Top 10 best mid-size SUVs 2023
Mid-size SUVs offer everything most families could ever need from a car; we rank some of the best
You may have noticed that SUVs have boomed in popularity in recent years, and that’s for good reason. SUVs make great family cars because they offer unbeatable practicality and more versatility than ever before. Mid-size SUVs are often the preferred choice for many because they strike a good balance of space and manoeuvrability, and the latest models can even be good to drive. For this reason, SUVs have largely replaced conventional hatchbacks and estate cars as the most obvious family car choice.
Although the mid-size Nissan Qashqai SUV has topped the sales charts for many years, plenty of rivals have appeared since, with buyers spoilt for choice in this highly competitive class. The Hyundai Tucson and Peugeot 3008 are particularly strong contenders, and now many mid-size SUVs come with alternatives to conventional petrol and diesel engines that make them even more desirable.
There are electric mid-size SUVs like Nissan’s own Ariya, the BMW iX1, Tesla Model Y and Skoda Enyaq iV to name a few, and many hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings are available, too, such as the Lexus NX or the latest Ford Kuga.
If you’re looking for something not quite as big as those listed below, we also have a list of the best small SUVs you can buy – these still offer a high driving position and stylish looks, but are much easier to manoeuvre in tight city streets. If you’re looking to go electric, our list of the best electric SUVs shows you the finest options available in a rapidly-developing market, while our compilation of the best hybrid SUVs is ideal for those who want low running costs, but aren’t ready for an EV yet. And if you want something just as capable off the beaten track as its rugged looks suggest, read our list of the best offroaders and 4x4s…
For now, read on for our shortlist of the 10 best family SUVs you can buy today.
We named the Hyundai Tucson our Best Family Car for 2023, so it’s fair to say we rate it highly. The South Korean brand’s latest iteration of its mid-size SUV has gone slightly more upmarket than the old car, with a striking design and a plush interior with a strong level of standard equipment. All of this comes backed up by Hyundai's five-year warranty – not that you're likely to need it.
No matter if you make short trips around a city, commute, or fly up and down the motorway, the Tuscon is offered with a petrol or hybrid engine to suit your needs. The range-topping plug-in hybrid model provides a pure-electric range of around 30 miles, however, we think the self-charging hybrid model is the sweet spot of the range as this offers plenty of punch and can return almost 50mpg on the combined WLTP test cycle.
If you’ve read any of Carbuyer’s ‘Best Cars’ lists, you’re likely to have seen several Skoda models; this is because the Czech brand’s cars typically offer a fantastic blend of quality, practicality and value. The Enyaq iV is Skoda’s first-ever electric SUV and shares many of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen ID.4. However, despite costing a chunk less than the VW, the Enyaq iV offers more space, a plusher interior and even a greater electric range.
There are several models to choose from, with the range being topped by the hot vRS model which boasts 295bhp. We reckon the entry-level iV 60 model will suit most buyers with its ample 246-mile range and lots of standard kit. If you plan to travel long distances often, the iV 80 can manage over 330 miles on a charge, while there’s also an Enyaq Coupe iV model if you’d like to trade a bit of practicality for extra style.
The Nissan Qashqai is currently the UK’s best-selling car, so it’s evident Nissan knows a thing or two about mid-size SUVs. The Japanese brand has taken all of that experience as well as a touch of luxury and put it into its second electric car after the Leaf hatchback – the Ariya SUV. Take away the Nissan badges and you could be fooled into thinking you were in a true luxury car like a Lexus; the illuminated dashboard trim is elegant and the dual-infotainment screen setup looks slick.
Our favourite Large Electric Car for 2023, the Ariya is offered with three different powertrain configurations; the entry-level car with its 215bhp electric motor and 250-mile range should suit most around-town drivers. A larger battery with a 310-mile range is also offered for those needing the extra miles, however, all Ariyas get access to one-pedal driving and 130kW fast charging, allowing for a 20-80% top-up in as little as 30 minutes.
The Kia Sportage underwent a radical redesign in 2021, introducing new bold exterior styling making the old car look tame by comparison. On the inside, the Sportage is equally revolutionary, thanks to plenty of tech borrowed from the futuristic Kia EV6. The dual 12.3-inch screens found in ‘3’ trim cars and above are a particular highlight, while lower-spec cars still benefit from plenty of standard kit. The Kia Sportage’s boxy shape means it’s incredibly spacious, with a 587-litre boot that should easily swallow all your family’s luggage.
The new Sportage shares many of its parts with the latest Hyundai Tucson. Though the ride is slightly firm, there is a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from which all vary in levels of electrification. Plug-in hybrid models can manage over 40 miles of range using electric power, while cars with the 1.6-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine can return respectable fuel economy of around 44mpg.
