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Best small SUVs 2024

  • What are the best small SUVs?

  • We test and rate the contenders

  • Find a small SUV for sale

Want one of the best small SUVs? Of course you do, why wouldn't you? But, you're not alone, as they're extremely popular with new and secondhand car buyers. Check out our top 10 list to find out which small SUVs we rate and why. 

Gone are the days when, if you wanted a family car, you headed straight to the nearest dealership to look at the latest range of hatchbacks and saloons. Only a decade ago, the two bodystyles dominated new car sales, but tastes adapt and it seems buyers these days mostly crave SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles). And the car industry has responded in full force. 

That's why there are more SUVs now than there are traditional hatchbacks and saloons. While cars like the Ford Focus and BMW 3 Series are still quite popular to buy or lease, family-friendly SUVs are beating them out of showrooms. They're available in a range of sizes, but here we're focusing on the best small SUV models.

It's not hard to see why they're so popular, either. The best small SUVs (often referred to as crossovers) combine key elements of hatchbacks, family cars, off-roaders and people carriers. They are cars that take up a smaller space on the road than a traditional big SUV, but with a raised-up body, higher ground clearance and imposing looks that traditional car types don't offer. They're often more practical, too, with bigger boots, while the high driving position is desirable.

The best small SUVs and crossovers now cover all the bases. Larger, more expensive models include the likes of the Mazda CX-30 and BMW X1. These small SUVs make sense as a family car due to their extra practicality over a hatchback like the Mazda 3 or BMW 1 Series. As well as often having extra space, their taller bodies make it easier to step in and out, or load child seats

Then there are smaller SUV crossovers, usually based on superminis. These are proving very popular with younger buyers, those downsizing from large cars or as second cars to be used as a runabout. This includes cars like the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Volkswagen T-Cross. They tend to be easier to park and drive (especially if you do most of your driving around town) thanks to the raised driving position, and are usually cheap to run, too, with low tax, insurance and fuel costs. 

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Best small SUVs 2024

  1. Ford Puma
  2. Volvo XC40 
  3. Skoda Kamiq
  4. Toyota Yaris Cross
  5. BMW X1
  6. Jeep Avenger
  7. Kia Niro
  8. Suzuki Ignis
  9. MG ZS EV
  10. Honda HR-V

1. Ford Puma

Year launched: 2020

Ford Puma Review 2023: Exterior Front
9/10

The Ford Puma is one of the best small SUVs there is. It's a simply brilliant alternative to the Nissan Juke that can be picked up for less than £20,000 on heycar.

Being a Ford, it's a lot of fun to drive, with handling akin to the now-defunct Ford Fiesta on which it's based. There's a superb mix of petrol engines on offer, including some with mild-hybrid assistance and even a hot Puma ST model. But the Puma isn't just about darting along country lanes; it's pretty comfortable and refined everywhere else, and manages respectable fuel economy. 

While it's not as big as some alternatives, the Ford Puma is still a very practical little car. Its party piece is the so-called 'megabox', a deep plastic-lined well underneath the boot floor, which even comes with a drain plug so you can use it for washing your wellies or even cleaning the dog after a muddy walk. An impressively likeable crossover SUV.

2. Volvo XC40

Year launched: 2018

Volvo XC40 Review 2024: Static
9/10

You might associate Volvo with boxy old estate cars, but today it makes some of the sexiest SUVs on the market. The XC40 is a good example: it's an uber-stylish small SUV that'll make you feel good about life every time you drive it.

The chunky-looking alternative to a BMW X1 or Audi Q3 is available with a range of engines, and there's also a pure-electric model known at the XC40 Recharge Pure Electric. You can also pick between two- or four-wheel-drive, allowing you to prioritise low running costs or go-anywhere capability. It's not the sharpest handling SUV, but it is composed and comfortable. 

Of course, being a Volvo, one of the XC40's selling points is its safety record. Not only does it perform extremely well in independent crash tests, it's also available with a whole host of clever tech to prevent you from being involved in an accident in the first place. It's certainly one of the best small SUVs you can buy today.

3. Skoda Kamiq

Year launched: 2019

Skoda Kamiq Review 2023: Side Rear View
9/10

The Skoda Kamiq is a prime example of Skoda doing what Skoda does well. It's a no-nonsense small family SUV that undercuts its rivals on price and over-delivers on practicality. Indeed, with a big boot and plenty of space for rear passengers, the Kamiq is a small SUV that's big and well-appointed enough to be your main family car.

