Best large SUVs 2024 tried & tested – plus the one to avoid

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 ones that we'd avoid...

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Alasdair Rodden
Published25 December 2023

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.

Best large SUVs 2022

But which is the best large SUV you can buy? With decades of experience in testing cars, our team of expert reviewers agree that the BMW X7 is the very best choice right now.

However, competition is fierce, so below you’ll find the other large SUVs which deserve a place on your shopping list. And to help you get the best price, we’ve pulled together the best new SUV deals, too.

Our pick: xDrive40d MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 750 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Supremely quiet and comfortable
  • Incredibly spacious and practical
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • Looks won’t be to all tastes
  • No plug-in hybrid or electric option

Our top pick, the BMW X7, is about as large as large SUVs come. That means a huge interior which, in combination with a standard-fit third row of seats, provides enough space for seven six-footers. And even with that third row in place, there’s room for a couple of carry-on suitcases in the boot.

That’s not to say it’s just a big box on wheels, though; the X7 is positively sumptuous inside, remarkably hushed when on the move and very comfortable.

It’s not quite as agile as some other large SUVs – such as its smaller sibling, the BMW X5 – but that’s chiefly because the X7’s extra scale and luxury appointments add weight.

Read our in-depth BMW X7 review

Our pick: 166kW GT Line 77.4kWh 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 7.3 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 490 litres
Insurance group: 34A
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Long range and fast charging
  • Loads of rear legroom
  • Seven-year Kia warranty

Weaknesses

  • Shallow boot
  • Not exactly cheap
  • Slightly firm ride

The fully electric Kia EV6 combines a huge official range – of up to 328 miles for rear-wheel drive versions – with the ability to charge at speeds that no rival can keep up with. That means the EV6 addresses two of the biggest concerns that people may have about electric cars.

True, unlike the BMW X7, you can’t get the EV6 with seven seats, but the four passengers you can carry do at least get plenty of space to stretch out. The rear seats even recline for a more relaxed travelling experience.

Add in outstanding refinement and competitive pricing, and the striking EV6 doesn’t just look like the future – it feels like it too.

Read our in-depth Kia EV6 review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Longer range than most direct rivals
  • Great infotainment system
  • Comparatively well priced

Weaknesses

  • Not as fast as rivals
  • Audi E-tron is quieter
  • Tesla Model 3 has a longer range and faster charging

Next up is another of our favourite electric SUVs, the BMW iX3. Unlike the Kia EV6, which is built on bespoke EV underpinnings, the iX3 is similar under the skin to the conventionally powered BMW X3.

Its 285-mile official range is roughly in line with that of the entry-level versions of the Audi Q8 E-tron, and is significantly ahead of what the Mercedes EQC can manage.

The iX3’s interior is another plus: almost entirely borrowed from the X3, it’s got a rock-solid feeling to it and is adorned with squishy materials where it matters. The iX3 also gets BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system, which gets a rotary controller to make it less distracting to use when on the move.

Read our in-depth BMW iX3 review

Our pick: GLC 220d 4Matic AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic

0-62mph: 8 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 141g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 620 litres
Insurance group: 40E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Well equipped
  • Plug-in hybrid has impressive electric range
  • Spacious interior

Weaknesses

  • Slightly firmer ride than rivals
  • Stylish interior doesn't feel the most sturdy
  • Petrol engines need working hard

The Mercedes GLC is our pick if you’re looking to get a petrol-powered large SUV as a company car. You see, our favourite version – the GLC 300e – is a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid, which can officially travel around 80 miles on electric power alone.

The GLC is a nice place to be, too; the stylish dashboard and 11.9in infotainment screen give the interior a premium look (although the GLC can’t quite match the BMW X3 for quality feel), while standard rear air suspension means plug-in versions grip well and corner with composure.

Read our in-depth Mercedes GLC review

Our pick: 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack]

0-62mph: 6.3 sec
MPG/range: 313.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 21g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 525 litres
Insurance group: 38E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Strong performance
  • Promise of stellar reliability
  • PHEV has an impressive electric range

Weaknesses

  • Petrol engine isn’t the smoothest
  • Choppy high-speed ride on F Sport versions
  • Takumi versions are pricey

As a company car, the Lexus NX isn't quite as much of a bargain as the Mercedes GLC 300e – that car's 80-mile electric-only range means it sits in a lower company car tax bracket – but the NX remains one of the most compelling plug-in hybrids on the market.

The NX can officially travel 45 miles on electric power alone, helping to slash your running costs, and keeping the Lexus in a lower company car tax bracket than a plug-in Audi Q5 or BMW X3.

