The best diesel SUVs 2021

  • Which diesel SUV should you buy in 2021?
  • Parkers picks the best diesels on sale
  • Small, medium, and large SUVs covered 

2020 Range Rover

Buyers are absolutely spoilt for choice in the car market right now. The rise of the electric car is well documented, and there are more hybrid, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrids than ever.

SUVs are becoming immensely popular among motorists. People love the rugged looks that come with the extra mm in height. Plus, SUVs are often larger and more practical than a run-of-the-mill hatchback.

Diesels on the other hand, are not proving so popular. Governments have turned their backs on the black pump, and diesel sales in the UK between 2018 and 2019 fell 36%.

However - there's life in the old diesel dog yet - because of SUVs. Large SUVs, small SUVs, and even compact SUVs all suit diesel power. Why? Generally SUVs are larger and heavier than their hatchback counterparts. Diesel engines suit big and heavy cars because generally, they provide more torque (twisting power) than petrols.

This suits SUVs because it makes them effortless to drive. Plus the SUV and diesel combination is good for towing. And it means cars that weigh as much as two tonnes can be (relatively) fuel efficient and needn't be ruinous to run.

>> Should you buy petrol or diesel?

Keep reading to see what we reckon are the best diesel SUVs on sale.

Best diesel SUVs

Range Rover 

2020 Range Rover

The Range Rover is the de facto best SUV, period. As much as it is a cliche, a Range Rover really can be used as a farm mule or a luxury limo. Obviously, it is expensive. The cheapest models start from just over £83,000. But nothing quite beats the comfort and luxury of a Range Rover.

The breadth of engine choices and trim levels set it apart from its competitors too. Plus, there are short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase models on offer.

Previous versions were available with a full-fat V8 diesel engine. Due to emissions, the Range Rover now only comes with a 3.0-litre mild-hybrid in 300hp and 350hp outputs.*

Price new: From £84,015
Lease this car: From per month
Search for a used Range Rovers on Parkers here

Volkswagen Touareg 

Volkswagen Touareg (2020) front view

Volkswagen's Touareg is a hugely accomplished all-rounder, and the most expensive car VW makes. It's luxurious too - and is pretty much as nice in here as any Audi. Except it isn't as costly.

The technology on offer is phenomenal for the price. The mechanical bits underneath the body are shared among much more expensive offerings - like the Bentley Bentayga. Highlights include Volkswagen's Innovision Cockpit, air suspension, and a night vision camera.

The 3.0-litre diesel V6 is a corker. It's offered in two outputs - 231hp and 286hp. Overtaking is effortless no matter which option you choose. Great tow car too - it even has something called trailer assist, which can steer the car and trailer autonomously.*

Price new: From £46,505
Lease this car: From £523 per month
Search for a used Volkswagen Touareg on Parkers here

Volvo XC60 

Volvo XC60

SUVs are often burdened with an image problem - mostly down to a small section of people who drive them. You know the sort. Outside lane of the motorway, flashing their lights, probably texting.

Volvos don't have this image problem. The XC60 is a clean piece of handsome design that is hugely understated. Obviously it has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, and Volvo's semi-autonomous systems are among the best in the business.

There are three diesels on the offer - D4, B4, B5. They're all 2.0-litres. The non-hybrid D4 impresses most with claims of 42.2-47.1mpg, but then it doesn't have the fuel-sapping complexity of the AWD system. While the mild hybrid B4 and B5 are rated at 39.2-46.3mpg, and 39.2-45.6mpg respectively. Both have AWD.*

Price new: From £40,175
Lease this car: From £528 per month
Search for a used Volvo XC60 on Parkers here

Skoda Kodiaq 

Skoda Kodiaq (2020) front view

Do you remember MPVs? The Renault Espace, the Seat Alhambra, the Ford B-Max - all were once regulars for those in need of space. And now, they're all gone.

The death of the MPV is at least partially to do with cars like the Skoda Kodiaq. Not only is Skoda's largest car handsome, but it's available with seven seats too. Good value as well - it's a lot cheaper than the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace from which it shares so much.

Your diesel options comprise a 2.0-litre engine in three different power outputs. Base is 150hp, middle is 190hp, while if you want the full fat 240hp version, you'll have to stump up for the Kodiaq VRS.*

Price new: From £26,810
Lease this car: From £321 per month
Search for a used Skoda Kodiaq on Parkers here


BMW X5 diesel

This might sound like an oxymoron, but the X5 is the pick of the SUVs if you rank driving pleasure highly on your lists of needs. Yep, even the diesels are a cracking steer and are fun to drive.

