The best SUVs have to be brilliant all-rounders, offering space, pace and grace, plenty of cool technology, comfort, refinement and rugged ability. But which do it best? Check out our expert guide to 2024's best SUVs on sale today.
SUV stands for 'Sports Utility Vehicle'. This used to be a term that was reserved for cars like the Range Rover or BMW X5 - models with a high seating position and four-wheel drive that worked both on and off the road.
Nowadays it's a much broader term: not all SUVs are four-wheel drive and most drive a lot like a normal car. We usually consider the best SUVs as fairly big cars – often with seven seats – while smaller SUVs like the Volkswagen T-Roc are sometimes referred to as a 'crossover' vehicle.
While the SUV market is a diverse one, the best SUVs featured here have some key factors in common. They all boast MPV-like practicality, high-up seating positions and big boots. Some are four-wheel drive, some are two-wheel drive, while many are available with a range of petrol, diesel and even hybrid engines. You'll even find a fully electric SUV in this list.
While not all the cars in this list are built to tackle treacherous terrain, all of them have enough capability to deal with anything the average family car buyer would encounter: rough dirt tracks, badly surfaced country lanes or muddy field car parks. If you need more off-road ability than that, why not check out our list of the best 4x4s and off-road cars?
We think that the cars below are the best SUVs you can buy right now. So whether you're looking for a large family SUV with bags of space of something that'll fit in with your active lifestyle, you'll find it here.
If you're ready to buy we've got over 30,000 Used SUV Cars for Sale, while if you want more choice, we have over 70,000 Used Cars for Sale. If you're looking to save money, check out our guide to the Best Car Deals.
Best SUVs 2024
1. Kia Sorento
Year launched: 2020
The Kia Sorento has changed markedly over the four generations it's been on sale. Where once it was a cheap but plain workhorse, it's now a seriously appealing all-rounder. We reckon the latest model is one of the best SUVs you can buy today, especially if you need a lot of space. All models come with seven seats and, unusually, they can all comfortably carry an adult.
On the face of it, the Sorento is significantly more expensive than competitors like the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008. That's because all Kia Sorento models are powered by punchy hybrid or diesel engines, while all are four-wheel drive and come with an automatic gearbox. And sure, a Land Rover Discovery Sport might appeal due to its premium badge and lifestyle image, but the Sorento is significantly bigger and more practical.
Really, the Sorento straddles both mainstream and premium SUV sectors because of the design, quality and technology on display. If you want a seriously luxurious Sorento, look for a top-spec '4' model. This is lavishly equipped with ventilated seats, a panoramic sunroof and window blinds for the second row.
2. BMW iX
Year launched: 2022
The BMW iX is the perfect example of how not to judge a book by its cover. Certainly its, erm, distinctive design won't be to all tastes, but it'll certainly get you noticed in a sea of cookie cutter SUV designs out there.
But its best qualities lie beneath the bodywork. Like all of BMW's X models its an SUV that makes you feel good every time you drive it, with a brilliant all-round driving experience. Cheaper models like the BMW X3 lead the class in terms of ride, handling and engines, but the all-electric iX really shows what the brand's engineers can do when everything is pushed to the limit.
Even the entry-level BMW iX xDrive40 is pretty sprightly to drive, but you'll want the xDrive 50 model which comes with more power and a bigger battery - the range is up to a seriously impressive 380 miles. It'll do 0-62mph in a sports car-baiting 4.6 seconds.
Still not fast enough? The BMW iX M60 has a whopping 619PS and will do 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds. All are comfortable, smooth yet more agile than you might think.
Designed from the get go as an electric car, the BMW iX is cleverly packaged and manages to squeeze a huge amount of space into its (admittedly large) body. You also get the latest generation of BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment, a really luxurious interior design and top-notch build quality. All that comes at a price, though: at least £70,000 to be exact.
3. Audi Q7
Year launched: 2015
If you're looking for a luxurious 7-seater SUV that's getting affordable as a used buy, the Audi Q7 should be on your shortlist. It's simply huge, meaning there's a massive amount of space for all three rows of passengers as well as a big boot. It's certainly one of the best large SUVs you can buy, and because it's been around for a few years there are some good deals to be had.
