10. Kia Soul
The Soul is more of a jacked-up hatchback than a fully fledged SUV. However, it still offers many of the benefits buyers in this market are looking for – it’s competitively priced and its interior is roomy and well equippped. All of the Soul’s engines could be more efficient and quiet, though, and there’s plenty of wind noise at motorway speeds. There’s a fully electric version to consider if you’ll mainly be driving in town.
Our pick: 1.6 GDi 2
9. Audi Q3
While high-end versions are pricey, the Q3 is a desirable choice in this market, with a high quality interior. It’s also good to drive and relatively inexpensive to run, with engines that are mostly smooth and strong.
Our pick: 2.0 TDI 150 SE
8. Suzuki Vitara
Compact on the outside but spacious inside, the Vitara is an easy car to live with. There’s lots of standard kit on offer and it’s relatively practical. It’s just a pity that its petrol engines’ CO2 emissions are unusually high for this class.
Our pick: 1.6 SZ4
7. Renault Kadjar
Even among these practical cars, the Renault Kadjar is notable for offering a huge amount of space inside. And it’s closely related to the Nissan Qashqai under the skin, so offers a similarly good blend of comfort and refinement.
Our pick: 1.5 dCi 110 Dynamique Nav
6. Audi Q2
The Q2 is Audi’s cheapest SUV, but it still feels suitably premium inside. In fact, its interior, like those in other modern Audis, is simply in a class of its own. Combine that with a strong range of petrol and diesel engines and a fun drive, and there’s a lot to like, even though it’s smaller than most similarly priced rivals.
Our pick: 1.4 TFSI 150 Sport
5. BMW X1
The BMW X1 is another prestige choice that makes a great family car. There are plenty of versions on offer, too, including some with four-wheel drive. Our favourite remains the front-wheel drive model, though, paired with the entry-level diesel engine. Entry-level SE trim has everything you need, including dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and sat-nav.
Our pick: sDrive 18d SE
4. Volkswagen Tiguan
The latest Volkswagen Tiguan simply spells practicality, and while it’s an expensive choice, it’s good to drive and has a smart interior. To keep costs lower, we recommend opting for a mid-range diesel model in SE Nav trim. This gets you sat-nav as well as three-zone climate control, cruise control and more comfortable seats.
Our pick: 2.0 TDI 150 SE Nav
3. Nissan Qashqai
You may surprised that the Qashqai isn’t at the top of this list. It is, after all, a former What Car? Car of the Year and is still one of our favourite cars in this class. The thing is, though, that even the Qashqai’s excellent blend of driving dynamics, practical and spacious interior and tempting entry-level price can’t match the contenders further up this list.
Our pick: 1.5 dCi 110 NConnecta
2. Peugeot 3008
Striking looks help to give Peugeot’s small SUV an edge over the competition – but it’s inside where the 3008 really impresses. In fact, its i-Cockpit design won our Technology Award at the 2017 What Car? Awards. There’s no need to look beyond the entry-level 1.2-litre engine when choosing, either, because it provides plenty of power while also being efficient.
Our pick: 1.2 Puretech Allure
1. Seat Ateca
Toppling class titans like the Nissan Qashqai is no easy feat, but such is the breadth of the Ateca’s talents. It has a spacious interior, class-leading handling and tempting pricing – and for those reasons it deserves its place at the top of our list. If you’re looking for the best small SUV out there, look no further.
The small SUVs to avoid:
The Subaru XV handles well and come with a strong diesel engine, but the ride and refinement are poor and it feels cheap inside, despite being expensive to buy.
Excellent off-road but unsophisticated on it, with roly-poly handling and a jittery ride. Vague steering and uncomfortable seats also disappoint.