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Top 10 Crossovers

By Russell Bray Published

crossover | advice | top 10 | Top 10 category guides

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So great was the demand for cars that looked tough enough to tackle Indiana Jones style off-road terrain that car makers started making compact ones based on common or garden hatchbacks as well as full size 4x4s.

In industry shorthand they became known as ‘crossovers.’ Often they were only two-wheel drive but they had the ‘look.’

The first car to nail the perfect mix, blending in elements of people carriers and multi-purpose vehicles as well was the Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai.

Sales surpassed Nissan’s wildest dreams with more than two million rolling off the production lines since 2007.

The class had become too big to ignore.

Here we list the Sun Motors Top 10 crossovers. We've included our expert's ratings and reader ratings. We also want to know which of these 4x4s you think is the best. So get voting, and we'll print the results in Sun Motors in the coming weeks.

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy used cars on sunmotors.co.uk


Audi Q3

Sun rating: 4/5
Verdict: Sophisticated, good to drive
THE GOOD
  • Looks and feels a premium product
  • Smaller than you might think so handy round town

THE NOT SO GOOD

  • Vague steering

Read the full Audi Q3 review


Refined, tasteful and unmistakably an Audi, the road-biased Q3’s blend of style and quality has major appeal.

Base models are significantly cheaper and more discreet than the Range Rover Evoque and the engines are impressive and fuel-efficient.

Both 2-litre petrol models with 167 or 208bhp feel quick, but most sales are the 138bhp turbo-diesel with front-wheel drive only. There’s also a 174bhp diesel.

Gearbox is a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

The drive select system lets you choose comfort, dynamic, efficiency or auto modes which adjust the accelerator response, gearbox and steering.

On cars with adaptive damping the suspension firmness is also altered. The ride can still be fidgety though.

Watch out for: No specific problems reported.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Audi Q3 on sunmotors.co.uk


Skoda Yeti

Yeti.28.620x413
Sun rating: 4/5
THE GOOD
  • Solidly built
  • Impressive petrol engines suit town drivers
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Rattles after time
  • Expensive faults with air conditioning
  • Rear coil springs break

Read the full Skoda Yeti review


Radically different good looks, good value, practicality and enjoyable handling made the Skoda Yeti a sales hit as soon as it hit the streets in 2009.

The cabin is huge but the seats heavy to hump in and out if you want to use it as van.

A wise move for town users is the lively 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol with 33mpg round town, 44mpg on a run.

Turbo diesel power comes from 1.6 or 2-litre engines with choice of three power outputs. Also a rapid, 27 to 33mpg,1.8TSI petrol.

For 2014 the Yeti’s been given a styling refresh with a suave city version and a chunkier Outdoor model with four-wheel drive.

Watch out for: Check engine oil level every 1,000 miles. Preventative maintenance: change water pump too when cam belts are changed.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Skoda Yeti on sunmotors.co.uk


Mazda CX-5

cx5
Sun rating: 4/5
Verdict: Should be on your consideration list
THE GOOD
  • Looks like a proper SUV but without the bulk
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Bluetooth phone connection can be spasmodic
  • Mazda revised the suspension in February 2014 for better ride/handling

Attention to detail rather than any electric hybrid trickery has let Mazda give its attractively styled CX-5 impressive fuel economy figures with even the 2-litre petrol less thirsty than some rivals diesel-engined models.

The cabin looks and feels a bit dull and cheap but the driving position is good and the front seats comfy and supportive.

The ride is lumpy at low speeds round town and especially if you go for Sport specification with its big 19in wheels. SE-L is best with dual climate control, parking sensors and Bluetooth phone connection.

Quite a lot of wind noise when cruising and tyre noise is worse with some tyre brands than others.

The boot is a good size. A spare wheel is an optional extra.

Watch out for:  Stress cracks in windscreen.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Mazda CX-5 on sunmotors.co.uk


Nissan Qashqai

qashqaiaaaa.620x360
Sun rating: 4/5
Verdict: Definitive crossover
THE GOOD
  • Zillions out there to choose from
  • High driving position
  • Family friendly accommodation and storage
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Diesel particulate filters clogging on 2-litre diesels
  • Some clutch failures reported
  • New 2014 Qashqai much more stylish

Read the full Nissan Qashqai review


The Qashqai started the crossover sector in the UK in 2007 by delivering SUV looks and that desirable high driving position but with near hatchback handling in a VW Golf size package.

