The sports utility vehicle (SUV) market is one of the most crowded in the industry. There is a bewildering choice of cars' - if that is what you can call them - and virtually every manufacturer offers something with more space and a bit of four-wheel drive to set them apart from their everyday offerings.

But Peugeot is a newcomer in this company and we have had to wait a long time for the French firm to enter this highly competitive field. The result is the 4007, and in fairness, this model is not unique to Peugeot, as it is actually made by Mitsubishi and also shares its components with the Citroen C-Crossover.

But in Peugeot guise it is an impressive looking beast with a huge vertically-barred grille and outsized Peugeot lion motif dominating the front of the car, while the rest of its lines are smart, modern and pleasing to the eye.

The aim of this type of vehicle is to be all things to all men. So Peugeot want this to be used as a family people carrier, a four-wheel drive leisure vehicle and, generally, as a comfortable and safe means of transport.

At the same time, it must offer a decent driving standard and not feel like a small van on the road.

Thankfully for Peugeot, the 4007 ticks most of these boxes. Make no mistake, this is a large vehicle, although it is easy to forget this when you are on the road because of the handling which is as good, or better, than many a saloon.

Being a Peugeot, the suspension has a softer feel to it but this makes for a comfortable ride which is backed up by the seating which is not as firm as, say, its German rivals and you sink into, rather than sit, on the chairs.

There is also a wheel near the gear lever which allows you to select two or four-wheel drive, or lock the ratios for when the going gets particularly tough.

Other than that, you don't have to think about it, which will suit most drivers who are not interested in which ratio they should be choosing, rather that the car gets them where they are going as efficiently as possible.

Under the bonnet sits a 2.2 litre diesel engine which has plenty of power for overtaking and provides good economy, considering the size of the vehicle, helped by the six-speed manual gearbox.

There is a little clatter while idling or being pushed hard, but this is not difficult to live with.

One of the main reasons for buying a 4007 is the level of space and flexibility it affords.

It will comfortably seat five adults but, should there be the need, another two seats will pop out of the floor of the large loading bay, which will be handy for children, or adults over short distances.

If they are not needed, they fold flat, boosting luggage space. As for the middle row of seats, these can slide back to offer more leg room, or be folded in a variety of ways, depending on the load.

With both sets of seats folded flat, the space is van-like, making it ideal for those needing to carry large loads regularly, while still retaining car-like comfort.

The 4007 comes with two trim levels - SE and GT - and the SE version tested offers toys such as a refrigerated glovebox, MP3 compatible stereo and automatic headlights, which are all very nice.

But I would really have swapped any, or all, of them for reversing sensors. Backing this car out of a tight space with obstacles on either side is one of the few occasions when you are really conscious of how big it actually is, and a little electronic assistance would have been a boon.

They are available on the GT, along with the likes of electrically-operated leather seats, xenon headlights and bigger alloy wheels.

The 4007 is a highly competent, comfortable car that is extremely practical when it comes to carrying people and/or their luggage.

But the strange thing is I have never seen another one on the road, despite it being launched last year.

The trouble is the vast level of competition in this field from the likes of Vauxhall's Antara and people carriers such as Ford's S-Max.

Peugeot even has a similarly-priced MPV, the 807, which covers much of the same ground, without the four-wheel drive which most won't be needing anyway.

But if you want a cheaper alternative to the BMW X5, then the 4007 is well worth a look.