Best family SUV 2024
The family SUV is one of the most in-demand cars in the UK. It's not hard to see why, because these high-riding chariots offer the space, comfort, flexibility and practicality needed for modern families. Small wonder the MPV is so unpopular.
Many family SUVs are based on humble hatchbacks, so you get the low running costs of a smaller car with the raising driving position of a 4x4. Indeed, some SUVs give you the option of four-wheel-drive, which could come in handy if you live in the sticks or regularly encounter slippery roads. For everyone else, a front-wheel-drive SUV will be cheaper to buy and run.
You'll need to decide if you want five or seven seats. Even if you don't have five children, the ability to carry seven people could be useful if you're taking the grandparents out for Sunday lunch or your kids have got some mates over to stay.
Here, we've selected some of our favourite family SUVs, including a few seven-seaters.
Best family SUVs
The Hyundai Tucson is an affordable family SUV with a real aura of luxury. It is extremely refined for starters, with a plush and pliant ride, and feels like something from the class above. Hyundai sells the Tucson in affordable petrol and diesel guises, along with a fuel-saving hybrid and a clever plug-in hybrid that travels for up to 38 miles between charges. Just the job for an emissions-free school run. The Tucson has an airy and simple interior layout, focused around the central touchscreen and driver information display. It looks modern and even a little futuristic, right down to the steering wheel, which is shaped like no other we’ve seen. Hyundai’s impressive five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty continues to be a strong draw for buyers, too.
The Sorento is a proper box-ticker when it comes to the family SUV wish list. It looks smart, it comes with seven seats as standard and it’s packed with features across the range. It’s also beautifully appointed inside as Kia’s quality and attention to detail continues to improve with every car it releases. There’s also a wide choice of engines for different requirements, including a diesel model, a ‘self-charging’ hybrid and a plug-in hybrid that can manage up to 35 miles on electric power only. Who’s up for an emission-free school run? All models have all-wheel-drive to manage tricky road conditions, and they all come with a massive seven-year factory warranty, too.
Mercedes offers more SUVs than any other manufacturer, with most buyers gravitating towards the GLC and GLE models. The GLB offers something a little different, including boxy styling that's not too dissimilar to the luxurious (and expensive) G-Class, and, unlike the GLC, the ability to stick a couple of children in the boot. Don't worry, there are two seats back there, because the GLB comes with seven seats as standard. It's not that much smaller than the GLC – it's actually taller – but prices start from around £40,000, rather than £50,000. Because AMG Line Executive is the entry-level trim, you get a lot of equipment as standard.
The Nissan Qashqai has been the trend-setting family car for more than a decade. It arguably invented the crossover SUV, and this third generation model further hones that popular template. It remains less than 4.5 metres in length, so it’s easy to drive in suburbia, but clever packaging means there’s more space and comfort inside for passengers. The rear doors now open to almost 90 degrees, a feature you won’t credit until strapping in an eager toddler on a windy winter’s day. Indeed, clever design abounds throughout the Qashqai, and it’s now more refined and comfortable than ever. The recent arrival of a ‘self-charging’ hybrid version simply adds to the appeal.
The Volkswagen Tiguan is the SUV alternative to the famous Golf hatchback, and actually outsells the Golf around the world. Available in regular five-seat and extended seven-seat Tiguan Allspace guises, it boasts a modern design that looks right without being over the top. Even the sporty looking R-Line trim stays on the right side of tasteful. Volkswagen’s cut-above quality is evident inside, as are infotainment systems that take a fair bit of getting used to, but where you’ll discover endless features once you do. The Tiguan is another family SUV that is now available in plug-in hybrid format. Called eHybrid, it offers up to 30 miles of pure electric range.
We really rate the SEAT Ateca – twin to the Volkswagen Tiguan – and if you’re looking for a competitively-priced compact family SUV to seat five, it’s certainly worth a look. However, we can’t overlook the sheer value of SEAT’s larger Tarraco. There aren’t many seven-seat SUVs as affordable as this, certainly not ones that look so grown up and premium. The high-riding Tarraco feels confident on the road. It sits that bit higher than rivals for a more upmarket vibe, something underlined by generous standard equipment. All versions are powered by the same 150PS 1.5-litre petrol engine, which does an excellent job of hauling the Tarraco, even with all seven seats in use.
