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Top 10 best SUVs to buy 2024

We name the top 10 best SUVs and 4x4s you can buy on the new car market today

If you’re among the many UK car buyers considering an SUV then you're spoilt for choice. Almost every manufacturer makes at least one SUV these days with most making numerous different SUV models from supermini-size small SUVs to family-friendly mid-size SUVs and larger seven-seat or luxury SUVs at the top end of the market. While having lots of options is a benefit in some ways, it does make finding the best SUV to meet your specific needs a bit more difficult.

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SUVs all follow a similar basic formula when it comes to design, with a higher ride height than a normal car and chunky design typified by big wheel arches and bumpers. That tall shape provides a higher seating position for easier access and a better view out.   

It’s the practicality and rugged looks of SUVs that have seduced so many UK buyers in recent years. The off-road ability will be useful for some but most will be more interested in the way the ground clearance and absorbent suspension helps them over speed humps and potholes on the road.

It’s not just a case of picking which manufacturer you like, however. Even if you opt for one of the UK’s best SUVs, it might not meet your needs as well as another model, because different SUVs are designed for different purposes.

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Even if we limit the search to SUVs big enough to serve as family cars, with space for at least four adults and large boots for luggage or dogs, you’ve still got to consider whether to choose a mainstream or premium brand SUV, decide if you need five or seven seats and select petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric power. That's before all the different SUV models and trim levels even come into it.

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We’ve focused on the best — and best value — family-sized models here but if you’re after something smaller, our top 10 best small SUVs list has those more compact models covered. We also have specific guides to the best mid-size SUVs, best large SUVs, best luxury SUVs and the most economical SUVs.

The best SUVs to buy 

The variety of SUVs on sale in the UK is huge, so we’ve driven and thoroughly tested every SUV in order to find the very best ones you can buy. Read on to find our top 10 favourite SUVs, listed in reverse order…

10. BMW iX

The iX is BMW’s flagship electric SUV, so the brand had to ensure that this car stood out in the ever-growing EV market. While its controversial appearance does indeed separate it from the crowd in a literal sense, it’s also a high-quality car that’s great to drive, filled with the latest tech and efficient to run.

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Despite its bulky 2.4-tonne kerbweight, the iX still retains plenty of BMW’s usual levels of driver engagement. Aim this large SUV towards a corner and it’ll respond with plenty of grip and steering feedback. When you’ve had your fun and want things to become a bit more settled, the cabin is supremely comfortable and quiet thanks to the near-silent powertrain and well-padded seats. One of the only major downsides is the price.

9. Renault Captur

To be a competitor in the small SUV class means offering plenty of style and versatility, as well as being good value for money. There are so many different models available, so a car of this size has to impress.

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The Renault Captur, which is based on the underpinnings of the best-selling Clio, delivers handsome good looks and a practical high-set driving position, along with generous levels of standard equipment and attractive pricing. 

At the core of the Captur's appeal is its practicality, and with increased dimensions over the previous model, it offers improved passenger space along with clever touches such as a sliding rear bench which allows you to prioritise room for extra occupants or luggage.

8. Jeep Avenger

While enthusiasts continue to debate whether the Avenger is a “proper Jeep”, there is no denying that this is a capable and charming small SUV. It’s far from being a Dakar rally competitor but yes, it can even handle some light off-roading

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Step inside the Avenger and everything feels sturdy and sensibly laid out. The on-board tech is a real step forward over older Jeeps, too, with many functions operating via a new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system – although some may be thankful to hear that there are still some physical controls. When you set off, there isn’t much to be had in the way of excitement but this compact crossover does feel lightweight and nimble, and it’s a doddle to drive around town as a result.

7. Skoda Kodiaq

The Skoda Kodiaq has been around for six years now and during that time it’s been one of our favourite SUVs. A mid-life facelift made it even more appealing, and it has even bagged our Best Large SUV award for the last two years running. 

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It’s a difficult car to fault in any one area while it excels in plenty. The seven-seat Kodiaq has plenty of practicality on board with lots of storage bins and a roomy 765-litre boot with the rear row folded away. The materials don’t feel particularly luxurious but they all feel well put together and sturdy – something a family-friendly SUV like the Kodiaq really requires. Even the entry-level model gets a few USB ports dotted around the cabin, cargo compartments in the boot, dual-zone climate control, a rear-view parking camera and integrated Wi-Fi.

6. Hyundai Kona

While the original Hyundai Kona proved popular with owners – it was voted as the best car to own in our 2021 Driver Power survey – there were just a few too many flaws for it to be a class leader. A dull interior, meagre space and a lack of driver engagement were three of the biggest weaknesses that held this compact SUV back. Now, though, there’s a new Kona in town, and Hyundai has listened very carefully to its customers’ feedback.

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The new Kona has grown in size and is now based on the same K3 platform as the Kia Niro EV. This means that this compact SUV offers a much better level of space and practicality than its predecessor. It’s chock-full of standard tech, too, with a pair of 12.3-inch screens acting as the interior centrepiece. These run the brand’s latest infotainment software, and it’s a very easy system to use.

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Like the old model, there’s the choice of petrol, hybrid or all-electric power. It’s still not the most exciting car to drive, but the Kona rides comfortably and is even rather nimble when darting around city streets. Opt for the Kona Electric and you will also have up to 305 miles of claimed range at your disposal – depending on battery size. We think Hyundai has done such a fantastic job with the new Kona that we have named it our 2023 Car of the Year.

