While the SUV market is a diverse one, the best SUVs featured here have some key factors in common. They all boast MPV-like practicality, high-up seating positions and big boots. Some are four-wheel drive, some are two-wheel drive, while many are available with a range of petrol, diesel and even hybrid engines.
If you're in the market for an SUV that'll make you feel good every time you drive it, look no further than one of BMW's X models. Some of the best SUVs going, they range from the BMW X1 to the X7, with the odd-numbered cars being the more practical choices and the even-numbered cars slightly sportier.
You won't go wrong with any of them, really, but our pick of the bunch is the X3. It's a mid-size SUV that rivals the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5, and does what BMW does best. That means it's brilliant to drive, no matter which engine you choose, while the interior feels a cut above mainstream competition.
If we had one criticism of the BMW X3, it's that the most desirable models are loaded with expensive optional extras. But look out for a well-specked model on the used market and the original owner will have taken care of the depreciation, meaning you can bag a bargain.
If you're looking for a truly luxurious 7-seater SUV, the Audi Q7 should be on your shortlist. It's simply huge, meaning there's a massive amount of space for all three rows of passengers as well as a big boot. It's certainly one of the best large SUVs you can buy.
Audi's attention to detail is impeccable, with lots of neat touches and superb finishes everywhere you look. And it's very comfortable – the kind of car, in fact, that could transport you across continents and leave you feeling as fresh as the moment you set off.
A big car needs a big engine. Our pick of the bunch is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine which is available with two power outputs: 231PS or 286PS (badged 45 TDI and 50 TDI respectively). Both are plenty punchy enough for most drivers, although there's also the SQ7 range-topper with its thunderous 4.0-litre diesel V8 engine. Or, if you cover a lot of town driving, look for the TFSIe badge. This means it's a plug-in hybrid pairing a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor.
It sometimes feels like carmakers forget what buyers really want in an SUV. So many try very hard to look stylish or drive like a sports car, but people often buy cars like this because they want to carry all their family in comfort. The Citroen C5 Aircross does this very well indeed.
For a start, it's one of the most comfortable SUVs on the market today. The seats are supportive and you sit rather high up, giving you that feeling of safety (and allowing you to see over hedgerows). Citroen's clever suspension means it soaks up lumps and bumps exceptionally well, too.
And it's also incredibly practical. Its boot is one of the biggest in an SUV of this size, while the three individual rear seats should prevent any arguments about who has to sit in the middle. You can slide the rear seats backwards and forwards, too, allowing you to prioritise passenger or boot space. It's just a shame that Citroen doesn't offer a seven-seat C5 Aircross – if you need more seats, look at the bigger Peugeot 5008 or Skoda Kodiaq instead.
If you fancy a stylish Volkswagen Tiguan but need a little more space, the Tiguan Allspace is the car for you. It's essentially a slightly longer Tiguan, with seven seats and a big boot. It's very similar to the Skoda Kodiaq and SEAT Tarraco (so similar, it shares a platform and engines), but the Volkswagen badge packs a little more cachet and it has a slightly nicer interior than its more affordable rivals.
Diesel engines dominate the Tiguan Allspace market. That's a good thing as they pack more grunt for shifting a fully-loaded family SUV, although you should consider a petrol model if you mainly expect to use it for short journeys around town.
We reckon the most affordable Match model will tick all the boxes for a lot of buyers, with standard kit including alloy wheels, an electric tailgate and a reverse parking camera. Hunt out an SEL for such luxuries as massage seats, while the sporty R-Line Tech gets a range of styling upgrades as well as lowered sports suspension.
The SEAT Tarraco is a relative newcomer in terms of SUVs. It's very similar to the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace (more on both below), but with a bit of Spanish flair chucked in. In true SEAT style, it's more fun to drive than most of its rivals, and it won't cost a great deal to run either.
There's a range of petrol and diesel engines available. Although it's not fashionable to say so, our choice would be a diesel – the 2.0-litre diesels provide a useful amount of grunt, especially if you regularly drive with a car full of passengers or plan to tow a caravan.
It's not the most practical of SUVs, particularly if you actually need to use all seven seats, but it's more versatile than cars like the SEAT Ateca or Nissan Qashqai. SEAT doesn't really go big on options, which makes looking for the perfect used vehicle that little bit easier. All models are well-equipped, but we reckon the mid-level SE Technology strikes the right balance between desirability and affordability.