The most popular type of car in the UK is the Sport Utility Vehicle, and it’s been that way since the turn of the millennium. Call them what you like – SUVs, crossovers, 4x4s – but at the start of 2023, they made up eight of the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK. On top of that, the country’s most popular car in 2022 was the Nissan Qashqai, a midsize crossover-SUV.
The reason they’re so popular is that they typically have larger and taller bodies than comparable ‘plain’ cars with a similar footprint. So you get more interior space, greater practicality, a bigger boot and a higher seating position, the last of which gives you improved visibility. Their ‘commanding’ driving position is also why SUVs impart a sense of safety and security. SUVs are ideal for families, dog owners, outdoor enthusiasts and those who periodically need to tow heavy loads, with leasing an SUV an ideal way to pay low-monthly costs for a brand-new family vehicle.
There is something for every need when it comes to SUVs, so we’ve listed our ten overall favourites, plus a breakdown of some of the best and most popular examples by class and type: Best Small SUVS/Compact Crossovers, Best Family SUVs, Best Luxury SUVs, Best Large SUVs, Best Electric SUVs and Best Off-Roaders/4x4s.
Our Top 10 Best SUVs 2023
- Dacia Duster
- Ford Puma
- Hyundai Tucson
- Peugeot 3008
- Volvo XC40
- Citroen C5 Aircross
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Audi Q4 e-tron
- Tesla Model Y
- Land Rover Defender
A bargain crossover that offers the interior space and boot volume from a class of SUV above at a very affordable price. The Dacia Duster is brilliant, no-nonsense motoring. Engines come from Renault, so they’re smooth and refined, and while the interior is a little on the basic side, it’s well built and nicely equipped, with plenty of equipment in mid- and higher-level trim grades.
View the latest Dacia Duster lease deals.
The Ford Puma takes everything that has made the Fiesta so popular for decades, then expands the formula into a larger, higher-riding SUV-type body. The Puma is great fun to drive, but it’s just as good at the mundane day-to-day stuff, with a comfortable ride, great visibility and a selection of charismatic engines. It even comes with a huge underfloor storage cubby in the boot called the MegaBox, which has a plug at the bottom so you can wash it out if you use it for storing muddy boots and lifestyle equipment. Brilliant!
View the latest Ford Puma lease deals.
The Tucson SUV encapsulates just how far Hyundai’s cars have come over the last decade or so. Its daring styling clothes a spacious, comfortable and beautifully built passenger compartment, and some of the tech is truly impressive - like a camera that displays the car’s blind spot in the instrument panel when you flick the indicator. Almost all the Tucson’s powertrain choices are hybrids of some sort, culminating in an efficient and advanced Plug-In Hybrid, which is very cheap to run.
View the latest Hyundai Tucson lease deals.
The Peugeot 3008 has been around for a while now, but it’s still an exceptional family SUV. Its styling is as fresh as anything else on the market, inside and out, and it’s a lot more fun to drive than you’d expect a car of this size and shape to be. An array of engine choice, including two plug-in hybrids, means it’s very cost-effective to run, and the interior is both high-quality and unusual. Plus, there’s plenty of space in the cabin for the whole family.
View the latest Peugeot 3008 lease deals.
Among the compact, prestige crossovers from the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Jaguar, it takes something special to stand out. But the XC40 achieves it, thanks to a gorgeous, beautifully finished interior, smart exterior styling, loads of clever technology and some of the most comfortable seats in any car. Better yet, every XC40 is a hybrid of some form, resulting in efficient running costs. There’s even a pure electric vehicle (EV) whose big battery means excellent range from a single charge.
View the latest Volvo XC40 lease deals.
Citroen C5 Aircross
The Citroen C5 Aircross is one of the best large family SUVs because it focuses emphatically on comfort. It has soft suspension, squidgy seats and light-as-a-feather steering feel, all designed specifically to make even the longest drives entirely relaxing from start to finish. It also has a huge and flexible boot space, plus highly distinctive exterior styling, making it a strong choice among a competitive field of popular SUVs.
View the latest Citroen C5 Aircross lease deals.
Skoda does four SUVs, all of which are excellent. The smallest Kamiq, the mid-sized Karoq and the all-electric Enyaq are all lovely - but the first SUV that Skoda made, the seven-seat Kodiaq, remains arguably the best. It just does so many things so well. It has a huge, incredibly practical and wonderfully well-built interior, smart design, and a host of driver-assist technology. On top of that, it’s really relaxing to drive in a wide variety of circumstances.
