Top 8 Best SUV Cars
4×4 style SUVs are more popular than ever with British car buyers, thanks to their promise of practicality, safety and, often, enough space to seat seven.
Though many new premium SUV models on the market are loaded with high-end specs and style packs, there are now many economical and small SUV options that are affordable, efficient and equally as plush. Some can even seat seven.
Not surprisingly, SUV sales in the UK have been booming for several years as people seem to be preferring a bit of space and bulk instead of opting for pokier estates, sedans, coupes, city cars and crossovers. The era of the SUV is now!
This guide will take you through the best options if you’re on the lookout for a car that’ll give you a commanding view of the road and the ability to head off the beaten track if the fancy takes you. They’re not exactly small cars or perfect for new drivers, but that’s not why we chose them..
The best SUV cars are reviewed below:
- Audi Q5
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Jaguar F-PACE
- Land Rover Discovery
- Volvo XC90
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Cupra Ateca
- Peugeot 5008
1. Audi Q5
The slightly smaller brother to the hench Audi Q7, the Audi Q5 boasts unbeatable build quality, impressive running costs as well as superior interiors.
A frequent bestseller in the segment since its release in 2008, it’s easy to understand why drivers love the Q5. It’s well-built and supremely comfortable. It also has the smart looks of an A4 as well as ample room for passengers and plenty of boot space (550 litres with the seats up and 1,550 with them down).
When it comes to handling, the Q5 time again comes top of the class for its driving experience, thanks to its excellent grip around winding country roads as well as fantastic traction in slippery conditions. But it’s not just the car’s capability that makes it a joy to drive. Road and wind noise are well muffled, even at high speeds, making it a relaxing drive on long journeys.
WhatCar? awarded the Audi Q5 an overall rating of five stars, adding that “the Audi Q5 is one of the very best SUVs you can buy. It’s more comfortable and refined than the BMW X3 and puts the Volvo XC60 to shame when it comes to handling and infotainment.”
Granted, if you’re looking for a large SUV, this won’t quite do the trick, but if what you want is a premium, strong all-rounder – you can’t go far wrong with the Q5.
Prices start at £40,525
- Supreme build-quality
- Quiet on the road
- Smart styling
- The prices of add-ons can seriously add up
- Limited engine range
2. SKODA Kodiaq
SKODA entered the SUV game with the Kodiaq in 2016 and the model has gone on to be known as one of the best family car options money can buy.
Despite its modest price tag, you get a lot of car for your money with the Kodiaq. The interior is spacious and versatile, with enough room to comfortably seat seven.
The sliding seats are a nice touch too, as they make it easy for passengers to access the third row. Then there’s the cavernous boot – 620 litres when you’re in five-seat mode and 270 litres in seven-seat mode.
“Drop all the Skoda’s back seats down and no other mid-sized seven seat SUV can touch its furniture-ferrying ability” says Mat Watson from carwow.
The materials aren’t as premium as some of the other cars in this list – but the plastic is soft-surfaced and touches like glossy finishes and metal detailing make the Kodiaq look smart, not cheap.
It’s easy to see why SKODA’s Kodiaq won the title of AutoExpress 2018 Large SUV of the Year. It’s a well-built and comfortable car with heaps of practical qualities.
Prices start at £25,770
- Value for money
- Spacious interior
- Range of efficient engines
- Slightly cheap-feeling interior
- Third row seats slightly small
- Firm handling
3. Jaguar F-PACE
Despite industry-wide skepticism ahead of its launch, the Jaguar F-PACE has proven itself to be a true SUV. With emphasis on the sport.
It probably helps that Jaguar is the sister brand to SUV experts Land Rover, so they had a lot of know-how when it came to designing and building their first off-roader. It’s around the same size as the Discovery Sport, but that’s where the similarities with Land Rover stop.
