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Top 3 small family SUVs for boot space

Don't discount a small SUV because it isn't big on the outside - plenty of these compact models have a lot of smart packaging.

With almost 30 models to choose from, the small SUV market in Australia is a challenging place to be. But it is a lucrative business, too, with more buyers than ever being charmed by the wiles of these smaller utility vehicles.

Small or compact SUVs have a varied appeal and are likely to catch the eye of a retired couple as much as a family with a child on the way. Their practical nature and easy manoeuvrability make them an ideal inner-city companion, with raised driving height, on-trend technology and some secondary road capability adding gloss to the overall package.

Often, however, while car designers are able to find space for passenger comfort, it is the boot space that is compromised. So, where do you turn if you need a compact SUV that is also useful in the load-carrying department?

Here, we look at some of the largest boots the class has to offer, both in small SUVs and those that straddle the small/medium line.

Small SUVs

Honda HR-V

The Honda’s boot is one of its major selling points with 437 litres (VDA) with all seats in use. Honda's "Magic" second-row seating is the HRV’s party trick, with the base of the seats folding vertically so you can carry longer items.

  • The Honda’s boot is one of its major selling points with 437 litres (VDA) with all seats in use. The Honda’s boot is one of its major selling points with 437 litres (VDA) with all seats in use.
  • The opening itself is wide and generous, with a fairly low boot lip which makes loading and unloading larger items easier. The opening itself is wide and generous, with a fairly low boot lip which makes loading and unloading larger items easier.

The opening itself is wide and generous, with a fairly low boot lip which makes loading and unloading larger items easier.

Total volume expands to 1026L with the second row stowed.

Mitsubishi ASX

The Mitsubishi ASX is one of those unassuming warriors of this segment – not flashy or presumptuous, just going about its day without fuss. You can expect 393L (VDA) of cargo space here growing to 1193L in the LS and 1143L in the two XLS models because of the bulkier rear seats. The seatbelts stay in place when the second row is folded flat, though, which can impede cargo space.

The boot cavity is deep and long, with underfloor storage for wet bathers/swimmers, dirty boots or valuable items. The cubby is big enough to be useful too, while the ski hatch allows you to carry longer items with the second row still in use. 

Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki has four players in the small SUV segment with the Vitara one of the legendary nameplates. The boxy shape not only equates to great headroom in the cabin, it also is the foundation for useful practical boot space too.

  • Suzuki has four players in the small SUV segment with the Vitara one of the legendary nameplates. Suzuki has four players in the small SUV segment with the Vitara one of the legendary nameplates.
  • You will get 375L (VDA) with the second row in place. You will get 375L (VDA) with the second row in place.
  • A wide, tall boot opening allows for the easy loading and unloading of largish objects, helped further a flattish load lip. A wide, tall boot opening allows for the easy loading and unloading of largish objects, helped further a flattish load lip.
  • Boot size grows to 1120L with the 60:40 bench lowered at the touch of a button. Boot size grows to 1120L with the 60:40 bench lowered at the touch of a button.

You will get 375L (VDA) with the second row in place, growing to 1120L with the 60:40 bench lowered at the touch of a button. This means you are good to carry a sensible sized pram (remember to try before you buy) or the weekly shop and a suitcase or two. There are a couple of deep cubbies on either side as well as underfloor storage, quite a largish space at that, for those incidentals.

A wide, tall boot opening allows for the easy loading and unloading of largish objects, helped further a flattish load lip. You will have to remove the parcel shelf for bigger cargo.

Luxury Loads

The SUV market is not only a lucrative sandpit to play in - it also offers challenger brands and luxury car manufacturers a great opportunity to gain extra market share. For luxury manufacturers, the small SUV market in particular is a golden gateway to the next generation of buyers. 

All the big players have a presence here with solid, enticing examples of their craft. The price, as you would expect, is a touch higher than your 'regular' models, but they do offer all those prestige inclusions associated with the higher marques.

