The extra cargo capacity and the impressive towing ability of Sports Utility Vehicles intrigue plenty of car shoppers. The market for these cars has continued to expand as most people opt for spacious cabins and elevated heights. In addition, SUVs combine the most useful attributes of different car types, one of them being the all-wheel-drive feature that supports a “rugged” lifestyle.
Today, after over 25 years, SUVs have made inroads in the auto industry in a way that was never anticipated. In fact, the intrusion is so severe that almost every car manufacturer has their line of SUVs, ranging from small to beasts like the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevrolet Suburban. Even Fiat has set foot into this seemingly lucrative niche in vehicle manufacturing.
For this reason, there are just too many offerings that the present-day SUV lover is spoilt for choice. This is made worse by the fact that some Sport Utility Vehicles are overrated, and it's difficult to question their reliability. Some of these 4x4s don’t hold a candle to the better ones as consumers have been made to believe. They're either too costly or have insufficient cargo space, or the leg room isn't spacious enough. Others have mediocre infotainment systems and are just humongous guzzlers that are difficult to park. But how can you determine a vehicle’s reliability?
As a shopper, you have to rely on extensive surveys and go through the history of the automaker. And if you find bad reviews and low satisfaction scores, run for your life, dear shopper. It doesn’t matter whether the automaker is respected or not. We're not saying these cars are bad, though; they're just a bit more glorified.
20 Land Rover Discovery Sport
A good number of Discoveries are leaving the dealership, most of them looking excellent with their seven-seater ability that combines their off-road capability with the luxury they provide. They're believed to be manufactured using advanced tech and skill, They actually underwhelm their owners, though, and have a history of disappointment. For example, the Land Rover 2018 already has concerns with the headlights and transmission. It's also fared poorly in reliability scores, and most Discoveries are known to run into numerous troubles after just a short while of ownership. If it's not a fuel leak then it's likely a brake problem or some other hard-to-fix electrical complication. Apparently, the Discovery Sport also has a “spiky” engine that causes an excess of or too little acceleration. Also, its automatic transmission isn't smooth as you’d expect. Furthermore, according to car experts, the cabin lacks taste, and the infotainment lags a bit. Worse, the feel on the street isn't as “sporty” as the name suggests. Overall, this SUV does not hold up in the long run.
19 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder can honk when you leave your kids inside on a hot day. This is because it has special sensors that make this possible. The feature also prevents the owner from leaving the car unlocked. However, even at first glance, you can immediately tell that not much creativity was put into this car. The interior is unappealing and features a number of poor quality plastic materials. Then the cabin is just “hollow.” Also, several owners have complained about the infotainment system having a knob that makes no sense. Other owners have ranted about the stuffed driver’s seat that makes it uncomfortable to move one’s feet. Then, the transmission is loud and unsatisfactory, and the driver needs to take extra care while navigating most parking lots because it can be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, in over 31 years, the Nissan Pathfinder has been recalled 125 times, which should make anyone doubt the reliability of this midsize SUV. Furthermore, the Nissan Pathfinder is your typical giant SUV that has poor transmission and lacks the necessary temperament. It also lacks the off-road ruggedness that has been tagged to it and is nothing far from a minivan-like car that is boring to drive. Simply, it's a dud on wheels.
18 Tesla Model X
Tesla is a hot name right now. Owning a car from the company is considered cool, but it doesn't mean that the company is making the best cars. While Elon Musk and his team have been ambitious enough with their production, the Model X is a disaster. It's Tesla’s worst offering, according to critics. This is mainly because it has body integrity issues and its falcon wings are problematic. The Model X has seats that keep breaking, and experts believe it didn't get the right finish. Former owners have continuously complained about the falcon-wing doors that are always squeaky and tend to overhang. The doors weren't well built and can malfunction from time to time. The seats are another cause for concern. In fact, Tesla recalled some 11,000 Model X SUVs because they had a faulty locking mechanism. Furthermore, Tesla has had to deal with several lawsuits that revolve around the car’s design flaws.
17 GMC Yukon XL
GMC designed this truck-based SUV to provide a comfortable ride, carry more passengers, and tow heavy loads. However, this SUV has its flaws. This mammoth of a car ranks poorly in the large SUV group and on Consumer Reports. This is because it's riddled with a number of cabin and power control problems in addition to its body integrity issues. The GMC Yukon XL also has a non-responsive responsive transmission that affects its acceleration. It's one of those giant SUVs that will give you a hard time parking even though it has parking sensors. Its sheer size means you have to be more careful when maneuvering bends and crowded areas. The size of this car is a testimony that it's better off being driven on the highway and not around tight spots. The vehicle has a questionable safety rating, which likely concerns most interested buyers. However, the 2017 model has been commended for its remarkable efficiency on the highways.
