The Best Small SUV Cars of 2020

10 minutes Published: 11/05/2020
Sidse Sorensen

A small SUV is a good choice if you fancy the space and ride height of a large SUV, but don’t need the four-wheel drive off-road capabilities!

Whether you need more room in the back for all your downhill biking gear, or enough space for the big shop, there’s bound to be a car on this list that will suit you.

The demand for small SUVs is booming, and manufacturers are spitting out new models, trims and ranges at fashion retail-like speed! All of today's manufacturers with a bit of self-respect have a small SUV in their range, and they’re all looking pretty darn good.

If you fancy a bigger SUV, check out our best SUV cars! Perhaps you want an SUV because you need a high driving position. Check out our best small cars with high driving positions list for a rundown of our best picks. And if you’re looking for something to cart the family around in, we’ve also gathered a list of the best family cars.

1. Hyundai Kona Hatchback

RRP: £15,980 - £28,150
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 90 - 158g/km

Pros

  • Bold styling .

  • A wide range of trims available.

Cons

  • The standard models are a bit basic.

  • The backseats are a bit of a let-down.

First on the list, the Hyundai Kona. The Kona comes with quite the engine choice. The most popular picks are the two highly efficient turbocharged petrol engines, the 1.0 T-GDi and 1.6 T-GDi, but the Kona is also available as a hybrid and will soon be available as an EV too.

It’s a pretty exciting time if you’ve been thinking of going green! Driving the Kona (petrol 1.0 T-GDI) is decent, and the engine feels pretty rapid and offers really low running costs.

On the more exclusive trims, the interior and infotainment options really come to life with a premium sound system from Krell, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, wireless charging, and much more.

For space, the Kona disappoints. With very limited head and legroom, you need to consider the height of any potential rear passengers. The backseats are quite average.

If you’re looking for a bit more room but you’re set on Hyundai, then the Tucson is the next step on the ladder.

2. Ford Ecosport

RRP: £17,075 - £24,590
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.5
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 104 - 149g/km

Pros

  • An easy to use infotainment system.

  • Premium look with the big Ford grille on the front.

Cons

  • The suspension is pretty stiff.

  • Backseats have very limited space for passengers.

Designed for the Urban Jungle, the EcoSport feels more like driving a sporty car than a narrow, upright SUV.

With super-quick and light steering, it’s easy to combat any gusts that hit the wind catching profile. The EcoSport ride is pretty good, but with a slightly stiff suspension. If you’re going on the smaller roads, it’ll likely be a bumpy ride. As expected from a Ford turbo engine, the EcoSport is powerful and fuel-efficient, whether you opt for a petrol or diesel engine.

The infotainment in the EcoSport is neat. With a top of the range touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, DAB and Bluetooth as well as options to upgrade the stereo to the high end, creme de la creme, Bang & Olufsen - the EcoSport will have you pretty spoiled for tech.

One thing to note about the EcoSport is that the boot swings out (like a door) rather than up. If you’re doing a lot of city driving and parallel parking then it can be a bit of a nuisance as you may not be able to open up the boot space properly.

3. Volkswagen T-cross

RRP: £16,770 - £27,985
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine:
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 119g/km

Pros

  • When it comes to design, the T-Cross is in a league of its own!

  • The use of space in this small SUV is impressive.

Cons

  • The glove box is tiny. Why? VW just HAD to make space for a.. *drumroll*.. CD player.

  • The basic trim, the T-Cross S, is a biiiit basic with its features.

Dreaming of a Volkswagen Tiguan but can’t quite justify the expense? Aren’t we all! Lucky for you, the T-Cross has a lot of similar albeit smaller and cheaper features and at a much more affordable price.

The look of the T-Cross is really something else. With a large bar across the back, roof spoiler, a chunky sculpted body and a gorgeous well-defined front, the T-Cross model takes a lot of its design features from the higher end T-Roc and Tiguan.