It’s a Jaguar, through-and-through, and feels more like an XF behind the wheel than it does a Discovery Sport. The lightweight materials, like aluminium, make it feel agile and nimble and help to give that sports-style stiff handling.
What’s really great about the F-PACE though, is its range of engines. There’s a sliding scale, so whether you’re looking for efficiency or oomph, you’ve got the options in front of you.
If we’re being honest, this is an on-roader rather than something you’re likely to see caked in mud in the middle of a field, but the F-PACE’s SUV qualities are strong – it’s spacious up front (the legroom is a particular highlight) and roomy in the back (way roomier than close rival Porsche Macan).
Then there’s the boot – it’s a substantial 650 litres even with the seats up. It scooped an 8/10 from Top Gear, receiving high praise; “Jaguar joins the SUV party and nails it first time. Well heeled families will love it”.
Jaguar bring a heavy amount of the ‘sport’ aspect of SUV to this car, but with a name so closely connected to F-TYPE you’d expect nothing less.
Prices start at £36,520
- Sublime sporty performance
- Good standard equipment
- Smart styling and design
- More powerful engine options like the V6 get pricey
- Suspension can feel a touch too firm
- Interior looks and feels a little cheap in places
4. Land Rover Discovery
How could we make a list of the top SUVs without mentioning the daddy of all off-roaders? The Discovery is one of Land Rover’s hallmark models and helped to kick off the SUV trend.
When you stand in front of it, you realise how much of a behemoth the Discovery is. This is a big car. You can comfortably seat seven – and when we say seven, we’re talking seven adults. Step inside and you can tell this is a premium car. The finishes are first-rate, the materials are luxurious and the space is plentiful.
AutoExpress gave the Discovery a 5/5 rating, commenting that the “Disco’s interior is luxurious and cavernous, offering exactly what you want from a large, upmarket seven-seat SUV”.
Don’t be fooled by its good looks. This car can off-road too. The Terrain Response system means this 2.1 tonne machine can take on dirt, sand and snow with ease. It’s perhaps the most capable car in the whole list of utility vehicles, but it is a Land Rover after all.
To make that luxury price tag worth it, you get a good amount of tech too. Land Rover have stepped up their game, offering smart solutions like the InControl Remote. The app allows you to use your smartphone (or the 10-inch touch screen) to fold the rear seats. No more wrestling with tricky levers.
Prices start at £47,405
- Supremely comfortable
- Lots of clever tech
- Fantastic off-road capability
- Things can get seriously pricey once you start adding extras
- Can be expensive to run
- High CO2 emissions
5. Volvo XC90
What springs to mind when you think of Volvo? Safety? Practicality? Innovation? Expect all and more from the elegant Volvo XC90 SUV.
Volvo state that the XC90 is their safest car yet. A claim that’s backed up by the experts. After looking through official accident figures, Thatcham Research discovered that no driver or passenger of a Volvo XC90 has been killed, since official records started back in 2004.
When it comes to the practical aspects, Volvo’s XC90 excels. The model is a generous 7-seater, but you’ll want to put your shortest passengers in the third row. Taller passengers will feel a little cramped back there. We go deeper into the XC90’s space shortfalls in our 7-seater guide.
Having said that, the first two rows offer space aplenty. And another neat thing? The seats adjust and move in isolation. Even with all seven seats in use, the boot is still plenty big enough. You’ll happily fit a couple of large suitcases or a pushchair in there.
Of all the SUVs in this list, the Volvo is (perhaps unsurprisingly) one of the most impressive from a tech standpoint. The 9-inch touchscreen is your window to a host of features, from Apple CarPlay to climate control to sat nav.
The XC90 combines high-quality materials with a versatile interior and cutting-edge safety. If a big family runaround is what you’re after, you’ll find it hard to fault Volvo’s well-loved 7-seater.