Even the 2018 GMC Yukon XL is a heavy vehicle that requires plenty of power to move around. Like its predecessor, driving it around crowded streets and highways is quite a chore. Like former models, it has a high load floor. Therefore, loading heavy cargo can be quite a challenge. Also, due to its size, the GMC Yukon XL has a longer-than-average stopping distance and may be troublesome during a panic situation. This is worsened by the fact that the gas pedal feels slow, and, therefore, bringing the car to a halt may be a problem if there's no proper timing. Those who've used it off-road insist that steering and handling may pose a challenge due to its bulkiness.
16 Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 is not as nimble as it has been marketed to be. Yes, it may be an admirable car because it's a crossover that attracts the typical mom or young adult, but that is just that. This subcompact luxury crossover SUV feels like a cramped Q5 that lacks charm.
The cheap interior isn't common for a brand like Audi that's known for high standards. For longer trips, you're bound to get more tired because the seats aren't supportive. If you were expecting a decent family-sized boot, the Audi Q3 will again disappoint with its limited boot space.
Also, its crash-avoidance technology has been criticized for being dismal, mainly because it lacks a front crash-prevention system that most of the other smaller SUVs have. But that's not all—the car’s headlights aren't up to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) standards, earning them poor ratings from past tests. Overall, the Audi Q3 is struggling between being a hatchback and an SUV. It's just difficult to enjoy this car in its entirety.
15 Porsche Cayenne
The Porsche Cayenne, with its curvaceous styling, will provide you with a great experience in terms of performance and luxury. The car is equipped with an advanced AWD system that gives your car superpowers on most rugged terrains. But the Porsche Cayenne costs too much money. It's more expensive than your typical SUV, and the price increases exponentially if you're eyeing the Turbo S model. As if that weren't enough, the Porsche Cayenne has parts that are extremely expensive to replace. Servicing this midsize luxury SUV requires you to dig deeper into your pockets. Also, the 2018 Porsche Cayenne has a small cargo space even after you fold down the rear seats. This means less storage space for a car that's considered huge. Another concern is that the Porsche Cayenne has a lousy history of electronic issues and faulty interior controls.
14 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
The GLC-Class looks more powerful and elegant compared to its predecessor, the GLK-Class. The interior is outstanding, and the car is an accurate representation of status and luxury. But while it's appealing to most eyes, some critics believe this German machine is not off-road friendly. It doesn't cut the mustard as Mercedes claims. The suspension and brakes have reduced the ratings because they're awful. Even the power system is troublesome.
The 2017 model looks quite refined, but most owners have complained about its user interface. Apparently, it's not user-friendly. Also, the car lacks a satellite radio unless you're going to purchase the AMG GLC 43, which is going to cost more. The 2018 model has similar problems. Its interface is confusing and is a bit noisy, especially when you drive it for the first time.
Like most Mercedes Benz cars, the GLC class comes with various package options, but adding these possibilities means the price skyrockets. This is disadvantaging the buyer who has less money but wants all the upgrades.
13 Infinity QX80
This beast is fuel-thirsty, and when you buy the 4WD version, the fuel consumption goes up. But that shouldn't come as a surprise. The Infinity QX80 isn't a cheap SUV. Its price range isn't within most SUVs. According to the manufacturers, the QX80 provides you with more luxury, and, therefore, you need to pay more. However, even when you're loaded enough to afford one, you need to take extra caution when maneuvering crowded areas. The car is enormous and takes up more space. As a result, driving it in a populated area can be a bit demanding. A crowded parking deck is an excellent example of a place you need to avoid.
The 2017 Infinity QX80 will carry more people and tow a heavier load, but it's just too pricey for the average car owner. It's bulky and doesn't offer anything you wouldn’t find on an Escalade.
12 Jaguar F-Pace
The Jaguar F-Pace is a great car if you're living in the city or suburbs. However, for a luxury car, the materials used for the interior look cheap. Some of the paddings fail to meet the required standards in terms of thickness, finesse, and quality. Furthermore, some owners claim the Jaguar F-Pace doesn't have the best ride quality, as its suspensions tend to be stiff sometimes. This casts doubt on the off-roading ability of this mid-size SUV. There have been concerns that when you drive the Jaguar F-Pace on a bumpy road, you should expect to hear some engine noises.
Gadget gurus have, in the past, criticized this car’s infotainment system for being the least impressive feature. The system doesn't promptly respond to commands and is, at best, clunky. For example, it may fail to integrate with smartphone apps, or it may simply ignore voice commands. The AC is also crappy. Did Jaguar rush the production of the F-Pace?
11 Cadillac Escalade
Even a base model costs an arm and a leg. And if you want it to come with all the latest upgrades, it'll likely be out of your budget. There's a reason why the Cadillac Escalade is a favorite among celebrities and wealthy people, but not everything about this car is rosy.
