Top 10: The best family SUVs - and the ones to avoid
Looking for a combination of practicality, value and class in an SUV-shaped package? Here we reveal the best, and worst, options.....
Deciding which car is best for transporting you and your family is one of life’s more important decisions.
So, here we've gathered together our favourite family SUVs.
All of them cater well for the growing number of people looking for practicality, comfort and sensible running costs, but also a raised driving position and off-roader looks. And to help prevent you from making a big mistake, we've also named the models that are best avoided.
Let's jump in:
Slideshow story - please click right-hand arrow above to continue:
10: Kia Sportage
Stick to the lower trims and the Sportage is good value, giving you a lot of space and equipment for your money.
10: Kia Sportage - interior
It isn't as good at dealing with bumpy roads as the very best family SUVs, though, while the engines can be noisy and aren't especially frugal.
9: Nissan Qashqai
The Qashqai is the car that started the trend for mainstream family SUVs and, as hard as it is to believe now, it was seen as something of a gamble when it was first introduced in 2007.
Fortunately for Nissan, the blend of an elevated driving position and stylish looks made the Qashqai a huge hit.
9: Nissan Qashqai - interior
And while it's been surpassed by several rivals in the last couple of years, it remains a sound proposition, particularly if you choose the quiet and efficient 1.3-litre petrol version.
8: Audi Q3
Audi's second-generation Q3 offers a high-tech interior with plenty of space for both passengers and luggage.
8: Audi Q3 - interior
It's a decent car to drive, too, with composed handling and accurate steering. However, the ride can be a little firm and some of the bigger-selling engines can sound rough.
7: Peugeot 3008
The 3008 taps right into the current trend for aggressive exterior styling, while its interior looks like something you'd see in a motor show concept, with its mix of unusual materials and avant-garde design.
7: Peugeot 3008 - interior
It also offers good ride comfort and handling, and a large boot, but mediocre rear leg room and a sluggish infotainment system stop it finishing any higher on this list.
6: Volkswagen Tiguan
This one-time Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage rival has been reinvented as a more expensive SUV, so now it’s up against formidable prestige-badged competition such as the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40.
6: Volkswagen Tiguan - interior
Fortunately, the latest Tiguan builds on the strengths of the original, offering more space and comfort, and improved efficiency.
Unfortunately (for Volkswagen), it has two sister cars that are cheaper to buy and just as capable.
5: BMW X1
Based on the same underpinnings as BMW's first MPV, the 2 Series Active Tourer, the X1 is a very practical choice that's available in both front- and four-wheel-drive forms.
5: BMW X1 - interior
Just make sure you can live with the considerable amount of road noise it generates.
4: Seat Ateca
The Ateca broke new ground for Seat, because the Spanish brand had previously built as many SUVs as it had spaceships.
4: Seat Ateca - interior
However, it proved well worth the wait, combining a spacious interior with best-in-class handling and much more attractive pricing than the closely related Volkswagen Tiguan.
3: Skoda Karoq
Like the Ateca, the Karoq offers many of the best bits of the Tiguan for thousands less.
3: Skoda Karoq - interior
And while it's the least sporty of the three to drive, overall it's the best all-rounder, offering a polished ride and clever rear seats that can slide, recline or be removed entirely.
It also comes with more standard equipment than the Ateca.
2: Range Rover Evoque
It might well be the Evoque’s looks that first pique your interest, but it’s a superb car on more objective levels, too.
Good to drive, really posh inside and surprisingly practical, it even makes financial sense thanks to incredibly strong resale values and attractive monthly PCP finance costs.
2: Range Rover Evoque - interior
So far we've only been able to test the more powerful – and expensive – versions but if the cheaper models also impress, it could potentially take the number one slot.
1: Volvo XC40
The XC40 may have similar front and rear lights to the company’s other models to ensure a family resemblance, but the rest of the detailing and the overall proportions of the car are quite different; it certainly doesn't look as if Volvo has put the blueprints for the larger XC60 in a photocopier and set it to 75%.
1: Volvo XC40 - interior
More importantly, though, the XC40 mixes its distinctive style with space, comfort, cutting-edge safety and relative affordability so ably that it's not only the best family SUV you can buy, but a former What Car? Car of the Year.
And the family SUVs to avoid...?
Although it's well equipped and has a decent infotainment system, there are too many areas in which the ASX is poor.
Mitsubishi ASX - interior
Despite soft springing, it isn’t very comfortable, while the engine needs working very hard. Factor in tight rear head room and it’s a long way off the class best.
Unlike the ASX, the GS has a peppy engine and a very spacious interior.
MG GS - interior
Unfortunately, the ride is poor and it feels very cheap inside. If you're on a tight budget, the Dacia Duster is a much better choice.