The best small SUVs for 2020

  • Looking to buy a new compact SUV? 
  • From BMW to Volkswagen, we choose our favourites 
  • What are the best options currently on sale? 

Wanting an SUV doesn't have to mean buying a beast of a car that blocks sunlight from your lounge window. There are plenty of small SUVs and compact cars on the UK market currently, offering good practicality and entertaining driving, as well as comfort and luxury. 

What is an SUV? 

Firstly, what is it? Basically, it's a tall hatchback - they're normally based on the same structure, but give you a better ride height, and this can be really good if you've got young children that you need to be fitting into car seats every day.

Those things can really hurt your back in a lower-height car. But also remember that an SUV (sometimes called a crossover) with its greater boot height might not be the best idea if you have a dog - they might not be happy jumping into the boot if the lip is too high. Being smaller than a traditional off-roader, they have lower running costs, while they can still be decent off-road. 

Read on to find out the Parkers pick of the best crossovers and small SUVs on sale in the UK - click on the links below to jump to your favourites or scroll down to read about them all. We've ordered them alphabetically rather than by preference:

1. BMW X1
2. Citroen C3 Aircross
3. Fiat 500X
4. Hyundai Kona
5. Mazda CX-3
6. MINI Countryman
7. SEAT Arona
8. Skoda Karoq
9. Toyota C-HR
10. Volkswagen T-Roc 

1. BMW X1

BMW X1 - the best crossovers

The BMW X1 might not be the newest crossover on this list, and it might be an entry-level BMW, but it's still a worthy contender for your consideration. It's a practical car, and a bit more sporty than your average SUV. There is plenty of tech and gear available if you want to spend a bit more, and obviously you get the badge appeal of BMW. It handles sharply, as you'd expect from the brand, despite being an SUV. And you do get that high-quality interior that we love the BMW for. Plus, there is a lot of room in the rear seats, and the boot is generous too. 

New price: £28,795 - £37,195
Leasing price: from £353 per month
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Used price: £13,735 - £29,220

Read our full BMW X1 review

2. Citroen C3 Aircross

Citroen C3 Aircross

The Citroen C3 Aircross is the funky choice in the small SUV sector. Not only does it have appealing, chunky styling, but it also has a super-comfortable interior that makes no pretention to sportiness. That in itself is a refreshing change in today’s market. That makes the C3 Aircross an obvious choice for those looking for a stylish alternative to the more conventional offerings, especially if you live somewhere with potholes and poor roads.

Strong points are the roomy cabin with lots of storage space for all the family’s odds and ends, and excellent petrol and diesel engines that are both punchy and economical. The choice of the range is the 110hp PureTech petrol version, which is quiet and refined in day-to-day driving, but capable of beating 50mpg without too much effort.

New price: £18,040 - £21,070
Leasing price: from £191 per month
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Used price: £8,545 - £15,230

Read our full Citroen C3 Aircross review here

3. Fiat 500X

Fiat 500X

Next on the list of the best small SUVs, the 500X is a cheerful small family car with a fashionable interior and entertaining handling. Since its facelift in 2018 it features an impressive array of safety and multimedia technology as well as new colours and cabin styling to keep it current. But we like it best for its character, which sets it apart from many other cars of this type.

It's built on the very same production line, using many of the same mechanical parts, as the Jeep Renegade. But while it might look like an off-roader, it's at its best driven around town where you can enjoy the responsive steering and take advantage of the clever on-board tech, such as the traffic sign-reading speed limiter.

New price: £18,500 - £21,950 
Leasing price: from £225 per month
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Used price: £6,240 - £18,590

Read our full Fiat 500X review here

4. Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona

Named after a district in Hawaii, the Kona slots neatly into the Hyundai range below the larger Tucson and Santa Fe, signalling the South Korean brand’s entry point to SUV ownership.

It was designed to take a piece of the big-selling Nissan Juke’s generous pie, yet the truth is the Kona is the far superior car. Boasting tonnes of kit, a comfortable drive and an array of propulsion options, it reminds us why compact SUVs became so popular in the first place. And if that wasn’t enough, the brilliant Kona Electric is also the Parkers Best Eco Car of the Year 2019.

New price: £17,305 - £36,295
Leasing price: from £214 per month
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Used price: £11,105 - £28,475

Read our full Hyundai Kona review here

5. Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3

One of the more compact SUVs in this sector, the Mazda CX-3 appeals with sharp looks and an equally sharp drive. It’s fun to drive on a twisty road, but impressive refinement and a comfortable ride mean it’s just as effective at a more relaxed cruise, too.

The inside isn’t as spacious as other cars in this class, but four average-sized adults will fit, although the boot offers no more space than an average supermini. Interior quality is good with an interesting, solid look and feel, plus a range of efficient engines make it cheap to run across the range. All models come well-equipped, too – with mid-range models being the most appealing in terms of cost and equipment.

