Best used small SUVs (and the ones to avoid)

Small SUVs are some of the most popular used cars in the UK right now. Here's our pick of the best...

Best used small SUVs (and the ones to avoid)

Collage of some of the best small SUVs

The soaring sales of SUVs are testament to the fact that almost everyone wants one these days. And the chances are if you’re reading this, you do too.

We don’t blame you – today’s best SUVs combine a high driving position that gives you a vantage point to see out clearly; while the practical and versatile interior space of these vehicles means there’s room for the whole family. But, of course, you’ll probably also want a car that’s light and easy to drive, and not so large that it’s impossible to park – which is where smaller SUVs, like the ones we’ve featured here, come in.

Now, we know that not everyone wants to buy brand new, especially when there’s a plethora of great options on the used market. Thanks to booming sales, there’s now a massive choice, which can be a bit confusing – which is why we’re here, and why we’ve rounded up our 10 best used small SUVs to help you work out which one’s best for you.

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Best used small SUVs

Kia Soul

10. Kia Soul

Aimed at the sort of person who likes to stand out but needs a practical vehicle, the Kia Soul is a likable vehicle that’s spacious, well equipped and distinctive to look at. Its average ride quality and so-so handling mean the Kia Soul isn’t great to drive, but if you can live with that, you get a small SUV that offers huge amounts of room in every seat, and, thanks to its boxy profile, a large boot.

We found: 2015 1.6 CRDi Connect, 27,107 miles, £9000

Best used small SUVs

Kia Soul

There’s also plenty of equipment, and it all comes backed up by a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty – so even if you buy a three-year-old example, you’ll still have four years’ warranty left to run. And with seriously low prices, the Soul looks like fabulous value too.

Read the full Kia Soul review

Find a used Kia Soul in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Suzuki Vitara

9. Suzuki Vitara

Thanks to squared-off corners, a raised ride height and the option of four-wheel drive, the Suzuki Vitara at least has some of the off-road abilities people associate with SUVs; abilities that many of its rivals seem to have forgotten. That doesn’t mean to say that the Vitara drives like an old-school 4x4, because it doesn’t. The balance between ride and handling is well judged and is even quite rewarding, which is quite unusual for a small SUV. The brilliant 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is a very nipply engine, but, it’s only available with four-wheel drive and higher spec car, so can be expensive. This makes the 1.6-litre petrol a better buy financially, and it’s as economical as the smaller engine.

We found: 2017 1.6 SZ-T, 11,000 miles, £12,991

Best used small SUVs

Suzuki Vitara

The Vitara is well equipped, but we’d suggest going for the SZ-T because you get an integrated sat-nav and media system, 17in alloy wheels and rear privacy glass. The interior isn’t particularly stylish, but there are some thoughtful touches, such as an attractive analogue clock and gloss black trim. Suzuki also has a good reputation for reliability, so there shouldn’t be anything to trouble you.

Read the full Suzuki Vitara review

Find a used Suzuki Vitara in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Audi Q3

8. Audi Q3

As you might expect from a car with four rings on its nose, the Audi Q3 is quite pricey for what is essentially quite a small SUV with reasonably limited space in the back. But, what you’re paying for is a comfortable ride, and a great choice of engine options to suit all budgets, and all offer impressive fuel economy and useful punch. There’s even the option of quattro four-wheel drive for slippery conditions.

We found: 2013 2.0 TDI SE, 33,000 miles, £14,992

Best used small SUVs

Audi Q3

You also get an interior that feels like it’s constructed solidly from top-quality materials. It isn’t the best in terms of layout, and the infotainment system is very dated now. But it holds its value well, which means you shouldn’t lose too much money during ownership.

Read the used Audi Q3 review

Find a used Audi Q3 in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Citroen C4 Cactus

7. Citroen C4 Cactus

Stylish, softly sprung and quite characterful, the Citroen C4 Cactus is more of an on-road bias small SUV because it cannot be had with four-wheel drive. The upside is that all engines offer excellent fuel economy which means running costs are rather low. It’s also quite big, so if you need to regularly carry four or five people, there will be fewer complaints in the C4 Cactus than there will be in some of its rivals.

We found: 2016 1.2 PureTech 110 Flair, 16,000 miles, £9617

Best used small SUVs

Citroen C4 Cactus

The interior has been de-cluttered of buttons thanks to a touchscreen infotainment system. It takes a little getting used to, but it does help with the simple design theme. One word of warning, the back windows don’t roll downt, but merely pop out a little to aid ventilation. But, on the whole, it’s a pleasant small SUV that’s very cheap to buy and run.

Read the full Citroen C4 Cactus review

Find a used Citroen C4 Cactus in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Peugeot 3008

6. Peugeot 3008

Comfortable, spacious, and equipped with one of the most flexible boots in the business – there are lots of reasons to like the Peugeot 3008. True, in its most popular form – without the Dynamic Roll Control suspension that came on larger-engine versions – it isn’t all that much fun to drive. But it’s still comfortable enough for most people, and what’s more, it’s fantastic value as a used buy, costing a great deal less than many of its rivals.