View the latest Skoda Kodiaq lease deals.
Audi Q4 e-tron
More and more SUVs are being powered by electric these days, and one of the best of them is the Audi Q4 e-tron. There’s a single-motor 40 Q4 e-tron or a dual-motor Q4 e-tron quattro, the latter with 299hp and genuine high performance. You get plenty of driving range out of either model, though, with anything up to 314 miles from a charge. You also get one of Audi’s typically fantastic interiors, a very practical cabin and eye-catching, futuristic body styling.
View the latest Audi Q4 lease deals.
Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y has a lot going for it. It’s a five-seat SUV that’ll do up to 331 miles on a single charge, and it has access to Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ plug-in network, allowing you to add 172 miles of range in just 15 minutes. Add in a spacious cabin, a huge 854-litre boot, and rapid performance – the most powerful model gets to 62mph in just 3.5 seconds – and the Tesla Model Y could truly be the best all-around family SUV of them all.
View the latest Tesla Model Y lease deals.
Land Rover Defender
The latest Land Rover Defender has been significantly improved compared to its agricultural predecessor. It’s all the better for that, though. It’s still as brilliant off-road as it ever was, but now it has proper luxury comfort and refinement. This means it’s now just a brilliant big SUV, with an enormous amount of space for people and luggage, and fantastic day-to-day. It comes in three body lengths (called 90, 110 and 130), the last of which is so huge that it allows for an eight-seater configuration in the cabin.
View the latest Land Rover Defender lease deals.
Best Small SUVS/Compact Crossovers
Small SUVs and compact crossovers are very popular because they offer a raised driving position, functionality, and similar styling to traditional off-road vehicles whilst being much more affordable. For the full rundown of our top picks, take a look at our best small SUVs 2023 guide.
Bargain crossover-SUV that doesn’t feel like bargain motoring at all. The Dacia Duster is very nicely built, good to drive, and just plain likeable.
Probably the best compact crossover, thanks to its blend of driving fun, refinement and interior flexibility.
All the usual VW attributes, such as solid build quality, lovely refinement and useful driver assistant technology, packaged in an attractive crossover-SUV body.
View the latest Volkswagen T-Cross lease deals.
Best Family SUVs
Family SUVs need the offer drivers the perfect blend of practicality, comfortable seating, strong running costs, and reliability and be packed with the latest tech and safety features. Whilst that may seem like you’re asking a lot, there are plenty of fantastic family SUVs available to drive - and if you want more options than the three below take a look at our picks of the best family SUVs.
The sharply-styled Hyundai Tucson is arguably the best family crossover-SUV available right now, due to its hybrid power, its exceptional cabin and its interior space.
Related to the Tucson above, the Kia Sportage is similarly blessed in all departments, only it comes with an even longer, seven-year manufacturer warranty.
View the latest Kia Sportage lease deals.
The Peugeot 3008 looks good on the outside, great on the inside, and it drives brilliantly in a wide variety of situations.
Best Luxury SUVs
The best luxury SUVs take everything there is love about premium Saloon interiors and styling, whilst adding off-road ability, the latest tech and features and in some cases stunning performance and ride.
BMW’s latest version of its smallest X1 crossover-SUV is superb to drive, and has an ergonomically spot-on interior and there’s an all-electric variant called the iX1.
View the latest BMW iX lease deals.
Lexus’ UX has distinctive, Japanese styling, an interior which feels incredibly solidly built, and a choice of either hybrid or all-electric powertrains.
View the latest Lexus UX lease deals.
Swedish style is seen in everything the Volvo XC40 does, from its clean, high-quality interior design, to its relaxing driving manners. It’s one of the best SUVs of any size.
Best Large SUVs
Sometimes the key consideration when choosing a family car is passenger capacity as much as it is luggage and storage capacity. The C5 Aircross, Tarraco and Kodiaq all offer plenty of space, comfort and a strong driving experience despite the vast size of the SUVs.
Citroen C5 Aircross
Comfort-focused French SUV backs up its remarkable refinement levels with a vast interior and some appealing, individualistic exterior styling.
The SEAT Tarraco is like the Skoda Kodiaq (below), only it has slightly sportier styling and driving manners. Perhaps not as practical, but still generally excellent.
View the latest SEAT Tarraco lease deals.
