Which SUV rides the most comfortably?

What Car? reader seeks advice on the nearly-new SUV with the best ride quality...

Audi Q5

I’m 73 years old and want to buy a nearly new four-wheel-drive SUV. My two priorities are comfort (for medical reasons, I need a car with a soft ride) and reliability. My budget is £25,000-£35,000.

I’d be grateful for your opinion on the suitability of the following models: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60.
Peter Beazley

What Car? says

The GLC and NX don’t ride very well; they shudder fairly harshly over road scars. And while the RX is more supple, a nearly new one will be far above your budget. 

BMW X3 2021 rear tracking

The X3 is better; on its optional adaptive suspension, it copes well with imperfect urban roads and also remains generally calm at higher speeds. Similarly, the Volvo XC60 on its optional air suspension wafts at speed, but it doesn’t deal with potholes too well, so it’s not the best if you mostly drive in town. As for reliability, both the X3 and the XC60 were in the top 10 large SUVs for reliability in our most recent owner survey, so both should be a safe bet.  

However, we think the Audi Q5 is the best-riding car in this class when it's specced correctly. Try to find an example fitted with optional adaptive air suspension, which enables you to choose a softer Comfort mode and lower the car for easier access. Also opt for a car with smaller wheels, too, as those with larger wheels don't ride as well. When it comes to reliability, the Q5 also trumps the X3 and XC60; it was ranked as the third most reliable large SUV in our latest survey. 

Best and worst large SUVs for reliability

Here's our round-up of the best and worst performers in the large and luxury SUV league

Ford Kuga

10. Ford Kuga

Score 91.4%

Just over 22% of Kuga owners reported a fault on their car, with the most commonly afflicted areas being the bodywork, engine and engine electrics. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven, though, and the vast majority were repaired for free under warranty. 

Read our full Ford Kuga review

See how much you could save on a Ford Kuga >


BMW X3 4x4 (11 - 17)

9. BMW X3 

Score 91.5%

Although 28% of X3s had a problem, the systems affected were mostly minor – engine and non-engine electrics topped the list of woes. Many cars were fixed and back on the road the same day, and virtually all work was carried out for free.

Read our full BMW X3 review

See how much you could save on a BMW X3 >

Mazda CX-5

8. Mazda CX-5

Score 92.1%

Although 24% of CX-5s had a problem, none was forced off the road, virtually all were fixed for free and most of them remained drivable. The most common problem areas were the sat-nav and fuel system.

Read our full Mazda CX-5 review

See how much you could save on an Mazda CX-5 >

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