In today's automotive market, there is no doubt that SUVs (or Sport Utility Vehicles) remain in high demand. In fact, according to a report from Reuters, sales for SUVs in the U.S. enjoyed a particularly sharp increase just last August. Meanwhile, a recent study by LMC Automotive also revealed that SUVs may well own 50 percent of the car market by 2020.
Because of a consistently strong demand for this type of vehicle, car makers from around the world have been aggressive about developing more and more SUVs. In fact, today, we see various types of SUVs available.
For starters, there are the crossover SUVs that are smaller than the SUVs that were produced years ago. The whole idea is to give consumers a product that almost drives like a sedan but with an added height advantage and cargo space. Meanwhile, there are also midsize SUVs. These are the ones that are not too big or too small. They can definitely accommodate more than five people. What's more, they have more than enough cargo space in the back. On the other hand, if you are driving around with your child's entire soccer team, then perhaps a full-size SUV would suit you better. This way, everyone is also happier and way more comfortable.
Of course, just like other types of vehicle, there are good and bad SUVs. And if you are currently in the market for one, going over the wide range of SUVs can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, we've already done some of the work for you. Just look at the 10 best SUVs we've found for 2018, along with 10 models you should avoid.
20 Best: Kia Niro
The Kia Niro is one of the most popular crossover SUVs available today. It’s a plug-in hybrid and hybrid SUV that comes with a relatively affordable starting price of $23,340 for its 2018 model. Under the hood of the 2018 Niro is a 1.6-liter engine and full parallel hybrid system. Combined, it can generate as much as 139 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 195 pound-feet of a torque at 4,000 rpm. And as you can expect, the Niro enjoys impressive fuel efficiency. According to Kia U.S.A., it has an estimated rating of 52 miles per gallon in the city and 49 miles per gallon on the highway, giving it a combined rating of 50 miles per gallon.
19 Best: Subaru Forester
Over the years, the Subaru Forester has always proven to be a reliable SUV. According to the website Cars.com, its 2018 model has a reasonable price range of $22,795 to $36,090. For the 2018 Forester, you get two engine options.
The first one is a 2.5-liter Subaru Boxer engine that can produce 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque.
Meanwhile, there is also a 2.0-liter Turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine that can readily deliver 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Based on consumer reviews of the car, this SUV offers particularly good visibility. Moreover, there is also a great appreciation for the safety features onboard.
18 Best: Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is another SUV that has been around for ages. And although it suffered from particularly bad problems several years ago, recent RAV4 models have proven to be much more reliable. Under the hood of the 2018 RAV4 is a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with VVT-i that can deliver 176 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 172 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. Meanwhile, this SUV comes with various safety and driver assistance features, including a blind spot monitor, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams and more. According to Toyota, the 2018 RAV4 comes with a starting price of $24,660.
17 Best: Chevrolet Traverse
The Chevrolet Traverse is a midsize SUV that makes for a practical choice if you have a slightly large family. This SUV has a passenger capacity of eight people. Even better, it has a relatively low starting price of $29,930. Standard to the 2018 Traverse is a 3.6-liter SIDI VVT engine that can readily deliver 310 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 266 pound-feet of torque at 2,800 rpm. In addition, the Traverse comes with several convenience features such as smart slide seating, hidden storage, and a hands-free liftgate. Meanwhile, it also has a wide range of safety features, including front pedestrian braking, low speed forward automatic braking, forward collision alert, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning.
16 Best: GMC Terrain
The GMC Terrain is another good choice if you are looking for an SUV that’s quite reliable. Moreover, its 2018 model has a pretty reasonable starting price of $27,900. For the 2018 Terrain, you have three engine options, depending on the variant that you choose.
The first one is a 1.5-liter turbo engine that can produce as much as 170 horsepower and 203 pound-feet of torque.
On the other hand, there is a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine that can churn out 137 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Finally, there is also an option for a 2.0-liter turbo engine that can deliver as much as 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
15 Best: Buick Encore
The Buick Encore is a compact SUV that is perfect if you have a small family or if you usually just drive on your own. Even better, it has a relatively low starting price of $22,990. Under the hood of the 2018 Encore is a 1.4-liter turbo engine that can readily produce up to 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. And according to several consumer reviews on the 2018 Encore, it delivers pretty impressive fuel efficiency. Moreover, many have also noted that the 2018 Encore offers significant space for everyone. In fact, one reviewer remarked on Cars.com, “Great car, interior is larger than expected but back seat headroom could be higher!”
14 Best: Volkswagen Tiguan
If you are looking for an SUV that is impressively safe, one of the models to consider is definitely the Volkswagen Tiguan. In fact, the 2018 Tiguan has earned the Top Safety Pick title from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS). It passed the crashworthiness test for the driver side, passenger side, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, head restraints, and seats. Under the hood of the 2018 Tiguan is a 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged engine that can deliver as much as 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Some of the safety features available in this SUV include the tire pressure monitoring system, rollover sensor system, rearview camera system, blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert and many others.
13 Best: Lexus RX
The Lexus RX series has received pretty high ratings from automotive experts. Unlike other similar SUVs, the 2018 RX also offers more space since it extends all the way to a third row. For the 2018 RX, there are two options available, depending on the model and variant that you choose.