Audi's attention to detail is impeccable, with lots of neat touches and superb finishes everywhere you look. And it's very comfortable – the kind of car, in fact, that could transport you across continents and leave you feeling as fresh as the moment you set off.
A big car needs a big engine. Our pick of the bunch is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine which is available with two power outputs: 231PS or 286PS (badged 45 TDI and 50 TDI respectively). Both are plenty punchy enough for most drivers, although there's also the SQ7 range-topper with its thunderous 4.0-litre diesel V8 engine (later switched to an equally thunderous twin-turbo petrol V8).
Or, if you cover a lot of town driving, look for the TFSIe badge. This means it's a plug-in hybrid pairing a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor. The only downside with that one is you can only have it as a five-seater, which is a shame.
4. Kia EV9
Year launched: 2023
If you’re after a big electric SUV the Kia EV9 is one of the best available. With space for up to seven, a fancy modern interior and striking external styling, there’s plenty to like.
It’s not the cheapest seven-seater EV around, but you get a ton of kit included, even on the base model. It’s spacious, comfortable and has enough storage (and USB ports) to keep everyone happy.
On the entry-level Air trim you get a raft of driving assists, heated and ventilated front seats and outer second-row seats, plus support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Audi and Mercedes can’t match that with their base spec big electric SUVs.
While there’s no denying the size of the EV9, from inside the cabin you’ll be less aware of the scale. It’s quiet and comfortable, and the ride is smooth - verging on premium - while steering is light enough to manoeuvre through town.
Plus, with a quoted range of over 300 miles (and over 340 for the ‘Air’ trim) there’s plenty of power available to get you a fair way across the country before you need to consider a charging stop.
5. Land Rover Defender
Year launched: 2020
If you're in the market for an SUV that can take you across the Serengeti, look no further than the Land Rover Defender. The latest model, on sale since 2020, is very different from the long-selling original model. But different isn't necessarily a bad thing – it retains some of the original's character, but is brought thoroughly up to date in every way. Oh, and if you really want to go off road, no other SUV featured here will keep up with a Defender when the going gets tough. It's simply the best SUV for going off-road.
The brilliant thing with the new Defender is that, while the old one was fantastic off-road and terrible on it, the new car is seemingly excellent in both environments. There's excellent levels of comfort and refinement, and while it doesn't exactly have sports car-like responses, the handling is stable and assured. The engine range offers something for everyone, too.
Land Rover initially launched the Defender with four-cylinder diesel and four- or six-cylinder turbo petrol engines. We'd recommend the later 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesels for their smoothness and swift performance, while a bonkers 525PS V8 petrol motor is sure to win Top Trumps competitions. There's also a plug-in hybrid model with an electric range of up to 27 miles.
You'll pay strong money for a Defender but residuals are good, so you'll also get a decent chunk of it back at resale time. You can buy short- and long-wheelbase models, badged the 90 and 110 respectively. We'd opt for the latter – it's a lot more practical, even if there is an appeal to the pint-size Defender 90.
6. Mazda CX-60
Year launched: 2022
Never heard of the Mazda CX-60? Confused about where it sits next to the CX-5? We don't blame you.
Basically, whereas the Mazda CX-5 is a mainstream model competing with the VW Tiguan, the CX-60 is aimed at premium models such as the BMW X3. That means you get a rear-wheel drive platform (sportier and more high-end) and a more aspirational design.
Eventually you'll get some potent straight-six petrol and diesel engines in the CX-60, but the plug-in hybrid version it launches with is still a good buy. It's surprisingly fast and gets up to 39 miles from a charge, while the CX-60 handles pretty tidily, even if it isn't the most comfortable and refined SUV out there.
We love the Mazda CX-60's interior, too - simple yet elegant and well-made, you can have some really classy trims in the top-grade Takumi. It's also got one of the easiest-to-use infotainment systems money can buy. Better yet, it undercuts its premium-badged rivals by quite a decent margin in price.
7. Skoda Kodiaq
Year launched: 2016
If you're serious about getting the most bang for your buck, head straight down to your nearest Skoda dealer (or do it the easy way with heycar) because you don't get much more for your money than this.
The Skoda Kodiaq is packed with clever ideas that will make family life easier – from the second row of seats which slides back and forth to the umbrella in the doors. It's the perfect car for someone who needs a people carrier but doesn't want a people carrier.
Avoid the weedy 1.4-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines if possible; the diesels are much better suited to the Kodiaq. You can get one with two- or four-wheel drive (go for the former unless you're planning to lug a caravan across a muddy campsite), and there's even a sporty vRS model if you're really not over your Max Power days.
A new Skoda Kodiaq starts from around £33,000 (making it one of the most affordable big SUVs to feature here), but you can pick up a used example for as little as £16,000. It's definitely the best SUV for the money.
8. Mercedes-Benz GLC
Year launched: 2022
Need a premium SUV and don't mind spending big to have the very latest thing? You'll want the new Mercedes-Benz GLC.
When we say 'new' we mean it, because this is the very latest posh SUV to arrive. The GLC looks and feels more modern than the older Audi Q5 and BMW X3, and you'll certainly notice this in the cabin with a sleek, elegant look and high-tech approach. The cleverness of the Merc's systems beat just about any SUV out there.
But it's not all about screens and gadgets, because the new GLC is surprisingly practical, with a big boot and plenty of rear seat space. You also get a relaxing, refined driving experience, particularly with the impressive plug-in hybrid models that offer up to 80 miles of pure electric range. You really could do the majority of your journeys without ever waking the engine.
Of course the hybrids aren't cheap, but there's strong petrol and diesel options offering better outright value. You're still looking at well over £50k for the base model, though, and don't expect any used bargains for a while.
9. Hyundai Tucson
Year launched: 2021
As perfectly competent as the old Hyundai Tucson was, with the best will in the world you wouldn't call it interesting. Hyundai obviously decided it wanted to make a scene with the new version, with what is probably the most distinctive design in the class.
Love it or hate it, in the ever growing sea of mid-size SUVs on the road the Hyundai Tucson definitely stands out. What's more, there's plenty of substance as the Tucson is more spacious than most of its rivals, with loads of head and legroom for passengers and a big 577-litre boot. There's plenty of neat storage solutions, too.
Combine that with a high quality interior, sharp and fast infotainment system and a comprehensive choice of petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid engine options and it's clear to see that Hyundai didn't skimp on development costs. It's even good to drive - not fun exactly, but stable, refined and smooth.
10. Nissan X-Trail
Year launched: 2022
If you're looking for a rugged, yet practical family SUV that'll cope well with being loaded with pushchairs, children's bikes and maybe even have room for granny and grandad, the Nissan X-Trail is a solid choice.
It delivers much-improved looks over the previous generation, and the upgraded interior is, dare we say, posh. You also get the flexibility of seven seats (as an optional extra), which can come in handy if you need to pick the in-laws up on the way to a family dinner.
The rear doors open nice and wide providing great access for lifting car seats and children in and out, plus you get three independent seats here - so no awkward faux ‘middle seat’ squabbles to be had here. There’s loads of space in the front too, and the high seats provide a great view, and make it easy to hop in and out of the X-Trail.
The X-Trail is also gentle on uneven road surfaces, making for a comfortable ride. There’s plenty of grip and it feels safe, plus the cabin is quiet too.
Best SUV FAQs
SUV stands for 'sports utility vehicle' which is about as clear as mud. Traditionally, an SUV combined characteristics of four-wheel-drive off-roaders with the road manners of a hatchback or saloon car. Today, SUVs are ultra-fashionable choices with stylish looks, high seating positions and, usually, a much bigger boot than an equivalent hatchback. They're often available with four-wheel drive but many are now two-wheel drive.
The best SUV on sale depends on what you need from it. If it's primarily a family car and you have multiple children we'd recommend the brilliant Skoda Kodiaq. The Hyundai Tucson is an excellent family SUV if you don't need seven seats, however. If you need a premium SUV for commuting as well as family use, we really rate the Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC40.
All 4x4s are considered SUVs these days, but not all SUVs are 4x4. Make sense? Probably not, but nowadays what matters in an SUV is its style, high driving position and practical body. The majority of SUVs you'll see on the road are two-wheel drive because they are cheaper to buy and run.
The cheapest SUV on sale today is the Dacia Duster. Prices start from as little as £15000 for the base Essential model, which does without unnecessary extras like alloy wheels, climate control and electric windows for rear-seat passengers.
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