Air suspension does a great job of smoothing out the cracking tarmacs of UK roads, while some models even get passive rear-wheel steering, making it easier to manoeuvre in tight spots.

The best all-rounder of the X5 range just happens to be the diesel xDrive30d. Opting for M Sport spec will make it easier to sell on.*

Price new: From £61,135
Lease this car: From £747 per month
Search for a used BMW X5s on Parkers here

Dacia Duster 

2020 Dacia Duster SUV

Officially the cheapest SUV for sale in the UK. Despite this, buyers won't feel short changed.

Yes the interior isn't the nicest to scrape your fingers across, but the Duster is around 90% cheaper than the Range Rover that tops this list. Plus, it's genuinely good at off-roading. A trait that isn't strictly true of all SUVs.

It's now available with dual fuel LPG, to further cut running costs. But there's just one diesel on offer - a 1.5-litre that's available with front and four-wheel drive.*

Price new: From £11,245
Lease this car: From £134 per month
Search for a used Dacia Dusters on Parkers here

Ford Kuga 

Blue 2020 Ford Kuga PHEV front three-quarter driving

Ford's Kuga has recently reinvented itself for its third generation. But the ethos behind the car hasn't changed - it's essentially a Ford Focus aimed at people who don't like hatchbacks.

That may sound like faint praise - but it isn't. The Focus is one of the sweetest hatchbacks around to drive. And the Kuga has an ace up its sleeve - a mild-hybrid diesel.

The EcoBlue mHEV 2.0-litre engine has a small battery that is used to boost the efficiency of the diesel engine. You can't drive this Kuga using only electric power, but official MPG claims are 56.5mpg and emissions of 132g/km. Which is pretty impressive. A smaller, cheaper, and less economical diesel is also on offer - a 1.5-litre. Both are available with Ford's slick six-speed manual gearbox too.*

Price new: From £27,775
Lease this car: From £241 per month
Search for a used Ford Kuga on Parkers here

Peugeot 2008 

Peugeot 2008

The 2008 may well be Peugeot's smallest SUV. But within this compact package lurks serious technology. Inside are Peugeot's 3D digital dials, which project information onto the windscreen in a 3D-like manor, and they work superbly.

Outside, it's sharp too. It was updated in late 2019, and it looks fresher than an awful lot of small SUVs on the roads today.

In lab, and real world testing, the 2008 is one of the most economical SUVs you can buy in 2020. Its 1.5-litre diesel engine will officially crack 62.7mpg when used in conjunction with the manual gearbox.*

Price new: From £20,190
Lease this car: From £211 per month
Find a used Peugeot 2008 for sale on Parkers here

Audi Q3 Sportback 

2020 Audi Q3 Sportback

The regular Audi Q3 is pretty easy to understand. It's a smallish (but not the smallest) Audi SUV. Which means the interior is among the best out there, and the street-cred is off the charts.

But what's the Sportback about? Well, the Sportback is aimed at people who want something a bit less dowdy than a regular Q3, which explains the coupe shape. It means the Sportback has a lower profile and a swooping roofline. It looks superb - instantly giving it more presence on the road.

Diesels engines run to two 2.0-litres, with 150hp or 190hp. Manual and automatic gearboxes are on offer, as are front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options. The 150hp, front-wheel drive, manual car will officially crack 47.9mpg.*

Price new: From £32,460
Lease this car: From £402 per month

Jeep Wrangler 

2020 Jeep Wrangler

We'll start this one off by saying that as a car, the Jeep Wrangler is the most flawed on this list. It's big and heavy, and you never get that much feedback through the steering wheel letting you actually know what the front wheels are up to - it's definitely not one to throw into a set curving bends.

However, it is brilliant as a hallmark (well, supposedly) of what SUVs are meant for - off-roading. Its four-wheel drive system is advanced enough to take on seriously tough terrain, and Rubicon spec cars even have off-road specific tyres.

Wranglers come with two or four doors, but with just one diesel available. It's a 200hp 2.0-litre that's not particularly economical (expect 36mpg). But, with 450Nm of torque on offer it has enough grunt to get this SUV out of most tricky situations.

Price new: From £41,525
Lease this car: From £574 per month
Find a used Jeep Wrangler for sale on Parkers here

Further reading:

>> SUV and crossover reviews
>> Best electric SUVs 2020

>> The most economical cars 2020
Best SUVs 2021