New price: £19,395 - £24,195
Leasing price: from  per month
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Used price: £8,915 - £22,345

Read our full Mazda CX-3 review here

6. MINI Countryman

MINI Countryman

The MINI Countryman is by no means mini. Whether you like the look of MINI’s largest model or not, there’s little to argue with when it comes to quality and interior space. Everything feels well-built with quality materials used throughout, and a quirky compact cabin design with plenty of high-end options available from higher up in the BMW range.

There’s also genuine room for five adults, and you can specify sliding seats in the rear to free up some extra room in the 450-litre boot, as well as other options such as a picnic bench and extra storage throughout the interior. It’s not cheap, but there’s a range of impressive engines, manual and automatic gearboxes and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. There’s even a powerful-yet-efficient plug-in hybrid.

New price: £23,350 - £29,890 
Leasing price: from £292 per month
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Used price: £13,215 - £32,590

Read our full MINI Countryman review here

7. SEAT Arona

SEAT Arona

The Arona is SEAT’s smallest crossover, but it packs a spacious interior into a small exterior. There’s space in this compact SUV for four adults to fit comfortably, plus its boot is a useful 400 litres – with two heights to choose from for the boot floor. Inside, the dashboard doesn’t look especially exciting, but it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, and the standard-fit touchscreen multimedia system is bright and easy to use.

The plastics used inside could be more pleasing to the touch, but the Arona feels solid. There are plenty of engines to choose from – with surprisingly perky 1.0-litre turbocharged petrols providing sufficient poke for most situations, plus decent economy that won’t see you filling up too regularly. There are contrasting body and roof colour combinations to pick from across the range, and the best bit is you don’t have to pay extra for them like you would on many rivals.

New price: £17,580 - £25,420
Leasing price: from £202 per month
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Used price: £11,620 - £19,660

Read our full SEAT Arona review here

8. Skoda Karoq

Skoda Karoq

Although not as quirky or likeable as the Yeti it replaced, the Karoq’s core strengths of comfort and pragmatism are perfectly aligned with its predecessor. To that end you get a 521-litre boot and Varioflex rear seats that are removable to allow for a maximum loadspace of 1,810 litres. It’s also possible to leave the fifth chair out, then push the outer two towards each other, and create huge passenger space for four.

Engines range from a 1.0-litre petrol all the way up to a 2.0-litre diesel, with manual and automatic gearbox options and the availability of all-wheel drive if that’s your thing. Ergonomic ease of use and durability are the key themes in the cabin, although it’s tasteful in its restrained design, rather than workaday or boring. Plus where cheaper materials are used, they’re generally out of sight, lending a pleasingly upmarket feel overall.

New price: £21,495 - £34,575 
Leasing price: from £261 per month
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Used price: £16,050 - £29,065

Read our full Skoda Karoq review here

9. Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR

Mirroring the swoopy styling of the BMW X2, the Toyota C-HR is another SUV where practicality takes a back seat. Assuming you’re tall enough to reach the hidden rear door handles tucked away in the rear pillars, that is. Boot volume is the least competitive here too, with just 377 litres on offer and even with the seats folded the loadspace isn’t completely flat, so your boxed Billy bookcase will be doing its best see-saw impression on the trip home.

So why is the C-HR in this list of the Best Small SUVs, you ask? Well, for a start it’s the only car available with a self-charging hybrid powertrain, borrowed from the Prius in fact, as are the underpinnings. Surprisingly the C-HR is a great thing to drive and features what must be Toyota’s best interior design in ages, all striking lines and geodesic patterns. Those in the back don’t fare so well though, a high window-line means it’s dark back there and possibly a bit of a travel-sickness hotspot. Still, a fine car from the front seats.

New price: £22,435 - £30,495
Leasing price: from £261 per month
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Used price: £13,470 - £25,310

Read our full Toyota C-HR review here

10. Volkswagen T-Roc

VW T-Roc

Silly name, sensible car, VW has binned off its usual badging structure of just picking a wind (Golf, Scirocco, Jetta and Passat, for example) for this model but it’s no less functional for it. Boot space is competitive in this category, with 445 litres with the seats up or 1,237 with them folded over. There are certainly more spacious options but also many that are smaller.

Like the Skoda Karoq you get a choice of VW Group motors including 1.0- and 1.5-litre TSI petrols and 1.6- and 2.0-litre TDI diesels, plus manual and automatic gearboxes and all-wheel drive versions for junior mud-plugging enthusiasts and winterphobes. A T-Roc Cabriolet is also on the cards, believe it or not. The T-Roc’s cabin is also much brighter than contemporary VW Group SUVs (Karoq included), with swathes of coloured plastic framing more traditional elements you’ll have seen elsewhere, like the multimedia screen and climate controls, which are straight out of a Golf.

New price: £20,040 - £34,710
Leasing price: from £237 per month
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Used price: £13,965 - £26,935

Read our full Volkswagen T-Roc review here 

What to read next: 

The best small 4x4s 
Looking for a hybrid car? Here are the best ones 
Everything you need to know about electric cars

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.