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Best Cars

Best Small SUVs and Crossovers for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 7 of 15

The best small SUVs and crossover cars combine practicality, fuel efficiency and reliability with a great driving position

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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 or poor build quality.

Read on to see the best and worst small SUVs available new and used.

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

Price from £26,534
Brand score 78%
Reviewed Oct 2015
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This is a strong new addition to the crossover class. Vastly improved over the outgoing model - particularly in interior quality and refinement - it impresses across the board. It offers everything you'd expect of a four-wheel-drive car from a premium marque.

Price from £21,453
Brand score 76%
Reviewed Feb 2012
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This brand may be late to the crossover SUV party, but this model's all-round talents and rugged charm see it awarded a Best Buy.

Price from £35,823
Brand score 75%
Reviewed Jul 2014
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

There's loads of pulling power on offer from every diesel engine available. Dynamically, the steering and handling are excellent by SUV standards, and the ride quality is extremely good if you select the appropriate driving mode.

Price from £35,452
Brand score 73%
Reviewed Aug 2017
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Competing at the premium end of the market, this car is superbly well made, has one of the best cabins of any car we've come across and has lots of cutting-edge technology.

Best used small SUVs and Crossovers

Price from £8,999
Brand score 73%
Reviewed Oct 2009
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
3 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
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 certainly drives well, with assured handling and a range of eager engines to choose from. It doesn’t shine in the practicality stakes – the rear seats are a little too firm, and the boot isn’t as big as rival small SUVs. We also wish it were a little smoother. But there's plenty of space up front.. This is a driver’s car, in more ways than one.

Price from £4,009
Brand score 69%
Reviewed May 2004
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Its off-road capabilities may be limited - largely by its low-profile road tyres - and the ride is firm on the road. But its blend of space, pace and cabin comfort are good enough for us to recommend it as a Best Buy.

Price from £12,431
Brand score 68%
Reviewed May 2012
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
3 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

It’s an impressively spacious, practical and comfortable family car with effective engineering. It's also well equipped and well rated for safety. In our realistic fuel consumption tests it doesn't quite match up to the fuel economy figures its maker has claimed, but it's still pretty efficient.

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 our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to our table and all of our online reviews by taking a £1 trial to Which?

Small SUVs and crossovers to avoid

Price from £9,495
Brand score 45%
Reviewed Jan 2013
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space:
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 out of five 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.

Price from £29,169
Brand score 41%
Reviewed Jan 2017
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 5
Boot space:
4 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It's not the most agile or car-like SUV to drive, and rivals offer a more convincing blend of luxury and technology. It also has serious reliability problems, and has proved to be a big headache for buyers.

Price from £5,149
Brand score 41%
Reviewed Aug 2007
Driving stability:
2 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
2 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 5
Boot space:
4 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

There are way too many downsides to this butch SUV - it now feels seriously dated and the engines are real gas guzzlers.

Price from £3,206
Brand score 38%
Reviewed May 2006
Driving stability:
3 out of 5
Seat comfort:
3 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
Boot space:
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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