Interiors of the T-Roc are robust, clean, elegant, practical and simple in true VW fashion. The infotainment screen is integrated into the dash which is pretty nifty and, of course, works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Built to suit an active lifestyle, the T-Cross is incredibly versatile with it’s interior space. The passenger front seat can be folded flat down and the rear seats can be adjusted to provide more legroom for passengers or more boot space.

4. Citroen C3 Aircross Hatchback

RRP: £13,780 - £22,755
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 104 - 131g/km

Pros

  • Deceptively spacious.

  • Even the standard trim is pretty kitted out.

Cons

  • Driving the C3 Aircross is not much fun .

  • The seating is almost too soft and if you’re going far, you might lack some lower back support.

The C3 Aircross is much like the C3 - except with a radical upgrade to the appearance. There are three trim options available and lots of personalisation and upgrade choices. The most popular engines are petrol and range between 83 and 130 bhp.

All in all, the driving is much like a C3 but with softer suspension. It’s comfortable but not exactly a fun ride. The gearbox can feel a little clunky and almost van-like at times, and slotting into the correct gear can be tricky. Apart from that, the C3 Aircross provides a very comfortable ride.

Even the cheapest trim comes with an industry-leading set of features and gadgets! The entry-level ‘Feel’ boasts a 7-inch touch screen, dark tinted rear windows, air conditioning, roof bars, cruise control, pull-out boot floor and a bunch of other things too!

The C3 Aircross is deceptively spacious and provides an extremely practical and comfortable ride. It’s a great small SUV and it would provide a good spacious family car.

5. Mazda Cx-3

RRP: £18,735 - £26,460
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 2.0
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 105 - 160g/km

Pros

  • Optional Bose upgrade to the audio system.

  • Both the interior and exterior look great!

Cons

  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto can only be fitted at a dealership and you’ll have to pay extra.

  • There isn’t much room in the backseat.

While it looks like “a small Mazda CX-5”, the CX-3 is actually based on the Mazda 2 Hatchback and has been jacked up and styled to look more SUV-like. The CX-3 is available with three engines and in three different trims. Driving the CX-3 is smooth, linear and powerful and the gearbox is one of the finest in the market.

Regardless of what trim you go for, you get a smart interior with high quality materials. A few of the rival cars such as the T-Cross and Arona have been quick to fill up the dashboard with plastics but not so much in the CX-3. Instead, most dashboard elements feel pretty plush.

The climate control systems in the CX-3 are easy to work, handy to grab and not hidden inside a layered infotainment system. It does still have an infotainment system, and actually one of the best on the market. The basic trim comes with a 7-inch touch screen.

The CX-3 is a pretty good small SUV, ultimately it all comes down to style and preference in this market. If you like the lower body and sculpted lines - then the CX-3 could easily be the car of your dreams!

6. Seat Arona

RRP: £16,340 - £26,090
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 115g/km

Pros

  • You have a good choice of body and roof colours.

  •  The Arona is nice to drive and really spacious.

Cons

  • The entry level trim only has a 5 speed gearbox which can be annoying on the motorway.

  • There is a lot of plastic in the Arona’s interior which makes it rattle when driving.

The SEAT Arona is the much-loved Ibiza on steroids. It’s incredibly spacious both in the front and the back seats and in the boot and has a smart-ish looking body and interior.

The Arona is nice and easy to drive, nippy enough when you put your foot down and generally feels fairly sporty. With quite a few big windows and thin body work, the visibility in the Arona is really good! Suspension is a bit firmer than you’d expect in an SUV, but it’s nothing major.

You have a choice of a whopping 5 different trims. All trims come with a list of engines to choose from. The interior is clean, simple and smart although the dashboard has a plasticky feeling which seems to be a recurring thing in these smaller SUVs.

SEAT Arona is a pretty sweet ride, with some unique style choices.

7. Renault Captur

RRP: £15,080 - £30,940
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.5
  • Fuel: P, D, H
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 131g/km

Pros

  • Some cool upgrade options such as removable seat covers, sunroof and fun color schemes.

  • Affordable.

Cons

  • The seat recline is manual and is oddly enough on the left hand side which is rather awkward.

  • Android Auto but no Apple CarPlay - discrimination!

