Best SUVs 2024 reviewed and rated – plus the models to avoid

Thinking of buying a new SUV? Well, we've tested them all – from the smallest to the biggest – so we can reveal the top 10. Plus, we've named the SUVs that are best avoided...

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by
George Hill
Published01 October 2023

With their high driving positions, spacious interiors and rugged go-anywhere looks, SUVs can tick many of the right boxes – and that’s just part of the reason why they’re so popular.

Indeed, nearly every car manufacturer makes an SUV these days to help meet this demand. So, to help separate the best from the worst, we’ve made a list of the top 10 SUVs you can currently buy – and revealed the ones to steer clear of.

Best SUVs

You'll see a wide range of different models here, ranging from small SUVs to a couple of 7-seat SUVs, all spanning different price brackets. What’s more, many of the cars listed are What Car? Award winners. If you'd like to read more about particular types of SUVs, then our lists of the best luxury SUVs, sports SUVs, coupe SUVs and the best off-roaders will help.

If you want to find out more about a particular model or see what SUV deals are currently available via our free New Car Buying service, you can click on the relevant links below. Or, if you don't fancy reading the full story and are simply looking for the best SUV, then look no further: the Kia Sportage is the best SUV you can buy.

Learn more about how we test cars, or see the best and worst SUVs below

Our pick: 1.6T GDi 157 48V ISG 3 5dr

0-62mph: 9.9 sec
MPG/range: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 562 litres
Insurance group: 20E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Lower-spec models are great value
  • Smart interior
  • Generous rear leg room and boot space

Weaknesses

  • Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained
  • Rear head room compromised with panoramic roof
  • No clever rear seat functions

While there are many impressive family SUVs out there to choose from, no car is more complete than the Kia Sportage. 

For starters, you only need to step inside to see how impressive it is. The interior has a very smart design, with a solid feel and intuitive controls, while the dual 12.3in screens with our favourite 3 trim offer a real ‘wow’ factor. 

There’s no limit to the amount of space on offer, either. The Sportage can carry five adults with ease, while the boot is one of the biggest in the class – especially in petrol form. It features a capacity of 591 litres, which is more than the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq can manage. 

So, surely all of this comes at a cost? Well, not exactly, because the Sportage is actually at its best in entry-level 1.6-litre petrol form. We think it’s the one to go for because it’s cheaper than the mild hybrid and only fractionally behind it in terms of acceleration and fuel economy. 

Need we say more to tempt you? Well, our favourite 3 trim level comes with a full haul of kit, including heated seats (both front and rear), electrically adjustable front seats and keyless entry. 

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

  • Touch-sensitive controls can be fiddly
  • Upper trims and engine options are too pricey
  • Unexciting handling (the Ford Puma is a sharper drive)

If you’re looking for a small SUV but covet a high driving position, then few rivals can match the Volkswagen T-Roc for the feeling it gives you behind the wheel.

It places you higher above the road than the rival Seat Arona and Skoda Kamiq, and the interior gives a feeling of quality with its soft-touch plastics, leather steering wheel and bright coloured inserts.

The T-Roc is also a pleasure to drive, with minimal wind noise, tidy handling and a range of punchy yet efficient engines. Our favourite is the entry-level 109bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit, which provides plenty of pulling power for the money.

In fact, we think the T-Roc makes the most sense in entry-level form, otherwise it can become expensive.

Our pick: 3.0 D300 Dynamic SE 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.1 sec
MPG/range: 38.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 191g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 647 litres
Insurance group: 48E
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

Few SUVs combine luxury and on-road capability as successfully as the Range Rover Sport. And at times, it can be difficult to believe what it can do in the rough stuff, too. 

However, it’s on the road where the Range Rover Sport really shines. Okay, it’s not quite as sporty as its name suggests, but the tight body control means that it can take on corners better than the full-size Range Rover, while the air suspension means that long motorway journeys are a doddle.

As with its bigger brother, a wide range of smooth engines are available. Our favourite is the D300 3.0-litre straight-six diesel, which feels strong enough to haul its weight at any speed. For company car drivers, the P460e plug-in hybrid is the better option.

Of course, a car that bears the Range Rover name must be luxurious, and the Sport is just that. The driving position is superb, while the interior is vast and beautifully put together.

