Dominated by premium offerings, this chart is populated by some of the best family cars on the road – vehicles that can cope with the school run as well as tackling wintery conditions, mildly rugged terrain, trips to the tip, towing duties and long-distance motorway cruising.
It's a hotly contested and strategically important segment where style, safety and space rank at the top of the agenda for buyers and, often, room for seven occupants is required. That importance is underestimated by manufacturers at their peril, given that the segment has effectively obliterated the MPV market, and is only expected to grow in the future. Despite a lack of variety in the styling and approach taken by many, it's now a fairly diverse segment that has attracted many brands into the fold of SUV making.
It's hard to pick faults with such a classy and consummate all-rounder as the Audi Q5, although slightly anodyne handling is what will prevent the car from really appealing to keener drivers. This shortcoming hasn’t prevented the Q5 from emulating the sales success of its predecessor; a car that became the bestseller in its segment in nearly every country in which it was offered.
Although a pricey option with a long options list, the Q5 is quiet, practical and desirable, with outstanding driving refinement and material finish. Keeping in step with the times, there are now a couple of plug-in hybrid versions available as well. The 55 TFSIe is a particularly smooth operator, with its electric motor and 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-pot combining to produce a compelling 362bhp and 369lb ft. Keep its battery topped up, and you’ll be able to make the most of its potential 26-mile range - and see your fuel bills drop in the process.
What's this: a decent-handling mid-range SUV? Before BMW set about making SUVs, the idea would have been borderline laughable - but the BMW X3 has handling appeal down, and then some.
The X3 has powertrains with top-drawer driver appeal, even if the smaller diesel offerings can be a touch unrefined when pushed. But in all other areas, the X3 is a winner, and a close-run second to the Audi Q5. Standard equipment is a bit mean on some trim levels, but the car's perceived quality is above that of almost all others and its on-road manners are hard to fault, even on run-flat tyres.