SUVs are fast becoming the default choice of transportation for many. A sign of this crushing popularity comes from Ford, which has already killed off the Mondeo with the Fiesta and Focus following it to the grave. It’s easy to see the appeal of an all-SUV lineup, with their impressive practicality and raised driving position, not to mention the potential availability of seven seats and four-wheel drive.
Yes, there are still big, thirsty SUVs out there, but you’ll also find many smaller, more frugal options. Even the real whoppers needn’t be gas-guzzlers thanks to modern engine tech and the proliferation of a variety of hybrid systems. You can even ditch internal combustion completely and choose from one of many all-electric SUVs.
Many modern SUVs earn excellence inEuro NCAP safety tests, laden with technology to assist drivers in watching for blind spots, taking care to park in awkward spaces and providing WiFi to stop younger occupants getting bored and cranky. As family cars, the latest generation of SUVs really are everything you’ll need.
Read on for everything you need to know about SUVs, as well as links to cars to lease or buy, both new and used.
Top 10 SUVs 2023
Scroll down to discover our list of the best SUVs in the UK.
Read our guide to SUVs and FAQs at the bottom of the page
✅ Four-wheel drive
✅Seven-seats even on PHEV
❌ A bit big in urban areas
❌ Only available in one pricey trim level
A former winner of the Parkers award for theBest Large Family Car, the Kia Sorento is a spacious, efficient and reliable workhorse that’s available with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and diesel power. That means it’s surprisingly efficient for such a big SUV, with mid-thirties MPG or better easily achieved.
Granted, there’s currently only one highly-specced model that’s rather pricey, but you do get everything you could possibly want. If you’re not a fan of the Sorento’s American-inspired looks, there’s always the closely related Hyundai Santa Fe while our next suggestion is a cheaper way into a seven-seater…
Browse Kia Sorento cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Flexible seating and large boot
❌ No plug-in hybrid version
❌Desirable versions get pricey
Although there are cheaper seven-seaters out there, the 5008 combines a relatively compact footprint, excellent interior space and frugal engines at a starting price that isn’t too scary. Yes, if you want a few luxuries and a punchy engine you’ll be spending over £40k, but that’s still a five-figure sum cheaper than the Sorento above.
Besides, the 5008’s interior looks and feels properly posh, no guarantee at this price point. Some might find the driving position a little odd, but it’s well worth taking the time to get used to the high-mounted instruments and low steering wheel.
Browse Peugeot 5008 cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Properly luxurious
✅Still great off-road
❌Interior not as well-made as some rivals
It might look similar to its predecessor, but the current Range Rover is a much better luxury SUV. The smooth, powerful engines – including frugal diesels, low BIK plug-in hybrids and even a petrol V8 – do a great job of hauling it up to speed. It feels much more nimble than before, thanks in part to standard four-wheel steering, yet is more comfortable, too.
Seven seats are available on the long-wheelbase version, with the standard length model a strict four or five seater. Just bear in mind the starting price of any given trim is easily passed by a substantial margin thanks to an extensive options list.
Browse Range Rover cars for sale on Parkers
✅ One of the best SUVs to drive
✅Practical and spacious
❌ Big and unwieldy in town
This is a massive SUV, but BMW offers a range of engines that get this beast moving with agility. The inside feels luxurious, with a choice of comfort or sports seats, and entertainment options for those residing in the back seats.
Tech levels are high; you can personalise the suspension levels, and Parking Assistant seeks out a parking spot and controls the steering, accelerator and brake while it parks itself. The optional head-up display is also excellent. The X5 is a monster, and we like it.
Browse BMW X5 cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Spacious interior and big boot
✅300 miles plus range from biggest battery
❌ Not particularly brisk by EV standards
Skoda once again does what it does best. The Enyaq takes the Volkswagen Group ‘MEB’ platform and offers an SUV that’s bigger, cheaper and comfier than its Audi and VW siblings. Different battery packs are available depending on the range you need, with big battery ’80’ models available with four-wheel drive.
Apart from a couple of cheap-feeling areas such as the internal door pull, the interior is well finished and feels sturdy while the boot is massive. In fact, the Enyaq is so good it was our 2022 Car of the Year.
Browse Skoda Enyaq cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Comfortable and refined
✅PHEV has a good electric range
❌ Practicality only average
❌Frustrating steering wheel controls
While the old Lexus NX was a bit of. an also-ran in the posh family SUV stakes, this generation goes straight to the top of the class. As you’d expect, it’s hybrid-only with self-charging and plug-in flavours available. The latter is usefully quicker and has a good EV range, too.
It’s not the most spacious car in its class inside, but it’s big enough and quality impresses. It’s built well, while the Mark Levinson stereo and excellent seats make long journeys a breeze.
Browse Lexus NX for sale on Parkers
✅ Generous spec with current tech
❌ Expensive for well-equipped models
❌It’s not the sharpest-driving SUV
One of three Skodas to appear in this list, the Kamiq is the smallest SUV the brand offers. A strong familial link means there’s a fair amount of shared mechanical fundamentals with sibling marques of Audi, SEAT and VW. But style-wise, the Skoda Kamiq is distinctive enough.
When pitted against the Ford Puma, it came a very close second. That’s down to its comfort, practicality and generous spec, meaning plenty of room, safety tech and funky design touches like dynamic indicators. Connectivity with Apple Carplay and Android Auto also help push the appeal of the Kamiq too.
