The Best and Worst SUVs

There are over 100 SUVs on the market. With so many choices, figuring out which ones are good, and which ones aren’t can be pretty daunting.

That’s why we’ve created this best and worst SUVs list to help make your vehicle shopping easier and more focused. We cover a wide range of 2020 models including subcompact, compact, midsize, three-row crossover, full-size, hybrid, electric, and luxury.

The majority of the models covered are subcompact and compact crossover models with a starting price of under $30,000. That way more drivers can experience the benefit of our best and worst SUV list.

The Best SUVs

mazda cx-30

Mazda CX-30

The CX-30 represents a compelling value in the subcompact crossover class. It offers good fuel economy, crisp handling, an upscale interior, and a comfortable ride.

The CX-30 made the Car and Driver 10 best cars list for 2020. It is larger than the CX-3 without being much more expensive. You can learn more about these two models in our comparison here.

Kia Soul Turbo


Kia Soul

The Soul is a solid value in the subcompact class. It affords good cargo space, improved fuel economy, and an optional powerful turbocharged engine.

The Soul is an excellent value. On the downside, there is no all-wheel-drive option and the top-level GT-Line trim puts pricing at near $30,000.

honda cr-v

Honda CR-V

The CR-V has been on the market for more than 25 years and keeps delivering. The CR-V has a lively, efficient turbocharged engine that still delivers excellent fuel economy with a rating of 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

The model’s other accolades include a spacious rear seat, ample cargo space, and an upscale interior.

Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is an excellent compact crossover that brings attributes the Honda CR-V doesn’t. The CX-5 offers sporty handling, a long list of standard features, and a potent turbocharged engine option.

Where the CX-5 isn’t as proficient as the CR-V is in cargo space and fuel economy.

Toyota RAV4 Prime

Toyota RAV4 Prime

The RAV4 is one of the best compact crossovers. The Prime version of the model makes it even better producing a robust 302 horsepower hybrid powertrain. In fact, the RAV4 Prime was the top model in our fastest SUVs under $40,000 article.

The RAV4 Prime has superb fuel economy, a roomy cabin, and a long list of standard features. One downside may be the model’s starting price is near $40,000.

Toyota Highland Hybrid

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

If you prefer space over power, opt for the Highlander Hybrid over the RAV4 Prime. It offers a punchy fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain with an upscale interior, comfortable ride, and many standard technologies and safety features.

On the downside, the Highlander Hybrid has a cramped third row and a relatively high starting price of about $40,000. Still, compared to many three-row crossover competitors, it delivers on many fronts.

Kia Telluride

Kia Telluride

The Telluride was the 2020 Motor Trend SUV of the Year. And for good reason. This three-row crossover offers pleasant driving dynamics, a spacious interior, a long list of standard features, and a comfortable ride. We previously did a review of this model in a Telluride vs. Ascent comparison.

On the downside, the Telluride, with its 291 horsepower V6 engine, has only mediocre fuel economy. It also has a price that can top $50,000 when fully loaded.

2016 Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is a strong three-row crossover model. It offers excellent gas mileage for its class, lively handling, strong driving dynamics, and an opulent cabin.

On the downside, the CX-9 has a lower towing rating than the Telluride and a below-average cargo capacity.

Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition

The Expedition is an improved full-size SUV model with excellent towing capacity, good fuel economy for its class, massive amounts of passenger space and cargo room.

The Expedition has an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat affording an excellent driving position. This comes in handy if your vehicle has different drivers or your shorter in stature. In fact for this reason, along with Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 safety suite being a standard featured, helped gain the Expedition a spot on our best SUVs for short drivers list.

On the downside, the Expedition has a starting price of about $53,000 and with its long length, it can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y Performance

The Model Y, an electric compact crossover, is a landmark model for electric vehicle adoption. It blends the practicality of an SUV, the comfort of a luxury model with the latest innovations and lightning-quick acceleration.

While the Model Y Performance has a price tag in the $60Ks, it delivers unparalleled performance, comfort, and practicality with impressive efficiency. The Model Y Performance is all-wheel-drive and has 326 miles of range on a full charge.

The Model Y Performance’s price tag is 40% less than its larger sibling, the Tesla Model X Performance. You can learn more about these two models here.

