Best small SUVs in 2021 - and the ones to avoid

Thinking of buying a new small SUV? Then make sure you read our countdown of the top 10 cars in this booming sector – plus, find out which ones we'd avoid.....

Small SUVs are among the most popular cars on sale.

Best small SUVs 2021

They're liked 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 is just what you're looking for, you could potentially save thousands without any haggling by using our New Car Buying service.

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10: Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis 2021 front cornering

What Car? Target Price from £13,118
RRP from £14,499 to £17,999

Don't be fooled by the Ignis's small size – this is a seriously impressive car. It's deceptively spacious, offers a generous amount of equipment and is very cheap to buy and run. Indeed, the 1.2 Dualjet Hybrid version is one of the most efficient cars we've ever put through our real-world True MPG test. What stops the Ignis finishing higher is its patchy interior quality and unremarkable driving experience.

10: Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis 2021 dashboard

Exceedingly frugal
Spacious interior
Generous equipment

Ride can be fidgety
Vague steering
Poor infotainment system

9: Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic 2021 front tracking

What Car? Target Price from £17,519
RRP from £18,445 to £23,495

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 best.

9: Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic 2021 RHD dashboard

Punchy turbo petrol engine
Plenty of standard kit
Agile handling

Uncompetitive PCP finance deals
Firm ride
Rivals are more practical

8: Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke 2020 front left cornering RHD

What Car? Target Price from £16,895
RRP from £18,595 to £26,595

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.

8: Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke interior

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

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

7: Seat Arona

2020 Seat Arona - front tracking

What Car? Target Price from £14,574
RRP from £18,605 to £25,235

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 is the baby of the range, we reckon it's also the best buy, especially if you'll mainly be driving on urban roads. Team it with SE Technology trim and you'll get an upgraded infotainment system as well as rear parking sensors.

7: Seat Arona

Seat Arona - interior

Tidy handling
Roomier than many rivals
Well equipped

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

6: Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 front

What Car? Target Price from £19,975
RRP from £21,030 to £39,930

Not only does the Peugeot 2008 look the part (both inside and out), it's well equipped and has a range of punchy, efficient petrol engines. The 129bhp 1.2 Puretech 130 is particularly good; in fact, it's strong enough to make the pricier Puretech 155 feel pointless. It's just a pity all 2008s are more expensive than most of their mainstream rivals.

6: Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 2021 RHD dashboard

Classy interior
Well equipped
Punchy, frugal petrol engines

More expensive than mainstream rivals
Relatively heavy deprecation
Average to drive

5: Audi Q2

Audi Q2 2021 front

What Car? Target Price from £22,163
RRP from £23,340 to £45,635

Audi's Q2 was one of the first small SUVs to combine its compact dimensions with a premium badge. The handling is tidy and it holds its value well, but it’s the quality of the interior that will really blow you away. It also has one of the best infotainment systems around – better than those in bigger, more expensive Audi SUVs, in fact.

5: Audi Q2

Audi Q2 2021 RHD dashboard

Classy and user-friendly interior
Tidy handling
Slow depreciation

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

4: Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross front

What Car? Target Price from £17,443
RRP from £18,360 to £27,785

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.

4: Volkswagen T-Cross

2020 VW T-Cross LT over the shoulder

Spacious, flexible interior
Impressive for safety
Good to drive

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

3: Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc front

What Car? Target Price from £20,053
RRP from £21,440 to £40,735

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. Only the quality of the interior plastics relegates it to third place on this list.

3: Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc interior

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

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

2: Skoda Kamiq

Skoda Kamiq 2021 RHD front tracking

What Car? Target Price from £17,493
RRP from £18,370 to £26,600

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. That interior feels classier than the T-Roc's, too.

2: Skoda Kamiq

Skoda Kamiq long termer

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

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

1: Ford Puma

Small SUV of the Year 2021 - Ford Puma

What Car? Target Price from £20,450
RRP from £22,030 to £29,445

As good as the other cars in this top 10 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 was our 2020 Car of the Year.

1: Ford Puma

Ford Puma long term

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

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

So that's the best SUVs - what about the ones to avoid? Read on

Ford Ecosport

Ford Ecosport 2021 left panning

Ford's Ecosport is as bad as its Puma is good, suffering from disappointing handling, a poor ride and limited rear space. The side-hinged tailgate is pretty impractical, too. Read our review

Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade 4xe 2021 front

The Renegade has its merits: it’s roomy, the diesel engines sip fuel gently and it has genuine off-road ability. However, it's comparatively expensive to buy, the ride is unsettled and refinement is woeful.

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