Despite its tall stance and chunky looks the Nissan Qashqai is no off-roader and most versions are front wheel drive only. They give the best fuel consumption.

Go for post 2010 facelift models. The 104 bhp 1.5 litre dCi diesel has enough power but the 1.6 petrol with 113bhp best for townies. Visia trim is best value.

If you need seven seats go for the Qashqai +2 introduced in 2008 with extra seats folding out of the boot floor.

Watch out for: Gear linkage works properly. Rear suspension rattles can mean big bills. Check service history complete.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Nissan Qashqai on sunmotors.co.uk


Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga
Sun rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: Competitive offering in Zetec trim.
THE GOOD
  • Quite stylish despite some off-road ability
  • Good driving position
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Automatic with petrol engine is dire, always hunting for gears
  • Diesel particulate filters can fail expensively around 70,000 mile mark

Read the full Ford Kuga review


The crossover market was well established when Ford launched the Focus-based Kuga in 2008.

Expensive for a Ford, it was well equipped, but the turbo diesel engines couldn’t match the power or fuel consumption of rivals like Audi’s tasteful Q3 and the Kuga’s cabin is cheap with confusing switches.

But the Kuga scores on boot space and is quite a lively drive. There’s even a quick 2.5 litre petrol but most buyers went for the 138bhp 2-litre turbo diesel with front wheel drive only. There’s also a 161bhp version with four wheel drive.

The 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol has less power than the Mazda CX-5 and is less economical.

Volkswagen’s Tiguan has a classier interior.

Kuga replaced in 2013 but the new model not as nimble to drive.

Watch out for: New grille and bumpers facelift in 2010 sharpened up styling.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Ford Kuga on sunmotors.co.uk


Suzuki SX4 S-Cross

Sun rating: 3.5/5
Verdict: You’ll spend time explaining to friends but it’s a good, honest vehicle
THE GOOD
  • Stylish and well-built
  • Enjoyable to drive
  • SZ4 well equipped
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Boot space small
  • Bluetooth phone connectivity fiddly to set up
  • Need SZT trim for satellite navigation and front and rear parking sensors

Read the full Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review


Suzuki has a good reputation for its four-wheel drive vehicles and the S-Cross version of the SX4 is less expensive to buy and cheaper to run than Nissan’s Qashqai.

It is real fun to drive whether you opt for the 1.6 litre petrol or the Peugeot/Citroen sourced 1.6 diesel with lots of grip in bends.

The stronger diesel is better for higher mileage drivers, but the petrol is up to seven insurance groups lower.

You can run in front wheel drive only for fuel economy and manually switch to ‘locked’ four-wheel drive or leave the system to switch itself if the front tyres start losing grip.

Rear headroom is tight and boot is small but rear seats fold to boost load space.

Watch out for: Paint problems/possible corrosion on the sills under the doors.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Suzuki SX4 S-Cross on sunmotors.co.uk


Toyota RAV4

rav4.28.620x413
Sun rating: 3.5/5
Verdict:  Good all-rounder for those who don’t always stay on the tarmac
THE GOOD
  • Tough enough to lead a very variable life
  • 12-year bodywork anti-corrosion guarantee
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Run flat tyres can lose pressure over time without punctures
  • 2.2 diesel can use a lot of oil so keep it checked

Read the full Toyota RAV4 review


A tougher, more traditional style SUV with a locking centre differential for off-road mud plugging, tons of cabin space, a big boot and lots of equipment.

The RAV4 used to be quite sporty but in this edition it’s not keen on quick changes of direction unlike Mazda’s CX-5, which feels more car-like.

The 2-litre turbo diesel is available with two or four-wheel drive and there’s also a 2-litre petrol for those who do mainly town mileage or shorter runs.

The bigger 2.2 litre diesel is quite gruff and not very quick off the mark. Icon trim is best value with dual zone air conditioning, reversing camera and electric rear tailgate.

Now that the spare wheel has gone off the rear tailgate you are down to a can of goo if you get a puncture.

