Published on Wednesday 10 June 2020 in Car news
By Jonathan Crouch
These days, if you want a family car, you want a family SUV – but which to choose? Every brand has options, but if you need something that'll function as the only family vehicle & keep your leasing spend to a sensible level – under £250 a month – you might need some help to narrow your choices.
Like its predecessor, the 2nd generation version of Peugeot's 3008 is a family-sized Crossover SUV, but this time round, the emphasis is more on the 'SUV' aspect. There's lots of different design & extra features to set it apart from rival models & an efficient range of engines that'll satisfy more sensible folk.
Set off in a 3008 & one of the first things you notice is the size & positioning of its tiny steering wheel, part of an 'i-Cockpit' design that requires you to view the instruments above the wheel rather than through it. That means the wheel can be smaller & positioned closer to the driver, giving a more connected feel that encourages wrist-flick direction changes. There's decent space for a couple of adults in the back & a big 520-litre boot.
Under the skin, most of the mechanicals are shared with the French maker's 308 family hatch, including the sophisticated EMP2 platform & all the engines. These include 1.5 & 2.0-litre BlueHDi diesels & a zesty 1.2-litre 3 cylinder PureTech petrol unit.
Your £250 a month budget will get you quite a lot with a 3008 just at present – currently, in our 'Offers' section, there's a choice of a 3008 with the 1.2-litre PureTech 130hp petrol engine with a choice of either mid-range 'Allure' or the plush 'GT Line Premium' trim.
A Korean-built, French-branded, Japanese-engineered supersized Crossover SUV that you've almost certainly never considered owning, but possibly might quite like is the Koleos - the flagship model in Renault's SUV line-up.
The Renault Koleos has recently had a minor facelift which has included the installation of a couple of the brand's latest diesel engines, a 1.7-litre 150PS Blue dCi 150 unit with front wheel drive & a 2.0-litre 190PS Blue dCi 190 powerplant with 4WD. Both come with a 7-speed automatic XTronic gearbox. The Koleos is more spacious than most of the other SUVs at this price point – at least for rear seat occupants anyway, though its 458-litre boot isn't the largest.
Our £250 a month budget gets you the plush Koleos 2.0 Blue dCi GT-Line X-Tronic version of this model.
For years, a Ford Kuga was the midsize Crossover that other brands turned to if they were developing a car in this class & wanted it to be good to drive. The MK1 model was out on its own in this respect, its 2nd generation successor less so. A 3rd generation model debuted early in 2020 & gets a stiffer C2 platform shared with the latest Focus to enable it to return to a position as one of the sharper steers in the segment.
This MK3 Kuga is also a little bigger, moved a little more up-market to fill the space left by the brand's now deleted Edge SUV. Engine-wise, mild hybrid EcoBlue diesel engines now feature – plus there's a PHEV petrol version too. The rear seats slide to improve legroom or improve boot space.
Equipment levels are much improved; our £250 a month budget gets you the Kuga 1.5 EcoBoost petrol engine with sporty ST-Line trim.
For years, Volkswagen's primary offering when it came to models in this market was its Tiguan, but that crossover has been eased up-market in recent times, leaving a space into which the brand has slotted in not one but two fashionable SUVs. One is the Polo-based T-Cross, but here, our focus is the slightly larger Golf-based VW T-Roc. It's the funkiest model of this kind we've seen from the Wolfsburg maker & provided you dress it up a bit, it certainly makes a statement.
You'll want to know about engines. Volkswagen expects most buyers to opt for petrol power, with primary interest likely to be focused on the T-Roc 115PS 1.0 TSI unit that falls within our £250 a month budget, with a choice of base 'S' trim or sporty 'R-Line'-spec.
There's also a 1.6 TDI diesel unit or, if you want a DSG auto gearbox, the 150PS 1.5-litre TSI EVO petrol power plant. Size-wise, the T-Roc sits somewhere between the small & the midsize SUV segments, but luggage space (445-litres) is quite generous.