Prices start at £51,860
- Unrivalled safety
- Fairly cost-efficient to run
- Large boot space
- Expensive upfront cost
- Third-row is a little tight if you’re over 5’9
6. Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan is a firm family favourite thanks to its combination of space, comfort and practicality. Time again it’s ranked as one of the best mid-size SUVs – and it’s easy to see why. It’s a solid, stable car with a lot to offer.
When it comes down to it, the Tiguan is incredibly comfortable. So if you’re someone who spends a lot of time on the road, you’ll want to read on.
It’s quiet on the road and roomy on the inside; even the tallest of passengers will be able to get comfy on long motorway drives. And that large boot space is a welcome addition to the Tiguan.
Enjoy 520 litres of room with the rear seats up and 1,655 litres with them down (the seats slide too, so there’s option to add an extra 95 litres of space by moving the back row forward).
As expected from Volkswagen these days, the technology inside brings a lot to the car. The eight-inch touchscreen is easy to use and comes with helpful features like real-time traffic services.
The only downside is that it’s perhaps a little too functional. It can border on dull, but if what you need is a reliable, sharp-looking SUV that’s well put-together, then forgoing some frivolities won’t matter much to you. It’s an accomplished car, no doubt.
Prices start at £23,990
- Spacious with plenty of room for a family of five
- Cubby holes come in handy
- Flexible interior
- A little expensive overall
- Off-road qualities leave much to be desired
7. Cupra Ateca
If you’re looking for a sports SUV and are willing to take a punt on a newcomer, the Cupra Ateca is the way to go. SEAT call it ‘an SUV with the heart of a sports car’, and we can see why. It’s a far way from its almost-namesake, the SEAT Ateca Cupra (confusing, we know).
So let’s clear this up first – you have your performance-focused SEAT models, which don the Cupra badge. Then you have the entirely separate performance-focused sub-brand Cupra. This model is from the latter.
The Cupra Ateca offers incredible performance and pace for a car under £40,000. We’re talking a 0-62mph of 5.2 seconds. Seriously quick. Its perky performance is thanks to the 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine (the very same as the one found in VW’s hot hatch – the Golf R).
That’s performance, but what about practicality? After all, we are talking about an SUV here. Parkers gave the Ateca a whirl and claim that “you get plenty of room to stretch out in, lots of practical storage options and a place for everything”.
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you, the Ateca also won the prestigious title of WhatCar? Car of the Year: Best Sports SUV.
Prices start at £35,900
- Fun to drive
- A strong all-rounder
- Few rivals quite like it
- An expensive option, compared to other practical performance vehicles
- Interior styling is a bit of a let down
8. Peugeot 5008
Once an MPV, now a fully-fledged SUV – pound for pound, the Peugeot 5008 is tough to match.
It catches your attention right away with its slick looks. That masculine, almost athletic design gives it total driveway appeal. But what makes the 5008 great is more than skin deep.
The smooth drive means it’s quiet – especially on motorways. While the visibility is a total triumph, you’ll enjoy being in a commanding position with a clear over-the-shoulder view.
It gains extra SUV points thanks to its traction control settings; Normal, Snow, Sand, Mud and ESP Off. With hill start systems to boot, this is a car that can take tackle more than just tarmac.
Its running costs are what will really draw you in though. The 5008 is perfect for efficiency-mined driver as well as company car folk. WhatCar? put the Peugeot 5008 1.2 Puretech 130 to a real-world fuel economy test and, while the numbers weren’t quite the ambitious claim of 38.8mpg to 44.2, they achieved a strong 36.0mpg.
So if what you’re looking for is something stylish and practical in equal measure, the 5008 is the car for the job.
Prices start at £25,259
- Exciting design
- Low running costs
- Comfortable drive
- Tech isn’t much to write home about
- Third row is a bit of a squeeze
Need to make space for an SUV?
Thinking of selling your current car to make space on your driveway for an SUV? Read our top 10 tips on selling your current vehicle to help you get the quickest sale and best possible price.
You can also check out these other ‘best of guides’: