It's September once again, the school holidays are over and you've got to get up that bit earlier and take the kids to school in the family car. Here are five SUVs that will make the school run that bit easier. Click on the car's name for a full review.
The Evoque is one of the very best SUVs because it delivers the benefits of an SUV (tall driving position, extra space, off-road ability) without compromise and with dollops of style. For a stick in the mud such as me who prefers the driving position and cornering ability of a normal car the Evoque is the one to have. It's a little expensive but the engine is great (although more thirsty than the official stats would have you believe), the interior is best in class and it looks great. It also has a Range Rover badge on the boot but costs half what a real Rangie would set you back. Buy the 5-door for practicality.
The old RAV4 looked drab and was a bit basic. The new RAV4 is light years ahead in every area. On paper the Toyota RAV4 is no better car than any other mid-size SUV but drive one for a while and you really start to appreciate the small details that add up to make it a much better than anything else in the price range. It has no rough edges, no annoyances or things you would want to change. It could do with leather seats as standard but that's the only fault I could find with it.
The XC60 is probably a bit more expensive than you would expect but this is all part of Volvo re-aligning itself as a premium brand. The XC60 is typical of any modern Volvo in that the interior is amazingly accomplished, the tech is better than anything short of an S-Class, the ride is refined rather than sporty and the engines (now Volvo is building its own) are superb. Go for the D4 which delivers 50mpg on a run.
When I first saw the GLA I didn't like it, when I drove the GLA I was expecting to hate it - but I didn't. It really is a great little car. It's basically a beefed up A-Class so has that car's space but the interior feels better and the GLA looks better than the A. Its interior is almost as good as an XC60's, its engine returns more mpg than almost all the competition, it drives more as a car than an SUV and it's a Mercedes-Benz. Just don't buy one in white which makes it look more drab than it should.
The Outback is the outsider. It isn't a classic SUV but is a jacked up estate car masquerading as a sort-of SUV. However it is quite brilliant. Jeremy Clarkson called the old Outback the 'perfect car' and, having owned two, I wouldn't disagree. This generation is a bit duller on the outside but is more accomplished elsewhere. Of all these SUVs the Outback is the one I bonded with the most. Its only real let-down is an utterly crap infotainment system which has Bluetooth but is almost impossible to use, and doesn't have DAB. Otherwise it pretty much is the perfect SUV.
By Matt Hubbard