Best mid-size SUV to buy
The mid-size SUV is a class of car that has only gone from strength to strength in recent years. Appealing to those who need a little extra space and enjoy sitting a little higher up, it’s easy to see why this segment has expanded rapidly. Needless to say, there are plenty of options in this area too, so people do have a good variety of a decent amount of choice.
Seat has been on a real roll with its cars of late, providing them with some real character and striking good looks. The Ateca is no different, incorporating many of the styling touches you’ll find on the Spanish firm’s smaller models but applied to a larger area. It’s a similar story inside, where you’ll find plenty of standard equipment and a well-designed, practical cabin.
There are a good number of specifications to check out as well, with SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xperience and Xperience Lux trim levels giving plenty of scope for personalisation.
Volkswagen’s Tiguan has been an immensely successful car for the brand and has been a mainstay in this segment for a long time. It has recently been updated, too, bringing a sharper look and a more upmarket cabin. There’s also the option of the tip-top R specification, which brings a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine into the mix.
The range of trims on the T-Roc has been simplified, too, with Life, Style and R-Line trims making it easier to choose the right one.
The classy Jaguar E-Pace has always occupied a more premium section of the segment, but it has also offered surprisingly good value given its high levels of equipment and refined driving experience. It looks good, too, with a similar design and feel to some of Jaguar’s sports cars.
The firm has also added a new plug-in hybrid powertrain to the E-Pace, bringing an attractive reduction in running costs as well as the ability to travel for up to 34 miles on a full charge.
In a similar vein to the Jaguar, the Audi Q5 has always brought that premium feel that buyers really like. The most recent model is no different, while some of the latest technology makes it feel even more high-end inside the cabin too. Spacious and with a well-sized boot, the Q5 ticks all of the practicality boxes, too.
It’s also got a fine range of engines to choose from, while a performance SQ5 version is there for those people who require a little extra punch from their SUV.
Best looking - Jaguar E-Pace
Though few people would argue that the cars on this list look bad, we’ve got to hand it to the Jaguar E-Pace. As mentioned, it translates some of the styling found on Jaguar’s sports cars onto a larger canvas.
At 4.3 metres long, the SEAT Ateca is definitely ‘mid’ size. Clever packing, however, means that the Ateca manages to offer an extremely spacious cabin without going overboard on the exterior dimensions. Plus, light steering means that the Ateca is a breeze to pilot at low speeds, while responsive engines mean you’re never without a bit of punch.
It’s also packed with assistance systems, while standard-fit Park Assist can help take some of the strain out of parking.
The Tiguan sits above the T-Roc and below the tip-top Touareg in terms of size, meaning that for many people it’s spot-on in terms of size. It measures in at 4.48m long, so just longer than the Ateca, but that makes it slightly easier to park in tighter spaces.
The Tiguan also comes with different driving modes, allowing you to tailor the car’s settings depending on the circumstance. Sportier modes, for instance, add a little extra weight to the steering and sharpen up the throttle response, too.
Measuring 4.41m, the E-Pace is larger in size in terms of other cars in this list. However, that does mean that it’s got plenty of space inside. Thankfully, a host of clever cameras make parking the E-Pace a lot easier than you may think, while decent visibility is a real bonus too.
A Park Assist function on the E-Pace can also make parking even easier. Simply find a space, activate the system and it’ll manage the steering by itself - all you need to do is operate the throttle and brakes.
Audi’s range of SUVs is very broad these days, but the Q5 has always been a popular option. It comes in at 4.6m - so it’s the largest here - and as a result might not be the best choice for those who want something that’s easy to park. Audi’s smaller Q3 might be a better option in this instance.
However, those who are happy with the Q5’s size will be able to enjoy the car’s well laid-out cabin and refined driving experience. The Q5 is particularly good at cruising, too, so is a good option for high-mileage drivers.
Easiest handling - Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen Tiguan. The Tiguan’s good visibility and square-like shape make it an easy option for parking, while a variety of systems will help ensure positioning the car isn’t a bother.
SEAT’s Ateca has consistently proved itself with space-conscious buyers, with its variety of cubbies and storage areas really helping to put it at the top of many people’s options. It has a boot measuring 510 litres and it’s square and easy to access too. In some trim levels, you get a powered tailgate which is a great addition if you’re often carrying heavier bags or shopping and need to access the boot.
You can also boost that space up to 1,604 litres by folding down the rear seats, too.