The X1 offers an incredible 505L (VDA) growing to 1550L with the 40:20:40 rear seat folded. The X1 offers an incredible 505L (VDA) growing to 1550L with the 40:20:40 rear seat folded.

If boot space is also important to you when buying a luxury small SUV, then the BMW X1 is the handiest of the crop. Based on the 2 series Active Tourer, the X1 offers an incredible 505L (VDA) growing to 1550L with the 40:20:40 rear seat folded. The extended load area is flat, the boot entry is flush to the floor and the electric tailgate also facilitates easy loading and unloading.

In comparison, the Mini Countryman has 450L (VDA), then there's the Audi Q2, which offers 405L (VDA) in the 2WD versions while quattro AWD models lose 50L of space (355L). The Mercedes-Benz GLA has 481L (VDA) with capacity increasing to 1235L with the rear seat stowed.

Line Straddlers

How do you make your small SUV more appealing than the rest? Well, in addition to features, snappy looks and a suitably powerful engine, you could make them rather spacious. More often than not, though, extra cabin space means an increase in size.

Manufacturers are not shy in pushing that envelope, however, which kind of leaves us with a class within a class - or across two classes, to be more accurate.

These line-straddlers sit on that grey space between small and medium SUVs, using their extra cabin space to add punch to their desirability. Boot space though remains on par with some of their truly small SUV counterparts.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Like Renault and Citroen, Mitsubishi has been a little creative with how you can access cargo space in the Eclipse Cross. A sliding rear seat can change the room in the boot from 341L (VDA) to 448L depending on whether you are carrying passengers or not.

  • Like Renault and Citroen, Mitsubishi has been a little creative with how you can access cargo space in the Eclipse Cross. Like Renault and Citroen, Mitsubishi has been a little creative with how you can access cargo space in the Eclipse Cross.
  • The base of the boot opening is wide but narrows at the top. The base of the boot opening is wide but narrows at the top.
  • Storage increases your options. Storage increases your options.
  • A sliding rear seat can change the room in the boot from 341L (VDA) to 448L. A sliding rear seat can change the room in the boot from 341L (VDA) to 448L.

The rear seat folds in a conventional 60:40 split so can carry one backseat passenger and still increase cargo capacity. The base of the boot opening is wide but narrows at the top, and although the floor space is quite square, the wheelarches could impact the shape of cargo you are carrying. Underfloor storage increases your options.

Jeep Compass

The new Compass is a rather welcome addition to the Jeep stable with convincing all-round performance and excellent practicality.

The adjustable floor has three settings, the lowest of which affords you 438L (VDA) of boot space with the rear seat in use. The wheelarches do encroach on space a bit, but the opening is wide and tall. You will fit a pram, shopping and it will serve for an airport run - but long road trips would be a struggle.

The Compass' adjustable floor has three settings, the lowest of which affords you 438L (VDA) of boot space with the rear seat in use. The Compass' adjustable floor has three settings, the lowest of which affords you 438L (VDA) of boot space with the rear seat in use.

The higher ride height means you have to use some effort when carrying ungainly items, but that is probably a trade-off most buyers will be happy with. The front passenger also folds flat to allow extra flexibility.

Nissan Qashqai

The Nissan Qashqai boasts one of the larger cargo spaces in the small SUV arena (438L VDA), with this advantage further strengthened by a floor that can be moved into 16 positions to enhance practicality.

  • The Nissan Qashqai boasts one of the larger cargo spaces in the small SUV arena (438L VDA). The Nissan Qashqai boasts one of the larger cargo spaces in the small SUV arena (438L VDA).
  • Drop the 60:40 rear seats and the space triples to 1596L which will allow you to get in a flat-pack table or two. Drop the 60:40 rear seats and the space triples to 1596L which will allow you to get in a flat-pack table or two.

Its taller stature, wide boot opening and higher hinged boot door also help during loading and unloading of bulkier objects. This is a space that will be useful for most small families.

Drop the 60:40 rear seats and the space triples to 1596L which will allow you to get in a flat-pack table or two.

Which small SUV would choose if you needed a big boot? Let us know in the comments below.

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