Best small SUVs and crossovers for 2019
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 7 of 16
The best small SUVs and crossover cars combine practicality, fuel efficiency and reliability with a great driving position
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 or poor build quality.
Read on to see the best and worst small SUVs available new and used.
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The best new small SUVs and crossovers
Small SUVs and crossovers are very popular, but with so many to choose from it can be hard to sort the diamonds from the duds. Fortunately, we've done the work for you - see below the exceptional models to choose from our definitive lab tests.
Best new compact and small SUVs
Hyundai has expanded its Kona compact crossover range with a battery EV model. It has a impressive driving range and is absolutely effortless to drive. Furthermore, boot space hasn’t been affected in the transformation into a zero-emissions car, though it wasn’t much to write home about in the first place.
The smallest model in its manufacturer’s range of SUVs, this car is available with wide range of tech and safety options. It’s also comfortable and efficient to drive. Its city credentials are marred somewhat by a wide turning circle and poor visibility to the rear.
This brand’s smallest SUV upholds its strengths of interior quality and impeccable craftsmanship. It has some excellent safety features and is proving reliable, based on feedback from owners in our in-depth reliability survey. Like most premium models, though, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of driving it.
This model is such a talented compact SUV that we've awarded it Best Buy status. It's appealing to look at, sharp to drive and practical for families thanks to its big boot. It's not quite perfect, however. It's on the pricey side (especially top-end models), while the cabin quality feels disappointingly penny-pinching.
The best used small SUVs and crossovers
SUVs can come at a premium, so buying used can be a great way to get more for your money. Our experts select the very best models to choose.
Best used compact and small SUVs
This is a credible choice for anyone wanting an electric car with the high driving position of an off-roader. It offers similar levels of passenger and luggage space to the petrol model and the styling is sure to get you noticed. We struggled to match its claimed driving range, however.
This upmarket model certainly drives very well, with assured handling and a range of eager engines to choose from. But it doesn't shine in the practicality stakes - the rear seats are a little too cramped, as is the boot. We also wish it were a little smoother. But there's lots of space up front. This is a crossover for keen drivers.
Rugged styling and four-wheel-drive as standard places this mid-size model at the more utilitarian end of the compact SUV spectrum. It feels built to last and has an interior that puts function over form. Hard suspension means ride comfort is compromised, though.
You’ll pay a premium, particularly for top-spec models, but this car goes a long way to justifying its robust pricing. Not only is it one of the most upmarket compact SUVs available, it’s available with a range of powerful and economical engines. It’s impressively comfortable on long journeys and is available with a wide range of technology.
Not found the car for you? Go straight to all our small SUV and crossover car reviews.
And here are three small SUVs and crossovers 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.
Only logged-in Which? members can view the small SUVs and crossovers you should avoid, below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to this and all of our online reviews if you join Which?
Compact and small SUVs to avoid
This is one of the only compact crossovers designed for serious off-roading. Unfortunately that means its on-road dynamics are compromised. It’s bumpy, noisy and has very vague steering. We could live with that for its ability in the rough-stuff, but what’s harder to swallow is its poor performance in crash tests. With a poor Euro NCAP safety rating, we wouldn’t want to use it as family transport.
This model has won plenty of fans with its no-frills approach to motoring. It’s a credible compact SUV, with just the basic equipment. Unfortunately that includes its active safety kit - an area we don’t think you should have to compromise on. With a three-star out of five Euro NCAP safety rating, it’s a definite Don't Buy.
This compact Crossover has a lot going for it: it's nice to drive, comes with lots of kit and is backed by a lengthy warranty. Unfortunately, entry-level models don't get all the safety kit as standard. The result is a three-stars out of five Euro NCAP safety score and a Which? Don't Buy rating.
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Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track and on real roads – and we really clock up the distance, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
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