The Worst SUVs

Even quality automakers occasionally release an SUV model that misses the mark. And some manufacturers are known for more misses than hits. But what constitutes a worse SUV?

Factors we’ll focus on for this worst SUV list are models with lower quality materials, poor predicted reliability, small cargo areas, and weak acceleration. In short, these models just plain lack of value.

jeep compass

Jeep Compass

The Compass is a subcompact/compact crossover that has been a laggard in its class for over a decade.

Its flaws include a weak engine, sub-par predicted reliability, below-average cargo room, inferior interior materials, and limited standard safety features.

In a Consumer Reports review of the Compass, it was voted the worst compact SUV among its competitors.

Dodge Journey

Dodge Journey

The Journey is a midsize crossover with some innovative features. That’s where the praise ends.

The Journey is outdated, without the safety features of its competitors, and handling that leaves more to be desired.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Eclipse is a sporty compact crossover. Its detriments include lower-quality interior materials, a small cargo area, an anemic engine, and ride quality isn’t up to par with its competitors.

For a larger Mitsubishi, consider the Outlander.

toyota c-hr

Toyota C-HR

The C-HR is a coupe-like subcompact crossover. The model’s styling really limits the backseat passenger room and cargo space.

The C-HR also lacks in acceleration and fuel economy for its class. It’s a weak spot in Toyota’s SUV lineup.

On the positive side, with Toyota’s stellar track record, the model has solid reliability and resale value.

ford ecosport

Ford Ecosport

The Ecosport is Ford’s entry into the subcompact crossover class. It’s a tepid offering with slow acceleration, poor fuel economy, and build quality that could use improvement.

The Ecosport has been better received in markets outside of North America. It’s a global vehicle with an interesting history. You can learn more about the Ecosport and CH-R here.

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee

The Cherokee is a well-known brand. In its current form, it’s a compact crossover with good off-road capability and a powerful turbocharged engine option.

Unfortunately, the Cherokee has a meek base engine, below-average predicted reliability, and subpar cargo space.

If you’d like to learn more about the Cherokee and how it compares to the Grand Cherokee, then you’ll want to check this out.

GMC Acadia

GMC Acadia

The Acadia is a three-row crossover. It is comfortable and offers modern safety features, but it also has negatives including a bland interior and poor predicted reliability.

The Acadia’s sister model is the Chevrolet Traverse and it also shares parts in common with the Chevy Blazer. The Acadia also shares its platform with luxury models the Buick Enclave, Cadillac XT5, and Cadillac XT6.

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder is a three-row crossover that has been in its current generation since 2013. It features outdated cabin and tech features, a firm ride, and a subpar predicted reliability rating.

In short, the Pathfinder needs an update.

nissan armada platinum

Nissan Armada

The Armada is Nissan’s full-size SUV model. It has a powerful V8 engine and is large but it doesn’t have a whole lot more than that to recommend it.

The model’s faults include poor fuel economy, below-average cargo space, and ride quality not equal to its peers.

Chevrolet Trax LS

Chevrolet Trax

The Trax is a subcompact crossover model that is built from the same platform as the more luxurious Buick Encore.

The Trax has a meager engine, a stiff ride, a high base price, and lower rent material than many of its competitors.

On the bright side, the Trax is a popular rental car vehicle and does offer all-wheel drive.

Takeaways

This best and worst SUV list represents a diverse range of vehicle classes, features, and manufacturers. Ultimately, it’s about the model that best fits your needs and preferences.

If you want an electric SUV for a price you can afford, the Hyundai Kona Electric or Kia Niro EV could be a great choice.

If you love going off-road, a model such as the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk may be at the top of your list.

Do you have a favorite SUV model that you’ve found to be a great value? Or one that hasn’t measured up? Let us know in the comments below.

One Response

  1. Most Reliable 2021 SUVs and Least Reliable | NewSUV.org Says:

    […] In the survey findings, the Mazda CX-30, the company’s larger subcompact crossover, was found to be the most reliable SUV with an overall rating of 95/100. This is an impressive feat for a model released for 2019. We recently ranked the CX-30 on our best SUV list. […]

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