This large SUV is good to drive, too, and has an interior that's hard to fault, with premium touches and plenty of standard kit.

Read our in-depth Lexus NX review

Our pick: xDrive50e M Sport 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 4.8 sec
MPG/range: 313.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 20g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 500 litres
Insurance group: 49E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Fantastic plug-in hybrid version
  • Great to drive
  • Classy, well-designed interior

Weaknesses

  • Wide standard tyres generate road noise at speed
  • Third row of seats costs extra
  • There are more spacious and practical rivals

If you like the idea of our class-leader, but it’s a bit too big for your needs, then the BMW X5 will certainly appeal. You can think of the X5 as a slightly smaller and more affordable BMW X7: it’s plush inside, and pretty comfy on the move – it’s even available as a seven-seater (although the third row is an optional extra).

Something else the X5 shares with both its larger sibling and the smaller BMW X3 is the iDrive rotary controller, which allows you to control the X5’s 12.3in infotainment system more easily than being forced to resort to fiddling with the touchscreen.

Read our in-depth BMW X5 review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 SE 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.6 sec
MPG/range: 37.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 197g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 647 litres
Insurance group: 47E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Offers lots of Range Rover qualities for a lower price
  • Incredible ability off-road
  • Fantastic range on the PHEV model

Weaknesses

  • Cheaper than a Range Rover, but still very expensive
  • Rivals are sharper to drive
  • Land Rover’s reliability record is a concern

Because the Range Rover Sport shares its underpinnings with the larger Range Rover, it offers many of the benefits of its big sibling for a more attractive price.

One such benefit is the interior; it can rival that of the BMW X5 for quality, and the top-tier attention to detail makes for a distinctly premium feel. Our only gripe is with the infotainment system; the air-con can only be controlled through the touchscreen, rather than with separate, physical controls, making it more of a distraction to adjust when on the move.

As you may expect, the Sport is more agile than the full-fat Range Rover. However, if you’re after a large SUV that’s engaging to drive, the X5 is a better choice.

Read our in-depth Range Rover Sport review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 X-Dynamic S 110 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 7 sec
MPG/range: 33.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 221g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 786 litres
Insurance group: 40E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Comfortable on the road, excellent off it
  • Up to eight seats
  • Slow depreciation

Weaknesses

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

The Land Rover Defender is a rugged SUV that fuses fantastic off-road ability with decent on-road manners. If that's the blend of talents you're after, it's effectively in a class of one.

Unlike the other cars on this list, it's available in a range of sizes: the Defender 90 (the shortest) is a family-sized SUV, while the 110 and vast 130 each offer a staggering amount of space.

Both the 110 and the 130 are available with up to eight seats – something no other model on this list can offer – although seat number eight is squeezed in between the driver and front passenger seats, so it’s only really usable in short bursts.

Read our in-depth Land Rover Defender review

Our pick: 55 TFSI Quattro S Line 5dr Tiptronic

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 27.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 233g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 865 litres
Insurance group: 44E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Smooth and powerful engines
  • Pillowy ride in Sport and S line trims
  • Superb interior quality

Weaknesses

  • Touchscreen infotainment system
  • Third-row space is better in the BMW X7
  • Entry-level Sport trim misses some important kit

Big, luxurious seven-seaters have featured heavily on this list so far because they offer great versatility without compromising on comfort or refinement, and the Audi Q7 is another impressive example of that philosophy.

Indeed, the Q7 can almost match the more expensive BMW X7 for ride comfort, while remaining more nimble through corners than that car. And, although a Q7 fitted with a diesel engine will emit a faint clatter when cold, it’ll soon settle down as the engine warms up. However, we’d still pick the 55 TFSI petrol engine for the extra smoothness it offers.

Read our in-depth Audi Q7 review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

The Peugeot 5008 combines MPV versatility with SUV looks, for a much lower price than many rivals, such as the Kia Sorento and Skoda Kodiaq, can match.

All versions of the 5008 get seven seats as standard and, while the rearmost seats aren’t as roomy as those in the Sorento, there’s still enough room to cram in a couple of adults for a short trip out.

Our recommended 1.2-litre petrol engine may look a bit poky next to some rivals’ offerings, but it still pulls strongly – even with all seven seats filled – and official fuel economy figures are competitive.

Read our in-depth Peugeot 5008 review

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And the large SUV to avoid...

Ssangyong Rexton

If what you’re looking for is a beefy off-roader with seven seats, the Ssangyong Rexton is worth considering. However, it's far too flawed to recommend if you intend to use it predominantly on the road. Read our review

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