Our pick: 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV 155 ST-Line DCT 5dr

0-62mph: 8.7 sec
MPG/range: 49.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
Seats: 5
Insurance group: 17E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

If you think that SUVs are boring to drive, then the Ford Puma could be the car to change your mind.

The Puma is a pleasure to drive everyday; it’s nimble, both around town and on a twisty country road, while our favourite 153bhp 1.0-litre engine provides plenty of pulling power.

But what about fuel economy? Well, our favourite engine comes with mild hybrid technology, which means a small electric motor assists the engine to help boost performance and efficiency. 

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of room for your family in the Puma – and even the kitchen sink. Actually, having said that there’s no need to bring the kitchen sink at all, because the Puma has an enormous underfloor storage box that has a plug for rinsing it out if you need to. 

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Outstanding seven-seat practicality
  • Plush interior
  • Long warranty

Weaknesses

  • Pricing yet to be confirmed
  • Hybrid engine not particularly inspiring
  • Styling might be divisive

Our 7-seat Car of the Year, the Hyundai Santa Fe continues to have nearly every base covered for those looking for an SUV with seven seats.

Despite being one of the more affordable cars in its class, its interior doesn’t feel cheap; in fact, it’s really quite upmarket. The cheapest trim, for instance, comes with heated leather front seats, a 10.3in infotainment touchscreen and adaptive cruise control.

That upmarket feel continues in the back seats, because space is very impressive; even adults should be comfortable in the third row for shorter journeys.

What’s more, the 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid is a great match for the Santa Fe. Okay, it may not be the quickest engine, but it does help keep running costs low. 

Our pick: 200kW Premium 66kWh 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.7 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 313 litres
Insurance group: 32E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Great to drive
  • Plush, high-quality interior
  • Great safety rating

Weaknesses

  • Small boot
  • Slightly choppy low-speed ride
  • Efficiency could be better

It may be made in a different vein to previous Smarts, but the #1 is a much better car as a result.

Being fully electric, the #1 provides impressive performance; our favourite Premium model provides a 0-62mph time of 6.7sec and an official range of 273 miles. For comparison, the similarly-priced Jeep Avenger can travel 249 miles officially.

The #1 continues to impress inside. The quality of the materials is top notch, while the touchscreen infotainment system is quick to respond and packed full of features. 

Space in the back seats is plentiful, too, with seats that slide and recline. It’s just a shame that the boot space is significantly compromised as a result.

Our pick: 168kW Premium 77.4kWh 5dr Auto [Comfort]

0-62mph: 7.8 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 432 litres
Insurance group: 41A
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Wonderful interior
  • Extremely quiet on the move
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Boot isn't huge
  • Rear space is average
  • Optional cameras not as good as traditional door mirrors

Genesis is still a relatively new brand in the UK, so we wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it before. However, the GV60 could be the car to change that.

How so? Well, the GV60 is based on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 – two of the best electric cars around. And like those cars, the GV60 is comfortable, spacious and very competitive on charging speeds. Indeed, it can top up from 10-80% in as little as 18 minutes with a suitably powerful charger.

Where the GV60 steps ahead of those cars is with its interior, because it's filled with soft-touch materials, synthetic leathers and attractive metals, making it feel properly premium. What’s more, the GV60 has a row of physical buttons and a rotary controller for the infotainment system, which makes it very easy to operate while driving.

Factor in a generous equipment list, competitive pricing and an impressive range of 321 miles (in RWD Premium form), and the GV60 is hard to beat.

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

The BMW X7 is everything a big and luxurious SUV should be.

The interior, for starters, is beautifully put together. Every surface you touch simply screams craftsmanship, lending it a properly upmarket feel that even beats the more expensive Range Rover for build quality.

However, it’s actually in the practicality department where the X7 really shines, because the X7’s third row is more spacious than those in the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery. And as you’d expect from a car this big, the boot is vast – especially in five-seat mode. 

Despite its size, the X7 is surprisingly easy to drive, with a great view of the road, agile handling and accurate steering. The engines available are also smooth and powerful, with the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel (xDrive40d) being our pick.

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

Which plug-in hybrid has the longest electric-only range of any new car? That would be the Mercedes GLC, which can travel a whopping 80 miles on electric power officially. This makes it the ideal candidate if you’re looking for an SUV as a company car, thanks to its low CO2 emissions and benefit-in-kind (BIK) rating. 