We found: 2015 1.6 HDI 115 Active, 13,000 miles, £9792

Best used small SUVs

Peugeot 3008

The 1.6 diesel is the best engine to go for because it feels just as responsive as the larger 2.0-litre diesel, but is much more economical and slightly more refined too. The interior is covered in soft-touch materials and looks rather classy, even if some of the stereo controls are a little hard to read on the move. The 3008 has a big boot and it has a split-tailgate that’s a great place to perch if you’re having a picnic.

Read the used Peugeot 3008 review

Find a used Peugeot 3008 in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Renault Kadjar

5. Renault Kadjar

Based on the Nissan Qashqai, the Renault Kadjar is a small SUV for those who value practicality, because the Kadjar actually has a slightly bigger boot than its sibling. It also scores well with families since the doors open nice and wide, which helps when putting a child in their car seat. On the road, the Kadjar is no firecracker, but it is quite comfortable and rather economical when it’s paired with the 1.5-litre diesel engine.

We found: 2016 1.5 dCi Dynamique Nav, 7,000 miles, £12,197

Best used small SUVs

Renault Kadjar

As mentioned before, the Kadjar is a little more spacious inside than a Qashqai, but it does have a transmission tunnel that robs the middle seat passenger of leg space. Make sure you find a Kadjar with ‘Nav’ tagged on the end of its specification name, because that means you’ll have a car with sat-nav.

Read the used Renault Kadjar review

Find a used Renault Kadjar in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai is great to drive, comfortable, and feels like a high-quality product inside. Its compact dimensions and easy controls make it a doddle to drive in town. As it was always one of Britain's best-selling cars, there are plenty around, too, so finding a good one shouldn't be too tricky, and it's terrific value, too.

We found: 2013 1.5 dCi Acenta, 36,000 miles, £8480

Best used small SUVs

Nissan Qashqai

While it isn’t quite as spacious as some SUVs, there's plenty enough room for most families. There’s enough room for a folding pushchair, a travel cot and a couple of overnight bags in the boot, and if you opt for an Acenta spec car you get a split-level boot floor to hide items away from prying eyes.

Read the full Nissan Qashqai review

Find a used Nissan Qashqai in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Volkswagen Tiguan

3. Volkswagen Tiguan

While it doesn’t particularly wow you in any area, the Volkswagen Tiguan is an SUV which goes about its business with exceptional competence. You get a choice of excellent engines, and while it isn’t all that exciting to drive, it’s rides smoothly on long journeys yet still handles tidily on a country road.

We found: 2015 2.0 TDI Bluemotion Tech Match, 18,000 miles, £13,360

Best used small SUVs

Volkswagen Tiguan

Plus, being a Volkswagen, you get a clear, easy-to-use dashboard constructed from solid, expensive-feeling plastics. There’s space enough for five and the rear seat slides forwards and backwards to help you choose between extra luggage space or rear legroom. All-in-all, it’s a fine small SUV for families.

Read the used Volkswagen Tiguan review

Find a used Volkswagen Tiguan in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

Skoda Yeti

2. Skoda Yeti

We really think the Skoda Yeti is one of the best used cars you can buy, let alone one of the best small SUVs. It’s economical, feels well put together, great value, and fun to drive. It doesn’t ride quite as well as some other SUVs, but it's by no means uncomfortable, and with so much else going for it, it’s a forgivable flaw.

We found: 2015 1.2 TSI SE, 20,000 miles, £11,732

Best used small SUVs

Skoda Yeti

It’s immensely practical, with loads of room in the rear seats and boot thanks to that boxy back end; what’s more, those rear seats slide, fold and even tumble to give you immense practicality. The design of the dashboard isn’t going to win any awards, but the plastics are more than up to the job of dealing with the sort of abuse young families will throw at it and it’s all logically laid out and simple to use.

Read the used Skoda Yeti review

Find a used Skoda Yeti in the What Car? Classifieds

Best used small SUVs

BMW X1

1. BMW X1

The BMW X1 was one of the first premium small SUVs, but this particular generation of X1 truly warranted its superior status. All the bits and pieces you touch on a regular basis in the X1 have a feel of solidity and high quality. To drive, the X1 is really a step ahead of its rivals. With precise, well-weighted steering and excellent body control, you really do feel like you’re driving a smaller hatchback rather than an SUV.

We found: 2016 sDrive 18d SE Auto, 22,000 miles, £21,000

Best used small SUVs

BMW X1

What’s more, there’s plenty of space in the X1 for a family. The rear seats have plenty of flexibility – sliding, reclining and folding in a multitude of ways that enables you to make the best use of the available space. There’s even an electric tailgate as standard on the X1, a very nice touch.

Sure, there are cheaper small SUVs, but the X1 is worth the extra money because of its broad range of abilities. And, once you’ve bought it, running costs are surprisingly low given the X1’s premium billing. A great used buy and worthy of its top spot on this list.

Read the full BMW X1 review

Find a used BMW X1 in the What Car? Classifieds

And the small SUVs to avoid…

Vauxhall Antara

And the small SUVs to avoid…

Vauxhall Antara

Don’t be fooled by the slick looks: the Vauxhall Antara is noisy, slow, uncomfortable, and poorly equipped. It isn't even all that cheap, and it's impossible to recommend.

And the small SUVs to avoid…

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny

Great off-road, but appalling on it, the Suzuki Jimny is an SUV from another age, and way off the pace in almost every area.

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