The 4th generation Kia Sportage midsize SUV enhances its offering in this improved form. There's now the option of 48V mild hybrid diesel power, smart looks & sophisticated media connectivity. But the reasons why so many people like this car remain much the same. Right here & now, this car's immediate goal is quite simply to be our market's favourite midsize SUV & it's rapidly reeling in the current class leader, Nissan's Qashqai, on its way to becoming so. What's really helped in this regard is the way that Kia has kept prices affordable.
This is a practical option, with decent space & (on petrol models) a 491-litre boot. We'd recommend the 1.6-litre CRDi diesel, which is the engine that gets that mild hybrid tech. This uses a 48V Ecodynamics+ system powered by a small lithium ion battery mounted underneath the boot floor & the 13bhp electrical boost it facilitates boosts the Sportage's maximum output under acceleration. When you coast or brake, the starter becomes a generator, replenishing the battery & improving efficiency by up to 4%.
In an era where nearly a quarter of all European car buyers are looking at something from the SUV Crossover class, mainstream brands need to take this segment very seriously. Hyundai's doing just that with this car, the Tucson. In this 'TL'-series form, it was originally launched in 2015, but this is the much improved version of that car that the brand introduced in 2018, more recently updated with the brand's latest 48V mild hybrid engine tech for the 1.6 CRDi diesel version. There are two alternative petrol options – a base 132PS 1.6-litre GDi normally aspirated unit that's a bit lacking in pulling power & refinement - there's also a preferable 177PS 1.6 T-GDi turbo power plant.
More than anything else, it's probably the design of the Hyundai Tucson that will do most to interest SUV buyers in the mid-sized segment. The styling's been clearly inspired by the brand's larger & very good looking Santa Fe SUV and, with flowing surfaces, bold proportions & sharp lines, delivers one of the more attractive cars in this class. In the rear, it's a little more spacious than class rivals like Nissan's Qashqai & SEAT's Ateca – there's slightly more boot space too. Petrol models offer 513-litres, while the 1.6-litre diesel has 484-litres.
Today, our roads are full of Crossover models, compact family-sized SUV-style hatches that blend the practicality of a family five-door with the lifestyle looks of a 4x4. Nissan didn't invent this concept but they've done more than any other brand to perfect it, most notably with this car, the Qashqai. In recent years, this 2nd generation version has been rejuvenated to keep it ahead of an increasingly competitive chasing pack. So it's smarter, classier, cleverer, quieter, better equipped & more sophisticated. British designed & built, this one's going to take some knocking off the number one spot.
Our £250 a month budget gets you plush mid-range 'N-Connecta' trim & a choice of the two mainstream engines. There's the 1.3-litre DIG-T petrol unit, which offers either 140 or 160PS, the higher-powered engine available with a 7-speed DCT auto gearbox. Or you can opt for a 1.5-litre dCi 115 variant, which isn't quite as quick as the equivalent base petrol unit but has a bit more torque (285Nm) so can offer better mid-range pulling power.
Take a seat behind the wheel & the twin-dial instrument layout you view through the three-spoke leather-trimmed steering wheel is simplicity itself, with much of what you need to know delivered by a clear, classy colour TFT display set between the speedo & rev counter. In the rear, though the seats still don't slide or recline, they are positioned in a way that offers reasonable space for your legs. Out back, there's a 430-litre boot.
If you're going to pitch into one of the most closely fought sectors in the market, you'd better have something very impressive to offer if you're going to stand any chance of success. SEAT has delivered exactly that in the form of this Ateca model, a car which has become a very significant player in the segment for Qashqai-class family-sized compact Crossovers & SUVs. There's certainly plenty here to tempt buyers away from the established class leaders, including sharp pricing with even sharper handling.
The Ateca was SEAT's first SUV & it remains a decently good looking thing, confident in proportions that, almost down to the millimetre, replicate those of its arch-rival, Nissan's Qashqai: that surely can't be a coincidence. Size-wise, the body length is closer to that of a smaller SUV, but there's still more rear seat legroom than you'd get in a competing Qashqai – & a 510-litre boot that's 80-litres bigger.
The Ateca comes in comfortably under our £250 a month in 1.0-litre TSI petrol SE Technology form.