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Best cars

Best Small SUVs and Crossovers for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 7 of 14

These small SUVs and crossover cars offer practicality, reliability and a raised driving position for added on-road confidence.

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The best small SUVs and crossovers give you a commanding, high-rise view of the road and a practical, spacious interior. These crossovers are also more fuel-efficient and easier to manage around town than a full-sized large SUV.

Most car manufacturers now offer at least one compact SUV in their range, with models such as the Audi Q3, VW Tiguan, Vauxhall Mokka and Renault Captur. But the best-known by far is the ultra-popular Nissan Qashqai.

Below are the very best small SUVs and crossovers that excelled in our tests. These cars offer a great driving position, won't cost you a fortune in fuel and will look fantastic outside your home. 

So you'll know which cars to avoid, we've also rounded-up three Don't Buy models. The three Don’t Buy compact SUVs lack safety equipment, have thirsty engines and poor build quality.

Read on to see the best and worst small SUVs we’ve tested.

Which? members can log in to see the small SUVs and crossovers we recommend. If you’re not already a member, take out a £1 trial to unlock this table and all our expert impartial reviews.

Best new small SUVs and crossovers

BMW X1
Typical price £26,396
Brand score 79%
Reviewed Oct 2015
Best Buy
Ride comfort:
4 out of 5
Handling & performance:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Currently the smallest in BMW's 'X' range of SUV models, the latest X1 is more easily recognisable thanks to its more overt SUV styling. It shares its underpinnings with the brand's 2 Series Active Tourer people carrier, meaning that entry-level models are now front driven rather than rear-wheel drive. Read our full review to find out how it compares in the premium crossover market.

Mercedes-Benz GLC
Typical price £34,607
Brand score 78%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Best Buy
Ride comfort:
4 out of 5
Handling & performance:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

The manufacturer's first compact SUV model for the UK has done well. Beautifully appointed and worthy of its premium heritage, but in a smaller, easier-to-manage package.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Typical price £14,848
Brand score 76%
Reviewed Oct 2013
Best Buy
Ride comfort:
4 out of 5
Handling & performance:
4 out of 5
Model reliability:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A cabin that's more spacious than it looks and an impressive mpg means this compact SUV is worth considering.

Best used small SUVs and Crossovers

BMW X1 (2009-2015)
Typical price £8,629
Brand score 80%
Reviewed Oct 2009
Best Buy
Ride comfort:
4 out of 5
Handling & performance:
5 out of 5
Model reliability:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This uncompromising compact SUV drives well though we wish it were a little smoother. There's plenty of space up front, but the rear seats suffer as does the boot.

Not found the car for you? Click to jump straight to all our small SUV and crossover reviews

And here are three small SUVs to avoid

The small SUV and crossover class is a relatively new one in motoring, but it has quickly become one of the most popular and is now responsible for some of the bestselling models in the UK. 

The boom in popularity meant every manufacturer wanted a slice of the action, releasing their own small SUVs with mixed results.  

Electronic stability control is vital on a tall car. Too many small SUVs and crossovers don't have it.

The high driving position is one of the major benefits of owning a crossover. It gives a commanding view of the road and helps make people feel safer while driving. Electronic stability control (ESC) is vital on a tall car to avoid body roll and to help the car feel stable round corners. Too many small SUVs either don’t have ESC or offer it as an optional extra, which means it could be missing from used models.

ESC factors into our safety checks. If it’s absent, we won’t recommend the car. 

Despite the SUV moniker, there are high expectations of how cheap a small SUV should be to run. Our testing found that crossover cars have one of the biggest disparities between the most and least-efficient models. 

Choose the right car, and you can expect up to 67.2mpg. But choose the wrong model and you’ll get just 21.9mpg – a difference of 45.3mpg.

Take a look at the models you should avoid.

Small SUVs and crossovers to avoid

Dacia Duster
Typical price £9,479
Brand score 40%
Reviewed Jan 2013
Don't buy
Ride comfort:
3 out of 5
Handling & performance:
3 out of 5
Seat space & comfort:
3 out of 5
Boot & storage:
4 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

For all this car’s good points, which include an ample boot, a responsive engine and a low price, it all counts for nought when put next to its safety rating. It scored only three stars in the Euro NCAP crash test and has just four airbags – this is below the class average of six, and there’s no option to add curtain airbags, either. Older models are even worse since they didn’t have electronic stability control.

Ssangyong Korando
Typical price £16,276
Brand score 36%
Reviewed Apr 2017
Don't buy
Ride comfort:
3 out of 5
Handling & performance:
2 out of 5
Seat space & comfort:
4 out of 5
Boot & storage:
4 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

The low price and five-year warranty are a tempting hook for this small SUV, but a lack of safety features and engine choice (there is only one) aren’t going to reel anyone in. Neither are the terrible brakes – it takes 41 metres to stop from 62mph, when other models in this class take can do it in less than 35 metres. This car is best avoided.

Daihatsu Terios (2006-2010)
Typical price £3,522
Brand score 36%
Reviewed May 2006
Don't buy
Ride comfort:
3 out of 5
Handling & performance:
3 out of 5
Seat space & comfort:
3 out of 5
Boot & storage:
4 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This car wasn’t designed to get you anywhere in a hurry. It takes an incredible 12 seconds to reach 60mph – you’ll struggle to overtake a JCB. And despite being puny, the engines need a fair bit of filling. The best mpg we could manage was 31.4. That’s extremely poor in comparison with the most-efficient small SUV, which manages 67mpg. The biggest issue for this tall, boxy car, however, is the lack of traction or electronic stability control, which leaves it feeling unstable.

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Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us to determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs.

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