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Best small SUVs to buy 2024

There's a huge range of small SUVs out there, so we’ve picked out the very best

Small SUVs are a very common sight on UK roads, with many drivers being attracted to the combination of practicality and low running costs that these cars offer. Due to their popularity, there’s now a very wide range of compact SUVs to choose from. To make your search easier, our team of expert road testers have picked out the best small SUVs to buy right now.

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First-generation cars like the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur set the benchmark for small SUVs, and today, the market has rapidly evolved with models like the Ford Puma, Volkswagen T-Roc and Vauxhall Mokka becoming some of the country’s best-selling cars.

There’s a small SUV for just about everyone, so whether you prioritise comfort, practicality, sportiness or style – or any combination thereof – there’s bound to be something on our list to suit you.

The best small SUVs

Read on to find the best small SUVs for your money, listed in reverse order below.

10. Peugeot 2008

  • Prices from £24,000

Beyond the smartly styled exterior, the Peugeot 2008 is mechanically identical to the Vauxhall Mokka. That means you get the same engine options, including an all-electric drivetrain. 

Yet despite being so closely related, the two cars have different characters. For starters, the softly suspended Peugeot serves up more comfort and slightly more engaging handling. 

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It’s slickly designed inside, but the i-Cockpit dash layout won’t suit all drivers. However, the Peugeot hits back with its Grip Control system that helps inspire confidence in slippery conditions.

9. Toyota Yaris Cross

  • Prices from £25,500

Tapping into the SUV sales boom, Toyota created a rugged, off-road-themed version of its Yaris supermini. Featuring a raised ride height and tough body cladding, the Yaris Cross certainly looks the part, while the availability of four-wheel drive means it reaches parts that many other small cars cannot. 

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The Yaris Cross gets the same 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain and CVT gearbox as its hatchback sibling, which means claimed fuel returns of over 60mpg. While it’s not exciting to drive, the Yaris does handle accurately and is decently refined. If you need a cost-effective and compact all-weather runabout, then it should be on your shortlist.

8. Citroen C3 Aircross

  • Prices from £18,000
  • Best value for money

Over several decades, Citroen has built a reputation as a builder of very comfortable cars and, true to its heritage, the C3 Aircross focuses on comfort over sportiness. The underpinnings aren’t exactly state-of-the-art as they trace their roots back to the Peugeot 206, but a number of tweaks over the years have made it into a surprisingly composed setup. Adding-in Citroen’s ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats only sweetens the deal.

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Inside, a number of useful cubby storage areas and a 410-litre boot mean there’s a plentiful amount of space for luggage, although rear passenger headroom may be an issue for taller adults. 

On-board kit is pretty generous, too, with creature comforts such as cruise control, air conditioning, and a seven-inch touchscreen screen fitted to all models.

7. Jeep Avenger

  • Prices from £27,500

The Avenger started out as a fully-electric car, but now buyers also have the option of petrol or hybrid power. Regardless of which one you choose, this is still a compact two-wheel drive SUV so you’d be forgiven for questioning if it’s a ‘proper’ Jeep. But cast aside your preconceived notions, and you’ll quickly realise that it’s worthy of its badge 

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Even though this Jeep is quite small, even by small SUV standards, it still feels roomy inside, plus it makes the car surprisingly easy to manoeuvre in and around town. 

Inside, everything is pretty straightforward and logically placed, and the 10.25-inch infotainment system is a major improvement over the brand’s previous systems. The quality of materials used feel sturdy and should stand up well enough against any muck that finds its way in.

Perhaps most importantly to any prospective Jeep owners, the Avenger does have some off-road ability. You can choose between Mud, Sand and Snow drive modes, and a hill descent system is also fitted as standard. The Avenger is competent at dealing with slippery and rough terrain, but it’s important to remember that it’s not exactly a Wrangler.

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The electric Avenger is fitted with parent firm Stellantis’s latest battery technology, and is good for up to 248 miles of range and has a maximum charging speed of 100kW.

6. Dacia Duster

  • Prices from £20,500

There’s no doubt that modern cars are more complex than ever before. However, if all you desire is rugged and dependable simplicity, the Dacia Duster is a seriously capable low-cost SUV.

While some small SUVs are criticised for being completely out of their depth whenever they leave the tarmac, the humble Duster is designed to take on the rough stuff as well as the smooth. It’s important to remember that this is a budget car, so It’s far from being the last word in luxury. However, it’s full of hard-wearing materials that should stand up well to just about anything that a family can throw at it.