Due to its large stature, this SUV is difficult to drive in congested areas and tight parking spaces. Its size also means high fuel consumption. For this reason, you should consider using it only for long journeys; otherwise, expect to spend more on fuel. Furthermore, the transmission isn't the best, and the car is prone to AC issues.
The Cadillac Escalade is ideal for families that travel a lot and need a car that has extra cargo space and towing capabilities. Otherwise, a buyer may end up with a humongous vehicle that's too bulky to meet individual demands. It also lacks the character of a true luxury SUV. This is primarily because of its frustrating infotainment system, its abysmal legroom, and various interior concerns.
10 Chevrolet Suburban
The 2017 Chevrolet Suburban is longer than your everyday SUV and is likely to give you a hard time parking. It's equally challenging to maneuver it in congested areas. Furthermore, the car has a horrible transmission that tends to feel sluggish and may fail to respond as expected. Therefore, new drivers are required to be extra cautious when driving a Suburban for the first time.
Also, the 2017 Chevrolet Suburban failed to reach a satisfactory safety rating. Obviously, this may be a concern to most buyers, especially considering the size of the car. In fact, even the 2018 model has questionable safety scores. Like its predecessor, it's also tricky to drive in small spaces and around tight parking lots. Overall, the 2018 Chevrolet Suburban performs below average in terms of reliability. However, the car has a bigger storage space and scores highly in infotainment and legroom.
9 Lincoln MKX
The 2017 Lincoln MKX is one of the affordable SUVs that come with plenty of cargo space and some great features. However, it lags in fuel efficiency compared to other midsize luxury SUVs. Also, while its design looks appealing and luxurious, there are areas on the dashboard that were made using low-quality materials. However, the Lincoln MKX overwhelms its smaller cousin, the Lincoln MKC, as it ranks highly in matters relating to safety and features. But it doesn't come close to other market-toppers.
For the 2018 model, owners have been complaining about the poor rear visibility that's caused by a small rear window, which obscures the driver’s visibility. Fuel efficiency is another problem with this model. And for reliability, the car maker, Lincoln, doesn't rank anywhere near the top 20 reliable SUV makers. In fact, the MKX is considered the least reliable car by the company, mainly because it's prone to electrical troubles.
8 Mazda CX9
The 2017 Mazda CX9 is an all-around family car that has seating capacity for up to seven people. The car is fun to drive and has good fuel economy compared to cars of its caliber. It also has a higher safety rating than most of its competitors. However, for a car shopper who needs maximum passenger room, the third-row seat is a disappointment as an adult sitting there will require more legroom. This space is only convenient for children. Also, while experts agree that you can use the 2017 Mazda CX-9 in the snow; the car isn't as reliable on rough terrain. This is because it lacks rugged features like suitable tires and skid plates. Furthermore, if by any chance the car owner owns an iPhone and wants Apple CarPlay, it isn't available. While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become very popular, the 2017 Mazda CX-9 lacks these crucial technologies.
The 2018 Mazda CX-9 is also jittery on bumpy roads. Apparently, the optional automatic emergency braking system that comes with higher trim levels is finicky. This braking system will choose when to work and feels insecure. And besides the faulty electric and braking system, another concern that's been raised about the Mazda CX-9 is its body integrity issue.
Overall, this car has muddied Mazda’s name in the auto industry.
7 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Just like its sibling, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio has several ergonomic flaws. For example, you're presented with a rotary knob that you have to use to ‘command’ the infotainment system. Also, the menu and the icons aren't appealing and can be quite annoying. The driving position for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is also an issue, as there are limited ways of adjusting the driver's seating angle. Furthermore, this Alfa Romeo requires one to press a release button to change gears and to engage parking, and its electronic shifter is outright annoying. Worse, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is notorious for breaking down like its counterpart, the Giulia.
The car manufacturer, Alfa, has ranked poorly in Consumer Report’s 2018, casting doubt on the reliability of their newest releases.
6 Fiat 500X
The Fiat 500X is one of the cheapest SUVs around. This makes it appealing to most value-based customers or shoppers who are on a budget. It's versatile and has a towing ability that makes it great for outdoor activities. But the first problem with this SUV is that it has an uncertain resale value. This model was introduced in 2016, and its desirability is still in question. In addition, the standard Fiat 500X has a weak engine, and generally, the car is not ideal for off-roading because it feels somewhat underpowered. While it qualifies to be called an SUV, it's clearly meant for the suburbs and the urban environment.
The advantage of most base models, though, is that they have infotainment systems that are easy to use and they can be driven on a daily basis. But the Fiat 500X has a small cabin that's evidenced by its low ceiling and limited legroom, which may pose a challenge if the driver is taller. The small space also translates to a smaller cargo compartment. Also, it's not as fuel efficient as you’d expect. For vehicles in its class, the Fiat 500X delivers poor mileage. Worse, it makes noises when it's being driven at high speeds.
