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...


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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

Dacia Duster

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£11,800

RRP from £11,995 to £20,445

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The headline news about the Dacia Duster is its ultra-low starting price – far lower than any family SUV rival. There are some shortcomings, such as its so-so handling and low-rent interior, but if you want cheap, no-frills motoring, SUV looks and more than enough everyday practicality, the Duster is unrivalled.

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Pros

  • Serious cheap to buy and run
  • Spacious boot
  • 4x4 version is very capable off road

Cons

  • Sparse equipment on lower trims
  • Interior feels cheap
  • Poor Euro NCAP safety rating
9

Audi Q3

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£28,293

RRP from £30,040 to £49,645

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Audi's second-generation Q3 offers a high-tech interior with plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. It's a good 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 sound rough.

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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
8

Peugeot 3008

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£26,226

RRP from £27,555 to £47,210

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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. You also get good ride comfort and a large boot, but have to put up with mediocre rear leg room and a sluggish infotainment system.

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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
7

Hyundai Tucson

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£26,852

RRP from £28,710 to £37,595

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If interior space is high on your list of priorities you should definitely take a look at the Tucson, because a quartet of tall adults will have plenty of room and the boot is cavernous. Hybrid tech makes the Tucson an efficient choice, too, but it is a bit on the pricey side and there are better handling family SUVs.

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Pros

  • Frugal hybrid is a worthy alternative to diesel
  • Well-made interior
  • Spacious for passengers and luggage

Cons

  • So-so handling
  • Ride can get choppy at times
  • No NCAP rating as yet
6

Volkswagen Tiguan

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£23,780

RRP from £25,305 to £45,975

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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.

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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

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£27,990

RRP from £29,935 to £43,040

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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.

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Pros

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

Cons

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

Seat Ateca

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£20,787

RRP from £24,110 to £36,085

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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.

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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

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£22,307

RRP from £23,675 to £35,660

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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.

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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

Range Rover Evoque

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£30,697

RRP from £32,115 to £55,620

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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.

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Pros

  • Great driving position
  • Well-equipped
  • Slow depreciation

Cons

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • So-so fuel economy and emissions
  • Land Rover’s reliability record
1

Volvo XC40

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£25,855

RRP from £25,855 to £56,700

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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. 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. It's the best family SUV you can buy today.

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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

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 and rear head room is tight. 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

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