Best SUVs to buy in 2019

Lots of space, luxury touches and a lofty view: the best SUVs have every feature a family might need at an affordable price

James Mills
Jan 15, 2019

You might not know what SUV stands for but you’ll have seen them wherever you go. From the school run to the supermarket, the office car park to kids’ weekend clubs, the Sport Utility Vehicle is becoming Britain’s most popular type of family car; so much so, one in five new cars sold in 2018 was an SUV.

Drivers have fallen head over heels in love with the SUV’s high and mighty stance, practicality and (in some cases) affordable prices. They might not be any safer but significantly, they feel safer to the millions of mums and dads who have bought one.  

Yet these are not tank-like 4x4s designed to haul trailer-loads of pigs across fields. Instead, they attempt to offer a car-like driving experience and broadly comparable fuel economy and servicing costs. A new generation of electric SUVs will reduce running costs and company car tax even further.

The best SUVs should be as skilled as Nanny McPhee at taking the strain out of driving with all the family aboard. They will come with individual seats and carry between five and seven people, Isofix child-seat mounts, charging points for the kids’ gadgets (you’ll have remembered to charge yours, right?), smartphone integration and more technology to reduce accidents than a health and safety convention.

Yet although the boom in popularity brings great choice for drivers, it can appear daunting trying to identify the best SUV for your needs. Click below for our guides to specific types of SUV or scroll down for our top ten covering all sizes and budgets.

The ten best SUVs on sale now

Volvo XC40

Best SUV for all-round excellence

Our pick Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design
Latest Volvo XC40 deals from £26,950
Finance from £361 per month

Hands up who remembers the days when Volvos were seen as square cars for square people, and children would plead with their parents to buy anything other than a Volvo?

How times have changed. The new XC40 manages to capture the Scandinavian hygge feelgood vibe, with a funky look all of its own and beautifully crafted interior that’s brimming with practical touches. It also happens to be seriously good to drive, especially the smooth and willing petrol-powered models – which make a pleasant change from grumbly diesel motors. Give it a try and be prepared to change your view of Volvos.
Volvo XC40 buying guide

 

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Best SUV for busy families with more than three children

Our pick Discovery Sport SE TD4 180 4WD   
Latest Discovery Sport deals from £18,790
Finance from £261 per month

Do you have three children or more? Then you’ll most likely need an SUV with seven seats. For around £33,000 when new, not much can top Land Rover’s Discovery Sport. It can juggle all manner of seating combinations and comes with up to six USB charging points for everyone's gadgets, making it as prized as an attention-holding children’s entertainer at birthday parties.

You’ll need the more powerful TD4 180 engine to have seven seats, but that’s a wise move, given how heavy a fully-laden seven-seat SUV can be. Pick the four-wheel drive version and it should keep going no matter what the conditions.

 

Jaguar I-Pace

Best SUV for luxury and electric power

Our pick Jaguar I-Pace SE
Latest Jaguar I-Pace deals from £58,144
Finance from £743 per month

Jaguar got the jump on its German competitors by launching its first electric car, the I-Pace SUV, at the end of last year. And happily, in the rush to be first to market it didn’t sacrifice the level of attention to detail required from a car costing more than £60,000.

Jaguar says the I-Pace is capable of being driven for 298 miles on a single charge. In our tests, we’d say that’s more likely to be somewhere around 200 miles. Even so, that’s competitive. And the turn of speed it is able to generate is impressive – passengers won’t be able to make any jokes about milk floats.

The interior is a delight; refreshingly different to Jaguars of past, it is a modern, touch-screen environment with first class levels of space, comfort and refinement. Audi’s new e-tron is about to arrive in Britain’s showrooms, and will give the I-Pace a hard time. But for now, it’s the electric SUV of choice, for those that can afford it.
Jaguar I-Pace buying guide

 

Mazda CX-5

Best SUV for an impressive driving experience

Our pick Mazda CX-5 SE-L Nav 2.2D AWD  
Latest Mazda CX-5 deals from £20,000
Finance from £263 per month

Is this the world’s toughest SUV? After driving one across the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, in the depths of a Siberian winter, and subjecting the all-wheel drive CX-5 to eight hours of traversing brutal terrain, we can report there wasn’t so much as a hiccup from one of its cylinders or grumble from its driveshafts. Yet to look at, you’d think this was just another SUV that’s built to tackle nothing tougher than a kerbstone or two during the school run.

It’s equally excellent to drive on the road, the interior is minimal-chic and there’s all the space you need from this type of family car. Mazda might not be on the radar of all SUV drivers, but those that give its CX-5 a try won’t be disappointed.
Mazda CX-5 buying guide

 

Mini Countryman

Best SUV for low company car tax

Our pick Countryman Cooper S E ALL4
Latest Countryman deals from £16,373
Finance from £231 per month

Company car drivers pay attention: the Mini Countryman S E ALL4 is a better car than the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Both are plug-in hybrid cars, a little like the lovechild of a petrol car and an electric car. And both attract substantially less in benefit-in-kind company car tax than a comparably priced, diesel or petrol-powered SUV.

