Best large SUVs 2023
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...
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 SUVs 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 free New Car Buying service.
In our tests, the plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga went almost 50% farther on electric power than similarly priced rivals. Plus, it trounced them when petrol power took over, returning 52mpg. The Kuga also gives you a supple ride and a lofty view of the road ahead, but it's a shame the interior is no classier than that of a Ford Focus hatchback.
- Competitively priced against rivals
- Plug-in hybrid offers a long electric range and low company car tax
- FHEV hybrid is cheaper than equivalent diesel, yet has similar economy
- Interior quality doesn't impress
- Relatively small boot
- Infotainment system isn't the slickest
Land Rover Defender
The new Defender is a rugged SUV that fuses fantastic off-road ability (especially if you add the optional locking rear differential) with decent on-road manners. If that's the blend of abilities you're after, it's effectively in a class of one.
- Excellent off road
- Up to seven seats
- Slow depreciation
- Higher trim levels are very pricey
- Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are poor
- Tiny boot in 90 models
Audi's Q5 is a very quiet cruiser, but its biggest strength of all is its interior quality. For starters, the materials all look and feel great. However, 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. Just bear in mind that the ride is firm unless you stick with entry-level Sport trim.
- Smooth and punchy engines
- Good to drive
- High-quality interior
- Plug-in hybrid battery range could be better
- No seven-seat option
- Firmer ride on S line and Edition 1 versions
The X3 is a great choice if you're looking for a prestige SUV and only need 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, which is a real bonus because it's the best around.
- Sharp handling
- Class-leading infotainment
- Strong engines
- Slightly firm ride in M Sport trim
- Popular 20d engine sounds relatively gruff
- Comparatively pricey PCP finance
The Peugeot 5008 combines MPV-esque versatility with SUV looks, plus it handles tidily, the ride is comfortable and the interior is seriously plush. Our recommended 1.2-litre petrol engine might only have 129bhp, but it still pulls strongly even with all seven seats filled.
- Loads of interior space for the money
- Stylish and plush-feeling interior
- Competitive fuel economy
- Poor rear head room with the optional sunroof fitted
- Rivals have more diverse engine lineups
- Slow-witted infotainment system
Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda's first bespoke electric car takes the form of a large SUV that's practical, good to drive, smart inside and well-equipped. Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is the sheer value it offers – the ‘60’ version is priced in line with much smaller models, such as the Kia e-Niro.
- Well priced
- Extremely practical
- Comfortable and easy to drive
- So-so performance by electric car standards
- A Volkswagen ID.3 is more fun to drive
- Infotainment isn’t as responsive as rival systems
The latest NX is the most compelling plug-in hybrid we've yet seen, with a long electric-only range which should not only slash your running costs, but also makes for tempting company car tax rates. This large SUV is good to drive, too, and has an interior that's hard to fault in any respect.
- Strong performance
- Promise of stellar reliability
- PHEV has an impressive electric range
- Petrol engine isn’t the smoothest
- Choppy high-speed ride on F Sport versions
- Takumi versions are pricey
The fully electric EV6 combines a huge real-world range with the ability to charge at speeds that no rival can keep up with, addressing two of the biggest concerns that people still have about such vehicles. Add in outstanding refinement, loads of space for five and competitive pricing, and the striking EV6 doesn’t just look like the future – it feels like it too.
- Long range
- Fast-charging capability
- Long warranty
- Loads of rear legroom
- Shallow boot
- Not exactly cheap
- Slightly firm ride
Another Kia takes second place, with the Sorento's hybrid tech combining good real-world fuel economy with comparatively low CO2 emissions, despite this being a hugely spacious seven-seater. You get a forgiving ride and accurate steering, too, while the driving position is lofty enough to make HGV drivers jealous. Throw in Kia’s superb seven-year warranty, and the Sorento is an excellent choice.
- Seven seats fit for adults
- A massive boot
- Well equipped
- Cheaper trims no longer available
- Hybrid engine isn't as fuel efficient as a Honda CR-V's
- Interior quality not as good as similarly priced premium rivals
Hyundai Santa Fe
Just not quite as good as the closely related Santa Fe. This car combines everything a large SUV buyer is looking for – namely, lots of space, comfort and kit, along with the potential for low running costs. There are both regular and plug-in hybrid options on offer, with the latter making especially good sense for company car drivers, and our recommended Premium trim comes with everything you could want.
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- Seven seats fit for adults
- Loads of standard kit
- Long warranty
- So-so performance
- Some wind noise
- Ultimate trim is pricey
And the large SUV to avoid...
If what you’re looking for is a beefy off-roader with seven seats, the 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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Mazda CX-60 long-term test
The Mazda CX-60 is the Japanese brand's largest SUV and its first plug-in hybrid. Our consumer editor is finding out if it's a good alternative to a conventionally fuelled off-roader