Watch out for: Windscreen prone to stone chips. Check for warped brake discs on test drive.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used |Toyota RAV4 on sunmotors.co.uk


Volkswagen Tiguan

Quality ... Tiguan has feel of executive motor
Sun rating: 3/5
Verdict: Smart, classy, good to drive
THE GOOD
  • Strong image, quite stylish
  • Good second hand values
  • Wide engine choice
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Dual mass flywheel problems on cars fitted with DSG gearboxes
  • Electric parking brake can fail to release on slopes
  • Manifold swirl flaps on diesels can jam or break off damaging the engine

The long lived Tiguan was launched in 2008 with only a minor facelift/upgrade in 2011, though a fifth, more luxurious, trim level, R-Line, was added in October 12.

More serious off-roaders need the Escape version which has under body protection, a changed under bumper valance for steeper ascents and descents and extra off-road technology.

There’s a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines with the mid-power 138bhp diesel the most popular. Front wheel drive only models are more pleasant for everyday on-road use.

Solid, well-built and classy, the Tiguan holds its value well. There is just enough room for five people and a sliding rear seat increases load space versatility.

Watch out for: Recall last year for possible leaking fuel pipes. Check engine belts on TDI diesel engines. If one snaps the bill will be big.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Volkswagen Tiguan on sunmotors.co.uk


BMW X1

Big news ... BMW X1
Sun rating: 3/5
Verdict: A good drive but strangely off target for BMW
THE GOOD
  • Fun to drive and economical
  • Good reliability
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Some electric power steering problems
  • In-car tech can be flaky

Read the full BMW X1 review


BMW’s crossover version of the 1-Series has an untypical rushed-out feeling about it that continues long after its 2009 launch.

The styling is odd, it’s not very spacious and it’s most fun to drive in two-wheel drive form when only the rear wheels are powered.

The boot is a lot smaller than a Range Rover Evoque’s and even less spacey than an Audi Q3’s, but then the car is shorter than a 3-Series Touring estate.

What redeems matters is that the X1 is well screwed together and engines are typically fuel efficient gems.

The new 2-litre diesel in Efficient Dynamics specification delivers 163bhp but only 119g/km CO2 which means only £30 a year road fund licence.

Watch out for: Some cars have developed vibrations in the steering which can be tricky to fix.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used BMW X1 on sunmotors.co.uk


Hyundai ix35

Edgy ... the new Hyundai iX35 will hit showrooms in the spring
Sun rating: 3/5
Verdict: Needs refinement to move it up the class
THE GOOD
  • Good for the money
  • Well equipped
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Vague steering, interior could be better
  • Satellite navigation can get confused

Hyundai’s value for money ix35 is effectively a Kia Sportage by another name but from new only has a five-year warranty instead of one for seven.

Comfy and well equipped the ix35 has a good cabin and the usual option of two-wheel drive or full all-wheel drive.

SE is the best trim choice with rear parking sensors, dual zone air conditioning and heated seats.

There’s a choice of 2-litre or 1.7 litre diesel engines and 1.6 litre direct injection petrol.

Fuel economy is pretty good but the engines are uncouth and there’s quite a lot of road and wind noise.

Overall quality isn’t as good as Skoda’s and Hyundai needs to work on refinement which takes time and money.

Watch out for: Make sure you can cope with the jittery round town ride.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Hyundai ix35 on sunmotors.co.uk


Peugeot 2008

2008
Sun rating: 2.5/5
Verdict: Sensible family transport
THE GOOD
  • More up market feel than you used to get from Peugeot
  • Low running costs
THE NOT SO GOOD
  • Too much body roll when cornering
  • Firm ride at town speeds

Despite the compact crossover looks Peugeot’s 2008 is only available with front-wheel drive, but electronic grip control makes it as good on slippery/snowy roads as pukka 4x4s providing the snow doesn’t get too deep.

It was launched in 2013 with two diesel engines, a 1.4 and a 1.6 litre, and a 1.6 litre petrol which worked hard to cope with the car’s weight and has now been replaced by a turbocharged 1.2 litre with 109 or 120bhp.

The stylish dashboard is taken from the 208 hatchback. The manual gear change is notchy but a better choice than the jerky EGC automatic.

Cabin space is good, even in the back which is better than a Nissan Juke. Fuel costs are low.

Watch out for: The 1.4 diesel might be too slow if you travel fully laden.

Vote for your favourite


Search for and buy a used Peugeot 2008 on sunmotors.co.uk


Vote for your favourite

More Top 10 guides:  City - Electric - Hatchback - Saloon - MPV - 4x4 - Crossover - Estate Sport - Convertible
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