SUV Rankings

family in an suv

Whether you're looking for a compact SUV to handle winter roads and a bit of cargo, or a full-sized model to carry the whole family anywhere you want to go, it helps to review SUV rankings before you decide on a model. Certain sport utility vehicles stand out from the pack in terms of safety, reliability, fuel economy, and useful features.

Best Mid-Size SUVs

A mid-size SUV may be a great choice for your family if you need more cargo and passenger room than you can get in a compact model. Smaller and more fuel-efficient than a full-size SUV, this size is ideal for those who need to haul more but don't want to deal with the parking challenges and inefficiencies associated with a large SUV. Mid-size models often seat between five and eight passengers, and some families use them as a replacement for a minivan.

The following models are some of the best mid-size SUVs on the market.

1. Mazda CX-9

If you're looking for a combination of family-friendly features and driving fun, Edmunds.com says that the Mazda CX-9 is one of the best mid-size SUVs you can buy. It's also listed as the best affordable mid-size SUV by US News and World Report. The high points of this model include its sporty exterior styling, great performance, excellent handling, third-row seat, and a wealth of standard features. On the downside, the third row of seats is a little tight on headroom, and the ride may not be as smooth as some drivers would like.

Mazda CX-9
Mazda CX-9
Base price $29,785
Fuel economy 16 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Seven
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available all-wheel drive (AWD)/
four-wheel drive(4WD)
Yes

2. Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is Consumer Report's top pick in the mid-size SUV category. It's also number three on US News and World Report's list of the best affordable mid-size SUVs. Some of this vehicle's greatest features include impeccable reliability, a smooth and comfortable ride, many luxury features, an available hybrid model, a roomy cabin, and seating for seven. The only complaint most reviewers had was that the handling, while safe, was not especially responsive.

Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander
Base price $29,020
Fuel economy 20 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
28 mpg hybrid model
Passenger capacity Seven
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

3. Dodge Durango

Consumer Search lists the Dodge Durango as the best mid-size SUV on the market, citing the stylish exterior, smooth ride, comfortable interior, and spacious third row of seating as notable high points for this vehicle. The major complaints include a lack of fresh redesigns and lackluster performance from the five-speed automatic transmission.

2014 Dodge Durango
Dodge Durango
Base price $29,495
Fuel economy 16 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Seven
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

4. Acura MDX

The Acura MDX holds the number-one spot on Consumer Search's list of best luxury mid-size SUVs. It's also on US News and World Report's list. The high points of this popular luxury vehicle include excellent reliability, standard all-wheel drive, a powerful V-6 engine, exceptional handling, and a comfortable and luxurious interior. The low points include less-than-amazing fuel economy and somewhat cramped third-row seating. As a luxury SUV, it's also significantly more expensive than many other models.

Acura MDX
Acura MDX
Base price $43,280
Fuel economy 16 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Seven
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

5. Toyota FJ Cruiser

The Toyota FJ Cruiser won the top spot for mid-size SUVs in Kelley Blue Book's awards for resale value. It also made US News and World Report's list of affordable mid-size SUVs. Highlights of this unique vehicle include exceptional off-road performance, great everyday driving performance, a great reputation for reliability, and a carpet-free rubber interior for easy cleaning. Low points include limited visibility, especially through the rear window, and unimpressive fuel economy.

Toyota FJ Cruiser
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Base price $27,030
Fuel economy 16 mpg city/ 20 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Five
NHTSA safety ranking Not rated
Available AWD/4WD Yes

Best Full-Size SUVs

For large families or those who haul a lot of cargo or tow a heavy load, a full-size SUV is a good choice. These are the largest models in the SUV class, many seating between seven and nine passengers. Because of their large size and powerful engines, their fuel economy is usually quite a bit lower than mid-size and compact SUVs.

The following models are some of the best full-size SUVs available.

1. Toyota Sequoia

The Toyota Sequoia tops Kelley Blue Book's list of full-size SUVs with great resale value. Some of its greatest advantages include excellent power and towing capacity, comfortable seating for up to eight people, plenty of cargo room, and a well-appointed interior. Fuel economy is low.

Toyota Sequoia
Toyota Sequoia
Base price $42,455
Fuel economy 13 mpg city/ 18 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Eight
NHTSA safety ranking Not rated
Available AWD/4WD Yes

2. GMC Yukon

The GMC Yukon and its cousin, the Chevrolet Tahoe, win Truck Trend's top spot for full-size SUV. The advantages of this large SUV include excellent towing capacity, a comfortable interior, a smooth ride, and plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Disadvantages of this model include unimpressive fuel economy and slower braking and accelerating due to the significant weight.

2013 GMC Yukon © General Motors
GMC Yukon
Base price $41,185
Fuel economy 15 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Nine
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

3. Chevrolet Suburban

According to US News and World Report, the Chevrolet Suburban is the best full-sized SUV for families. This huge SUV can carry up to nine passengers and lots of cargo, and it easily tows a trailer. The controls are easy to use, and the interior is comfortable. Possible downsides of this vehicle include a third-row seat that isn't roomy enough for adults and a lackluster fuel economy due to the weight of the vehicle.

2013 Chevrolet Suburban © General Motors
Chevrolet Suburban
Base price $43,295
Fuel economy 15 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Nine
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

4. Ford Expedition

The Ford Expedition ranks number three on US News and World Report's list of affordable large SUVs. Some of its best features include great towing capacity, a well-appointed and roomy interior, and impressive performance. The handling also receives praise. On the down side, the Expedition's interior finishes are a little cheap looking.

2013 Ford Expedition
Ford Expedition
Base price $40,605
Fuel economy 14 mpg city/ 20 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Eight
NHTSA safety ranking Four stars
Available AWD/4WD Yes

5. Lexus LX

US News and World Report named the Lexus LX the best large luxury SUV on the market. This vehicle has all the luxury you'd expect from a Lexus, plus the off-road capabilities you may need for snowy roads or backwoods adventures. It has a smooth ride and lots of interior comfort features as well. The fuel economy is not good, and the third row of seats is cramped for adults. It also has a price tag that puts it out of range for many families.

Lexus LX SUV
Lexus LX
Base price $81,530
Fuel economy 12 mpg city/ 17 mpg highway
Passenger capacity Eight
NHTSA safety ranking Not rated
Available AWD/4WD Yes

Best Compact SUVs

Compact SUVs offer the practicality of a utility vehicle combined with a fuel economy that's hard to beat. Typically, these vehicles have the same off-road capabilities and practical styling of their bigger brothers, but they have less space for passengers and cargo. It's also common for manufacturers to sell these models with smaller four-cylinder engines. The combination of a lighter body and a smaller engine means more miles per gallon of fuel. Compact SUVs usually seat five people, although a few models offer an optional seven-passenger design.

A small SUV comparison can give you an idea of the best models in the compact class, including the following top models:

  • Ford Escape
  • Acura RDX
  • Honda CR-V
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Kia Sportage

Identify Your Priorities

Deciding on an SUV is about more than perusing rankings and reviews. Start by identifying your priorities, such as passenger capacity, fuel economy, reliability, and price. Then narrow down your options, and test drive your favorite models. There's an SUV out there that is perfect for your needs and your family.

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SUV Rankings