Part of the reason SUV sales have been booming of late is the emergence of the crossover – a car that combines the taller driving position of larger 4x4s with the relatively compact dimensions of a regular family hatchback.
The Nissan Qashqai arguably kickstarted the market, and other manufacturers were soon to cotton on to the Japanese firm’s recipe for sales success.
These days, any car company worth its salt will have a contender in this segment, so consumers are spoilt for choice. But which models are worth the money? Here are our top 10 picks.
1. Seat Ateca
Seat’s first foray into the SUV corner of the market has been a hugely successful one. With the Ateca, the once floundering Spanish manufacturer now has a class-leader on its hands.
It ticks all the right boxes so far as affordability, looks, economy and practicality are concerned and manages to be engaging to drive as well – something that can’t be said of many cars in this segment.
It’s not completely perfect, with a 1.6-litre diesel engine that isn’t as refined as the oil-burner in the Qashqai and stingy standard kit at the entry-level. That doesn’t stop the Ateca from scoring top honours in this class, though.
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2. Volkswagen T-Roc
Volkswagen’s first attempt at a crossover hatchback is a very impressive one. The T-Roc offers sharp, interesting styling, a well-made interior and handling characteristics that are more akin to those of a small hatchback than a proper SUV.
It’s not quite as good to drive as the Ateca and isn’t quite as practical, but it wouldn’t be hard to recommend one.
The mid-spec model isn’t unreasonably priced, but like-for-like versions of the Skoda Karoq and Ateca are still slightly cheaper.
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3. BMW X2
One of the more recent additions to BMW’s X-branded range of cars – those models with greater practicality and a raised ride height – bears more hallmarks of a traditional hatchback than a crossover, and that’s no bad thing.
In fact, given Jaguar has missed the mark dynamically with the E-Pace, those who cherish driving should put the X2 at or close to the top of their wish-list. In both turbocharged petrol and turbodiesel forms, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines offer a muscular and refined power delivery. The steering is also enjoyably direct, while body control is excellent by the standards of the class. There are more practical alternatives, but perhaps none that are as dynamically convincing.
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4. Nissan Qashqai
A mid-life refresh has helped to keep the Qashqai – the original and definitive crossover – incredibly close to the top of the pile.
It champions refinement, fuel efficiency and interior comfort but loses out to the Ateca as far as dynamic abilities are concerned, and to the T-Roc on style and desirability.
The Qashqai’s steering is overly light in its regular setting, and noticeable body roll discourages properly spirited driving. Nissan’s infotainment system is also starting to fall behind. On the whole, though, the Qashqai is still hugely competitive in this segment and thoroughly recommendable.
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5. Toyota C-HR
Gone are the days of dull, boring-looking crossovers. Stylistically, the Toyota C-HR is a breath of fresh air in the segment. Even next to more athletic rivals such as the Ateca, it stands out. It has the handling to back those sporty looks up, too.
However, its hybrid powertrain is a bit gutless, particularly for a car of this size; a diesel offering would have done well here. And while that sloping roofline may look great, it eats into rear head room. Toyota’s infotainment system is also left wanting when compared with rivals.
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6. Renault Kadjar
While it doesn’t rank quite as highly as the Nissan Qashqai to which it is closely related, the Renault Kadjar is still a competent and likeable contender.
It’s comparatively less expensive than its Nissan sibling across the range, and with plenty of interior space it’s well suited to family life. It rides comfortably, even if it’s not the most engaging steer.
A recent facelift has also freshened its exterior up somewhat, while a redesigned cabin adds a much needed dash of additional appeal – though it’s still not quite as good as those of its Volkswagen Group counterparts. The trim hierarchy has also been simplified, while a punchy new 1.3-litre petrol engine is a welcome addition to the range, too.
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7. Skoda Karoq
As is the case with all Skoda cars, the Karoq brings affordability, value for money and practicality to its market – all good things for family buyers.
It’s also a handsome looking thing, if a little hard to distinguish from its Spanish cousin, the Ateca. The Karoq is comfortable out on the open road, if a little unremarkable dynamically.
It’s a very competent replacement for the Yeti, although it lacks the character and flair of its predecessor – which is a bit of shame, really.
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8. Hyundai Tucson
This smart-looking South Korean crossover offers a great deal of space and standard kit and a solid five-year/unlimited-mile warranty for a reasonable outlay.
However, it falls down next to its more refined European rivals in the ride and handling departments. Hyundai’s 2.0-litre diesel engine is decently refined but could do with a bit more punch. We also found its real-world economy to be a fair way off the claimed figure.
Plus, he interior materials are a bit pedestrian when compared with those found in the likes of the Karoq and Qashqai.
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9. Kia Sportage
Like the Tucson, the Kia Sportage majors on value for money, offering an excellent seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and lots of standard equipment.
However, while you might get a lot of bang for your buck as far as kit is concerned, the Sportage doesn’t quite drive as well as its European rivals, with a slightly firm, noisy ride and dull steering.
Despite a facelift, its relatively uninspiring appearance may not be to everyone’s tastes, either, particularly when compared with funky rivals such as the C-HR, T-Roc and Ateca. Still, it provides plenty of space inside – a trait that families will no doubt love.
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10. Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
With prices starting at £17,499, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a good way to get into a crossover for a reasonably small outlay.
At this price point, there are obviously some concessions – the interior isn’t particularly attractive, for example – but the car handles well and has a well-sized boot. Rear head room could be better, as could the low-speed ride, which is a touch fidgety, but overall, the SX4 S-Cross is perfectly likeable.
Standard equipment is generous, too, with mid-range models gaining sat-nav, parking sensors and a rear-view camera.
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