Best SUVs [Top Ranked Models]

Best SUVs

SUVs are versatile vehicles suitable for various activities, from commuting to off-roading. They come in many sizes and price ranges, ensuring a fit for everyone.

Originally, SUVs were defined as full-frame vehicles with rear or four-wheel drive and off-road capabilities. Nowadays, the term is often used interchangeably with "crossover," referring to vehicles combining a unibody structure and car-like mechanics with an SUV's size and shape, with all-wheel or four-wheel drive as a key feature.

Our guide includes both traditional SUVs and crossovers, collectively referred to as SUVs, covering the best options in every market segment and price range.

Read about how we rank our SUVs >>

Winners in Each Category

Most Reliable SUVKia Telluride
Most Efficient SUVNissan Rogue
Best SUV for FamiliesMazda CX-5
Most Affordable SUVHyundai Venue
Best SUV for TowingFord Expedition
Best Overall SUVToyota Highlander

Most Reliable SUVs

Want your new SUV to outlast you? You’ll want to get something with a sterling reputation and a penchant for longevity. These models earn their place on our list of most reliable SUVs thanks to years of proving themselves across countless owners and abuse. You can find such standout, dead-reliable SUVs among the subcompact, compact, midsize, and full-size segments.

See all our picks for the most reliable SUVs »

Best SUVs by Size

SUVs come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a precious few standout models that impress on account of their all-around excellence. These SUVs might not have the most cargo space or the most powerful engine, but what they do achieve can’t be quantified: they manage the rare feat of being greater than the sum of their parts.

We’ve found our favorites within each size class.

See all our picks for the best SUVs by size »

Most Fuel Efficient SUVs

Fuel economy is getting more important by the day. Hybrid and electric SUVs are proliferating. Even gas-powered models are doing all they can to cut down on emissions, in turn saving you time and money spent at the pump. But there are a few SUVs that are doing this better than anybody else.

Not everybody is ready to ditch gas completely, so there are plenty of impressively efficient SUVs still quaffing Shell’s finest. Hybrid SUVs give the best of both worlds - gas when you need it and electricity when you don’t. And for the futurist crowd, feel free to celebrate: the dam has now broken on electric SUVs. Here are our favorites of the current moment.

See all our picks for the best luxury hybrid SUVs »

Best SUVs for Families

When you buckle your precious cargo into the back seat, you want to know you can trust your vehicle to protect and cater to your children. That means safety gear, entertainment options, car-seat-friendly back seats, and plenty of cargo space.

With that sort of criteria on your shopping list, consider our favorite 3-row SUVs or eight-passenger SUVs. And if your brood is small enough to merit a third-row unnecessary, check out our two-row picks regarding the best SUVs for families.

See all our picks for the best cars for families »

See all our picks for the best 7-passenger SUVs »

Best SUVs by Price

We get it - you have a budget. And sometimes the SUV you want doesn’t exactly line up with what’s in your bank account. So what’s a good fallback option that won’t drain the last of your funds?

We’ve taken a look at the best SUVs under $20,000 and the best SUVs under $30,000. Both serve up great features and ample room and comfort - all for prices that should work for even the tightest of new-car budgets.

Best SUVs for Towing

Pickup trucks are the undisputed towing champions, but an SUV with a full-frame can tow plenty of weight in its own right. If you’re willing to budget a bit more in gas money, there are a few excellent options to choose from if you’re looking for the best SUVs for towing.

Our favorite is the Chevrolet Tahoe (or its long-wheelbase version, the Suburban). This big SUV was redesigned with the Escalade and features burly V-8 power that enables a maximum towing capacity of 8,400 pounds. It’s also extremely capable and comfortable, making it the perfect SUV for taking the camper cross-country.

Another great option is the Ford Expedition. It uses a twin-turbo V-6 that is rated to pull up to 9,300 pounds. It’s currently the leader among SUVs in terms of tow ratings and is probably the next best tow vehicle after a properly-equipped pickup truck.

See all our picks for the best SUVs for towing »

Best SUVs for Off-Roading

Sometimes the backcountry beckons - and when it does, you want the right rig to get out there. Most SUVs these days don’t have the chops to go much further than a forest road, but there are a few SUVs that remain the best for off-roading.

The choice that remains the unmatched favorite for consumers and critics alike is the Jeep Wrangler. Every nut and bolt on this iconic SUV was designed for mud bogs and rock crawling. It has available features like a winch, all-terrain tires, a lifted suspension, and more. If you bring the skills, the Wrangler brings the capability.

An alternative to the Jeep is the Toyota 4Runner. It’s also built itself an enviable reputation among off-road enthusiasts thanks to its tough bones and available off-road gear. A further benefit of the 4Runner is it's a bit more livable than the noisy, rough-riding Wrangler when it comes to daily driving.

See all our picks for the best SUVs for off-roading »

What Is the Best SUV Brand?

Almost all brands build at least one great SUV these days, but we’d say the best in this segment is Jeep - it practically birthed the SUV concept with the original Wagoneer in the 1960s, not to mention the 75 years of predecessors to the Wrangler. Today, their lineup delivers all the best qualities buyers look for in SUVs.

What Is the Best All-Around SUV?

The Toyota Highlander might be the best all-around SUV. Why? It hits on every point that a modern SUV buyer is looking for: cargo room, passenger space, lots of tech, an efficient hybrid, and even decent towing capability. It does all this at a price point in line with mainstream SUVs. It’s a winning combo that has proven very hard to beat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best SUV to buy?

As we said, the Toyota Highlander is our recommendation. Unless you don’t like the styling, there’s nothing this SUV leaves out.

What is the most affordable SUV?

The Ford EcoSport and Chevrolet Trailblazer are the cheapest vehicles that fit our loose definition of SUVs, thanks to their available all-wheel drive. Both begin just shy of $20,000.

What is the most reliable SUV?

No question: the Toyota Land Cruiser. These SUVs last for hundreds of thousands of miles with surprisingly few repairs beyond basic maintenance.

What is the most fuel-efficient SUV?

Both the Ford Escape Hybrid or Toyota RAV4 can return over 40 mpg. There’s also the all-electric Tesla Model Y, which is the most efficient SUV of the current 2021 model year.

Which SUV has the most cargo and passenger space?

The GM full-size trio: The Cadillac Escalade ESV, GMC Yukon XL, and Chevrolet Suburban. These three SUVs offer over 140 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats folded and can seat up to eight in total comfort.

What is the best-used SUV?

We’d recommend a three-year-old Toyota Highlander, for the same reasons we named it the best new SUV you can buy.