1 Suzuki Vitara
Squint — hard — and you might mistake the new Vitara for a Range Rover Evoque. That’s because Suzuki’s crossover has morphed from a cheap and cheerful off-roader into a primped, well-equipped vehicle that’s top of its class. This has a lot to do with the low starting price. Pick the mid-range petrol model and you’ll have a sat nav, reverse parking camera and DAB radio for a pound under £16,000 — half the cost of the Evoque.
It’s comfortable — if not exciting — to drive and there’s plenty of space in the sturdily built cabin. Just accept that this is where the compromise with the price is made. If you want the off-road ability to match the rugged looks, four-wheel drive will take the Vitara’s price to more than £20,000, but it’s a proper system with a choice of modes to match the terrain — just like in the Evoque.
- Price: £13,999-£22,549
- Our pick: 1.6 SZ-T, £15,999
- Engine: 1586cc, 4 cylinders
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 11.5sec
- Top speed: 112mph
- Fuel | CO2: 53.3mpg | 123g/km
2 Honda HR-V
HR-V stands for Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle and it’s questionable whether any car could live up to that name, let alone Honda’s new crossover where the only revolution is its so-called Magic Seats. These have bases that can be folded up, cinema-style, to lie against the seat backs, leaving the full floor-to-ceiling space free for the annual trip to the recycling centre with the Christmas tree.
Lower your expectations and you’ll find a practical, stylish and well-made car that’s ideal for family transport. The boot is big compared with rivals, the ride is soft and the i-DTEC diesel is powerful, if a little noisy. Four-wheel drive is not even an option in the UK, but every HR-V comes with an emergency collision avoidance system that will slam on the brakes at up to 20mph if sensors detect an imminent impact.
- Price: £18,495-£26,055
- Our pick: 1.6 i-DTEC SE Navi, £23,050
- Engine: 1597cc, 4 cylinders
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 10.2sec
- Top speed: 119mph
- Fuel | CO2: 68.9mpg | 108g/km
3 Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque’s looks, luxury cabin and premium badge are irresistible to thousands of buyers who can’t afford bigger Range Rovers, or who want a less brash car. It delivers too, whether ploughing across deep mud, wading through water or gliding over rough tarmac.
The 2016 model gains smoother, quieter diesel engines, with CO2 emissions as low as 109g/km, and a new front bumper. But the update can’t disguise ageing dashboard software, particularly the sat nav. Selecting a high-spec model and options is more pricy than jewellery shopping in Harrods but does offer goodies such as a dual-view screen, so the front passenger can watch TV while the driver sees a map, a 17-speaker stereo and cooled massage seats.
- Price: £30,200-£51,800
- Our pick: SE Tech TD4 Automatic 4WD 180PS (5-door), £36,600
- Engine: 1999cc, 4 cylinders
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 9sec
- Top speed: 121mph
- Fuel | CO2: 55.4mpg | 134g/km
4 Ssangyong Tivoli
There’s no need to worry about badge snobbery with the Tivoli. So few people recognise the Ssangyong symbol on the bonnet that they just see the car for what it is: a smart SUV that does a great job of covering up its low price.
The boot’s big enough for two suitcases, the ride is comfy and the interior is well built. It’s all backed by a five-year warranty. The 1.6-litre diesel is good for low-price family motoring, as it returns more than 50mpg in the real world; alternatively, if you rarely travel far, petrol variants start at just £12,950.
Yes, you’ll find rivals that are smoother and quieter to drive, but most cost several thousand pounds more. The mid-range EX trim adds heated front leather seats and a touchscreen infotainment system, but you’ll have to pay more for sat nav.
- Price: £12,950-£19,500
- Our pick: EX Diesel 2WD, £15,850
- Engine: 1597cc, 4 cylinders
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 12sec
- Top speed: 109mph
- Fuel | CO2: 65.7mpg | 113g/km
5 Ford Kuga
Wave your foot under the rear bumper to open the tailgate if you’ve got two armfuls of shopping, open the car and start the engine without fishing in your pocket or bag for your keys, click on the adaptive cruise control to automatically keep a safe distance from the car in front and quickly get the children’s music on with a simple voice command.
Ford’s Kuga isn’t the first to offer this optional technology but the way in which it’s combined with the roomy cabin, good visibility and stable, precise handling does take the stress out of motoring. Four-wheel drive is available across most of the range. Match it with the 2-litre diesel and you’ll have the car for all occasions, from wintry school runs to long-distance drives.
- Price: £19,995-£33,830
- Our pick: 2.0 TDCi 150 Zetec (£22,695)
- Engine: 1997cc, 4 cylinders
- Acceleration: 0-62mph: 10.1sec
- Top speed: 121mph
- Fuel | CO2: 60.1mpg | 122g/km
Top 100 Cars 2016 contents
- Top 5 Sports Cars
- Top 5 Large 4x4s & SUVs
- Top 5 Luxury & Prestige Cars
- Top 5 Electric & Hybrid Cars
- Top 5 City Cars
- Top 5 Superminis
- Top 5 Hot Hatches
- Top 5 Two-seat Roadsters
- Top 5 Warm Hatches
- Top 5 Supercars
- Top 5 Family Convertibles
- Top 5 Coupés
- Top 5 Compact Crossovers
- Top 5 Large Crossovers
- Top 5 Five-seat MPVs
- Top 5 Seven-seat MPVs
- Top 5 Mid-size Estate Cars
- Top 5 Large Estate Cars
- Top 5 Mid-size Family Cars
- Top 5 Large Family Cars