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High quality compact SUVs from rated and reviewed dealers

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Best compact SUVs of 2023

The arrival of the SUV, or sports utility vehicle, about 30 years ago, was as seismic as the the rise of the hatchback three decades or so prior to that. Offering the high ride height, large luggage area and increased presence of an off-roader, but with a driving experience and running costs similar to a conventional car, buyers flocked to SUVs from the word go.

As SUVs' popularity grew, car makers diversified their offerings, with coupe-SUVs being one example of this, and small, mini SUVs another. A small SUV, as its name suggests, does everything a larger one does but on a reduced scale: reduced passenger and luggage space, sure, but also lower running and purchase costs.

With mini SUVs in such high demand, though, buyers in the market for this type of car might understandably feel daunted by the sheer amount of choice on offer from manufacturers. To help with that, we've scoured through our road tests to bring you 10 of the best small SUVs on the market right now.

Each one of our entries has been thoroughly assessed by our road-test team, who factor in everything from passenger space and handling manners, to styling and efficiency when awarding each car its wowscore.

Volvo XC40

1. Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 review
Battery range up to 26 miles
Volkswagen T-Cross

2. Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen T-Cross review
Peugeot 2008

3. Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 review
Skoda Karoq

4. Skoda Karoq

Skoda Karoq review
Skoda Kamiq

5. Skoda Kamiq

Skoda Kamiq review
Renault Captur

6. Renault Captur

Renault Captur review
Battery range up to 28 miles
Citroen C3 Aircross

7. Citroen C3 Aircross

Citroen C3 Aircross review
Volkswagen Taigo

8. Volkswagen Taigo

Volkswagen Taigo review
Hyundai Kona Electric (2018-2023)

9. Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric (2018-2023) review
Battery range up to 301 miles
Mazda CX-30

10. Mazda CX-30

Mazda CX-30 review

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The Skoda Karoq is the winner here. If you go for the optional ‘Varioflex' back seats, which both fold flat and lift out, you get a 588-litre boot with the seats up, or a whopping 1,810 litres with them removed.

Bit of a strange one this; while the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen Tiguan are very closely related under the skin, the Tiguan has a much higher towing weight — 2,500kg instead of 2,100kg. If you want something smaller (and cheaper) that can still tow a lot, a Dacia Duster 1.5 diesel will haul 1,500kg, which is about as good as it gets for smaller SUVs.

Check out our guides on the best cars for towing and UK towing laws for trailers and caravans for more advice.

It’s the Dacia Duster. Honestly, at £14,845 for the basic model (which comes with cruise control, air conditioning, and LED headlights, plus a very roomy 478-litre boot) it’s a wonder why anyone buys anything else.

The Skoda Kamiq 1.0 110hp TSI and the Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 100 both have an official fuel economy of 52mpg, and should get pretty close to that in real-world driving. That’s good, but it’s beaten by the Renault Captur Hybrid’s 56mpg figure (albeit that’s a much more expensive model than the other two), even that’s obliterated by the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid’s 65mpg.

To find out how you can improve the fuel economy of your car and save money at the pumps, check out our guide on ways to get better MPG.

The Skoda Karoq takes the prize here, because it has really good seats, and it's quite a bit bigger than most of the other models on this list, meaning you’ve got a lot more space for legs and heads.

Check out our pick of the most comfortable cars to buy.

The Hyundai Kona Electric should be more or less unbeatable in this respect. Hyundai has an excellent reputation for reliability anyway (backed up by a five-year warranty) and electric cars are mechanically simpler than petrol or diesel models, so there’s less to go wrong.

Because they do pretty much everything a hatchback does, but with a higher view out of the road and easier access for people who find climbing down into lower cars tricky. Strapping young kids into the back of an SUV also tends to be easier than in a hatchback.

Some SUVs offer better value than others, while others may not have styling that suit your tastes, but small SUVs are car makers' bread and butter, and with most based on proven hatchback mechanical platforms, they tend to be very well developed cars. Unless you're after a proper off-roader we would perhaps steer you away from the Suzuki Jimny, though: it's a lovely, characterful car with huge appeal, but it's pretty unrefined on the motorway, being better suited to town and off-road use.