The BMW iX1 is an electric mid-size SUV adapted from the BMW X1 petrol model. While it’s not as fun to drive as the model with the combustion engine, the iX1 offers the lower running costs associated with electric power. Its subtle styling and classy image could also help it slot quite easily into an SUV buyer’s life.
The iX1’s driving experience will be more enjoyable for keen drivers than that of its rivals – it has direct steering and agile handling, and uses a dual-motor four-wheel drive setup to produce lots of grip. The iX1 has 309bhp, meaning it’s very quick from a standing start, doing 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. Despite being based on the brand’s entry-level X1 SUV, the model is surprisingly spacious. The boot is a respectable 490-litres – bigger than that of the Mercedes EQA and even beating those of slightly bigger SUVs such as the Nissan Ariya and Toyota bZ4X. The iX1 has an electric range of up to 272 miles from a full charge of its 64.7kWh battery, which should be plenty for most EV drivers.
The Skoda Karoq will appeal if you like the sound of the electric Enyaq’s spacious interior and well-made cabin, but aren’t quite ready to make the switch to an EV. The Skoda Karoq was facelifted in 2021 and boasts a smart design and an even smarter cabin, in terms of the clever features that are on offer. Skoda’s optional VarioFlex rear seats can recline, fold and slide to prioritise passenger or boot space, while hidden umbrellas in the doors are incredibly handy on a rainy day.
For such a comfortable car, the Karoq is surprisingly good to drive on a twisty road. While most family SUVs offer some kind of electric or hybrid assistance, Skoda’s offering instead utilises fuel-sipping petrol and diesel engines to keep costs down. Our pick of the range is the 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI petrol as this offers punchy performance as well as low running costs for private buyers.
Say what you like about Tesla, but Elon Musk’s electric car brand still produces some of the best EVs you can buy. Based on the top-selling Model 3 saloon, the Model Y features a jacked-up 4x4-esque stance and all the benefits of a proper SUV such as a bigger boot and lots of passenger space. Like the Model 3, the Model Y’s interior is incredibly minimalist – sometimes to its own detriment – with a huge and incredibly responsive 14-inch touchscreen dominating the dashboard.
While top-of-the-range Performance models often get all the headlines due to their sports car-rivalling acceleration, Tesla introduced an entry-level rear-wheel-drive version of the Model Y in 2022 which makes the most sense for the majority of buyers. This can do a reasonable 283 miles on a single charger and thanks to Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network, you’ll never be pressed in finding somewhere to plug in.
The Peugeot 3008 is an incredibly capable all-rounder. It's been given a very mature, sophisticated look on the outside, but it's the interior that really impresses with its sleek, space-age dashboard. Peugeot's clever i-Cockpit instrument cluster replaces traditional dials with a hi-res screen, but it’s worth sitting in the driver’s seat before buying as the whole setup can be uncomfortable for some. Elsewhere, high-quality fabrics have been used throughout to upmarket and elegant effect, and there’s plenty of space for five and their luggage.
Like the Peugeot 308 hatchback on which it’s based, the 3008 is relatively inexpensive to run. The 1.5-litre diesel model can achieve up to 60mpg and a range-topping Hybrid4 is capable of over 230mpg, provided you keep the battery charged up. Most private buyers will choose the 1.2-litre petrol as this is nippy around town and will still return up to 48mpg. Couple that with a comfortable ride and you have one of the most desirable SUVs on sale.
The Lexus NX is definitely worthy of your attention if you’re looking for a luxury mid-size SUV. With plenty of space inside and a generously-sized 521-litre boot, it’s also pretty practical. This figure is identical regardless of which powertrain you go for, so whether you opt for the standard hybrid or plug-in hybrid model, you won’t have to sacrifice any luggage room.
Standard self-charging hybrid models get a 2.5-litre petrol engine combined with two electric motors, for a 0-62mph takes around 8.7 seconds in the front-wheel drive version and 7.7 seconds in the all-wheel drive model. Go for the range-topping NX450h+ all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid and you’ll get 302bhp with a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. The plug-in model is also capable of an electric range of up to 40 miles according to Lexus.
The latest Ford Kuga maintains the brand's reputation for sharp handling. For this generation, the Kuga gains curvy and smooth styling, with an overall less aggressive design than before – even on sporty ST-Line models. While the Kuga’s interior is beginning to feel a bit dated compared with the latest competition, Ford’s family SUV feels more upmarket than you might expect, with top versions getting a high-definition 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an eight-inch touchscreen.
In response to diesel models falling out of favour, Ford now only offers the Kuga with petrol and hybrid powertrains. The 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine produces 148bhp and can return around 42mpg, making it spry as well as economical. A plug-in hybrid model is also available, with a 35-mile EV range that equates to an official economy figure of over 200mpg; this will be a prime candidate for business drivers thanks to its low Benefit-in-Kind tax rating.
Need even more space? Check out our list of the top 10 best large SUVs...
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