Just £15,000 will get you a 2020 Kamiq in not-so-basic SE trim (the S is even cheaper but a bit sparse). If you'd prefer a flashier model, a 2021 Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo could be yours for less than £21,000. 2022 Kamiqs with very low miles start from around £18,500.

It'll be dirt cheap to run, too. OK, you can't buy a hybrid Kamiq, but the 1.0-litre petrol engine is capable of around 50mpg. It's pretty punchy, and while the Kamiq isn't the most exciting car to drive, it's an impressive all-rounder with decent comfort and refinement.  The interior is again not exactly luxurious or dramatic, but it's hard-wearing and solidly put together.

4. Toyota Yaris Cross

Year launched: 2021

Toyota Yaris Cross Review 2023: silver car front moving
9/10

The Toyota Yaris Cross does exactly what it says on the tin: it takes the excellent Toyota Yaris supermini and instils some crossover-SUV design cues and a more practical body. 

The Yaris is one of our favourite small cars, so it's no surprise that the Yaris Cross makes the grade. Its stylish design hides a solid (if unexciting) interior, while being a Toyota it should prove very reliable. It's more spacious than the Yaris on which it's based, too, although the rear is still a little cramped and the boot isn't the biggest in this class.

A big part of the Yaris Cross's appeal is its standard hybrid powertrain. Using Toyota's self-charging tech, there's no need to faff about charging up, while over 60mpg is achievable without much bother. Although it's not huge fun, the rest of the driving experience is smooth and composed.

5. BMW X1

Year launched: 2022

BMW X1 Review 2024: front driving
8/10

The previous-generation BMW X1 was a popular and well-liked small SUV, but the latest version, which arrived on the market late in 2022, is even better.

The new car adopts the angular, aggressively-surfaced look that BMW has been pushing in recent years, but while some of the firm's models are an acquired taste, we reckon the X1 has plenty of presence for a small SUV. 

It's also really practical and bigger than you might expect, with lots of space in the front, sliding seats in the rear and a boot big enough to deal with all the family car duties. The technology has come on quite a bit, too, as has the fit and finish of that interior, which is among the best of any premium small SUV. 

You have a wide choice of engines, with petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and even a fully electric model called the BMW iX1. This replaces the old BMW i3, ditching the quirky design but bringing a much more useful 272-miles of range on a charge. 

On the road, the BMW X1 is just about the best handling small SUV there is. If you're a parent that's not quite ready to totally give up on driver appeal, you'll love the way it drives, although models with the sportier suspension and bigger wheels are more firm than some of the cars in this list.

6. Jeep Avenger

Year launched: 2023

Jeep Avenger Electric Review 2024: driving dynamic
8/10

The Avenger is a great small SUV and it will never need to visit a petrol pump if you choose the electric version that we favour (it's also available as a hybrid). While it may bear the Jeep badge, this isn’t a SUV made for true off-roading. Its diminutive frame is best suited to city streets, although it can also stretch its legs on the motorway when required.

A range of up to 244 miles means the Avenger can zip around town without any charging worries, and it’ll even cope with a few longer stretches, too, making it a highly practical EV. Stop at a fast charger and you’ll be able to replenish from 20% to 80% in as little as 24 minutes.

The Avenger also impresses with its nippy driving style and elevated ride height, giving you a good view of the road ahead. There’s enough poke to keep you engaged around town, and if you do find yourself on less familiar surfaces, the Avenger comes with a suite of all-terrain modes and a hill descent system.

There’s a decent amount of kit in the entry-level Longitude model, but we’d opt for the mid-tier Altitude trim if budget allows, as it gets you 17-inch alloys, adaptive cruise control, and a reversing camera among a few other goodies.

7. Kia Niro

Year launched: 2022

Kia Niro Review 2024: front side
8/10

Get ready to see a lot of Kia Niros around if you haven't already. The old Niro was hugely popular despite its ugly-duckling looks, and the latest version gets much bolder - maybe too bold for some? - styling that make it stand out a mile.

The love-it-or-hate it design is certainly better than the old car's bland anonymity, but all the virtues we know and love from the old car are present and correct. It still comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric forms, and you get extremely low running costs, plenty of standard equipment, a really user-friendly cabin and a good amount of space. 

Other than the quirky shape, the new Kia Niro also benefits from a load of extra technology, some of it borrowed from one of our favourite electric cars, the Kia EV6. We really like the new 'Greenzone' drive mode, which will automatically put the car into electric mode when you drive into certain areas. 

