slideshow

The best small SUVs you can buy

Thinking of buying a small SUV? Then make sure you read our countdown of the top 10 cars in this booming sector.....

23 Oct 2019 16:31

Small SUVs are among the most popular cars on sale today

Small SUVs compilation image

The reason? They offer the high-set driving position, practicality and muscular looks of more traditional off-roaders, but usually without the high purchase price or running costs – so they can make great family cars.

Here, we count down the top 10 small SUVs you can currently buy – and reveal the models that are best to steer clear of:

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10: Renault Captur

Renault Captur

The Captur may look like a chunky SUV that shrunk in the wash, but it’s actually a cunningly disguised Clio on stilts.

Like the Clio, a range of economical petrol and diesel engines are available and only the front wheels are driven.

10: Renault Captur - interior

Renault Captur - interior

The Captur is good value, undercutting most of its rivals on purchase price and offering some of the lowest CO2 emissions in its class.

It's not as swift or agile as the competition, though, and its interior quality is underwhelming compared with the best in class.

9: Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman

The Countryman has a well-appointed, plush-looking interior and a decently sized boot. It handles well, but the ride can be unsettled and it has more road and wind noise than in some rivals.

9: Mini Countryman - interior

Mini Countryman - interior

The Countryman is large by small SUV standards and makes decent use of what space there is.

A high roof and low seating position mean even the tallest of drivers will be able to get comfortable, while a wide body means you shouldn’t be rubbing elbows with your passenger.

8: Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki has taken the 'small' part of the small SUV to the extreme – the Ignis is just 3.7 metres long and 1.7 metres wide. That makes it about the same size as the Volkswagen Up and Kia Picanto city cars.

However, with its flared arches, bluff nose and jacked-up stance, there’s no mistaking it for anything other than a radically designed and eye-catching baby SUV.

8: Suzuki Ignis - interior

Suzuki Ignis - interior

The Ignis is also well priced and neatly packaged. Only its stodgy handling and so-so interior quality let it down.

7: Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki Vitara

The latest Vitara is a very different car to the original model, which was both smaller and more rugged.

The newcomer shouldn't be overlooked, though, because it's a compact five-seat SUV that’s affordable, practical and easy to live with.

7: Suzuki Vitara - interior

Suzuki Vitara - interior

The Vitara is bigger than a number of more expensive rivals, with plenty of boot space and enough room for adults in the back seats. It’s well equipped, too.

SZ4 trim gets basics such as Bluetooth connectivity, a DAB radio, all-round electric windows and alloy wheels, plus a few luxuries including cruise control and climate control.

6: Honda HR-V

Honda HR-V

The HR-V might look expensive next to its small SUV rivals, but healthy discounts are available and it combines good interior space with flexible seating and tidy handling. Every version is also well equipped.

6: Honda HR-V - interior

Honda HR-V - interior

We recommend the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine, which feels more willing than the non-turbocharged version on offer, and also better than the alternative 1.6-litre diesel.

5: Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic

The Stonic is the smallest SUV in Kia’s portfolio. It’s spawned from the Rio small hatchback in much the same way Renault uses the Clio as the basis for the Captur. It's only available in front-wheel-drive form, so don’t buy one if you want to cross the Sahara.

It does, however, have a slightly jacked-up ride height, roof rails and black plastic wheel arches to give it a rugged look.

5: Kia Stonic - interior

Kia Stonic - interior

The Stonic handles tidily and is well equipped, but there's no bargain-basement entry-level version to tempt budget-conscious buyers.

Instead, the range starts at a price slightly above the Renault Captur's and a little below that of the Seat Arona.

4: Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc

At the cheaper end of the line-up, the T-Roc competes with the likes of the Seat Arona and Kia Stonic, even though it's fractionally bigger than those models.

However, move up the T-Roc range and you'll quickly find yourself in Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman territory. To help it stand out, the T-Roc has a more raked rear end than most rivals, aluminium exterior detailing and a distinctive front-end design.

4: Volkswagen T-Roc - interior

Volkswagen T-Roc

On the inside, the T-Roc's interior lets the side down a little, feeling rather low-rent for one of the pricier small SUVs. It's also a shame that only the top trim level gets sat-nav as standard.

3: Seat Arona

Seat Arona

Until recently, Seat had as much experience of building SUVs as Ferrari did mobility scooters. However, the Spanish brand’s first effort, the Ateca, was so good that it won a major gong at our 2017 Car of the Year Awards.

Now there's a second, smaller offering: the Arona – and it's so good that we've named it our 2019 Small SUV of the Year.

3: Seat Arona - interior

Seat Arona - interior

While the Arona is pricier to buy outright than the Suzuki Vitara, great finance deals mean it is actually more affordable on a PCP deal.

And the Arona’s interior may not be as classy as the Audi Q2’s, but it’s still a comfortable and nicely designed place, with all the equipment you really need.

2: Audi Q2

Audi Q2

Although there's nothing new about pint-sized SUVs, the Q2 was one of the first to combine compact dimensions with a premium badge on its snout.

2: Audi Q2 - interior

Audi Q2 - interior

If you live in a crowded city or just like the benefits of a smaller and more frugal motor, you can swap space for a touch of luxury with the Q2.

The boot and rear seats are adequate, but it’s the quality of the interior that is seriously impressive. It’s also good to know that the Q2 has one of the best infotainment systems around.

1: Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross

The T-Cross is the best small SUV you can buy right now – it's great to drive, spacious inside and comes with an impressive array of safety equipment.

1: Volkswagen T-Cross - interior

Volkswagen T-Cross - interior

Plus it's competitive on running costs, so whether you're a company car driver or private car buyer, it deserves to be on your SUV shortlist.

So there we have the 10 best small SUVs of 2019; but what about those you should avoid...?

Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade

The Renegade has its merits: it’s roomy inside, the diesel engines sip fuel gently and it has genuine off-road ability. But its shortcomings will outweigh the good points for many buyers.

Jeep Renegade - interior

Jeep Renegade - interior

Not only is it comparatively expensive to buy, refinement is woeful, the ride is unsettled and the gruff-sounding engines make it feel positively agricultural to drive.

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny

If you’re after a small SUV with genuine off-road ability, the Jimny may fit the bill.

Suzuki Jimny - interior

Suzuki Jimny - interior

However, the little Suzuki feels like it belongs in a different era. Its woeful refinement, feeble performance and shortage of safety and security equipment all count against it.