Best small SUVs 2024

SUVs don’t have to be big, with some great models taking up no more road space than a compact hatchback. Here’s our pick of the best small SUVs

By Craig Cheetham February 7, 2024

Small SUVs are hugely popular these days, with their high driving positions and chunky looks matched by sensible running costs – all of which means they tick a lot of boxes for car buyers across the country. 

Not all offer four-wheel drive, but if you need extra traction then there are several options which do. Small SUVs are ideal if you live in the country or need greater ground clearance than you would get from a conventional hatchback, and are among the best all-round cars you can buy in 2024.


Or perhaps it’s the style that truly appeals? After all, this is one of the most popular areas of the used car market, which also means strong resale values. Buy a small SUV today and you’ll save a decent amount in depreciation in the future. 

Those on our list are the very best small SUVs – cars that are not only practical and desirable, but which are great to drive and decent value for money.


Ford Puma

Best small SUV for car-like appeal
Our pick: Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid ST-Line
Read our Ford reviews

With the Ford Fiesta no longer on sale it falls to the Ford Puma to compete with the best small SUVs. The good news is that the Ford Puma is just as good to drive as the Ford Fiesta always was.

It offers neat styling and a practical, well laid-out cabin, making it one of the best small SUVs on sale today. Available in five trims – confusingly, the once top-of-the-range Titanium is now the entry-level – the five-door Ford Puma comes with a choice of mild hybrid engines. Most models use a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol turbo unit. There are two outputs available – 125PS and 155PS – and both are claimed to return over 50mpg.

If you want a sporty Ford Puma there’s also the 1.5-litre petrol-engined Ford Puma ST, with 200PS and a six-speed manual gearbox. 


Peugeot 2008

Best small SUV for styling flair
Our pick: Peugeot 2008 1.2 PureTech 130 Allure Premium +
Read our full Peugeot 2008 review

After several years stuck in the styling doldrums, Peugeot has undergone a renaissance and its current model range offers some of the most stylish and desirable cars you can buy today. 

Recently refreshed by a mid-cycle enhancement, the Peugeot 2008 is one of the best small SUVs – it’s a great-looking car both inside and out. But there’s more to its appeal than that. It’s also quite practical and the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine is an absolute gem. 

Inside, you’ll find Peugeot’s fully digital i-Cockpit, which is confusing at first, but you learn to live with it quite quickly. Equipment levels are fairly generous, but the Peugeot 2008 is surprisingly expensive as a new car, so do make sure you check out the alternatives before you commit. As a used car, it’s hugely appealing. 


Toyota Yaris Cross

Best small SUV for reliability
Our pick: Toyota Yaris Cross Design
Read our Toyota reviews

Much like with the Ford Puma, the Japanese company has focused most of its small car marketing effort on a small SUV, the Toyota Yaris Cross. A more conventional small hatchback version is still available, but it’s targeted at eco and performance motorists, while the Toyota Yaris Cross is very much the car for young families. 

Its real trump card comes in the form of unrivalled long-term assurance – it has a ten-year or 100,000-mile warranty, provided you service it at an approved Toyota facility. The engine is Toyota’s well-proven and highly respected petrol-electric hybrid system, which may not be particularly fast or exciting, nor as frugal as some more modern set-ups, but is still a great choice if you’re looking for hassle-free motoring. 

The Toyota Yaris Cross is also smartly styled, practical for its size, pleasant to drive and packed with tech and safety kit. The only real downside is a relatively small model range.


Vauxhall Mokka

Best small SUV for value and popularity
Our pick: Vauxhall Mokka 1.2 Design
Read our Vauxhall reviews

The latest Vauxhall Mokka is a far more exciting car to both look at and drive than the rather turgid original, with sharp and futuristic styling. 

The majority of Vauxhall Mokka models come with the lively 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine – the same as that in the Peugeot 2008 – which delivers 74PS or 130PS depending on specificatio, and a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Interiors are smart and well-equipped, while a huge dealer network and plenty of availability mean it’s a popular choice as both a new and used car. 

There’s also the Vauxhall Mokka Electric, which uses a 100kW electric motor linked up to a 50kWh battery and will return around 200 miles from a charge.


Hyundai Kona

Best small SUV for affordable all-wheel-drive
Our pick: Hyundai Kona 1.6 T-GDi Premium 4WD
Read our full Hyundai Kona review

If you want a small SUV that is spacious, safe and well-equipped, then the Hyundai Kona is a good choice. It’s available with four-wheel drive, unlike many SUVs of this size plus it is reasonably comfortable.

