Best large SUVs 2021

The best large SUVs are practical, luxurious and good to drive, with sensible running costs. Here we count down the top 10 – and reveal the one we'd avoid...


Author Avatar
by
What Car? team

Best large SUVs

For many people, large SUVs have replaced big saloons as the ultimate expression of modern motoring, and they make great family cars, thanks to their spacious and practical interiors.

The best are also easy to drive, combining a calm ride with tidy handling and a lofty driving position with user-friendly controls. But with so many models to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here we count down our top 10 – and name the large SUV to avoid.

If any take your fancy, simply click on the relevant link to find out more or see how much of a discount you could get by using our New Car Buying service.

10

Land Rover Defender

What Car? Target Price from

£44,895

RRP from £44,895 to £106,320

See new car deals Save up to £335 with What Car?

The new Defender may not have a separate chassis or rigid axles, but don’t think that this means it’s gone soft; it has a huge amount of suspension travel and ground clearance and is packed with technology to help off roading. As a result, it's actually more capable in the rough than the original. But it also impresses on the road, with accurate steering and forgiving suspension. Just make sure you can live with big fuel bills.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Excellent off road
  • Up to seven seats
  • Slow depreciation

Cons

  • Higher trim levels are very pricey
  • Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are poor
  • Tiny boot in 90 models
9

Honda CR-V

What Car? Target Price from

£28,531

RRP from £30,880 to £39,840

See new car deals Save up to £2,908 with What Car?

The latest version of Honda's large SUV doesn't come with any diesel engines – instead, you can choose from a 1.5-litre petrol model or a 2.0-litre hybrid. It's the latter that we recommend, for its low real-world running costs and impressive refinement. The CR-V also offers a comfortable driving position and vast rear space.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Vast passenger and boot space (five-seat models)
  • Economical Hybrid model
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • CVT gearbox sends the engine racing
  • Poor infotainment system
  • Seven-seat versions hard to justify over rivals
8

Citroën C5 Aircross

What Car? Target Price from

£21,764

RRP from £24,630 to £35,850

See new car deals Save up to £3,876 with What Car?

In many ways, the C5 Aircross is the archetypical Citroën, with distinctive looks and a super-soft ride. What's more, it keeps you very well isolated from wind and road noise and is temptingly priced.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Mostly a super-smooth ride
  • Quiet inside at speed
  • Frugal engines

Cons

  • Wallowy handling
  • No seven-seat option
  • Rear leg room tight for the class
7

Mazda CX-5

What Car? Target Price from

£26,045

RRP from £27,245 to £38,485

See new car deals Save up to £1,200 with What Car?

Fitted with Mazda's 2.0-litre petrol engine, the CX-5 is strong, quiet and impressively efficient without sacrificing pace. Plus, the car is well equipped, fun to drive and extremely practical – as long as you need only five seats. Even some road noise can’t detract from its overall desirability.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Classy interior
  • Tidy handling
  • Very well equipped

Cons

  • Overly firm ride
  • No seven-seat option
  • Rivals have more space for passengers and luggage
6

Land Rover Discovery Sport

What Car? Target Price from

£30,839

RRP from £32,430 to £51,895

See new car deals Save up to £2,982 with What Car?

A former Large SUV of the Year, the Discovery Sport sits below the full-size Discovery in the Land Rover range. However, it's still available with seven seats, has a smart and user-friendly interior and holds its value well. It's even well priced by class standards and was recently updated to make it a bit more efficient.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Lots of passenger space
  • Flexible seven-seat capability
  • Lengthy equipment list

Cons

  • Terrible reliability
  • Compromised ride comfort on larger wheels
  • So-so performance
  • Poor fuel economy and CO2 emissions
5

Ford Kuga

What Car? Target Price from

£25,007

RRP from £26,445 to £38,955

See new car deals Save up to £2,138 with What Car?

In our tests, the plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga went almost 50% farther on electric power than rivals. Plus, it trounced them when petrol power took over, returning 52mpg. The Kuga also gives you a lofty view of the road ahead, while the supple suspension makes it very comfortable, both at speed and when trundling around town.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has a long electric-only range
  • Competitively priced against rivals
  • PHEV offers low company car tax

Cons

  • Interior quality doesn't impress
  • Relatively small boot
  • Infotainment system isn't the slickest
4

BMW X3

What Car? Target Price from

£39,517

RRP from £42,140 to £61,850

See new car deals Save up to £3,528 with What Car?

The X3 is a great choice if you're looking for a prestige SUV with five seats. Keen drivers will like its strong engine range and top-notch handling, while passengers can enjoy the luxurious and spacious interior. You also get BMW's iDrive infotainment system as standard, which is a real bonus because it's the best around.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Sharp handling
  • Class-leading infotainment
  • Strong engines

Cons

  • Slightly firm ride in M Sport trim
  • Popular 20d engine sounds relatively gruff
  • Comparatively pricey PCP finance
3

Audi Q5

What Car? Target Price from

£41,215

RRP from £43,765 to £75,040

See new car deals Save up to £4,264 with What Car?

The Q5 is more comfortable and refined than direct rivals, but its biggest strength of all is its interior quality. For starters, the materials all look and feel great. But it’s the details that really set the Q5 apart, such as switches that click so satisfyingly you could be forgiven for thinking they’ve been made by Rolex.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Smooth and punchy engines
  • Good to drive
  • High-quality interior

Cons

  • Fiddly touchscreen infotainment system
  • No seven-seat option
  • Firm ride on S line and Edition 1 versions
2

Peugeot 5008

What Car? Target Price from

£28,559

RRP from £30,010 to £41,340

See new car deals Save up to £2,400 with What Car?

The Peugeot 5008 combines MPV-esque versatility with SUV looks, plus it handles tidily, the ride is comfortable and the interior is seriously plush.

Read new car review

Pros

  • Loads of interior space for the money
  • Stylish and plush-feeling interior
  • Competitive fuel economy and CO2 emissions

Cons

  • Poor rear head room with the optional sunroof fitted
  • Rivals have more diverse engine lineups
  • Slow-witted infotainment system
1

Kia Sorento

What Car? Target Price from

£37,488

RRP from £39,100 to £53,085

See new car deals Save up to £3,000 with What Car?

The Sorento's hybrid tech combines good real-world fuel economy with comparatively low CO2 emission, while the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate. Throw in a nicely made and well equipped interior, a driving position that’s lofty enough to make HGV drivers jealous and Kia’s unmatched seven-year warranty, and the Sorento is the best large SUV currently on sale.

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

Read new car review

Pros

  • Seven seats fit for adults
  • A massive boot
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • High trim levels are pricet
  • Hybrid engine isn't as fuel efficient as a Honda CR-V's
  • No lumbar adjustment with '2' trim

And the large SUV to avoid...

Nissan X-Trail
Nissan X-Trail 2019 front tracking

The X-Trail is okay in isolation, but there are rivals with better handling, comfort, interior space and infotainment systems for similar or less money. Read our review

Spinner