Best SUV comparison 2023
High quality SUV cars from rated and reviewed dealers
10 best SUVs to buy in 2023
Everyone wants an SUV right now, with family SUVs almost a default choice for people with kids. Why? Well, the arrival of the SUV in the mid 1990s marked a sea change in the car market, just as the arrival of the practical, flexible and easy-to-drive hatchback did a few decades prior.
Think of an SUV as a tall hatchback - both types of car tend to have a wide-opening, top-hinged boot and fold-down rear seats - but SUVs add in a raised driving position for a better view of the road, plus being taller can make them easier to get in and out of if you have reduced mobility, while strapping young kids into child seats is easier when you don't have to stoop down. It's a lot easier for designers to fit a third row of seats into an SUV shape, too, while subjective matters of image, fashion and road presence also come into play to a greater or lesser extent.
While some SUVs follow the hatchback-on-stilts formula, others are descended from proper off-roading stock. These 4x4s are cleaner and more sophisticated than the gas-guzzlers of old, but offer genuine off-road ability as well as the other advantages of an SUV.
Here are the best new SUVs on sale in the UK right now.
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An SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) typically has raised ground clearance making it look like a four-wheel drive car. People love the higher driving position and great view out you get in this type of car. SUVs are generally fun to drive – that’s why Sports is in the title – but are practical for families too, with spacious interiors and decent-sized boots – which is why Utility is used in their name.
While an SUV car looks like a 4x4 they don’t necessarily have four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive systems can be heavy, making cars less fuel efficient. Many customers like the styling of SUV cars but don’t need off-road capability. That’s why many modern SUVs have the option to have both two- and four-wheel drive. Indeed some SUVs are two-wheel drive only.
Today, SUVs are some of the most popular cars you can buy.
On paper, this is a tie between the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350de plug-in hybrid diesel, and the just-arriving new BMW X1 xDrive25e, both of offer 353mpg on the combined WLTP fuel economy test. Of course, that relies on you carefully charging up all the time and making the most of their electric driving abilities. For real-world economy, other great bets at the Toyota RAV4 (especially the plug-in hybrid version), the Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv-D, and at the smaller scale, the Peugeot 2008, which can hit 47mpg in petrol form.
To find out how to improve the fuel economy of your SUV, check out our guide on ways to get better MPG.
The Land Rover Defender is the theoretical winner here, with a maximum braked towing weight of 3,500kg. That can be matched by others, mind, and if we’re talking expert opinion, then the Caravan Club recommends the current Porsche Cayenne, which has lots of clever software that helps you tow more easily.
The Skoda Kodiaq is the winner here, with a massive 835 litres beating even the massive Land Rover Defender’s 646-litre boot. Even the seven-seat version of the Kodiaq is big in the back, with 735-litres available. That said, if you want a seven-seater with a massive boot, check out the Peugeot 5008 which has a 780-litre boot when you fold the third row seats into the floor.
Take a look at our guide on the best cars with big boots to find out which cars we recommend.
Easy answer here — it’s the Land Rover Defender. Not only does it have permanent four-wheel drive, low-ratio gears, and optional adjustable air suspension, it also has a swathe of electronic off-roading aids from a low-grip launch control system to a camera setup that kinda-sorta allows you to see through the bonnet. Can’t afford a Defender? That’s OK — pick up a Suzuki Jimny. It’s tiny and unrefined, but brilliant in the mud.
Technically, you can pick up a Suzuki Ignis for around £18,000 and that’s kind of an SUV? Isn’t it? OK then, what about a Citroen C3 Aircross for around £21k? Or a Volkswagen T-Cross for £23k? Sorry, we’re just messing about here, really. The actual answer is a Dacia Duster for — wait for it — around £17,000. It's an absolute bargain and makes anything else look like the wrong answer.
Approach choosing an SUV as you would any other car: think about price, value, economy, space, the type of driving you do, insurance costs - the lot! Do bear in mind not all SUVs are designed with practicality as their main focus: coupe-SUVs offer sleek looks, often at the cost of boot space or rear headroom, while some SUVs are more hatchback like than others.
The Suzuki Jimny is an amazing off-roader and a characterful, fun town car, but if you're covering motorway miles on a regular basis it's rather unrefined. These days it’s no longer sold new, but you may still be tempted by a used example. Just go into Jimny ownership understanding the car’s strengths and weaknesses.
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