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Best medium SUVs of 2021

The Skoda Enyaq is a brilliant new medium SUV that brings electric car refinement to the heartland family car segment

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The Medium SUVs segment is essentially the new family car category, with the “Mondeo Man” of yesteryear having morphed into “Medium SUV man” today.

It’s comfortably the largest of the categories we currently track in our industry-leading Expert Rating Index, with the highest number of car manufacturers represented and price points that stretch from budget to luxury.

Our awards recognise both the best new models to have been launched over the last 12 months, but also the best overall cars in each category – because newer doesn’t always mean better.

The best medium SUVs of 2021

Best medium SUVs of 2021 – Skoda Enyaq

Best new model + Class champion, overall: 
Skoda Enyaq

Best medium SUVs of 2021 – Volvo XC60

Class champion, petrol/diesel:
Volvo XC60

The Skoda Enyaq was the stand-out new model in the medium SUV category for 2021, ending the year as not only the best new model to arrive in the last 12 months but also the best medium SUV of all 50-odd cars in our database of more than 9,000 car reviews.

If you’re not ready to make the jump to an EV just yet, the Volvo XC60 is a fine petrol or diesel or plug-in hybrid alternative. It’s not the newest car in this class, but remains highly rated by critics. The Porsche Macan actually scores higher in our Expert Rating Index but it doesn’t have a current Euro NCAP safety rating (it expired last year), so it’s ineligible for an award.

Best new model + Class champion, overall: Skoda Enyaq (85%)

Skoda Enyaq (2021 onwards) – Expert Rating

TCE Expert Rating: 85%

Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars

The Skoda Enyaq arrived in the UK over the summer of 2021 and immediately created a good impression on critics. It might not be the prettiest thing on four wheels – that enormous black plastic fake grille is particularly obnoxious – so it’s fortunate that the substance makes up for any lack of style.

Like most Skodas, the Enyaq excels when it comes to both practicality and value for money. You get loads of space inside and the pricing is comparable to smaller electric SUVs from other brands. Yet you don’t have to sacrifice when it comes to quality or standard kit.

As well as being the top-ranked new model launched in 2021, the Skoda Enyaq also ends the year as the medium SUV Class Champion, edging out the previously class-leading Jaguar I-Pace by about half a percentage point.

Class champion, petrol/diesel: Volvo XC60 (76%)

Medium SUV Class Champion, combustion, of 2021 – Volvo XC60

TCE Expert Rating: 76%

Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars

The Volvo XC60 is certainly not the newest kid on the mid-size SUV block, but it was good to start with when it was launched back in 2017 and has been steadily tweaked over time to remain highly competitive in 2021.

As an all-round package, the XC60 is tough to beat. Whether you’re looking for petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid power, it provides a comfortable driving experience and a genuinely lovely cabin.

Like the smaller XC40, the XC60 is almost certainly the last of its kind for petrol-powered Volvos, as the company shifts towards purely electric models in coming years. But if you’re not ready to make that jump just yet, the Volvo XC60 is everything a family-friendly medium SUV should be.

Notes on eligibility

To be eligible for our Best New Model or Class Champion titles, there are a couple of requirements in addition to having a top Expert Rating score.

Firstly, the Best New Model must have been launched in the UK between 1 December 2020 and 1 December 2021. That means cars registered and on the road, not just available to order for deliveries starting sometime in 2022.

Secondly, a car must have a current Euro NCAP safety rating of either four or five stars. If a car scores three stars or less, we can’t in good conscience give it an award for being best in class. If a new model has not been tested by Euro NCAP by December 2021, it will not be eligible but we will consider it next year if it has been tested.

The Euro NCAP requirement did have an impact on our Class Champion results for petrol and diesel models. The Porsche Macan outscored the Volvo XC60 by two points, but its Euro NCAP safety rating expired almost two years ago and is no longer valid, which rules it out of contention for our awards.

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