First released in 2013, the Renault Captur was one of the first small SUVs on the market, and it has done tremendously well. The Captur is Renault’s best-selling car in the UK and one of the best-selling small SUVs in Europe.

The suspension in the car is good and smoothly evens out your ride when going over bumps and potholes. The engine in the entry-level model isn’t anything special and can feel rather dull.

There’s very little of the rattly plastic dashboard in the Captur, which is delightful for a change. The interior is a bit simple and childish at times, but it is functional. And the infotainment system supports Android Auto but not Apple CarPlay. Odd. Take that Apple fans!

The seating in the Captur is pretty good and elevated and legroom for the guys on the backseat is decent enough. However, there isn’t an awful lot of headroom in the back. If you’re regularly transporting tall people around, you may want to test out the Captur before you seal the deal.

8. Peugeot 2008 Estate

RRP: £13,560 - £31,765
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: Crossover SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 90 - 150g/km

Pros

  • The car can tell if you’ve had an accident and will automatically call the emergency service.

  • Interior is rather upmarket.

Cons

  • It’s not the widest car so you’ll struggle to fit three people in the back seat.

  • There’s no central armrest.

Driving the 2008 is a relaxing experience - the suspension does a great job of ironing out the bumps in the road. The car is available in four trims and there are three different petrol engines and one diesel to pick from. The fastest engine offers 130bhp, and it’s surprisingly nippy on the road! Don’t worry about fuel economy either, the 2008 offers low running costs with it’s front-wheel drive engines.

The driving position and drivers seat is more elevated compared to the classic hatchback so the visibility out the front is better on the Peugeot 2008, however - the visibility when looking out through the back isn’t fantastic as the body pillars are chunky.

The boot is a decent size - nothing spectacular, however, it has a full size spare wheel under the boot floor which is rare these days.

Overall - the 2008 is a pretty decent compact SUV and the interior is a strong selling point! The car drives well, looks good and has some impressive features.

9. Kia Stonic

RRP: £16,080 - £21,530
  • Doors: 5
  • Engine: 1.6
  • Fuel: P, D
  • Body: SUV
  • Drive: M, A
  • CO2: 106 - 132g/km

Pros

  • You can upgrade your Stonic to include both heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

  • The Stonic is a very nice ride and the clutch, gear and steering is smooooth.

Cons

  • The glove compartment is a bit small.

  • When you use the rear window screen wash it literally washes down the back - it’s not a pretty sight.

Stick your head inside the Stonic and you’ll immediately notice the sleek dashboard with a splash of color. It’s chunky, looks robust and generally, looks the exact way you’d expect a small SUV to look.

Driving the Stonic offers a hatchback-like driving experience. Although the suspension is a bit stiff, it feels agile and quick and can be quite a fun car when you take it out for a spin.

There’s plenty of tech in the KIA Stonic. From autopilot and automatic aircon to rear parking sensors, the KIA Stonic is well kitted out.

When you sit in the driver's seat, it doesn’t quite feel so SUV-ish but more like a normal hatchback. The back seats are alright, although people over 6 ft might struggle to get comfy. The boot in the Stonic is just okay. There’s not much to give and despite it having an adjustable boot floor, there’s still a bit of a boot lip.

Overall, the KIA Stonic is a nice looking car and it drives well! With small SUVs though, it’s all about style.

Summary

The small SUV is one of the most popular car types available for good reason. You get a car that’s small and agile enough to nip around town, but big enough to pack for a weekend away with the family.

How many of us actually need all-wheel-drive anyway? An off-roader’s capabilities is unnecessary for most drivers, and isn’t worth the premium.

Our list has shown there’s plenty of options, with nearly every manufacturer offering a small SUV.

While a small SUV offers enough practicality for most, you might want something bigger for your growing family - if that’s the case, check out our regular best SUV cars list and our roundup of the best family cars. And if you’re a fan of the high driving position but don’t want to drive around in a mammoth, take a peek at our best small cars with high driving positions. This is just a taste of what we have on LeaseFetcher, so check out our crossover SUV lease deals for the full line-up!