There’s a huge range of crossovers and small SUVs on the market today. These are our top ten picks
Small SUVs, also known as crossovers, are big business for carmakers. Most models are based on supermini underpinnings but boast the raised driving position and extra flexibility that many motorists crave. This combination of lower running costs and more space allows these small SUVs to not only appeal as viable supermini alternatives, but also as rivals to more traditional family cars.
First-generation cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur set the benchmark for small SUVs, and today, the market has rapidly evolved with a huge number of manufacturers now trying to appeal to buyers.
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There’s a small SUV for just about everyone, so whether you prioritise comfort, practicality, sportiness or style – or any combination thereof – there’s bound to be something to suit you.
Our list only scratches the surface of what’s available on the small SUV market, but we reckon the models in our top 10 are the best of the current bunch.
Top 10 best small SUVs on sale
- Kia Niro
- Renault Captur
- Ford Puma
- Kia Soul EV
- Toyota Yaris Cross
- Skoda Kamiq
- Volkswagen T-Cross
- Peugeot 2008
- Citroen C3 Aircross
- Dacia Duster
1. Kia Niro
The latest Kia Niro takes the elements that made the first-generation model so popular – such as electrification options, cabin space, and overall value for money – and then improves the overall package even further. In fact, we like the new Niro so much that we named it our Small SUV of the Year at the Auto Express New Car Awards.
There are three variations of Niro available – a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric model – and each brings its own pros and cons in areas such as efficiency, running costs and ride quality.
Whichever Niro you choose, though, will prove a sensible, affordable car with impressive levels of cabin and luggage space. It will also provide all this while being easy to drive and park. Admittedly, it’s not the most entertaining car to drive, but as a dependable family car that won’t break the bank the Niro is very difficult to beat.
Boot space varies depending on your chosen drivetrain, but all models should prove ample for a small family. The generous amount of on-board tech has also been brought right up to date – connectivity is brilliant, and the two interior screens boast high-quality graphics and quick response times.
2. Renault Captur
The original Captur was a roaring success for Renault, and its successor does a fantastic job in carrying on this legacy. To put it simply, the Captur is better than ever. Based on the excellent Renault Clio hatchback, the Captur is a stylish and comfortable SUV that has earned top spot in this fiercely contended class.
We’ve tested it at home and abroad and loved what we found. Standout features include a well designed and built interior, a big boot and plenty of equipment; a decent range of petrol and diesel engines with great claimed economy figures also helps the Renault’s cause.
The Captur will appeal to those drivers who want a bit of flair from their small SUV. The Renault looks the part and drives well, too, with its precise steering and controlled yet comfortable ride making it bang on the money in this class.
Renault has also made the second-generation version more refined and comfortable than the previous model, so the Captur is now a much more viable option for longer journeys.
3. Ford Puma
Just as the Renault Captur shares its platform with the Clio, the Ford Puma is based on the Fiesta supermini, and this is very good news.
When Ford announced that it was reusing the Puma name on an SUV it ruffled some feathers, but Ford has done a great job of making sure its new SUV lives up to the original car’s sporty heritage. The new Puma is one of the best-driving cars in this class thanks to its great steering, honed chassis and slick six-speed gearbox; it feels much like a higher, more spacious Fiesta.
Inside, all will be familiar to Fiesta owners in terms of design and quality: it’s not quite the best in class in either respect but does a solid job, while the driving position and seats are particularly comfortable. Elsewhere, a 456-litre boot and good rear passenger space help the Ford’s family-car credentials.
The Puma makes a lot of sense if you’re after a fun-to-drive, practical, small SUV that goes about its business with a bit of flair. It offers a great all-round package, and is only a whisker behind the award-winning Captur.
4. Kia Soul EV
The Kia Soul EV offers great performance, along with decent levels of refinement, comfort and tech. The high list price might prove to be a sticking point for some, but it brings the benefits of low running costs, zero road tax and no congestion charges to worry about.
Practicality is pretty good, with 315 litres of boot space, while there’s a huge 1,339 litres if you fold the rear seats down. You also have the option of lowering the boot floor to free up a bit more room. Leg and headroom are perfectly acceptable, and taller passengers will be able to travel in comfort, although the middle seat of the rear bench is more suited to children.
There’s plenty of power available to ensure swift and smooth progress – a single electric motor sends 201bhp and 395Nm of torque to the front wheels, fed by a 64kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the floor. The 0-60mph benchmark is achieved in 7.6 seconds and, on paper at least, the Soul EV will return 280 miles of range from a single charge.
5. Toyota Yaris Cross
Following on from the success of four generations of Yaris supermini, Toyota has now introduced the Yaris Cross SUV to its range.
The Yaris Cross shares the same single drivetrain as its supermini sibling, a 114bhp, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol hybrid unit that’s mated to a CVT automatic. While this won’t make the Yaris Cross blisteringly quick to drive, it does mean low CO2 emissions and fuel economy of well over 50mpg.
When it comes to family duties, move towards the back of the Yaris Cross and you will soon realise that isn’t the roomiest car on this list. Space in the rear seats is better suited for children rather than adults. When it comes to boot space, the front-wheel-drive model provides 397 litres, while the all-wheel-drive version drops to 320 litres.
These more compact dimensions do have their advantages, though, and they make the Yaris Cross a breeze to drive and park – it even handles rather well in the corners, too.
6. Skoda Kamiq
The Kamiq may be Skoda’s smallest SUV, but it’s spacious, practical and powered by a range of efficient, tried-and-tested engines. It shares most of its mechanicals with the Volkswagen T-Cross and SEAT Arona elsewhere on this list, but trumps both of these models on value for money.
You’ll be able to easily spot the difference between the Kamiq and its relatives – notably thanks to inferior interior plastics up front – but it’s still well built and sensibly appointed. Top-spec cars have a great 9.2-inch infotainment system that pairs nicely with Skoda’s Virtual Cockpit display, while SE models have an eight-inch system with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay functionality.
The Kamiq is as good to drive as the T-Cross, rides comfortably and feels almost as nice inside. It lacks the VW’s sliding rear seats but counters with great legroom in the back and a decent load space with the seats folded. The Skoda is a talented, practical car that’s pretty hard to beat.
7. Volkswagen T-Cross
Volkswagen’s offering in the small-SUV class is one of the best. The T-Cross is broadly similar to the Skoda Kamiq, but adds a little more style and desirability to the mix over its Czech cousin.
The T-Cross is also a great choice if you want all the benefits of the VW Group’s MQB A0 platform but want to express your individuality: Volkswagen offers a range of design packs, each of which adds a unique look to the already-handsome SUV.
A familiar line-up of engines covers all the bases, with the more powerful of the 1.0-litre petrol units providing a particularly good blend of performance, economy and refinement. The Volkswagen SUV drives well, feeling agile and grippy but stopping short of providing real excitement, while the light steering is great around town and in tighter spots. Overall, the T-Cross is easy and relaxing to drive.
It’s broadly similar to cheaper cars from sister brands Skoda and SEAT, but if you’re willing to pay a little more for the privilege, the T-Cross is a great choice. It’s not all about extra brand kudos and customisation scope, though, because the Volkswagen brings a sliding rear bench for improved flexibility, plus marginally better residual values than its Skoda and SEAT rivals.
8. Peugeot 2008
Arriving on the back of lots of SUV-related success for Peugeot with its 3008 and 5008, the smaller 2008 is now following the trend of its larger siblings.
Sharing its platform with the latest Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa, the 2008 is offered with either electric or internal-combustion power – the e-2008 being the fully electric variant.
Both cars are worth considering, and the ICE car particularly stands out from its rivals. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is excellent (especially in 128bhp form) and the car feels planted, precise and comfortable on the move. It may be pricier than some rivals, but it ticks lots of boxes.
9. Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen likes to do things its own way and its small-SUV offering is no exception. Where some rival manufacturers focus on performance and driver involvement, the C3 Aircross is refreshingly relaxed.
The Aircross’s engines are strong and offer respectable economy, and while it’s not exactly sporty or precise, the Citroen remains largely refined and comfortable. Its soft suspension can be easily overwhelmed by mid-corner bumps and the steering is a little lifeless, however.
Still, some of the biggest reasons to pick the C3 Aircross over its more rounded competitors are the amount of interior space and practicality on offer. The Citroen boasts sliding rear seats, a large boot, and lots of space for passengers to travel in comfort.
10. Dacia Duster
Dacia has quickly gained a positive reputation in the UK for its low prices, so if you’re willing to forgo the latest and greatest tech and some creature comforts, the Romanian brand’s range offers value that few other manufacturers can match.
The Duster is an interloper from the class above, it’s a mid-sized SUV that can be secured for a lower price than many of the smaller, supermini-derived models on the market. Refreshingly, it’s a ‘proper’ SUV, too; with its tall suspension and optional four-wheel drive, the Duster is a genuinely capable off-roader that has found favour with those whose car needs to cope with farm tracks, bad weather or the odd jaunt over a field.
It may not be the most exciting model to drive, nor the safest or best-equipped, but the Duster is simply impossible to ignore thanks to its sheer bang for the bucks.
Need a bit more space? Check out our list of the best mid-size SUVs…
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