Best family SUVs 2021

Want practicality, class and an elevated driving position in a relatively small package? Then these are the top 10 cars you should be looking at – and the ones that are best avoided...


Author Avatar
by
What Car? team

Best family SUVs

Deciding which car is best for transporting you and your family is one of life’s more important decisions. So, here we've gathered together our favourite family SUVs.

All of them cater well for the growing number of people looking for practicality, comfort and sensible running costs, but also a raised driving position and off-roader looks. And to help prevent you from making a big mistake, we've also named the models that are best avoided.

Finally, don't forget, if you decide one of the cars featured here is just what you're looking for, you could potentially save thousands without any haggling by using our New Car Buying service. You'll find links to our full reviews and latest deals with each car.

10

Nissan Qashqai

What Car? Target Price from

£20,062

RRP from £23,550 to £31,790

See new car deals Save up to £5,137 with What Car?

The Qashqai is the car that started the trend for mainstream family SUVs and, as hard as it is to believe now, it was seen as something of a gamble when it was first introduced in 2007. Fortunately for Nissan, the blend of an elevated driving position and stylish looks made the Qashqai a huge hit. And while it's been surpassed by several rivals in the last couple of years, it remains a sound proposition, particularly if you choose the quiet and efficient 1.3-litre petrol version.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Big discounts
  • Quiet and smooth 1.3 petrol and 1.5 diesel engines
  • Surefooted handling and easy to drive

Cons

  • Top-end versions are very pricey
  • Ride comfort isn't great on 18in and 19in wheels
  • Reliability is a concern
9

Mercedes GLA

What Car? Target Price from

£30,034

RRP from £31,785 to £65,350

See new car deals Save up to £2,641 with What Car?

Thanks to its combination of class and comfort, the latest GLA is an appealing and sound choice. Just bear in mind that some rivals are cheaper and more practical.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Forgiving yet well controlled ride
  • Interior feels special
  • Good luxury and safety kit

Cons

  • A bit on the pricey side
  • Rear head room isn’t great
  • Closely related A-Class has below-par reliability
8

Audi Q3

What Car? Target Price from

£27,963

RRP from £29,920 to £49,490

See new car deals Save up to £3,099 with What Car?

Audi's second-generation Q3 offers a high-tech interior with plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. It's a decent car to drive, too, with composed handling and accurate steering. However, the ride can be a little firm and some of the bigger-selling engines can sound rough.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Big boot
  • Impressive interior space
  • Relatively agile for a family SUV

Cons

  • Interior quality not up to usual Audi standards
  • Firmer ride than some rivals
  • Fiddly infotainment system
7

Peugeot 3008

What Car? Target Price from

£25,851

RRP from £27,160 to £47,210

See new car deals Save up to £2,322 with What Car?

The 3008 taps right into the current trend for aggressive exterior styling, while its interior looks like something you'd see in a motor show concept, with its mix of unusual materials and avant-garde design. The 3008 also offers good ride comfort and handling, and a large boot, but mediocre rear leg room and a sluggish infotainment system stop it finishing higher on this list.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Stylish, high quality interior
  • Large and practical boot
  • Strong engines

Cons

  • Rear space isn't class-leading
  • Pricier than some rivals
  • So-so infotainment system
6

Volkswagen Tiguan

What Car? Target Price from

£23,414

RRP from £24,915 to £45,915

See new car deals Save up to £2,341 with What Car?

This one-time Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage rival has been reinvented as a more expensive SUV, so now it’s up against formidable prestige-badged competition such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40. Fortunately, the latest Tiguan builds on the strengths of the original, offering more space and comfort, and improved efficiency. Unfortunately (for Volkswagen), it has two sister cars that are cheaper to buy and just as capable.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Great seating flexibility
  • Roomier than many rivals

Cons

  • Higher trims get pricey
  • CO2 emissions could be lower
  • Fiddly air-con controls
5

BMW X1

What Car? Target Price from

£28,057

RRP from £29,930 to £43,035

See new car deals Save up to £2,724 with What Car?

Based on the same underpinnings as BMW's first MPV, the 2 Series Active Tourer, the X1 is a very practical choice that's available in both front- and four-wheel-drive forms. Just make sure you can live with the considerable amount of road noise it generates.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Fantastic infotainment system
  • High quality interior
  • Spacious and practical

Cons

  • Lots of road noise
  • Firm ride
  • So-so reliability
4

Seat Ateca

What Car? Target Price from

£21,652

RRP from £23,670 to £35,355

See new car deals Save up to £4,462 with What Car?

The Ateca broke new ground for Seat, because the Spanish brand had previously built as many SUVs as it had spaceships. However, it proved well worth the wait, combining a spacious interior with best-in-class handling and much more attractive pricing than the closely related Volkswagen Tiguan.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Surprisingly fun to drive
  • Keen pricing

Cons

  • Firm ride – especially with big alloys
  • Some rivals offer lower emissions
  • No clever seating tricks
3

Skoda Karoq

What Car? Target Price from

£21,991

RRP from £23,220 to £35,195

See new car deals Save up to £1,869 with What Car?

Like the Ateca, the Karoq offers many of the best bits of the Tiguan for thousands less. And while it's the least sporty of the three to drive, overall it's the best all-rounder, offering a polished ride and clever rear seats that can slide, recline or be removed entirely. It also comes with more standard equipment than the Ateca.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Good to drive
  • Excellent space and seating flexibility
  • Smart-looking and sturdy-feeling interior

Cons

  • A Seat Ateca is more fun to drive
  • Avoid big wheels for the best ride comfort
  • Top models are rather expensive
2

Volvo XC40

What Car? Target Price from

£25,440

RRP from £25,440 to £60,005

See new car deals Save up to £2,514 with What Car?

The XC40 may have similar front and rear lights to the company’s other models to ensure a family resemblance, but the rest of the detailing and the overall proportions of the car are quite different; it certainly doesn't look as if Volvo has put the blueprints for the larger XC60 in a photocopier and set it to 75%. More importantly, though, the XC40 mixes its distinctive style with space, comfort, cutting-edge safety and relative affordability so ably that it's a former What Car? Car of the Year.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Stylish and high-quality interior
  • Comfortable ride on most versions
  • Comprehensive safety kit

Cons

  • Lacks the rear seat flexibility of some rivals
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Road noise on the motorway
1

Range Rover Evoque

What Car? Target Price from

£30,524

RRP from £32,100 to £55,580

See new car deals Save up to £2,711 with What Car?

It might well be the Evoque’s looks that first pique your interest, but it’s a sensational car on more objective levels, too. Good to drive, really posh inside and surprisingly practical, it even makes financial sense thanks to incredibly strong resale values and attractive monthly PCP finance costs. In short, it's the best family SUV you can buy today.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read new car review

Pros

  • Great driving position
  • Well equipped
  • Slow depreciation

Cons

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • So-so fuel economy and emissions
  • Land Rover’s reliability record

And the family SUVs to avoid...

Mitsubishi ASX
Mitsubishi ASX 2019 LHD front cornering shot

Although it's well equipped and has a decent infotainment system, there are too many areas in which the ASX is poor. Despite soft springing, it isn’t very comfortable, while the engine needs working very hard. Factor in tight rear head room and it’s a long way off... Read our review

MG GS
MG GS

Unlike the ASX, the GS has a peppy engine and a very spacious interior. Unfortunately, the ride is poor and it feels very cheap inside. If you're on a tight budget, the Dacia Duster is a much better choice. Read our review

Spinner