The Kia Niro's driving experience is not exceptional, but all versions are easy, relaxing and comfortable to drive. And even with the new model's price increase they are still affordable offerings. 

8. Suzuki Ignis

Year launched: 2019

Suzuki Ignis Review 2024: static
7/10

Well, you did say that you wanted a small SUV, and they don't come much smaller than the Suzuki Ignis...

Don't be fooled by the little Suzuki's pint-sized proportions, though: it's rather more rough-and-tumble than it might first appear. For starters, it's one of those rare SUVs these days that is actually genuinely available with four-wheel drive, and that instantly gives it a more rugged edge than many much larger SUVs.

Being the size of a city car, interior space is of course limited, but it'll still accommodate four adults in relative comfort, thanks largely to the height of the cabin. And yes, the cabin does feature some plastics and finishes that concentrate on function rather than form, but the Ignis is still a cheerful place to sit.

In fact, cheerful is a good word to describe the Ignis generally. It looks really funky and it has an up-and-at-'em nature on the road, with perky performance and sharp responses. It's at its best around town, but doesn't feel out of its depth on faster routes.

9. MG ZS EV

Year launched: 2019

MG ZS EV Review 2024: front dynamic
8/10

MG was once loved for its sports cars, but it's now found a strong following in the affordable electric car market, and the MG ZS EV is a big part of the reason why.

Sure, the petrol-powered regular MG ZS is available for much less money. But that's a distinctly mediocre car with thirsty, underpowered engines. The ZS EV, on the other hand, gets much better performance along with greatly reduced running costs and a much quieter, smoother driving experience.

What's more the MG ZS EV gets a good-sized battery pack, with later versions available in Long Range form for up to 273 miles on a charge. The standard model takes that down to 198 miles, which is still enough for most needs. 

You also get lots of standard equipment; MG has really thrown the kitchen sink at the ZS EV. However, the car's interior is not the most sophisticated here, with cheaper finishes and a rather lacklustre infotainment screen. But at this price, no electric SUV compares. 

10. Honda HR-V

Year launched: 2021

Honda HR-V Review 2024: driving
7/10

The Honda HR-V gets you a lot for your money. Heated front seats and the 9.0-inch infotainment navigation system are standard on all trims, and the hybrid engine means it will be cheap to run. It should also be great reliability wise, so if you’re planning to buy a car to keep forever, the HR-V will serve you well.

On the road it feels composed, with plenty of grip and a relatively comfortable ride. It may not be ‘fun’ to drive, but the HR-V feels safe and secure, while the light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre. 

Inside, you’re greeted with a delightfully modern interior with great usability. It’s more stylish than before and there are plenty of physical buttons and knobs for the key features you’ll access regularly. 

Passengers will be pleased, too, with plenty of headroom and legroom in the front and rear seats, which makes it a great car for ferrying people around. Honda’s also adorned the cabin with numerous storage areas for your odds and ends, which is handy.

30/04/2024

Best Small SUV FAQs

Written By Ivan Aistrop

The best small SUV on sale in 2023 depends on your requirements. We reckon the Ford Puma is one of the best small SUVs, especially if you're looking for a car that's relatively affordable, looks stylish and is fun to drive. The new Toyota Yaris Cross is an excellent alternative, particularly as it's a hybrid model with low running costs. Toyota has an extremely strong reliability record, too.

You should also look at VW Group small SUVs such as the Volkswagen T-Cross, SEAT Arona and Skoda Kamiq, all of which are impressive all-rounders that won't break the bank. Alternatively, consider premium small SUVs like the Volvo XC40, BMW X1 and Lexus UX.

The Toyota Yaris Cross is one of the most reliable small SUVs you can buy, along with the slightly bigger Toyota C-HR. Toyota is widely accepted to be one of the most reliable car manufacturers, regularly performing well in ownership surveys such as HonestJohn.co.uk's annual Satisfaction Index.

You should also look at Toyota's premium brand Lexus, particularly the Lexus UX small SUV. A Honda HR-V would be a good alternative, or the Mazda CX-30. Both are very reliable choices.

That rather depends on what you define as an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle). The Suzuki Ignis and Toyota Aygo X are city cars with plenty of SUV design cues and raised seating positions, but whether or not they're genuine SUVs is a matter of opinion (although the Suzuki can be had with four-wheel drive). The Suzuki Jimny and Fiat Panda 4x4 are less Sport and more Utility Vehicles, but they certainly fit the bill as tiny off-roaders. 

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