5. Skoda Enyaq

If you’re looking for a family SUV, the Enyaq is a great choice that happens to be pure-electric. The line-up starts with a 58kWh-battery model, which still offers decent range. If you regularly do longer journeys, the more expensive 77kWh versions offer longer range, which rises to a maximum 345 miles in Enyaq Coupe guise. 

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With charging speeds of up to 135kW, you can replenish the Enyaq from 10-80 per cent in as little as 30 minutes. For those looking to buy their first EV, the Enyaq is one of the easiest to live with. It’s also got a massive boot, loads of interior space, plus ‘Simply Clever’ features, such as a hidden umbrella. 

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The Enyaq shares a number of parts with the Volkswagen ID.4, such as the batteries and motors, but in a package that’s very typical of Skoda – it’s a straightforward, practical and robust car that comes with plenty of essential features including LED headlights, a Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display, climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors.

4. BMW X1/iX1

While the BMW X1 has always been one of the best small SUVs to drive, its practicality wasn’t up there with its rivals’. The latest version is bigger than ever, offering a massive 540-litre boot plus more cabin space, and just as importantly, it’s still great to drive. 

The X1’s chassis is good when it comes steering feel and body control, and the range of powertrains is excellent, with efficient and powerful petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid offerings. 

You’ll have to put up with a firmer ride than perhaps expected on higher-spec cars, but overall the X1’s refinement is well judged. That goes for the interior, too, which feels as premium as much more expensive BMWs. The new all-electric iX1 is also a welcome addition to the range. 

3. Lexus NX

With a well built, premium interior that’s full of tech but is cleanly designed, a selection of cutting-edge powertrains, and plenty of on-road performance, the Lexus NX showcases what a modern SUV is all about. 

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The 350h self-charging hybrid is clever and returns decent fuel efficiency, but the 450h+ plug-in hybrid was Lexus’ first PHEV model and is a great one at that. Most PHEVs require a charged battery at all times to make sense financially, but the PHEV can cover 40 miles on electric-only power, and when the battery runs out, it can still return more than 40mpg. 

We also like the mix of touchscreen and physical buttons on the dashboard, the fit and finish is second to none, and the infotainment system is responsive and is a huge upgrade over the previous model’s set-up. 

Along with the generous levels of equipment on board the NX is also spacious and feels pretty premium inside. Lexus usually performs brilliantly in our Driver Power survey, and the NX placed 55th out of 75 cars in our 2023 best cars to own rankings.

2. Hyundai Tucson 

The Hyundai Tucson was our Mid-size SUV of the Year in 2021, 2022 and 2023. That market domination comes from the car’s brilliant all-round ability on top of its sheer desirability. The Tucson is packed with kit, and higher-spec versions get a panoramic roof, wireless phone charging, a rear-view camera and as many safety systems as you could hope for. 

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Its interior feels classier than many rivals’ and all versions get twin 10.25-inch displays. The 620-litre boot should be enough for most families, too. The 148bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol with a manual gearbox is a good option, or you could opt for the slightly more expensive hybrid with its seven-speed auto. This has a quicker 0-62mph time (9.6 secs) and better economy (43.5mpg).

Visually, the latest Tucson is a huge departure from the tame looks of previous generations, and the bold design really stands out on the road. Whether you like the looks or not, Hyundai should at least be commended for not playing it safe and by trying to make its family SUV stand out. 

To really succeed in the family car market, a focus on practicality is a must and the Tucson’s 620-litre boot dwarfs the Nissan Qashqai’s load area and comfortably beats the SEAT Ateca’s 510 litres. The amount of legroom on offer will be a blessing for those sitting in the back and there’s plenty of headroom. Up front there’s a curved dash to give a premium feel for the driver and front-seat passenger.

1. Land Rover Defender 

Land Rover followed up the iconic Defender with the ‘new’ model in 2019, and while it took on a softer, more liveable approach to rival the current crop of family-orientated SUVs, the Defender’s off-road ability remains unquestionable. 

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A range of strong six-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines really work with the Defender’s robust character. It’s quite a goliath on British roads in 110 guise (the eight-seat 130 is even bigger), but you get a massive cabin that manages to feel both workmanlike and premium at the same time. While the V8-engined models have a great soundtrack and are a riot to drive, they’re extremely thirsty, so we’d give them a miss. The P400e plug-in hybrid’s range is only 27 miles as well, so we’d stick with the mild-hybrids. 

Practicality is still a priority for the Defender, with lots of cubbies and storage areas located around the cabin, as well as useful tech features like a standard 3D surround camera. The air suspension can raise and lower the car to make hitching-up a trailer much easier, while the ClearSight Ground View gives you a virtual view of the ground beneath and just in front of the vehicle – great for keen off-roaders.

Top 10 best SUVs to buy

  1. Land Rover Defender
  2. Hyundai Tucson
  3. Lexus NX
  4. BMW X1/iX1 
  5. Skoda Enyaq
  6. Hyundai Kona 
  7. Skoda Kodiaq
  8. Jeep Avenger 
  9. Renault Captur
  10. BMW iX

Looking for a new family car? These are the best ones 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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