The Skoda Kodiaq does lots of things very, very well and precious little wrong at all. It feels built to last, its cabin controls look modern but they’re easy to use, and it’s very spacious.
Best Electric SUVs
Improved battery range and charging capabilities mean that electric SUVs are an increasingly popular option for families. Stylish, cheap to run and boasting cutting-edge technology and features, the Q4, MG ZS and Tesla Model Y are three of the very best EV SUVs available.
Audi Q4 e-tron
The Audi Q4 e-tron SUV is one of the best EVs there is, with its smooth driving manners, sharp looks and top-quality interior.
MG ZS EV
The ZS EV compact crossover-SUV is one of MGs best cars. Its 273-mile driving range is impressive enough, but it’s also priced much lower than other EVs of a similar size.
View the latest MG ZS lease deals.
Tesla Model Y
Tesla has only ever built EVs and it shows, with the Model Y providing an exceptional blend of space, high performance, rapid charging and big battery range.
There are plenty of SUVs on this list with some all-terrain ability, but if you’re frequently going to be going off the beaten path you’ll need a more capable vehicle. When it comes to the best off-road 4x4s, it is no surprise to see the Wrangler and Defender at the top of our list. These hard-working workhorses are iconic - and for good reason.
The Jeep Wrangler is unstoppable off-road, and although it feels a bit uncultured on a motorway, its uncompromising looks and fun attitude make it one of the best big 4x4s.
View the latest Jeep Wrangler lease deals.
Land Rover Defender
Significantly more refined than the basic original model which served for 68 years, the Land Rover Defender is an epic mix of a top-notch family SUV and a highly talented off-roader.
Toyota Land Cruiser
In parts of the world where vehicle reliability is the be-all and end-all, the vehicle of choice is always a Land Cruiser. This is an utterly dependable, super-solid big 4x4.
View the latest Toyota Land Cruiser lease deals.
Best SUV FAQs
What’s The Difference Between An SUV And A Crossover?
The term ‘crossover car’ was born with the original Nissan Qashqai in 2006. Nissan’s aim was to provide the extra space, rugged styling and high driving position of an SUV, but with the compact footprint and lower running costs of a family hatchback. Something that “crosses” the positive characteristics of both. The formula was a smash hit, and today the crossover class is by far the most popular in Europe.
So, a crossover is generally lighter and more compact than a full-blown SUV, and usually only fitted with two-wheel drive – normally the front wheels. An SUV is bigger, heavier, more expensive and will frequently be fitted with four-wheel drive, plus various in-car control systems to help it perform off-road.
There is a grey area between the two classes - you can get a few four-wheel drive crossovers, for instance - and quite often you’ll see “crossover” and “SUV” used interchangeably these days, but generally, a crossover is an SUV-style car that’s designed more as a day-to-day car and less as a serious off-roader.
What’s The Difference Between An SUV And A 4x4?
We know that the SUV was built for rougher terrain, but what about a 4x4? In truth, 4x4 literally means four-wheel drive, so any SUV (or indeed crossover, or even a car) with 4WD is also a 4x4.
However, in terms of SUV versus 4x4, it’s easy to think of an SUV as a luxurious, heavily road-biased vehicle that can perform reasonably well off-road from time to time, whereas a 4x4 is a more utilitarian, hard-working and rugged machine that is designed primarily to excel in the toughest of off-road situations while managing to remain fairly usable day-to-day when on roads.
Which is the most reliable SUV to lease?
Modern SUVs are incredibly dependable machines, and if you’re leasing you’re obviously getting a brand-new model covered by a full manufacturer warranty – so you won’t go wrong with anything on our list. However, one of the most reliable and heavy-duty SUV/4x4s in the world is the Toyota Land Cruiser, a vehicle favoured in some of the more inhospitable parts of the planet as it is known to never let you down.
What is the most popular SUV in the UK?
The most popular SUV, and indeed car of any shape, size or price, in the UK in 2022 was the Nissan Qashqai, which sold 42,704 units across the year. That put it well clear of the model in second place, which was 2021’s most popular car in the form of the Vauxhall Corsa. 35,910 Corsas were sold in 2022.
Which SUV is the best value for money?
Dacia represents terrific value for the outlay and in the Duster, you get the sort of interior and boot space you’d find in a family crossover-SUV, only for the leasing and running costs of the smallest crossover-SUVs.
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