The Kuga appears to have displaced the Focus as the family-focused Ford that British buyers love. Maybe it’s the styling, which has more than a hint of the exotic Aston Martin DBX about it. Or maybe it’s an engine line-up that includes petrol, diesel, hybrid and plug-in hybrid choices. Whatever it is, the Ford Kuga is a strong contender in the family SUV sector, one with a robust and useful interior, plus a strong array of technology built around a high-mounted touchscreen infotainment system. Being a Ford, the Kuga also drives very nicely, with a dynamic feel that you don’t always get from family SUVs. There's a Kuga for everyone, including a sporty ST-Line Edition and a plush Vignale.
The Kodiaq is one of the most all-round accomplished family SUVs on the market. It’s available with five or seven seats, and the engine choice ranges from frugal petrols and diesels to a high-performance, turbocharged unit in the sporty Kodiaq vRS. Yes, it’s the family SUV equivalent of a hot hatch. Two- and four-wheel-drive models are available, and all versions are spacious, comfortable to ride in and confident in their driving manners. You can also pick from a range of well-specced trim levels, ensuring that there’s a Kodiaq to suit myriad budgets and requirements.
The Peugeot 3008 is a stylish and well-liked family SUV that has helped push the brand upmarket. It was facelifted in 2021 to keep it fresh. Buyers seem to gravitate towards higher-spec variants, packed with luxurious features such as massage seats. Peugeot’s premium design details enhance this upmarket air, with the interior in particular showing great attention to detail. That said, newcomers will need time to adjust to the firm’s quirky ‘i-Cockpit’ controls, including a very small steering wheel. With low noise levels and a plush ride, the 3008 is a soothing car to be driven in, and the serenity can be enhanced still further by a plug-in hybrid variant, which gives up to 39 miles of silent electric driving. Look out for the new E-2008, which will offer up to 326 miles of electric range.
The Dacia Duster is one of the most affordable SUVs in the country. This doesn’t impact on its family-friendly credentials, though; this is a roomy and practical five-seat family SUV, despite its lowly price tag. Dacia keeps things simple for buyers, with a range of conventional petrol and diesel engines, plus a 4x4 variant at the top of the range. Trim levels are straightforward, too. You can get an Essential version with steel wheels and no touchscreen, but most buyers opt for the Expression, Journey and Extreme models. The latter gives you the option of four-wheel-drive.
Which SUV is best for families?
Families crave space. Each of our selected best family SUVs has plenty of it – even the compact Dacia Duster can swallow five people and a week’s worth of luggage. However, it’s not just about space on the inside – relatively compact dimensions on the outside make SUVs less of a headache when doing the shopping or the school run. This is where models such as the Nissan Qashqai come to the fore. But if you need extra seating, then look towards bigger cars like the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Tarraco and Kia Sorento.
Which family SUV offers best value for money?
Competition is red-hot in the family SUV sector, so no manufacturer can get away with offering poor value for money. This means each of our selected best family SUVs delivers plenty of bang for your buck, be it the bargain-priced Dacia Duster, the good-value Skoda Kodiaq or even the premium-priced Volkswagen Tiguan. The Kia Sorento and Hyundai Tucson are two more family SUVs that are great value for money, particularly when you take their long warranties into account.
Can you get a seven-seat family SUV?
Most family SUVs are offered in five-seat guise. But there are some that come with three rows of seats, and space for seven people. The SEAT Tarraco is a seven-seat alternative to the smaller Ateca, for example, while Volkswagen sells a seven-seat version of the Tiguan called the Allspace. The Skoda Kodiaq comes with five or seven seats, and the Kia Sorento has seven as standard. You can also get a seven-seat alternative to the Peugeot 3008. It’s called the 5008, and is identical to the 3008 from the rear seats forwards. Coming back to our earlier point, who really needs a dull MPV anymore?