Best small SUVs 2021

Thinking of buying a small SUV? Then make sure you read our countdown of the top 10 cars in this booming sector, as well as the ones to avoid...


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What Car? team

Small SUVs are among the most popular cars on sale, because they usually offer the high-set driving position, practicality and muscular looks of more traditional off-roaders, but without the high purchase price or running costs. 

Here, we count down the top 10 you can currently buy – and reveal the small SUVs that are best to steer clear of. You'll see plenty of popular names here, including the car which started the small SUV craze, the Nissan Juke, as well as models from Audi, Ford and Volkswagen among others.

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 latest deals with each car.

10

Suzuki Vitara

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£19,602

RRP from £22,249 to £28,399

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The Vitara is roomier than a number of more expensive rivals, with a decent boot and enough space for adults in the back seats. It’s well equipped, too: our recommended SZ4 trim gets Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB radio, all-round electric windows and alloy wheels, plus luxuries such as cruise control and climate control. There's only one engine offered in the Vitara, a 1.4-litre petrol, but fortunately, it's a good one.

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Pros

  • Cheaper versions represent excellent value for money
  • Mild-hybrid engine provides decent performance
  • Spacious and practical interior

Cons

  • Interior quality beaten by rivals
  • Entry-level Infotainment system is basic
  • So-so resale values
  • Panoramic roof seriously restricts headroom
9

Honda HR-V

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£19,496

RRP from £20,735 to £29,670

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The HR-V might look expensive next to many of its small SUV rivals, but healthy discounts are available and it combines good interior space with clever folding seats and tidy handling. Go for the 1.5-litre petrol engine and you'll have plenty of power for pootling around town, while our favourite SE trim means you're well covered for goodies.

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Pros

  • Interior and boot space
  • Flexible seating
  • Tidy handling

Cons

  • Engine refinement
  • Expensive compared to best rivals
  • CVT gearbox
8

Kia Stonic

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£17,960

RRP from £18,445 to £23,505

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The Stonic is the smallest SUV in Kia’s extensive range, and although it's only available in front-wheel drive form, it does have a slightly jacked-up ride height, roof rails and black plastic wheel arches to give it a rugged look. It also handles tidily and is well equipped, but there's no bargain-basement entry-level version to tempt budget-conscious buyers. We reckon the 118bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine will suit most buyers well.

 

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Pros

  • Punchy turbo petrol engine
  • Plenty of standard kit
  • Agile handling

Cons

  • Uncompetitive PCP finance deals
  • Firm ride
  • Rivals are more practical
7

Nissan Juke

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£16,941

RRP from £18,595 to £26,595

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The original Juke sold in huge numbers, despite having a hard ride and horribly cramped rear seats, but the latest version is much improved in both areas, and has one of the smartest interiors of any small SUV. The 115bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine is gutsy enough for most situations, while N-Connecta models get climate control, extra leather trim and keyless start, on top of the plethora of kit which already comes on Acenta cars.

 

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Pros

  • Strong safety rating and equipment
  • Smart interior
  • Lots of toys on our recommended trim

Cons

  • Choppy ride
  • So-so infotainment system
  • Nissan's reliability record
6

Seat Arona

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£16,074

RRP from £18,605 to £25,235

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Once the class leader, the Arona remains an appealing choice, thanks to precise handling, good practicality and affordable PCP finance deals. Although the 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine we recommend is the baby of the range, we reckon it's also the best performer, especially if you'll mainly be driving on urban roads. Team that with SE Technology trim and you'll get an upgraded infotainment system as well as rear parking sensors.

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Pros

  • Tidy handling
  • Roomier than many rivals
  • Well equipped

Cons

  • So-so interior quality
  • Top trims are too pricey
  • Rivals have more flexible rear seats
5

Audi Q2

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£22,163

RRP from £23,340 to £45,635

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The pint-sized Audi Q2 was one of the first small SUVs to combine its compact dimensions with a premium badge. The boot and rear seats are adequate, but it’s the quality of the interior that will really blow you away. It also has one of the best infotainment systems around.

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Pros

  • Classy and user-friendly interior
  • Tidy handling
  • Slow depreciation

Cons

  • More expensive than some rivals
  • Mini Countryman is more practical
  • Firm ride with 19in alloys
4

Volkswagen T-Cross

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£17,443

RRP from £18,360 to £27,785

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Volkswagen's T-Cross is exactly what many small SUV buyers are looking for. It’s comfortable and easy to drive, without feeling like a wallowy barge. It’s very roomy for its size, yet small enough that it’s easy to handle in town. And it's competitive on running costs, whether you’re a company car driver or a private buyer.

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Pros

  • Spacious, flexible interior
  • Impressive for safety
  • Good to drive

Cons

  • Only slightly cheaper than the superior T-Roc
  • Interior is hardly plush
  • SEL and R-Line trims too pricey
3

Volkswagen T-Roc

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£20,053

RRP from £21,440 to £40,735

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Stick to the cheaper engines and trims, and the T-Roc is an even better buy than its T-Cross sister. Its cosseting ride, superb refinement and practical boot will appeal to families, plus it has one of the best driving positions of any car in the class.

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Pros

  • Comfortable ride and quiet on the motorway
  • High-set driving position for a small SUV
  • Good boot by class standards

Cons

  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Upper trims and engine options are too pricey
  • Unexciting handling; the Ford Puma is a sharper drive
2

Skoda Kamiq

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£17,493

RRP from £18,370 to £26,600

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In contrast to the T-Roc, the Kamiq puts you quite low to the ground; in fact, its driving position is barely any more elevated than that of Skoda's Scala hatchback. However, in every other respect it's a brilliant choice, with its supple, controlled ride and remarkably spacious interior particular highlights.

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Pros

  • Remarkably roomy seats and boot
  • Better-finished interior than many of its rivals
  • Comfortable ride

Cons

  • No sliding or reclining rear seats
  • Not especially well equipped
  • Other small SUVs have a higher driving position
1

Ford Puma

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£20,450

RRP from £22,030 to £31,365

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As good as the other cars in this list are, it's the Ford Puma that's the best small SUV you can buy today. Thanks to agile handling and surprisingly nippy performance, it will put a bigger smile on your face than any rival. But it’s also a car you can buy with your sensible hat on, thanks to its low CO2 emissions, excellent real-world fuel economy, clever boot and attractive monthly PCP costs. No wonder it's our 2020 Car of the Year.

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Pros

  • Great fun to drive
  • Remarkable blend of performance and fuel economy
  • Big and cleverly designed boot

Cons

  • Rear space is adequate rather than outstanding
  • Visibility could be better
  • Volkswagen T-Roc is more comfortable and quieter

And the small SUVs to avoid...

Jeep Renegade
Jeep Renegade 2018 front right close tracking

The Renegade has its merits: it’s roomy inside, the diesel engines sip fuel gently and it has genuine off-road ability. Unfortunately, its shortcomings outweigh these good points. Not only is it comparatively expensive to buy, but refinement is woeful, the ride is... Read our review

Suzuki Jimny
Suzuki Jimny front

If you’re after a small SUV with genuine off-road ability, the Jimny may fit the bill. However, in most respects the little Suzuki feels like it belongs in a different era. Its woeful refinement, feeble performance and shortage of safety and security equipment all... Read our review

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