Dominated by premium offerings, this chart is populated by some of the best family cars on the road – vehicles that can cope with the school run as well as tackling wintery conditions, mildly rugged terrain, trips to the tip, towing duties and long-distance motorway cruising.
It's a hotly contested and strategically important segment where style, safety and space rank at the top of the agenda for buyers and, often, room for seven occupants is required. That importance is underestimated by manufacturers at their peril, given that the segment has effectively obliterated the MPV market and is only expected to keep on growing in the future.
Despite a lack of variety in the styling and approach taken by many, it's now a fairly diverse segment that has attracted different brands into the fold of SUV making. Many models are now available as tax-friendly plug-in hybrids too, as manufacturers scramble to grab a bigger slice of the increasingly emissions-conscious fleet market. Here are our favourites.
It's hard to pick faults with such a classy and consummate all-rounder as the Audi Q5, although slightly anodyne handling is what will prevent the car from really appealing to keener drivers. This shortcoming hasn’t prevented the Q5 from emulating the sales success of its predecessor though, which was a car that became the best-seller in its segment in nearly every country in which it was offered.
Although a pricey option with a long options list, the Q5 is quiet, practical and desirable, with outstanding driving refinement and material finish; and if you prefer your SUVs with a little more style and less utility, there's now a swoopy-roofed Sportback version as well.
The Q5 received a pretty wide-reaching facelift for 2020, with efficiency-boosted mild-hybrid engines going in under the bonnet, some new digital technology going into the cabin, and wider trapezoidal grille going onto the front end. The big-selling 40 TDI version got a 14bhp power boost as part of that revision, and it remains a refined, comfortable, assertive-performing and easy-driving family car.
The 50 TFSI e plug-in hybrid is a particularly smooth operator, with its electric motor and 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-pot combining to produce just shy of 300bhp, while the 55 TFSI e ups that to pretty close to 400-. Electric-only range and CO2 emissions have come down for both versions of the car, making them more competitive offerings on benefit-in-kind tax than they used to be.