, but it does have space for five and a big boot.
The Toyota CH-R hybrid SUV looks like it’s been beamed from space and, fittingly, it’s available with a high-tech petrol-electric powertrain that’s very frugal. It isn’t that spacious for an SUV but it should be fine for young families and it’s good fun to drive for a car like this.
Best 7-seater SUVs
Seven-seaters SUVs used to be the preserve of parents bestowed with many children, but more and more people are buying them for the extra space they offer over regular five-seater models, as well as for the prestige that comes with that extra size.
The Audi Q7 is the best seven-seater SUV. It’s more luxurious than butch, yet its combination of abilities makes it a great choice for many purposes. It has an interior packed full of Audi’s latest technology including the swanky Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display. The engines are smooth and impressively frugal when you consider the size of it. The Q7’s third row of seats is good enough for kids but adults will complain on longer journeys.
The Skoda Kodiaq has a much lower price than an Audi Q7 but matches it on 7-seat SUV ability in many areas, especially those that matter to families. The Kodiaq excels at swallowing passengers and luggage while the solid-built interior can withstand years of abuse. A further feather in the Kodiaq’s cap are the lively, yet frugal engines and the quick-shifting optional auto gearbox. The Kodiaq’s third row is not much bigger than in a Q7, so it will be alright for kids but slightly cramped for adults.
The Volvo XC90 SUV is a nice halfway point between the sensible Kodiaq and the luxurious Q7. The XC90 has a posh interior with a great, minimalistic design, super comfy seats and huge space inside. It’s available as a hybrid, if you’re eco-conscious, and goes over bumps in impressive comfort. The XC90s third row is best reserved for kids – there’s very little legroom back there.
The Land Rover Discovery is equally at home towering over other cars in congested city streets as it is blasting through fields and rough roads. The interior is spacious and well built, but avoid entry level models – they miss out on things like leather seats or sat nav. The Discovery engines, while not the most frugal here, are easily powerful enough to move this seven-seat SUV with ease. The Discovery’s third row is spacious enough for adults thanks to the boxy body so it’s the best SUV here for passengers.
The Kia Sorento might not have the tech-fest interior of the Audi Q7 or the off-road ability of the Land Rover Discovery, but what it does have is value in spades. For its price, the Sorento is a great seven-seater SUV. It has a solid interior, big boot, economical engines, even if they are a bit slow, and an easy-to-use infotainment system. The Sorento’s third row is more spacious than the Kodiaq’s but less so than the Discovery’s meaning you can fit two adults back there, but just for short trips.
Best petrol SUVs
The Peugeot 3008 is the best petrol SUV. It’s a sensible family car that manages not be dull. It looks great and it’s interior makes most other cars’ cabins look bland, yet it has space for four and their luggage. The 130hp 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine makes the 3008 nippy but also cheap to run.
The BMW X3 gives you the best of both worlds – its SUV body gives you space for people and a pile of luggage, yet it’s just as good to drive as a normal BMW saloon. Best of all, the xDrive 20i petrol car has an impressive turn of speed but doesn’t cost a fortune to run.
The Skoda Karoq is hard to beat if you’re after a practical, well-priced SUV, it won the carwow Car of the Year Value Award. It’s well-built cabin is spacious and the back seats can be removed to carry big loads. The 1.5-litre 150ps petrol engine is cheap to run and reasonably quick.
The BMW X1 might not look like a sporty BMW saloon, but it feels like one to drive and its SUV body gives you plenty of space and a great view out when driving. The X1 is available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine (in the 118i) which is cheap to run and reasonably nippy.
The Range Rover is like a posh limo that has a practical boot and off-road ability that’ll humble most other SUVs. Choose the 5.0-litre petrol and it’ll have the measure of most sports cars on road too (on straights, anyway), but the running costs will be huge.
Best diesel SUVs
Spec your Volvo XC40 with the D3 Diesel engine and you’ll get a smart SUV that should manage around 50mpg. It’s spacious and comfortable too and is particularly head-turning when you go for one of the two-tone paint schemes. The Volvo XC40 is the best diesel SUV.
The 150bhp, 2.0-litre diesel in the Skoda Kodiaq is quiet and you’ll likely get around 45mpg in everyday use. Overall, the Kodiaq is a spacious and practical SUV, and with this engine it will be fairly economical to run too.
The BMW X5 30d is our favourite X5. It pulls hard from low revs and yet still has good fuel economy. Overall, the X5 is a comfortable SUV that’s fun to drive.
The Audi Q7 is available with a choice of two 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engines, with either 218 or 272hp. The 272hp model offers noticeably more performance with a negligible cost to fuel economy. In other words, the huge Audi Q7 will keep pace with a Golf GTI off the lights but, perplexingly, will also be cheaper to run.
Choose your Skoda Karoq with the 150bhp 2.0-litre diesel as it’s smoother than the 1.6-litre. Effortless performance too. Overall the Karoq is a spacious family SUV with a big boot.
Best cheap SUVs
The Dacia Duster is the best cheap SUV. It looks and feels basic, but that’s to be expected when you can have it for less than £10,000. It does looks like a proper SUV, though, has space for four adults and big boot. While not quick, the Dacia is cheap to run particularly if you go for the diesel model.
The SsangYong Tivoli lacks the Tonka-toy appeal of the Dacia Duster, but it’s still recommendable as a cheap SUV thanks to its decent interior space and long five-year warranty. It’ll even handle light off-roading if fitted with the optional four-wheel drive system.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 looks quite expensive in this company, but it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a proper off-roader that doesn’t make you compromise in other areas. It’s cheap to run and has just enough space for four people with a few bags of shopping.
