SUVs have become increasingly popular over the last decade, offering drivers a versatile vehicle that can handle a variety of terrains and road conditions. With so many SUV options available today, it can be overwhelming to navigate the SUV market and identify the best choice for your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the major SUV brands and models available in 2023, diving into SUV categories like luxury, crossovers, midsize, full-size, hybrids and electrics.
Luxury SUV Brands
Luxury SUVs offer premium amenities and features for a refined driving experience. Major luxury SUV brands include:
BMW refers to its SUVs as Sports Activity Vehicles (SAVs) and offers a range of models to choose from:
- X1: BMW‘s subcompact SAV with standard AWD. Seats up to 5 passengers.
- X2: Sleek, coupe-like styling in a small SUV package. FWD or AWD options available.
- X3: One of BMW‘s best-selling compact luxury SAVs. Premium interior and choice of powertrains.
- X4: Sportier, coupe version of the X3. Tradeoff is slightly less cargo space.
- X5: Midsize SAV with 3 rows of seating. Powerful engine options and luxurious cabin.
- X6: Coupe-like variant of the X5. Bold, aggressive styling.
- X7: BMW‘s largest and most luxurious SUV. Packed with technology and comfort features.
The M performance models (X3 M, X4 M, X5 M, X6 M) offer even more power and athletic handling abilities.
Mercedes SUVs focus on refinement, safety and technology:
- GLA: Subcompact luxury SUV. Efficient 4-cylinder engine, MBUX infotainment.
- GLB: Boxy compact SUV with optional 3rd row seating. Up to 7 passengers.
- GLC: Best seller in the Mercedes lineup. Premium midsize SUV.
- G-Class: Iconic off-road luxury SUV. Retro styling, unmatched capability for an SUV.
- GLE: Midsize SUV with the latest Mercedes safety and technology. Smooth, quiet ride.
- GLS: Full-size 7-seater SUV. Maximum luxury and space.
- AMG performance versions available for most models.
Audi luxury SUVs feature Quattro AWD, virtual cockpits and mild hybrid powertrains:
- Q3: Subcompact luxury SUV. Conservative, elegant styling throughout.
- Q5: Audi‘s best-selling SUV. Spacious interior and high-end options.
- Q7: Full-size SUV with an optional 3rd row. Turbo V6 engine delivers potent acceleration.
- Q8: Flagship SUV coupe with dramatic styling. Superb ride quality.
- RS Q8: High-performance SUV coupe with a twin-turbo V8. 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds.
- e-tron: Electric SUV with sporty handling and an elegant interior.
Other Luxury Brands
- Acura MDX: Tech-focused interior and refined handling.
- Infiniti QX80: Lauded for interior roominess and luxury features.
- Land Rover Range Rover: Iconic British SUV with superb off-road skills.
- Lexus RX: Best-selling luxury SUV focused on comfort and reliability.
- Lincoln Aviator: 3-row SUV with aviation-inspired design cues.
Crossover SUVs blend car-like driving dynamics with light off-road capability and increased cargo space versus a sedan. Popular crossover SUV models include:
- Honda CR-V: Practical, space-efficient interior. Standard turbo engine and available AWD.
- Toyota RAV4: Top-seller with a comfortable ride and solid reliability reputation.
- Nissan Rogue: Roomy cabin and user-friendly technology like Nissan‘s Zero Gravity seats.
- Subaru Forester: Standard AWD and 8.7 inches of ground clearance for light trail use.
- Mazda CX-5: Stylish exterior and premium-feeling interior punch above its price point.
- Volkswagen Tiguan: European tuned suspension provides an agile, car-like ride. 3rd row seating optional.
- Hyundai Tucson: Eye-catching exterior design and generous warranty coverage.
- Kia Sportage: Value-packed with impressive tech and safety features for the price.
- Ford Escape: Choice of efficient EcoBoost turbo engines. Available hybrid model.
Mid-size SUVs bridge the gap between compact crossovers and full-size truck-based SUVs. They offer 3 rows of seating in many models and are great for larger families.
- Toyota Highlander: A consistent best-seller valued for roominess, refinement and reliability.
- Honda Pilot: Boxy exterior maximizes interior space. Family-friendly and packed with tech.
- Ford Explorer: Athletic handling with multiple engine options including a powerful turbo V6.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee: Capable off-road but still comfortable on-road with a luxury interior.
- Nissan Pathfinder: Standard 3rd row and class-leading 6,000 lb towing capacity.
- Kia Telluride: Ruggedly handsome exterior and upscale interior that punches above its price.
- Hyundai Palisade: Telluride‘s sibling has similar value-packed virtues.
- Dodge Durango: Muscular styling and a gutsy V8 engine option. Towing up to 8,700 lbs.
- Volkswagen Atlas: Roomy 3-row SUV with European road manners. V6 engine gets solid fuel economy.
Full-size SUVs have the most interior room and highest towing/hauling capabilities for passenger vehicles. Major options include:
- Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban: Body-on-frame SUVs with generous cargo room and powerful V8 engines.
- GMC Yukon/Yukon XL: Upscale variants of the Tahoe/Suburban. Denali trim offers luxury accents.
- Ford Expedition: Aluminum body saves weight while still providing heavy 11,600 lb towing capacity.
- Toyota Sequoia: Aging but still capable SUV valued for reliability and room for up to 8 passengers.
- Nissan Armada: Strong V8 engine and softened suspension for a compliant ride.
- Cadillac Escalade ESV: Luxury SUV with a towering presence and premium amenities.
- Lincoln Navigator L: Elegant interior design with 30-way adjustable seats. Twin-turbo V6.
Hybrid SUVs use electric motors and battery packs alongside gas engines to boost efficiency. Many can travel short distances on electricity alone. Popular options:
- Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Top-selling hybrid SUV. Impressive 41 mpg combined fuel economy.
- Ford Escape Hybrid: Midsize crossover SUV with 37 mpg combined rating.
- Hyundai Tucson Hybrid: Well-equipped for under $30k with 37 mpg combined fuel economy.
- Kia Niro Hybrid: SUV shape on a car platform. Up to 50 mpg combined.
- Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid: Small AWD SUV boosted by 17 mile EV range before gas engine kicks in.
- Volvo XC90 Hybrid: 7-seat luxury SUV with 18 mile EV range. 400 hp combined output.
- BMW X5 xDrive45e: Midsize plug-in hybrid SUV with 30+ mile electric range.
All-electric SUVs produce zero emissions while providing instant torque for strong acceleration. However, range and charging network availability remain limitations. Top electric SUV options:
- Tesla Model X: 303-mile max range. Falcon wing doors and game-changing technology.
- Rivian R1S: Startup adventure SUV with 300+ mile range. Impressive off-road abilities.
- Audi e-tron: Luxurious midsize electric SUV with 222 mile range. Excellent interior quality.
- Volvo C40 Recharge: Slick coupe-like electric SUV. Up to 226 miles range estimated.
- VW ID.4: Mainstream electric crossover with 250-mile range and accessible price point.
- Ford Mustang Mach E: Sporty electric SUV with styling inspired by the Mustang pony car.
- Kia EV6: Striking electric crossover SUV with 310 mile max range. 800V architecture enables ultra-fast charging.
With such a diverse SUV marketplace, weighing your priorities in terms of size, luxury, efficiency and performance will help narrow down the best choice. Test driving top contenders is key to getting a feel for which model best fits your lifestyle needs.