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The 10 best crossovers and small SUVs for families from Nissan Qashqai Citroen C4 Cactus

By Paul Connolly

The public loves SUVs, and they are selling in ever-larger numbers.

It could be the high driving position, a sense of security, or the roominess and versatility of an SUV; but whatever the reason, this is the fastest-growing sector of the car market for years.

So much so that SUVs are on the verge of killing off the likes of the people carrier, which was a fashionable – and practical – alternative for families in the Nineties and Noughties.

Not everyone wants a lumbering large 4x4 for driving families around, however, due price, running costs, etc.

Smaller SUVs – sometimes known as crossovers because they ‘cross’ between the family saloon and 4x4 markets – can be excellent choice.

The best models have room for families and all their kit, are practical and versatile and have the latest technology, including all-important phone connectivity to help combat boredom.

Most models are two-wheel-drive (2WD) – if you want something with moderate terrain ability look to the top spec models of each brand which have 4WD or All-Wheel-Drive (AWD). 

Here’s our guide to ten of the best family crossovers and small SUVs around:

1. Nissan Qashqai

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Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai takes the credit for inventing the crossover segment a decade ago. It was a game-changer and families flocked to showrooms to get their hands on it. The Mk 2 Qashqai has recently undergone a tasty facelift to make it even better (lots of new tech and driver assists, for example)

2. Renault Kadjar

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Renault Kadjar

Sharing the same manufacturer platform as the Qashqai is Renault’s very able – and slightly roomier - Kadjar. If anything, it’s even more handsome than its Nissan cousin, and there’s a very tasty diesel engine that officially returns 74.3mpg on the combined cycle. Because it’s very new, everything is bang up to date.

3. Mazda CX-5

This is a very capable smaller SUV that regularly wins praise for its versatility, quality and driving ability. The ride is firm but supple, and it’s a pleasure to drive. It’s roomier than most crossovers/small SUVs, too.

4. Hyundai Tucson

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Hyundai Tucson

A very able offering from Hyundai, who essentially have taken their popular Sante Fe larger SUV and made it smaller without sacrificing anything apart from size. Economy is good with the 1.7-litre diesel option officially returning 61.7mpg.

5. SEAT Ateca

SEAT lives up to its image of being the stylish and funky sibling in the VW Group family with a lovely smaller SUV with bags of personality and lots of tech. SEAT has made sure, however, not throw the baby out with the bathwater: it’s also a fine car to drive on the tarmac.

6. Skoda Karoq

If the reaction to the larger Kodiaq is anything to go by, Skoda’s new Karoq will sell like hotcakes thanks to a combination of style, quality, versatility and price.  It’s now available to order for January delivery.

7. Peugeot 3008

Peugeot has been on a roll lately and it’s 3008 might just be the best-looking of all the cars in the SUV class. It’s very competent too, with a high build quality and the latest technology and driver assists.

8. Citroen C4 Cactus

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Citroen C4 Cactus

The funky-looking Cactus with its knobbly ‘air bumps’ is perhaps the most eye-catching car in the segment. It has an innovative cabin to go with that outside look, and is keenly priced. By the way the air bumps aren’t just for show, they are designed to protect the panel work from scrapes and minor bumps.

9. Kia Sportage

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Kia Sportage

The Sportage is one of those all-rounder compact SUVs that looks great, has bags of technology and drives really well on tarmac. At the top of the range, there’s a tasty AWD model that should see you and your family home in all but the most challenging of conditions.

10. Dacia Duster

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Dacia Duster

The roomy Duster is a great budget choice, especially if you want to go for the lower-spec models. It’s just had a facelift, which has left it with an improved cabin, a better engine-range (sourced from owners Renault) and better towing capacity.

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