Okay, so the Ford Ka+ Active isn’t really an SUV – it’s just a small car with raised suspension and chunky bumpers. On the flipside, it’s cheap to run and its small size makes it perfect for town. It’s small inside, but should have space for four and two small suitcases.
Nothing else looks quite like the Suzuki Jimny, and not a lot will keep up with it off-road. On-road, though, it’s poor. Inside this cheap SUV is functional rather than fun. There’s swathes of hard, scratchy plastics might not look pretty, but will happily stand up to a harsh life.
Best SUVs for £300 a month
The Skoda Kodiaq shares its parts with a VW Tiguan but somehow manages to feel better built inside, has more space and a lower price. Factor in its excellent range of engines and decent drive and it’s hard to imagine a more sensible way to spend £300.
For under £300 a month, you can’t get more luxurious than a Volvo XC60. Its interior is a model of Swedish simplicity, spacious and has the most-comfortable seats known to man. It’s an excellent long-distance cruiser especially when fitted with Volvo’s D4 diesel engine.
The Audi Q2’s list of personalisation options make it the coolest car Audi sells, yet it also has the excellent interior quality and brilliant range of engines you’d expect of, well – an Audi. Sure, you can get more spacious cars for £300, but the Q2’s still a perfectly viable family car.
The Kia Niro might not look like hybrid, but under its SUV body, you’ll find a petrol-electric powertrain that is cheap to run. Not bad for the not-so-princely sum of £300 a month. It has space for adults in the back and, while the boot isn’t huge, it will swallow two suitcases.
Volvo XC40 is noticeably different and more youthful than the larger XC60 and seven-seater XC90. Essentially it’s a Nike trainer to their Brogues and Oxfords shoes. And you can pick this SUV up from less than £300 a month.
The Tesla Model X P100D is the fastest-accelerating SUV on sale. It has a huge 100kWh battery, a colossal 772hp on tap and there’s even a Ludicrous driving mode, which all-told, is a pretty accurate description when it’s selected.
All-wheel drive and 650hp helps propel the Lamborghini Urus to 62mph from a standstill in just 3.6sec, and it’ll carry on to 190mph. It sounds fantastic, too, and looks like no other SUV, but it’ll cost you a cool £165,000 to own one – and that’s before you get busy with the extensive options list.
Jeep is yet to confirm prices for its Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but it has confirmed that it’s coming to the UK, and that when it does, it’ll be fitted with a 707hp 6.2-litre V8 engine. That means it takes just 3.7sec to sprint to 60mph and has a top speed of 180mph.
A £70,000 SUV can hardly be called a bargain, but next to the £150,000 Lamborghini Urus the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio still looks it. You get beautiful Italian styling and an engine co-developed by Ferrari. The Stelvio isn’t just great in a straight line – it’s one of the best-handling SUVs we’ve ever driven, and to prove it we put our money where our mouth is and awarded it our Driver’s Award at the 2018 carwow Car of the Year Awards.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is eerily similar to the Alfa Romeo in terms of stats. It has same power from its V8 engine and the same 0-62mph sprint time, while opting for the optional Driver’s Package takes the top speed from 155 to 174mph. It lacks the Alfa’s handling finesse, but does offer a more luxurious cabin and a better infotainment system.
Best luxury SUVs
There was a time when true luxury came in saloon form only. These days, with the interest in SUVs booming, high-end luxury has been given a raised ride height. And it makes sense, because the space and superior visibility large SUVs bring only adds to the sense of opulence. Here we’ve rounded up five of the best luxury SUVs.
The Range Rover is the best luxury SUV, looking just as ‘right’ around the farm as it does dropping off celebs outside The Ritz. It has a sumptuous interior that’s also massively spacious and drives just like a luxury SUV – there’s strong performance on offer when it’s needed and high levels of comfort at all speeds.
The Audi SQ7 sits at the top of the Q7 range and is powered by a sledgehammer of a 4.0-litre diesel V8 engine. That means a 0-62 sprint time of less than five seconds, yet respectable economy at a cruise too. Clever active suspension that props up the SQ7 in corners will ensure you have fun driving it around corners, too. And, inside, you’ll also find it suitably top-of-the-range, with lashings of leather and a lengthy standard equipment list.
When Bentley announced it was to make an SUV the purists weren’t happy, but today they line the street outside Harrods. And the Bentayga is fundamentally a good car, with a comfortable ride, wonderful engines and genuinely superb interior quality. It isn’t cheap to buy and is based on an Audi Q7, but it does at least look and feel the more expensive luxury SUV.
Few luxury SUVs turn heads like the Tesla Model X. From its party piece Falcon wing rear doors that are hinged at the top and lift up, to its 17-inch screen that takes up almost all of the centre console, there really is nothing else like it. Of course, it’s also pure electric, will do 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds and travel more than 200 miles on a full charge. It also has a high-quality interior and spongy air suspension.
This boxy bruiser has always been a leftfield choice. You do get quite a bit for your money – an iconic exterior design, super-strong suspension system, arguably the best off-road ability in class and one of the most impressive petrol V8 engines currently on sale. It’s far from a good value proposition but it’s difficult to ignore its broad range of abilities.
What does SUV stand for?
SUV is an acronym that stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. An SUV car typically has raised ground clearance making it look like a four-wheel drive car. People love the higher driving position and great view out you get in these type of cars. SUVs are generally fun to drive – that’s why Sports is in the title – but are practical for families too, with spacious interiors and decent-sized boots – which is why Utility is used in their name.
While an SUV car looks like a 4×4 they don’t necessarily have four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive systems can be heavy, making the cars not particularly fuel efficient. Many customers like the styling of SUV cars but don’t need a car with off-road capability. That’s why many modern SUV cars today have the option to have both two- and four-wheel drive. Indeed some SUVs are two-wheel drive only.