Despite its somewhat compact proportions, the Tiguan does a great job of offering loads of interior space. It’s bright and airy, too, with those cars equipped with a panoramic sunroof bringing even more light into the cabin.
In terms of boot space, the Tiguan offers 520 litres, though this can be brought up to 615 litres by sliding the rear seats forward. Fold them down and this rises to 1,655 litres. Just remember that in plug-in hybrid variants boot space falls to 476 litres because of the fitment of the batteries underneath the boot floor.
Despite being a large car, the E-Pace manages to bring a cocoon-like cabin that feels more sportscar-like in reality. That said, it’s still plenty spacious enough, with a good view of the road ahead, helped by a wide windscreen.
With seats in place, the E-Pace offers a decent 601 litres of boot space which can be increased to 1,386 litres by folding those rear chairs down.
Audi’s Q5 is a go-to choice for many families and one look at its cabin makes it clear why. There are loads of storage options dotted throughout, with big door bins and neat cup holders in the centre. It feels well made and sturdy, too, as though it’ll hold up against the rigours of daily life and daily driving.
Open up the boot and you’ll access 550 litres of space, which you can increase to 610 litres by sliding the rear seats forward. With them folded down, there are 1,550 litres on offer.
Most practical - Volkswagen Tiguan
The Tiguan offers a real balance between outwards size and inwards practicality. The ability to slide the rear seats on rails is a real bonus too, giving you flexible options when it comes to luggage or people-carrying abilities. For this section, the Tiguan is the one to go for.
Prices for the Ateca start from £25,140 for cars finished in SE trim. You get plenty of equipment at this level, mind you, with 17-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging and LED headlamps and taillights included as standard. If efficiency is what you’re after then the 2.0-litre diesel will be the natural go-to, thanks to economy figures of up to 58.5 and CO2 emissions of 127g/km.
Sitting in insurance group 17 means that the diesel version will be slightly more expensive to cover. If this is an issue, then the 1.0-litre-powered versions - which sit in insurance group nine - could be a better option.
Things get going from £28,585 for the Tiguan, with these Life-specification cars bringing 18-inch alloy wheels, Volkswagen’s Discover Media satellite navigation system and three-zone climate control with a rear control panel for back-seat passengers. There are plenty of engine options too, with smaller-capacity petrol versions being a great choice for lower-mileage drivers.
If outright efficiency is what you’re after, however, then the plug-in hybrid is worth considering. Volkswagen claims that fully charged it’ll return up to 178.4mpg while emitting just 36g/km CO2. It’ll also travel for up to 30 miles on electric power alone. Insurance groups are similar to the Ateca, though a lack of 1.0-litre engine means the lowest group Tiguan is in group 11.
Given that it’s made by a premium manufacturer, it’ll come as no surprise that the E-Pace brings a premium price tag. Prices start from £36,915, but you do get loads of standard equipment such as LED headlights, chrome accents across the car and Jaguar’s excellent Pivi Pro infotainment system.
Jaguar’s efficient Ingenium range of engines is available with the E-Pace, with the 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel delivering up to 43.4mpg. A plug-in hybrid E-Pace is available too, bringing up to 197mpg. E-Pace cars do sit in a much higher insurance bracket, mind you, with even the lowest-powered cars residing in group 24.
Prices for the Q5 are in line with the rest of Audi’s range, with this premium brand charging slightly more for its products than others. Q5 prices start from £46,120, bringing 18-inch alloy wheels, LED head- and tail lights and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system with a 12.3-inch screen.
Audi’s list of the engines for the Q5 is relatively slim, with all non-S models using a 2.0-litre with different outputs between the models. The diesel will be the obvious choice for many drivers thanks to a claimed consumption of 44.1mpg and emissions of between 168-177g/km CO2 depending on wheel size. The Q5 sits in quite a high insurance band range, too, going from 27 right the way to 43.
Best value - Seat Ateca
Given its competitive starting price and high level of standard equipment, the Ateca feels like the obvious choice here. Yes, it might not have the premium badge of some of the other cars in this list, but it counters this with loads of high-tech features and a reasonably low insurance group, too.
It’s quite the decision, isn’t it? All cars in this list have their merits and, in truth, you wouldn’t feel short-changed having the keys to any of them. But a winner must be chosen and, out of these here, we feel that has to be the Volkswagen Tiguan.
It’s well made and robust inside, while its flexible seating option will be a real plus-point for those who sometimes need to tailor the amount of boot space they need to a particular situation. The addition of a plug-in hybrid model only strengthens the appeal further.