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...


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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, just click on the relevant link to find out more or see how much of a discount you could get by using What Car?'s New Car Buying service.

10

Volvo XC60

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£37,312

RRP from £40,980 to £64,090

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Volvo's used to be very much a step down from the models of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, both in terms of price and ability, but no longer. The latest XC60 is comfortable, well equipped and has a high-quality interior, plus its a former What Car? Safety Award winner, having performed brilliantly when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. It is a bit noisier than the very best rivals, though.

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Pros

  • Elegant and high-quality interior
  • Superb driving position
  • Lots of standard kit

Cons

  • Not as quiet as its best rivals
  • No sliding or reclining rear seats
  • Uninspiring handling
9

Hyundai Santa Fe

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£36,984

RRP from £39,420 to £44,465

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The latest Santa Fe is a spacious and practical choice in the large SUV market, with the option of seven seats for larger families. You also get plenty of equipment, even if you stick with relatively lowly SE trim, which is just as well, because the Santa Fe is quite pricey.

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Pros

  • Huge boot
  • Easy-to-configure seating
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Uncompetitive PCP deals
  • Interior materials aren’t plush
8

Mercedes GLB

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£34,640

RRP from £36,580 to £51,185

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The ‘B’ in GLB might lead you to think this is a smaller car than the GLC, and it is, but by only a couple of centimetres. Unlike the GLC, though, the GLB is available with seven seats, plus it has a flash interior and punchy and frugal engines on its side. It's just a shame the ride is firm.

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Pros

  • Seats seven
  • Punchy and frugal engines
  • Flash interior

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • A bit noisy
  • Narrow, overly firm front seats
7

Skoda Kodiaq

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£24,891

RRP from £26,630 to £42,175

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The Kodiaq is the largest SUV Skoda makes, and a comfortable choice with a smart and practical interior. Just bear in mind that you have to be careful when speccing it because it's easy to push the price north of £30k if you start adding options, at which point it makes less sense.

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Pros

  • Classy interior
  • Relatively spacious with a decent boot
  • Good value if you stick to the cheaper trims

Cons

  • Top-of-the-range versions are pricey
  • Peugeot 5008 is even more practical
  • Unsettled low-speed ride
6

Mazda CX-5

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£26,080

RRP from £27,230 to £39,085

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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.

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Pros

  • Classy interior
  • Tidy handling
  • Very well equipped

Cons

  • Overly firm ride
  • No seven-seat option
  • Rivals have more space for passengers and luggage
5

Honda CR-V

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£28,814

RRP from £30,810 to £39,770

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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.

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Pros

  • Vast rear-seat space (on five-seat models)
  • Good-sized boot (on five-seat models)
  • Comfortable driving position

Cons

  • Rough-sounding engine under load
  • Poor infotainment system
  • Seven-seat versions hard to justify over rivals
4

Land Rover Discovery Sport

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£30,035

RRP from £31,915 to £51,620

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A former Large SUV of the Year, the Land Rover 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 more efficient.

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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
3

BMW X3

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£39,190

RRP from £42,115 to £88,725

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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.

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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
2

Audi Q5

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£40,448

RRP from £42,950 to £74,200

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Beautifully made and quiet as a mouse, the latest Q5 is a very luxurious choice, particularly if you go for the optional air suspension, which turns it into one of the smoothest-riding cars available – in any class.

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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
1

Peugeot 5008

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£28,512

RRP from £29,585 to £40,905

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The Peugeot 5008 combines MPV-esque versatility with SUV looks, plus it handles tidily, the ride is comfortable, and it's very well priced. Add in a seriously plush interior and you've got the best car of its kind. In fact, the 5008 has been our Large SUV of the Year for the last three years running.

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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
  • Not as well equipped as some rivals
  • Slow-witted infotainment system

And the large to avoid...

Jeep Cherokee
Jeep Cherokee

Decent equipment and competitive pricing aren't enough to save Jeep's large SUV. It has disappointing interior quality, the diesel engines are noisy and high-end versions are pricey. If you're shopping in this market, it doesn't deserve to be on your shortlist unl... Read our review

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