The best large SUVs in 2021

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 one 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.

Best large SUVs

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.

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 New Car Buying service.

10. Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender 110 front

The new Defender may not have a separate chassis or rigid axles, but don’t think that this means it’s gone soft; it has a huge amount of suspension travel and ground clearance and is packed with technology to help off roading. As a result, it's actually more capable in the rough than the original. But it also impresses on the road, with accurate steering and forgiving suspension. Just make sure you can live with big fuel bills.

Land Rover Defender (cont.)

Land Rover Defender dashboard

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

9. Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The latest version of Honda's large SUV doesn't come with any diesel engines – instead, you can choose from a 1.5-litre petrol model or a 2.0-litre hybrid. It's the latter that we recommend, for its low real-world running costs and impressive refinement. The CR-V also offers a comfortable driving position and vast rear space.

Honda CR-V (cont.)

Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD SR - interior

Vast rear-seat space (on five-seat models)
Good-sized boot (on five-seat models)
Comfortable driving position

A rough-sounding engine under load
Poor infotainment system
Seven-seat versions hard to justify over rivals

8. Citroën C5 Aircross

Citroën C5 Aircross 2020 front tracking

In many ways, the C5 Aircross is the archetypical Citroën, with distinctive looks and a super-soft ride. What's more, it keeps you very well isolated from wind and road noise and is temptingly priced.

Citroën C5 Aircross (cont.)

Citroën C5 Aircross 2020 dashboard

Mostly a super-smooth ride
Quiet inside at speed
Frugal engines

Wallowy handling
No seven-seat option
Rear leg room tight for the class

7. Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 driving

Fitted with Mazda's 2.0-litre petrol engine, the CX-5 is strong, quiet and impressively efficient without sacrificing pace. Plus, the car is well equipped, fun to drive and extremely practical – as long as you need only five seats. Even some road noise can’t detract from its overall desirability.

Mazda CX-5 (cont.)

Mazda CX-5 interior

Classy interior
Tidy handling
Very well equipped

Overly firm ride
No seven-seat option
Rivals have more space for passengers and luggage

6. Land Rover Discovery Sport

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport front

A former Large SUV of the Year, the Land Rover Discovery Sport sits below the full-size Discovery in the Land Rover range. However, it's still available with seven seats, has a smart and user-friendly interior and holds its value well. It's even well priced by class standards and was recently updated to make it more efficient.

Land Rover Discovery Sport (cont.)

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Lots of passenger space
Flexible seven-seat capability
Lengthy equipment list

Terrible reliability
Compromised ride comfort on larger wheels
So-so performance
Poor fuel economy and CO2 emissions

5. Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga front cornering - 69 plate

In our tests, the plug-in hybrid version of the Kuga went almost 50% farther on electric power than rivals. Plus, it trounced them when petrol power took over, returning 52mpg. The Kuga also gives you a lofty view of the road ahead, while the supple suspension makes it very comfortable, both at speed and when trundling around town.

Ford Kuga (cont.)

LARGE SUV: Ford Kuga PHEV 2.5 PHEV Titanium dashboard

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has a long electric-only range
Competitively priced against rivals
PHEV offers low company car tax

Interior quality doesn't impress
Relatively small boot
Infotainment system isn't the slickest

4. BMW X3

BMW X3 M40i

The X3 is a great choice if you're looking for a prestige SUV with 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 as standard, which is a real bonus because it's the best around.

BMW X3 (cont.)

BMW X3 M40i - interior

Sharp handling
Class-leading infotainment
Strong engines

Slightly firm ride in M Sport trim
Popular 20d engine sounds relatively gruff
Comparatively pricey PCP finance

3. Audi Q5

Audi Q5 2021 front

The Q5 is more comfortable and refined than direct rivals, but its biggest strength of all is its interior quality. For starters, the materials all look and feel great. But 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.

Audi Q5 (cont.)

Audi Q5 2021 Dashboard

Smooth and punchy engines
High-quality interior
Good to drive

Fiddly touchscreen infotainment system
No seven-seat option
Firm ride on S line and Edition 1 versions

2. Peugeot 5008

Peugeot 5008 2021 front

The Peugeot 5008 combines MPV-esque versatility with SUV looks, plus it handles tidily, the ride is comfortable and the interior is seriously plush.

Peugeot 5008 (cont.)

Peugeot 5008 2020 Dashboard

Loads of interior space for the money
Stylish and plush-feeling interior
Competitive fuel economy and CO2 emissions

Terrible rear head room with panoramic roof fitted
Rivals have more diverse engine lineups
Slow-witted infotainment system

1. Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento 2021 COTY

The Sorento's hybrid tech combines good real-world fuel economy with comparatively low CO2 emission, while the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate. Throw in a nicely made and well equipped interior, a driving position that’s lofty enough to make HGV drivers jealous and Kia’s unmatched seven-year warranty, and the Sorento is the best large SUV currently on sale.

Kia Sorento (cont.)

2021 Kia Sorento dashboard

Seven seats fit for adults
A massive boot
Well equipped

Mainstream rivals are cheaper to buy
Hybrid engine isn't as fuel efficient as a Honda CR-V's
No lumbar adjustment in 2 trim

And what about the large SUV to avoid buying?

Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail 2019 front tracking

The X-Trail is okay in isolation, but there are rivals with better handling, comfort, interior space and infotainment systems for similar or less money.

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Kia Sorento

2020 - present

Not the cheapest seven-seat SUV, but hugely practical and ...