5. Ford Puma

  • Prices from £26,000
  • Best driving experience
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The Ford Puma is one of the best-selling cars in the UK, and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you want to have fun behind the wheel or you need to carry your family and all their gear, the Blue Oval’s brilliant machine has it covered. 

Fast steering and impressive agility make the Ford a real treat to drive, while the flagship Puma ST packs a 197bhp punch. The Puma’s interior is relatively roomy and well equipped, while hidden under the boot floor is the surprisingly useful 80-litre Megabox. Although the cabin doesn’t feel as upmarket as some rivals’, Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment delivers hassle-free connectivity.

4. Kia Niro 

  • Prices from £31,000
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The latest Kia Niro scooped our Small SUV of the Year award when it first arrived in 2022, and it it’s still a top buy today. As well as having far more space than the previous model, the Niro also looks good, is well built and boasts loads of useful tech. 

Yet it’s under the skin where this small SUV really impresses, with buyers able to choose from self-charging and plug-in hybrid versions.

However, it’s the all-electric Niro EV that’s the certified star of the line-up, with its large 64kWh battery has an impressive claimed range of 285 miles. It also packs eager acceleration and strong refinement, and as with the other versions, it features accurate handling and a decent ride. 

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Factor in attractive pricing, loads of standard kit and the brand’s trademark seven-year warranty, and the Niro won’t fail to warm the cockles on a cold winter’s day.

3. Volvo EX30

  • Prices from £34,000

In the current market, the most affordable electric cars are mostly the smallest. The Volvo EX30 is a major exception to this rule, though, as it offers a decent helping of both space and luxuriousness for a very tempting price.

The 318-litre boot isn’t massive, but it should still provide a decent amount of space for a family of four’s luggage as well as the weekly shop. If your loved ones have the need for speed, they’ll be particularly happy as every version of this Volvo will accelerate from 0-62mph in under six seconds. In fact, the Performance model will complete the sprint in a mere 3.6 seconds. 

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It’ll cover plenty of miles between charges, too, as even the entry level Single Motor model has a claimed maximum range of 213 miles. Opt for the Long Range variant and this number increases to 293 miles. The EX30 is definitely one of the most tempting lower-priced EVs out there, but its over-reliance on the touchscreen for control of basic functions can be rather frustrating.

2. Renault Captur

  • Prices from £22,000
  • Best for practicality
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If you want style and substance in your small SUV, then look no further than the Renault Captur. This family-friendly machine is a former New Car Awards winner.

Despite its compact dimensions, the Captur serves up a surprising amount of space inside, while its sliding rear bench adds an extra dose of practicality. The interior also packs a level of premium appeal, with a slick design, plenty of high-grade materials and its eye-catching portrait-style infotainment set-up. 

It’s not as sharp to drive as some rivals, but the supple suspension and strong refinement mean that it’s very comfortable and relaxing.

1. Hyundai Kona 

  • Prices from £26,000

The first-generation Hyundai Kona was already a decent small SUV, but the brand listened very carefully to its customers when designing the current second-generation model. As a result, the latest Kona has evolved into an excellent car, so much so that we named it our Car of the Year at our 2023 New Car Awards.

One of the biggest criticisms of the original Kona was its limited rear cabin space and luggage capacity. The latest model, however, is far more suitable for family use. Passenger head, knee and legroom have all increased and the boot can now carry up to 466 litres of stuff.

Inside, all Konas are fitted with a more upmarket-feeling interior than the previous model, with higher-quality materials throughout. The dashboard consists of two 12.3-inch screens which run new software that should prove even easier to use than Hyundai’s already incredibly initiative infotainment system. There’s a lot more storage, too.

Hyundai has placed a greater emphasis on comfort and refinement with the new Kona. Rough surfaces and speed bumps did cause some disturbance during our testing, but the small SUV remained composed for the most part, particularly at lower speeds. Wind and road noise were also minimal.

Top 10 best small SUVs on sale

  1. Hyundai Kona
  2. Renault Captur
  3. Volvo EX30 
  4. Kia Niro
  5. Ford Puma
  6. Dacia Duster 
  7. Jeep Avenger
  8. Citroen C3 Aircross 
  9. Toyota Yaris Cross
  10. Peugeot 2008

Need something a bit smaller? Check out our list of the best crossover cars to buy...

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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