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In recent years, SUVs have surged in popularity, and manufacturers have been keen to meet customer demand. This is great news for buyers, as it means you can find the right SUV for your needs – from crossovers and small SUVs to mid-sized numbers and even large 4×4 off-road beasts.
You should assess your needs before deciding on the type of SUV you’d like. If you have a large family or like to camp, check out our top 10s of the Best 7-Seat SUVs or the Best Large SUVs.
A smaller model might just be the ticket for you though. Here are some of the benefits of owning a small SUV – typically, you’ll have:
The cars on this list are the best small SUVs on the market. As you’d expect from the best, these vehicles also scored five stars out of five in Euro NCAP safety tests as standard. However, there are a couple of exceptions, the Suzuki Ignis and the Kia Stonic. These cars scored three stars as standard, but a full five stars when coupled with the optional safety packages.
Read on to discover our top picks.
The Volvo XC40 is an impressive small SUV that places a big focus on safety. As the car comes fitted as standard with automatic emergency braking and a whole range of alert systems that help identify what’s around you, it’s no wonder it scored a whopping 97% for adult occupant protection. It’s also an illustrious award-winner, having recently won the prestigious title of European Car of the Year 2018, as well as the What Car? Car of the Year 2018. With a 460-litre boot, it’s a practical car that’s also comfortable, spacious and relaxing to drive – pretty much everything you could want from a small SUV.
A little pricier than its rivals, the Audi Q2 delivers the hallmarks of its luxury brand. It’s well-built with a high-quality feel to it – the interior is stylish with a good level of refinement and it’s nice and relaxing to drive. You get a decent 405-litre boot to play with and, to add to its practicality, there’s no lip and the floor is completely flat. The pint-sized SUV is easy on the road and comfortable, although taller adults may find the rear seats a bit cramped and upright. As you’d expect from an Audi, there are a lot of high-tech options to choose from, too.
Despite its small, compact sporty looks, the Seat Arona delivers a big amount of space in the cabin, as well as a 400-litre boot. In fact, it ticks all the right boxes of the small SUV class. It’s very easy to drive, it’s got a good build quality and it’s practical. It does have one downside though compared to other small SUVs and that’s the lack of four-wheel drive. Yet you could easily contend that few actually take their pint-sized motors off-road, and a car that comes as well stacked with safety features and equipment as the Arona easily makes up for its downside.
Similar to the Volvo XC40, the Volkswagen T-Roc scored really well in the Euro NCAP safety tests, with a 96% adult occupant protection rating. Unsurprisingly, that means you get a lot of safety features as standard, like autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance and a radar-controlled distance monitoring system. If you go for one of the higher-spec models you get even more for your money, from adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring to front and rear parking sensors. There’s a decent range of engines to choose from too. It’s agile and nippy and is also one of the comfiest small SUVs on the market.
The Citroen C3 Aircross is a funky-looking car inside and out. It also offers lots of personalisation options for you to adjust things as you see fit, allowing you to tailor the car to your tastes. Whilst it’s not the best car to drive compared to rivals, it’s a good motorway cruiser that’s comfortable, relaxing and practical. In fact, the C3 Aircross’s practicality is one of its standout points. There’s plenty of legroom, lots of little cubbyholes, a 410-litre boot and enough space in the rear to comfortably sit three adults
The BMW X1 delivers that big brand appeal in a smaller package. It’s good fun to drive, spacious for its compact dimensions and as comfortable as you’d expect a BMW to be. It has a class-leading boot space of 505-litres and comes with lots of features like cruise control with braking function, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and parking distance control. So, why is it in sixth place? It’s a little pricier than others on this list and to get the most out of the BMW X1 and its driving capabilities you need to opt for one of the more premium trims. Of course, if you don’t mind paying the extra, the BMW X1 is a great small SUV.
With its low starting price, the Kia Stonic is an excellent addition to the small SUV market. It’s also a very visually appealing car, especially considering how relatively cheap it is. In addition, it drives well with agile handling, although on the motorway it’s not as refined or as smooth as its rivals. However, if you compare the Stonic to its rivals, you’ll also see how well-equipped it is as standard. With the entry-level trim, you get parking sensors, air conditioning, roof rails and a 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Opt for the next trim up and you’ll add a reversing camera, autonomous braking, blind spot detection, lane departure warnings and heated seats as well.
If you want something a bit different, the Suzuki Ignis fits the bill perfectly. It’s a unique car that oozes personality, with charming retro looks and boxy appeal. It’s quite agile for urban driving, and for countryside lovers there’s a 4×4 option too – a nice touch for a car of such small dimensions. Whilst the four-wheel drive won’t take you over hill and dale, it’ll perform exceptionally in a muddy field. You can also opt for a hybrid model to boost the already decent fuel economy.
The Renault Captur is another well-priced small SUV on the market that proves good value for money. The entry-level model comes kitted out with hill start assist, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, plus electrically adjustable, heated wing mirrors. It also has the basics, like air conditioning and electric windows. For your money, you also get a decent 377-litre boot, but if that’s not sufficient you can move the rear bench forwards to increase it to 455 litres. It has light handling and is easy enough to drive, but it’s not as involved as other cars placed higher. Still, for its starting price, it does a lot right.
Like every Mini, the Countryman is distinctive with a lot of character. It also has the build quality you’d expect from the iconic brand. Despite its compact size, it’s a spacious crossover with a well-designed interior that’s comfortable and refined. Somehow it even manages to pack in a huge 450-litre boot. On top of all that, it’s practical and fun to drive. However, the Countryman’s looks aren’t to everyone’s liking and a lot of equipment is optional, rather than standard. Then again, if you don’t mind paying a little extra, the Mini Countryman is certainly worthwhile.