5 GMC Acadia
It seems smaller when compared to other cars in the compact SUV category. This means there are implications for passenger comfort and cargo space. When you unfold the third-row seat, you end up with very little space. The amount of cargo you can carry depends on the number of seats you're willing to fold down. But if you want all of them up, then most of your cargo space will be used up. Also, don’t forget that the GMC Acadia is narrower than other SUVs, and some experts believe its engine is weak. Plus, you don’t get the key features unless you buy the high-end trims, which can be frustrating if you want the popular and important equipment. For these high-end trims, you have to spend more.
The GMC Acadia is also prone to electrical issues that significantly reduce its reliability score. Overall, the car doesn't deliver as expected, and in most cases, you have to spend more if you want better driving.
4 Volvo XC90
Don't buy this mid-sized SUV if you love quick acceleration—unless you're looking at the hybrid option, which costs more. The 2017 Volvo XC90 experiences a considerable lag when in ECO mode. Therefore, if you find yourself in an emergency, you may not be able to accelerate as fast as you want.
Also, the gas mileage is terrible. Even though the XC90 doesn't consume that much fuel, it's outdone by other cars in its class. And this is a surprise because this is an expensive car; the higher level trims are mostly not affordable. Another drawback is that the 2018 model doesn't handle bumps and shocks well, considering it's a luxury SUV. Moreover, its touchscreen controls are finicky, while others are hard to locate. This means you have to spend more time to get used to the touchscreen display. Despite its electrical and power issues, though, the car looks great and has an excellent powertrain.
3 Mercedes-Benz G Wagen
It's so prevalent in Beverly Hills that you would think it only costs a dime. But the Mercedes-Benz G Wagen is a costly affair. Buying, maintaining, and driving one around isn't a cheap endeavor. Also, the G Wagon is large and drives like a tank. Even with its high price tag, it's not as comfortable as you’d imagine. The fuel consumption is crazy, and the car can sometimes look a bit ugly. Moreover, the suspension is hard and won't guarantee a smooth ride.
It does provide a remarkable off-roading experience, though, and can outdo most other SUVs in its category. But driving a car with more than 500 horsepower and a V8 engine doesn't make much sense, especially when you have to deal with traffic. The G Wagon has been made to endure challenging terrains. Therefore, it shouldn't be driven on paved roads that have constant traffic. But some wealthy folks still purchase this car and waste its potential on squeezed city roads. That's sad because while it has a glamorous façade, it has little use for the typical city-dweller. It can never be your daily driver because of its size and styling. However, it will accord you enough attention on the roads.
2 Jeep Patriot
The 2017 Jeep Patriot is sluggish in terms of performance. The acceleration is troublesome since the engine takes more time to respond. If you opt for the smaller engine, then you have to deal with noise. The ride is also bumpy, and the suspension is a letdown on potholes. Furthermore, the Jeep Patriot has a higher fuel consumption compared to other cars in that category. In fact, the Sport and Latitude versions are well-known guzzlers.
Moreover, most owners have complained about too much cabin noise. Apparently, the noise is made when the engine is generating rpms. New owners have to get used to this sound or find a way to make their cars soundproof. Also, while this 2017 Jeep Patriot has some satisfactory scores, it received mediocre safety ratings from the IIHS. This is a scary fact and can be a deal breaker for those considering this car. Even the headlights were found to be sub-par.
For the 2018 model, it's hard to find a comfortable position while driving. Owners believe the car lacks enough power and has firm seat cushions that can cause backaches when traveling over long distances.
1 Land Rover Range Rover
"Range Rover" is an iconic name that's synonymous with top-of-the-range luxury SUVs. But the V6 engine for the 2017 Range Rover lags compared to other engine options. And when you go for the standard engine, you're likely to run into performance issues. Therefore, if you're considering the 2018 Range Rover with a standard supercharged V6 engine, you're better off going for the diesel option or picking a higher trim level. But the turbodiesel and the V8 engines are fine.
Since the 2017 Range Rover is considered a high-end luxury SUV, it may be too costly for the average consumer. In fact, purchasing the latest version is almost out of the question, owing to its high price. Regardless of the price, though, the touchscreen has been criticized for being sub-par. Also, those who have driven the 2018 model claim it has vibrations that are caused by its massive tires. This is probably why the steering can feel ‘bulky’ and may take some time getting used to. There have also been claims that the 2018 model doesn't respond to commands as you’d expect. Therefore, if you have to negotiate tight turns, you have to go slow on the acceleration pedal. And worse, the biggest concern is that the Range Rover has a history of recalls, which can cause a buyer to be hesitant.
Sources: CarandDriver; Edmunds; Top Gear