It has one of the best media screens around, with easy-to-navigate menus, lots of features and crucially, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. So you can connect your smartphone and use your own apps, such as Spotify or Google Maps, while driving. They work really well on the Hyundai’s screen.

The Hyundai Kona has a big boot and is easy to drive, but we’d stop short of calling it fun. It’s fairly average from behind the wheel, but in terms of practicality, tech and safety, it impresses.


Mazda CX-3

Best small SUV for handling
Our pick: Mazda CX-3 2.0 SkyActiv-G Sport Nav 4WD
Read our full Mazda CX-3 review

Look no further than the Mazda CX-3 if you want a small SUV that’s good to drive. This is one of the most enjoyable small cars around and it’s available with four-wheel drive, giving it extra all-weather capability.

The Mazda CX-3 is at its best for drivers in petrol manual form, where you can enjoy the precise gear shift and an engine that pulls well when worked hard, although the punchy diesel version is appealing, offering more torque from low engine speeds. It’s super on a twisty road, plus quiet and smooth on the motorway.

The Mazda CX-3 isn’t as spacious inside as some of the other small SUVs at a similar price, nor is it as good in terms of technology. Yet when it comes to driving, everything from the seating position to the weight of the pedals and steering wheel is spot-on.


Skoda Karoq

Best small SUV for families
Our pick: Skoda Karoq 2.0 TDI SE L 4x4
Read our full Skoda Karoq review

The Skoda Karoq is a bit larger than some of the other cars on this list, but as there are very few truly small SUVs that are available with four-wheel drive, your choices are limited. 

Overall, the Skoda Karoq is one of the best all-round family cars because it does everything you could want in a car really well. It’s comfortable, practical, good to drive, economical and affordable to buy, especially second-hand.

The front-wheel-drive versions are better value and will be cheaper to run, but if you want four-wheel drive then the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine is a fine choice, as it’s really punchy and returns decent fuel economy. The Skoda Karoq is great no matter what kind of road you’re on, as it’s comfortable on rough surfaces, quiet on the motorway and smooth around town.


Volkswagen T-Roc

Best small SUV for stylish practicality
Our pick: Volkswagen T-Roc 2.0 TDI SE L 4Motion
Read our full Volkswagen T-Roc review

If you like the idea of the Skoda Karoq but want a more upmarket badge on your next car, then the Volkswagen T-Roc is a good alternative. It has a lot in common with the Skoda Karoq, as the cars share many parts including the engine and four-wheel-drive system.

The Volkswagen T-Roc has a smart interior with lots of technology including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus most models have sat-nav too. It’s good to drive, comfortable, has lots of equipment and the boot and back seats have nearly as much room as in the Skoda Karoq.

As with the Skoda, the Volkswagen T-Roc is a great choice for those who don’t have a specific task in mind, but still want an SUV to make family life easier. It’s decent value, should be affordable to run and has all the modern tech you want, while also bringing impressive practicality.


Mercedes GLA

Best small SUV for upmarket aspirations
Our pick: Mercedes GLA 220d AMG Line 4Matic
Read our full Mercedes GLA review

The Mercedes GLA is a small, upmarket SUV that’s great for buyers who want a car with an opulent interior that they can relax in, but who don’t want to shell out for a large SUV with high running costs.

The Mercedes GLA 220 d uses a punchy but efficient diesel engine and in 4Matic form it has four-wheel drive, which is useful for snow or harsh weather. It’s not a great choice for off-roading, but it should manage fine on icy winter roads.

The interior is smart, with modern technology and a classy design. The Mercedes GLA is not the most comfortable SUV around and doesn’t cope very well with potholes, but the seats are supportive and it offers a good amount of luxury and SUV styling for the price of a premium family hatchback.


Audi Q2

Best small SUV for style
Our pick: Audi Q2 2.0 TFSI S Line quattro
Read our full Audi Q2 review

The Audi Q2 is an alternative to the Mercedes GLA for those wanting a posh car at a lower price. It’s not perfect – the interior isn’t as plush as more expensive Audi models and it’s not great value for money – but it has plenty going for it.

The Audi Q2’s smart looks are matched inside, as the design of the cabin is modern and packed with tech. The media system is really easy to use and has lots of features, too. It is easy to drive, with light steering and good forward visibility, delivering more in the way of fun than you’d think on a twisty road.

The 2.0-litre petrol option brings lots of performance for the money, although the 2.0-litre TDI diesel is likely to be the better choice for fuel economy. Lesser models without four-wheel drive are available with even more economical engine options plus there’s a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes.