Petrol engines are generally smoother and quieter than diesels, and advanced technology means fuel economy for petrol cars has never been higher. Diesel may have been the default engine choice for SUVs, but thanks to these new petrols and the decreasing popularity of diesel, more and more people are choosing the green pump over the black pump for their SUVs.
Read on to find out which car is the best petrol SUV for you.
The Skoda Kodiaq is nothing short of a brilliant family SUV, feeling capable enough to haul your kids and possessions around in comfort. It’s well-built, reliable, has been cleverly designed and is even good-looking in a modest kind of way. A towing capacity of two tonnes for the 1.8-litre petrol four-wheel-drive model shows that a diesel isn’t always necessary and, if you’re not towing regularly, the 1.4-litre 150hp unit is powerful enough to cart you and six passengers around without any strain or fuss.
The Volvo XC60 is like a scaled-down version of the incredible XC90 – it’s stylish, roomy and more luxurious than ever before. It has just about the most comprehensive list of safety equipment of any car on sale, so there are few better alternatives if you want to keep your family out of harm’s way. There are two petrol models: the 254hp T5, which is smoother and quicker than both diesel models, and the hybrid T8, which adds a powerful electric motor onto the 2.0-litre engine, taking the total up to 407hp and sprinting this family SUV from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds. Whichever model you go for, it will be quiet and comfortable and, as we found out, it proved a great companion for moving house.
There is very little to fault with the latest VW Tiguan, besides perhaps the slightly more expensive price tag than some alternatives. But the extra outlay nabs you a great all-rounder and a top family SUV, with a great high seating position, solidly built interior and a range of magnificent VW engines. The 1.4-litre petrol is used across the VW Group spectrum in a variety of cars, not least the Kodiaq above, and it provides smooth, effortless driving regardless of how heavily loaded the Tiguan is. On the road, it’s quiet and refined.
The Audi Q5’s beautiful, well-made interior might be the reason you’d buy it over a BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace or Mercedes GLC. Add Audi’s latest Virtual Cockpit system and you’ve got a real feel-good SUV, thanks also to the lovely premium materials and a blizzard of Audi’s latest tech. Mind you, the Q5 is no one-trick pony – it’s relaxing to drive and there’s enough room in the rear seats for even your tallest friends to get comfy. It does everything well, and the punchy 252hp 2.0-litre petrol engine gives it a decent turn of speed. If you’re feeling flush then there’s the thirstier SQ5 with its 354hp V6 petrol – giving you true sportscar performance for the whole family.
Banish the old, blobby Peugeot 3008 from your memory – this one is sharply styled and backs that up with a lot of substance. The new Peugeot 3008 has a stylish interior with quite a lot of equipment as standard, and the boot is larger than many alternatives. A digital screen does a great job of replacing analogue driver’s dials, although the tiny steering wheel can take a bit of getting used to. The 3008 is a fairly large car but is offered with a 1.2-litre, 130hp petrol which sounds weedy, but don’t worry – it’s more than powerful enough to haul this SUV around and is smooth and efficient while doing so.
Essentially a C-Class Estate with more headroom and higher ground clearance, the GLC looks great and has a suave interior and an excellent engine range. It’s also extremely comfy on long journeys, there’s more than enough room in the back if you’re vertically gifted and it’s spacious enough to sit three people abreast without feeling too cramped. Unless you want a hot AMG version, the only petrol is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 211hp, and it’s a great engine. Smooth and quiet, it’s perfect if you want the engine to blend into the background on a cruise.
Despite never having made an SUV before, SEAT has produced one of the best on its first go with the Ateca. It’s fun to drive for an SUV, so it’s a good choice if you’re not ready to give up driving quickly through bends just yet. The best engine on offer is the 150hp 1.4-litre petrol. It’ll get the Ateca from 0-62mph in a brisk 8.5 seconds, and claimed fuel economy of 53mpg isn’t too shabby. The sporty handling does mean it’s a bit bumpier than some alternatives, but other plus points include a practical and well-made interior and a reasonable price tag.
The Audi Q2 may be the German brand’s smallest SUV, but it still looks fantastic. It has plenty of high-tech options including the brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display that places all the vital information right where the speedo and rev-counter dials would go. In the back it’s spacious enough for two tall adults, but carrying three abreast is a bit tight. Three petrol engines are available but, again, the 150hp 1.4-litre unit is the best one to go for. It’s economical, powerful enough for overtaking, and quiet enough to match the Q2’s relaxed and comfortable driving experience.
If you have a family to drive around, you’ll have no doubt looked hard at a Nissan Qashqai. If you haven’t, you should consider it – it’s very comfy and the high driving position makes for a commanding view over the road ahead. A facelift in 2017 freshened the car’s looks slightly, as well as adding plusher seats and a few more modern interior touches. The Qashqai is very easy to drive, and the 1.2-litre petrol is quiet and unobtrusive while managing more than 40mpg. Additional safety tech can be optioned – that’s on top of a five-star Euro NCAP rating – making Nissan’s big-selling SUV one of the safest on the road.
The Mini Countryman is one of the best-driving SUVs around, which goes some way to counter its small boot, love-them-or-hate-them looks and steep price. It retains the driving experience of Mini’s smaller cars, especially if you plump for the three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine that’s also used in the BMW i8 sports car. Officially, its fuel economy is rated at 51.4mpg – although expect mid-40s in normal conditions – and it’s sprightly enough and it makes the big Mini feel agile through corners. The quirky, trendy interior is another big positive, and gives you a warm feeling few other cars can match.
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