Best SUV 2023
It's not hard to see why SUVs are so popular. Owners love the combination of a high driving position, spacious interior, large boot and low running costs. They come in all shapes and sizes, with prices to suit all budgets.
Nearly every manufacturer offers an SUV of some description, with even the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini capitalising on the popularity of the sports utility vehicle. While we haven't included an Italian thoroughbred on our list of the best SUVs, many of our choices are great to drive and don't cost a six-figure sum.
Here's our list of the best SUVs currently on sale.
The Puma is proving to be a real success story for the Blue Oval. Derived from the Ford Fiesta, it offers appreciably more space inside, and has a brilliantly practical boot. There’s a vast 456 litres of space – and beneath the boot floor is Ford’s water resistant ‘Magic Box’, which even has a drain plug in the bottom so you can wash it out with a hose. It’s perfect for muddy boots and tall house plants alike. A curvaceous and good-looking car, the Puma offers a broad range of engines that include several punchy mild hybrid motors. They all give good performance, with the most impressive of all being the sporty and brilliant 200PS Puma ST.
The Skoda Kodiaq was first launched in 2016 and has proven to be very highly rated by owners. Facelifted in 2021 (we like the wider grille and smoother bumpers), entry-level versions come in five-seat guise, while pricier models have seven seats. Choose the latter and the third row folds down flat into the boot floor. Punchy engines come in petrol and diesel guises, and you can get both front- and all-wheel-drive versions. Typically value-led pricing Skoda means you get plenty of bang for your buck, particularly in SE Drive spec. There’s also a high-performance Kodiaq vRS for mum or dad racers.
Don’t get hung up on the looks. Sure, the BMW’s unusual styling isn’t to everyone’s taste, but the rest of the car will garner a lot of fans. The iX is a large, full-electric SUV brimming with technology and with a sumptuous interior. Despite its size it’s really impressive to drive, with sharp handling, a comfortable ride and with some serious power options, even in the entry-level iX xDrive 40. The top-spec M60 model has 619PS and will manage the 0-62mph sprint in less than 3.8 seconds, which is top-end sports-car territory. Need to go far in one go? The xDrive 50 model will get you up to 380 miles between charges. On top of all that, the BMW iX has bags of space inside for passengers and luggage thanks to its well-considered design. It’s an extremely impressive all-round package.
The Volvo XC40 is the Swedish firm’s best-selling car, and it’s easy to see why. A compact SUV, its squat stance has all the premium cues of larger Volvo models, with fun twists such as a contrast-colour roof. Volvo sells two types of XC40: regular models have petrol or diesel engines, while XC40 Recharge versions are either plug-in hybrid or pure electric. All have an impressively roomy interior, with great design and attention to detail. We love Volvo’s Google-based infotainment system, too. The XC40 is refined and reassuring to drive – and its safety credentials, of course, are second to none.
The CX-60 is a more premium model than we’re used to seeing from Mazda, but we hope it’s a sign of what’s to come. As a rival to cars like the Mercedes GLC and BMW X3, it’s a rear-wheel-drive, sporty SUV available currently as a plug-in hybrid or with a 3.3-litre, straight-six diesel engines are on the way, too. The PHEV will get you 39 miles on electric-only battery power, and it handles in a way that belies its size. The interior’s lovely as well, with top-notch materials and an infotainment system that’s refreshingly easy to use compared to many of its rivals. All that, and it’s considerably cheaper than its rivals too.
The Nissan Qashqai is now into its third generation. Still showroom-fresh, the clean and modern lines are a contemporary take on the familiar family-friendly crossover, which rivals cars such as the Peugeot 3008. The Qashqai measures less than 4.5 metres long, so is a particularly car-park-friendly compact SUV. However, it now has more space inside than ever and is very practical. Neat touches include rear doors that open to nearly 90 degrees for ease of access. The new e-Power hybrid is a welcome addition to the range, offering up to 53.3mpg on a combined cycle. The Qashqai remains a fun-to-drive crossover, but is impressively refined as well.
The striking new Kia Sportage is designed to give Kia’s ultra-popular compact SUV another big lift in terms of sales. Crucially, it’s now available as both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, alongside the regular petrol and diesel. Kia says there is now a powertrain for everyone, and it’s designed to complement the range-topping pure electric EV6 SUV. The Sportage inherits the head-turning styling of its electric sibling, and also the fully overhauled interior based around high-resolution screens and smooth gloss-black surfaces. The Sportage is very spacious in the rear, and has an open-plan boot, while equipment levels remain generous. Even basic cars feel like a cut above in terms of spec.
The Audi Q5 is a very popular SUV in the UK. It has a classy premium appearance and a very appealing interior, which lives up to Audi’s glowing reputation in this regard. The five-seat space is commodious and occupants sit up high, further reinforcing the regal feel. Traditional engines are available alongside a 50 TFSI e plug-in hybrid, which can travel up to 39 miles in electric mode. There’s also a high-performance SQ5 range-topper, which rockets to 62mph in 5.1 seconds. Surprisingly, though, this model uses a turbodiesel engine, rather than petrol, to the benefit of both fuel consumption and mid-range pulling power.
The latest Hyundai Tucson is a bit of a head-turner on the move, thanks to its sharply-cut lines and LED light array that illuminates half the grille, as well as the headlights. Inside, a modern, digital-first dashboard looks open-plan and sophisticated, and there’s good space both in the rear seats and the boot. Hyundai now offers the Tucson with a choice of traditional petrol or diesel engines, alongside a hybrid and plug-in hybrid. All have a particularly plush and compliant ride quality, plus excellent refinement – especially the plug-in model, which can travel for up to 38 miles in near-silent electric mode.
The family-sized Dacia Duster is one of the UK’s cheapest SUVs. But it isn’t a cut-price contender to look at: the design is squat and rugged, and further enriched by a recent mid-life facelift. The interior is a bit more basic, but even this has received a welcome lift in quality, while the infotainment screen is bright and ready to sync with both Android and Apple devices. Most Dusters are front-wheel drive, although you can get all-wheel-drive versions, and choose a manual or automatic gearbox. There aren't any hybrid or electric versions, but the efficient petrol and diesel engines are still economical enough to save you money. That’s on top of the many thousands you save upfront when buying this spacious and practical SUV.
Which SUV is the best value for money?
The best SUV in terms of value for money isn’t necessarily the cheapest. While the Dacia Duster is among the most affordable new SUVs on sale, many buyers prefer to spend more to get a larger, more technology-packed vehicle such as the Kia Sportage. It’s fair to say, though, that all our best SUV choices offer plenty of space, ability, features and, yes, kerbside appeal. What’s more, many buyers can’t put a price on how much they value the high-up seating position offered by the best SUVs.
What are the different types of SUV?
SUVs are now available in almost every sector of the car market. You can buy supermini-based small SUVs, family hatchback-derived compact SUVs, and larger SUVs derived from bigger executive car platforms. There are also full-blown 4x4-style SUVs, which have a much more rugged, off-road-ready appearance, plus crossover-style SUVs that serve as a half-way house between a car and a full 4x4. In short, there are SUVs of all flavours, which means there’s almost guaranteed to be something just right for you.
Which is the most popular SUV?
SUVs now regularly appear on the list of the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars, and increasingly make up a sizable chunk of the rankings. Models such as the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Ford Puma sell by the thousands each and every month, and share the top 10 with cars like the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen T-Roc.