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Family SUVs must juggle a lot of different things at once. They have to be spacious, comfortable, practical and economical. Of course, the best family SUVs do all this and more. They also provide:
SUVs come in all shapes and sizes and there’s a different body type to suit all kinds of uses, from small sports utility vehicles and crossovers to large 7-seaters. The best type completely depends on your needs. If you have a large family, you could also read our top 10 lists of:
If you have a small family, check out:
You might notice a little crossover between this list and the lists above, with this list being a mix of the best SUVs for families, no matter the size. All of the cars on this list scored the highest star rating in Euro NCAP safety tests, apart from our tenth-place slot, which scored three stars out of five.
Read on to discover our top picks.
The Volvo XC40 was the overall winner of the best family SUV in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018. It’s easy to see why – it’s a car that should hold its value well, it has a competitively-priced starting price and it comes packed with lots of excellent features. If you opt for the entry-level trim, you get all the family essentials – from cruise control, to dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors. The car offers plenty of space in the front and back, plus the 460-litre boot is practical, with no lip. Its safety score with Euro NCAP was also very impressive.
Another winner of the best family SUV category in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018, the Seat Ateca is a stylish car that’s very well priced for what it offers. One of the best-selling points the car delivers on is the fact it’s good to drive and has great handling, which is a big deal in an SUV crossover. It has a high build quality, the cabin’s spacious in the front and back and square boot offers plenty of storage room at 510 litres. There’s also a nice range of engines to choose from, with an economical 1.6-litre TDI diesel offering a return of 61.4mpg.
The Peugeot 5008 was the winner in our top 10 list of The Best Large SUVs. It was also the overall winner in the large SUV category in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018. As a seven-seat SUV, it’s certainly one of the best on the market, coming packed with lots of features and driver assistance technology. Surprisingly for its size, it also offers relatively good miles per gallon as well. One of the few downsides to the 5008 is that there isn’t a four-wheel drive option, so it’s not one for off-roaders. However, you can get optional Grip Control that prepares the car for all weather.
The Skoda Karoq is another award-winning car that performs exceptionally well as a family SUV. It takes over from the old Skoda Yeti and improves on it too – no doubt helped by using the same brilliant MQB platform that underpins the Seat Ateca and other vehicles from the Volkswagen Group range. It’s a roomy car in the front and back, offering good amounts of legroom and headspace. The rear doors open wide, making it easier to add and remove child seats and the boot is class-leading at 521-litres. The Karoq also has responsive handling, so you always feel in control, making it enjoyable to drive.
The BMW X5 is another large/mid-sized SUV that comes with the option of a third row to turn it from a five-seater to a seven, which is ideal for bigger families. As you’d expect from a BMW, the car is spacious and comfortable, though if you opt for the third row, it’s better for children than adults. If you keep the car as a five-seater, on the other hand, you get a massive 650-litre boot to play around with. Sadly, as with many cars this size, the fuel economy isn’t the best – a factor all families should consider. However, the car is fun to drive, which not many other cars this size can boast!
Offering space, comfort and practicality, it’s no surprise that the Nissan Qashqai is one of the most popular SUVs in the UK. It’s also a class-leader for its fuel economy, with Nissan claiming that the 1.5 dCi engine will offer 74.3mpg. In real world driving figures, it’s more likely to be in the high 50s, but that still pins the Qashqai as a leader in that domain. Add to this formula a lot of equipment as standard and you have a recipe for success. You get all the family essentials as standard too, like electric windows, Bluetooth, air conditioning and a DAB radio, as well as cruise control and stop/start technology. The only reason it’s not placed higher in the list is that the competition is that strong – something the Qashqai helped to establish in the first place.
The second Skoda on this list, the Kodiaq is great for large and small families as it comes with a choice of five or seven seats. As a five-seater, you get a big boot and plenty of legroom and headspace in the front and rear. As a seven-seater, you do lose a bit of that boot space and the third row is more suitable for children. Either way, it’s a very practical vehicle that offers lots of cabin space for a relatively low price, which is part of what makes it appealing to families. It’s also easy to drive and for a car its size it offers decent fuel economy around 56 mpg.
The Volkswagen Tiguan may not be the best off-road, but it makes up for it by being really quiet and comfortable on the tarmac. Adding to its level of comfort is the roomy cabin that somehow manages to offer lots of legroom for both the front and back seats. If you’re after low running costs, the Tiguan also provides a good return if you opt for a two-wheel drive model with a diesel engine. On the other hand, if you do go for the four-wheel drive, the Tiguan performs well-enough in adverse weather conditions. It also makes towing easier in muddy fields.
Popular with families, the Kia Sportage ticks all the right boxes. It’s a practical car with a relatively cheap, competitive starting price. It also has a roomy cabin and is good value for money. For starters, every Sportage comes well-equipped as standard. We recommend the second trim level or above to get useful kit, like a reversing camera, dual-climate control and automatic lights and wipers. Drive-wise, there’s plenty of grip, the handling’s agile and the ride proves to be quite nice and smooth too. You also get decent mileage, especially with the two-wheel drive model and a 1.6-litre diesel engine, offering a return of 57.6mpg.
If you want a family SUV but don’t have the budget for the cars on this list, the Dacia Duster could be for you. It’s a fantastic budget SUV that gives you a lot for your money. Surprisingly (for its very low starting price), the car is rather spacious in the front and the back. It’s practical too, with a big boot of over 400 litres. Whilst it might not be as good to drive as others on this list, it’s easy enough, if a little on the slow side. You can also choose between 4×2 or 4×4 models and a petrol or diesel engine. Of the two, the diesel provides the best fuel economy, with a real-world driving figure above 50mpg. However, the Duster is the only car on this list to score three stars in Euro NCAP safety tests. That aside, it’s very good value.