Browse Skoda Kamiq cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Cheap with lots of choice
✅Good tech and spec options
❌ Not as bargain-basement as it once was
❌Dual-fuel LPG no substitute for lack of hybrid
This offering from Dacia is exceptional value. It may be the one of the cheapest SUVs in the UK, but buyers won’t feel short-changed with regards to space or equipment. It comes with more kit than ever, including keyless entry and climate control.
It’s a contender on our list of Best SUVs in its own right, even before that value price is factored in. Recently facelifted with a bold new look, the Duster isn’t as cheap as it used to be, but you get the option of four-wheel drive, which sets it apart from all of its mainstream opposition.
Browse Dacia Duster cars for sale on Parkers
✅ Super comfortable
❌ 1.0-litre engine a no-no on motorways
❌Lack of green smarts
The Karoq ought to be on every shortlist with comfort and value as the top priorities. Replacing the popular Yeti, there’s no shortage in appeal of this mid-sized SUV. Its versatility, intelligent design and spaciousness speak to its commendable job as a great family all-rounder.
You’ll want to opt for the 1.5-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel but when it comes to trim, even the base SE level provides sufficient technology and interior finish to offer great value-for-money. Boot space is class-leading, which is another tick in the box.
Browse Skoda Karoq for sale on Parkers
✅ Great to drive
✅Economical mild-hybrid engines
❌ Disappointing interior quality
❌No plug-in or electric versions
The Ford Puma is based on the Fiesta and makes great use of its brilliant engines and suspension set-up to create an enjoyable-to-drive small car that is both practical and good to look at. Its styling won’t appeal to all but you can’t call it boring or derivative. We love it for that.
It’s tough inside and looks good, and the major controls are so simple that making yourself at home in a Ford Puma takes seconds. Practicality is impressive, too, and we love how the roomy passenger compartment is complemented by a large and well-shaped boot that comes with an extra storage area that Ford calls the MegaBox.
Browse Ford Puma cars for sale on Parkers
What does SUV stand for? Sport Utility Vehicles explained
SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. They tend to be larger, high-riding cars, often withfour-wheel drive. Originally all SUVs were designed for off-roading, but that’s very much not the case now. Some are little more than tall estates and hatchbacks with a rugged look that families can’t get enough of.
>>Read more: What is an SUV?
SUVs are spacious, safe, with lots of practical solutions and storage for luggage and all the gear that families accumulate. They usually have a higher driving position than a standard, and some can even have seven seats, making them ideal for a large family and all their kit and clobber. On the downside, their size can mean they are difficult to park, and they’re often less efficient than the equivalent estate car or MPV.
With so many SUVs on the market, it’s important to decide what’s vital in your choice of new car, what your priorities are based on your lifestyle and what your budget is. With help from Parkers, you might be surprised at what your budget could stretch to thanks tofinanceandleasingdeals. Plus, you can often get a really large car for a relatively small amount of money – just because an SUV is large, doesn’t mean it’ll cost the earth.
FAQ: Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) questions answered
Are all SUVs 4×4?
Absolutely not. The idea of an SUV being a four-wheel drive mud-plugger is outdated, and probably hasn’t really been the case since mid-2000s. The emergence of cars, such as the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga, and their popularity proves that an SUV works just as well as a front-wheel drive family car. Popular family SUVs are generally based on hatchback and saloon counterparts, and although some are available with four-wheel drive, the majority these days are front- or rear-wheel drive.
Do SUVs flip easier than cars?
Not these days. Back in the 1980s, when the popularity of SUVs blossomed, they earned a reputation for flipping in emergency manoeuvres. But these cars were very different to today’s counterparts – they were often quite basic in their engineering and dynamics. Modern SUVs are much safer, designed to corner and steer within the same margins as their lower-bodied counterparts. They also have an increasing number of electronic stability aids, which Euro NCAP now tests and assesses as part of the safety ratings. They might have more bodyroll in corners, due to a higher centre of gravity, but you need to do something quite drastic to flip a modern SUV.
Is an SUV a good first car?
A small SUV is just as easy as a small hatchback to drive, and has the added bonus of a higher seating position, so visibility is better. There’s no reason to believe that a Vauxhall Mokka or Ford Puma is any less suitable as a first car than a Corsa or Fiesta.
Which is better: an SUV or MPV?
Functionally, they’re pretty much the same thing these days, so it comes down to personal choice. If space is your absolute first priority then you’re probably best off going with an SUV, which tends to be roomier within the same footprint in the road. However, if you’re likely to be towing or driving on rougher roads, the raised ride height of an SUV will make one of these cars a better bet.
What is a compact SUV/mini SUV?
A compact or mini SUV is generally based on a small car. Out of your current options, a typical compact or mini SUV is a Nissan Juke, Ford Puma or Vauxhall Mokka. They’re family-friendly cars, but also manageable in towns and cities – a good compromise.
What is a crossover?
It’s interesting how the language around SUVs is changing. Cars such as theRenault Kadjar,Nissan QashqaiandAudi Q3were clearly based on standard road cars and until recently what many people (and car manufacturers) referred to as crossovers. That meant they featured SUV-like styling with pretty standard road car engineering underneath. In other words, they were hatchbacks on stilts. These days, they tend to all be called SUVs, and that’s how we refer to them.
Why are SUVs so expensive?
If we were being cynical, we’d say that they are more expensive than the hatchbacks and saloons they are based on for marketing reasons. They are in demand, so people will spend more on them. But with so many SUVs on sale now, prices are much fairer than they used to be as they increasingly become the norm. Having said that, used examples command higher prices, too, because they are more in demand. If you don’t necessarily need all of the features of an SUV, you can save money by choosing an estate or hatchback instead.