They can be driven for nearly 30 miles on battery power alone and there’s a petrol engine for long journeys. The difference is, the cheaper Countryman is a genuinely good car, whereas in places the Outlander feels like one from the last century.
Mini Countryman buying guide

 

Audi Q2

Best SUV for style at affordable prices

Our pick Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI Sport
Latest Audi Q2 deals from £15,689
Finance from £208 per month

You could be forgiven for losing count of the number of SUVs in Audi showrooms. The German manufacturer offers its ‘Q’ models in four sizes, giving it a menu to rival McDonalds. And like a Happy Meal, the smallest – and most affordable – Q2 won’t leave you feeling short-changed.

It successfully distils the essence of Audi into a compact package. There’s a head-turning body, classy interior and a seriously impressive drive. In fact, by being smaller and lighter, this is easily the most fun SUV in the Audi range. The pick of the engine range is the 1.4-litre petrol, as the 1-litre can feel short of breath at times.

There are larger, more spacious SUVs in abundance, including from Audi, but they won’t capture the feel-good factor of this car’s interior, or come with the posh badge on the bonnet. For style at sensible prices, look no further.
Audi Q2 buying guide

 

Skoda Karoq

Best SUV for value for money

Our pick Skoda Karoq SE L 1.5 TSI
Latest Skoda Karoq deals from £16,290
Finance from £214 per month

The Karoq is squarely aimed at the sort of drivers who may be running around in a Nissan Qashqai (Britain’s fourth best-selling car last year) and feel it’s time for a change – without sacrificing value for money.

Sure enough, the Karoq ticks all the boxes buyers of this type of car seek. The driving position is reassuringly commanding, there is space for a family of five aboard and the range of engines, gearboxes and option of four-wheel drive (on certain models) means there is something for most budgets in this class.

It’s also that bit better to drive than most other family SUVs, including the Qashqai, the interior is that bit smarter and - crucially - the boot is larger than the Nissan's, particularly if the VarioFlex rear sliding seats are fitted. So, if you drive a Qashqai, take note: the Karoq could be your next SUV.
Skoda Karoq buying guide

 

Volvo XC90

Best SUV for seven-seat comfort

Our pick XC90 Momentum D5 AWD
Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £27,100
Finance from £368 per month

Do you need a large SUV but cringe when you see an Audi Q7, BMW X5 or Mercedes GLS? Then the Volvo XC90 is for you. It’s undeniably big but appears to tread more delicately, and once inside you’ll discover a haven of calm.

There is a plug-in hybrid version of the acclaimed Volvo XC90, but it costs over £12,000 more than the most affordable diesel model and £9,000 more than the cheapest petrol, so unless you want to reduce your company car tax bill, save the money for fuel bills, servicing, insurance and a family holiday or two.
Volvo XC90 buying guide

 

Hyundai Kona Electric

Best SUV for driving electric at an affordable price

Our pick Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64kWh

Given the popularity of SUVs that cost £30,000 or more, it's easy to see how the new Hyundai Kona Electric, which costs from less than £30,000 after grants when new, has a place in the market. It offers drivers the chance to ditch diesel, reduce any company car tax and slash running costs all at once.

The cheapest price is for the entry-level SE version with the smallest battery. However it's worth paying more (from £33,000 for a new car) for a mid-range Premium car with the larger 64 KWh battery. This extends your real-world range between charges from around 150 miles to more than 200 miles. As practical as a Nissan Leaf or VW e-Golf, and surprisingly good to drive, the Kona Electric also comes with Hyundai’s five-year warranty, giving SUV drivers another reason to plug in to the electric car revolution.

 

Citroen C3 Aircross

The best SUV for winter weather

Our pick C3 Aircross PureTech 100 Feel
Latest C3 Aircross deals from £11,000
Finance from £155 per month

For proof that not every SUV need be too big to fit in the average parking space, take a look at the pint-size Citroen C3 Aircross. It might be small, but the Citroen is capable, even though it doesn’t have four-wheel drive. Instead, it offers a grip control system that enables it to maintain traction even on snow or mud.

The engines are frugal, the ride is comfortable and the Aircross has a plucky character that’s rather likeable. You’re probably wondering whether it is practical? Yes, it is, thanks to a generous amount of cabin space, a sliding back seat and a big (410-litre) boot. Some of the fittings feel a bit downmarket, but buyers should be able to forgive it that if they secure a great deal. Given the habitual discounts on new Citroens, that’s a distinct possibility.
Citroen C3 Aircross buying guide

 

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