Top 10 best used small SUVs 2021
Looking for a small but family-friendly used car? Read our list of the best used small SUVs you can buy
Small SUVs are among the most popular new cars in Britain, which means there’s always a ready supply of used examples to choose from. Nearly every mainstream manufacturer offers a small SUV of some description, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding the right one for you.
The majority of small SUVs are based on humble superminis, yet offer the high driving position of a large SUV combined with the practicality of a family hatchback. Throw low running costs and affordable finance into the mix, and you’ve got yourself the perfect family car.
The sector was kick-started in 2010 when Nissan launched the original Juke. Although it was based on the Micra, the Juke’s bold styling, clever packaging and raised seats made it feel like you were getting more for your money.
Other manufacturers soon began to follow suit, each one offering a variation of what was to become a new trend. But which small SUV should you buy?
Consider your budget. Used small SUVs start from as little as £3,000 but you’ll pay significantly more for a car with a premium badge. The majority of small SUVs are front-wheel drive, but many are available with optional four-wheel drive. These offer greater reassurance on slippery roads in exchange for higher fuel consumption and increased VED (road tax).
Also be sure to take a look at the boot. Is it large enough to cope with a child’s buggy and the weekly shopping? Do the seats fold down for those trips to the DIY shop? What about the back seats; are they large enough for adults? Do the rear doors open wide for easy access? It’s important to consider these questions because although even the smallest of SUVs look like they’ll be big on the inside, not all of them are - looks can be deceiving.
We’ve pulled together a list of the best small SUVs you can buy. Use this as your starting point before narrowing the search to two or three candidates. It’s all best to do your homework before parting with your cash.
The Ford Puma offers all of the benefits of the Ford Fiesta in a more practical and family-friendly shell. It arrived at the end of 2019, so there are cheaper small SUVs on the market, but few are as great to drive as the Puma.
This is especially true of the Puma ST, which uses the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine as the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch to create a brilliant small SUV. Don’t rule out the cheaper 1.0-litre versions, which offer almost as much fun but with the advantage of better fuel economy.
Luggage capacity of 456 litres puts the Ford Puma near the top of the class, plus you get the benefit of Ford’s ‘Megabox’ hidden beneath the boot floor. As a small SUV blending practicality with affordability, the Ford Puma is almost unrivalled.
See the latest prices for used Ford Puma models on our sister site Buyacar.
Until the arrival of the Nissan Juke in 2010, buying a small car meant considering a supermini or a hatchback, while SUVs were larger cars with more expensive price tags. Its wild exterior styling was matched by a bold and distinctive styling, with power sourced from 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines. A facelift in June 2014 added extra safety kit, a new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and more equipment as standard.
It’ll be a while before prices of the new and improved Nissan Juke, introduced in 2019, drop to bargain levels, but you can pick from thousands of Mk1 examples, with prices ranging from £3,000 to £15,000. Our pick would be a post-2014 car in mid-range Acenta trim. Not only is the boot larger on the post-facelift version, you also get more kit for your money.
See the latest prices for used Nissan Juke models on our sister site Buyacar.
The new Renault Captur was named Carbuyer’s 2021 Best Small Family Car of the Year, fending off stiff competition from the Ford Puma and Kia Soul EV. Few small SUVs offer such a winning blend of space, practicality and low running costs.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to a new Captur, it’d be worth seeking out a used example. Launched in 2013, the first-generation Captur was a more conventional alternative to the Nissan Juke, offering a roomier interior and more equipment for your money. The petrol engines were popular but don’t rule out the frugal and efficient 1.5 dCi diesel engine.
The Captur feels more substantial than the platform-sharing Renault Clio, with the high driving position providing great visibility when driving in town. All versions except the entry-level Expression trim come with air-con.
See the latest prices for used Renault Captur models on our sister site Buyacar.
Launched in 2019, the Skoda Kamiq is one of the latest small SUVs to hit the market. It’s Skoda’s smallest SUV, sitting below the Karoq and Kodiaq, but it’s actually similar in size to the old Yeti, a car we hold in high regard.
Why should you buy a Kamiq over any of its rivals? Space is one thing. While the boot capacity isn’t quite up to the standards of the Renault Captur, it remains one of the largest in the small SUV class, plus your rear-seat passengers will enjoy plenty of legroom and headroom.
Value for money is another factor, with the top-spec SE L model featuring the kind of equipment that would cost considerably more on a premium small SUV. Highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, a 9.2-inch touchscreen display with sat nav, dual-zone climate control and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.
See the latest prices for used Skoda Kamiq models on our sister site Buyacar.
C-HR stands for ‘Coupe-High Rider’, which means Toyota has tried to blend coupe-like styling with the practicality of an SUV. It’s certainly one of the most distinctive cars in the small SUV class, rivalling the Juke for divisive looks.
A key advantage of buying a used C-HR is the reassurance of Toyota’s five-year warranty. It arrived in 2017, so even the earliest cars will benefit from the remainder of the 100,000-mile warranty.
The earlier 1.2-litre petrol engine has been discontinued, so power now comes from 1.8 or 2.0 hybrid petrol systems featuring a CVT automatic as standard. It’s not the cheapest small SUV you can buy but the C-HR scores highly for its blend of quality, efficiency and warranty. It’s also great fun to drive, which isn’t a given in this competitive segment.
See the latest prices for used Toyota C-HR models on our sister site Buyacar.
The Citroen C3 Aircross offers up to 1,289 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats folded down, or an impressive 520 litres with the seats up. It’s this, coupled with the excellent headroom, that makes the C3 Aircross so easy to recommend.
It’s also one of the most comfortable cars in its class, with the front seats feeling more like something you’d find in your living room. Choose the right model and you can go wild with a long list of personalisation options, although you’re limited to the original owner’s taste or lack thereof when buying used.
Power is sourced from a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.5-litre diesel. We’d favour the petrol for urban duties but the diesel is excellent for covering long distances and motorway driving. The C3 Aircross has been on sale since 2017, so you can pick up a used example for less than the price of a new Dacia Sandero.
In common with most small SUVs, the Volkswagen T-Cross is based on a humble supermini. In this case it’s the Polo, although the T-Cross is longer and taller, and designed to look like a larger VW SUV.
All versions come with sliding rear seats, so you have the choice of maximising boot space or giving your passengers in the back a little more legroom. It helps to make the T-Cross one of the most spacious used small SUVs you can buy.
Interior quality isn’t up to the high standards set by other Volkswagen models but an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, manual air conditioning and all-round electric windows come as standard. We’d recommend the SE trim, as this offers the best blend of equipment and value for money.
The second-generation Honda HR-V, which has recently been discounted to make way for the new model due in 2022, is one of the most spacious and versatile small SUVs you can buy. It’s based on the same platform as the Jazz supermini but is larger than most of its rivals, making it the first choice of the buyer in search of practicality.
Its 470-litre boot is only 50 litres down on the Nissan Qashqai, a larger and more expensive SUV. Folding the rear seats increases the luggage capacity to 1,533 litres but the HR-V has another ace up its sleeve: ‘Magic Seats’. The rear seat bases can be folded up against the seat backs, so tall items can be carried inside the car.
The entry-level model offers a decent amount of equipment but the mid-range SE features dual-zone climate control, all-round parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded audio system and a suite of driver assistance systems. There’s a 180bhp HR-V Sport for keen drivers but the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel offers the best blend of performance and economy.
See the latest prices for used Honda HR-V models on our sister site Buyacar.
The Audi Q2 is one of the most expensive small SUVs you can buy. The Vorsprung model has a price tag of £40,500, which edges it deep into large SUV territory. There’s also a sporty SQ2 model, which costs £46,000 in Vorsprung trim.
It makes more financial sense to buy a used Audi Q2. Because it’s in demand, it holds its value extremely well, so it would be worth seeking out an early model. Some 2016 cars have dropped below the £10,000 mark, making it a tempting alternative to more mainstream small SUVs.
It’s more interesting to look at than Audi’s larger SUVs but offers a similar level of quality and a range of punchy and efficient engines. Even an entry-level 1.0 TFSI petrol in SE trim feels a cut above cheaper rivals.
See the latest prices for used Audi Q2 models on our sister site Buyacar.
The SEAT Arona is a great all-rounder. While it doesn’t necessarily excel in a single area, it’s competent across all departments, making it ideal for someone who just wants a fuss-free small SUV,
It’s based on the same running gear as the SEAT Ibiza supermini, and offers more space thanks to its upright body. This hasn’t diluted the driving appeal – the Arona is better to drive than most of its small SUV rivals. If anything, the ride is a little firm, so look elsewhere if you’re after more comfort.
All versions are well equipped and there are a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from. It’s worth noting that the Arona was named Best Small SUV in our 2019 Driver Power Survey, so this should provide some reassurance when you’re buying used.
See the latest prices for used SEAT Arona models on our sister site Buyacar.
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