However, it’s not just the range that makes the GLC tempting. The GLC 300e is actually the best engine in the GLC line-up, and that’s largely thanks to the refinement and instant power available from the electric motor.

Of course, being an SUV, you sit suitably high up in the GLC, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a comfortable driving position. In fact, the interior is a very pleasant place to spend time, with plenty of soft-touch materials, a large central infotainment screen and snazzy ambient interior lighting to lift things up.

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

The BMW iX3 is one of the more conventional electric SUVs, and it’s actually all the better for it.

You see, the iX3 is based on the same underpinnings as the BMW X3. So, this means you get the same intuitive infotainment system, high-quality interior and big boot.

What’s more, the iX3 has a similar dynamic set-up to the regular car, which means it’s one of the more engaging SUVs to drive with an agile and alert feeling through the bends. Its 0-62mph time of 6.8sec is more than quick enough, too, while the 285-mile official range is better than the Mercedes EQC.

As for equipment, there’s only one trim level available – but thankfully it comes with everything you need, including a head-up display, a panoramic glass sunroof, a powered tailgate and heated front seats as standard.

And the SUVs to avoid…

Ssangyong Rexton

Even though the Ssangyong Rexton is a good tow car and can seat seven, it’s flawed in too many other areas to be recommendable. For instance, the engine is slow and gruff, while the ride is unusually firm. For the money, there are an awful lot more suitable and pl... Read our review

Ford Ecosport

It might have chunky looks and a high driving position, but the Ford Ecosport is disappointing to drive and not very spacious. The Ford Puma is a far better car and tops it in almost every area, so we’d recommend going for that instead if your budget can stretch t... Read our review

How we choose the best SUVs

There are more SUVs on sale than ever before, but we remain committed to ensuring we’ve tested them all. Based on our robust assessments, we’re able to tell you the very best SUVs on sale in this definitive guide. The work doesn’t stop there, though, because we continually reassess the models, giving you the most useful information whenever you need it.

Uniquely, we’re able to analyse data from more than 20,000 car owners annually to determine the factors most important to SUV buyers. Armed with this information, we tailor our approach accordingly, ensuring we focus on the areas that really matter. For SUVs, these include:

Reliability

Reliability can be the deciding factor for any car purchase, which is why we conduct an annual Reliability Survey from a pool of more than 20,000 people. By doing this, we can use accurate real-world data to give you the best possible reliability advice on a wide range of cars aged up to five years old. Our survey includes data on nearly every SUV on sale, which means we can tell you which models to buy and which ones to avoid.

Interior space

An SUV needs to be spacious, especially if its to ferry around a family or a considerable amount of luggage. That’s why we regularly fill SUVs with people and luggage to test these factors out. Specifically for luggage, we have a carry-on suitcase test, where we test how many cases can fit into the car. For example, a Volkswagen T-Roc can carry seven carry-on suitcases, whereas a Seat Arona can carry only five.

Comfortable driving position

A lot of SUVs offer high, commanding driving positions, which can make you feel like the king or queen of the road. However, not all of them do, and some more affordable SUVs can offer compromised driving positions, with minimal seat and steering wheel adjustment. Our rod testers take each of these factors into account when testing an SUV, and compare each set-up with direct rivals.

Our comprehensive assessment of SUVs doesn’t end here. To find out more, you can head to our dedicated page for how we test cars and SUVs.

FAQs

Which SUV is the best car in the UK?

The best SUV and the best car in the UK is the Kia Sportage. It's a brilliant all-rounder, being comfortable to drive, smart inside and immensely practical. The entry-level petrol version is also excellent value, especially when paired with our recommended 3 trim, which gives you loads of kit as standard.

What is the most reliable SUV?

The most reliable SUV you can buy is the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. It achieved a perfect 100% score in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, with not a single owner telling us their car had a problem during the first two years of ownership. If you're looking for the most reliable SUV that's not electric, that would be the Lexus NX (2014-2021), which achieved an equally impressive score of 99.8%.

What is the best SUV to buy second hand?

The Ford Puma is the best SUV you can buy second hand. It's well equipped, economical and very practical, but what helps it stand out from the crowd is its sharp driving dynamics, because it's much more engaging to drive than the Audi Q2 and Skoda Kamiq. To top it all off, the Puma is cheaper to buy second hand than those cars, with used prices starting from £15,000 for an example in our preferred ST-Line trim.