For starters, there is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that can deliver 290 and 295 horsepower.
This engine is available in the RX 350, RX350 F Sport, RX 350L, RX 350 AWD, RX 350L AWD, and RX 350 F Sport AWD. Meanwhile, there is also the 3.5-liter Atkinson-Cycle V6 engine that can churn out as much as 308 horsepower. This one is available in the RX 450h, RX 450hL, and RX 450h F Sport.
12 Best: Mercedes-Benz GLA
If you are looking for a highly-recommended luxury SUV, then you absolutely can’t wrong with the Mercedes-Benz GLA. Under the hood of the 2018 GLA is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four engine that can readily churn out 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 1,250 to 4,000 rpm.
Depending on the model, this car can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.1 to 7.2 seconds.
If you are looking for something more powerful, you can also opt for the AMG GLA variant. This one utilizes a handcrafted, 2.0-liter AMG engine. It can deliver 375 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 350 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. Moreover, it can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 4.3 seconds.
11 Best: BMW X3
The BMW X3 is the perfect car for you if you are looking for a luxury SUV that’s got a bit of a sporty edge. For the 2018 X3, you have two engine choices depending on the variant that you choose. First up is the 2.0-liter, TwinPower turbo engine that can churn out 240 horsepower from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque from 1,450 to 4,800 rpm.
With this engine, the car can readily go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in six seconds.
On the other hand, there is also the more powerful 3.0-liter, turbocharged, M Performance TwinPower engine that can readily deliver 355 horsepower from 5,800 to 6,000 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque from 1,350 to 5,250 rpm. When using this engine, the X3 can readily go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds.
10 Worst: Mazda CX-9
Typically, Mazda gets high marks when it comes to reliability. Unfortunately, however, it has recently been encountering trouble with its CX-9. As far as space goes, the CX-9 is the roomiest of all the available Mazda SUVs. In fact, this one comes with three rows and there’s enough room for as many as seven passengers. However, according to a report from the website B, the third row is quite tight, so adults may want to avoid sitting here, especially during long trips. The 2018 CX-9 is powered by a 2.5-liter engine. It can deliver 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, but only if you use premium fuel. And if you use regular unleaded, expect just 227 horsepower.
9 Worst: Nissan Armada
The Nissan Armada is another SUV that has scored pretty low ratings in recent years. The 2018 Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 Endurance engine. This one can readily deliver as much as 390 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 394 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Meanwhile, it comes with several available safety features, including lane departure warning, blind spot warning, intelligent forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and more. Unfortunately, these don’t make up for the many issues that the Armada has been experiencing recently. According to reviews, the 2018 Armada suffers from poor handling and steering. Moreover, it is also not fuel efficient. And to make things even worse, the space in the third row is pretty cramped and the onboard infotainment system is rather outdated.
8 Worst: Mitsubishi Outlander
The Mitsubishi Outlander is another SUV that has been dealing with several issues recently. With an estimated MSRP of $23,945, according to a report from Motor Trend, the 2018 Outlander is a crossover SUV that comes with two engine options.
The first one is the standard 2.4-liter, inline-four engine that can produce 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque.
Meanwhile, there is also the 3.0-liter V6 engine that can deliver as much as 224 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque. According to several reviews, the Outlander has suffered from both engine and electrical problems. In fact, one Outlander owner wrote on CarComplaints.com, “While driving if key is hit, the car will shut off.”
7 Worst: Jeep Renegade
Unlike other Jeep models, the Renegade has not been receiving favorable ratings and reviews recently. In fact, many have even said that the most recent model of this compact SUV has been plagued by some major problems. The Jeep Renegade is a small SUV that is expected to dominate the off-road trail despite its size.
For the 2018 Renegade, there are two engine options.
First up is the 1.4-liter, turbocharged, MultiAir engine that can deliver 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. On the other hand, there is also a 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 engine that can produce 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. As you can see, this SUV may feel slightly underpowered. Meanwhile, there are also reported problems regarding steering, engine, drivetrain, electrical, and more for the 2018 Renegade.
6 Worst: Jaguar F-Pace
The Jaguar F-Pace may have only been launched relatively recently. Nonetheless, it’s already managed to gain attention, although not in a good way. This SUV is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo engine that can generate as much as 247 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Meanwhile, it’s got an estimated fuel efficiency rating of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway. Despite the specs, however, the F-Pace can still leave you disappointed. One consumer at Cars.com reported that the 2018 F-Pace “engine stops at stops and then starts up.” Meanwhile, the 2018 F-Pace has also been subject to three recalls. Two of these involve problems with the electrical system while one pertains to the fuel system.
5 Worst: Tesla Model X
Initially, there was great excitement for the Tesla Model X. After all, it stands out for many reasons. First, there are the falcon doors that open upwards, which is supposed to make life easier for parents who are traveling with their small children. At the same time, the Model X is also reportedly “the safest SUV” around. Tesla further explained, “Built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, the body, chassis, restraints and battery technology provide a very low probability of occupant injury.” Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that the Model X was free from issues. For starters, many complained that the falcon doors “don’t work.” Meanwhile, according to a report from Wired, some owners have also reported experiencing double vision while behind the wheel of the SUV at night.
4 Worst: Land Rover Range Rover
Another SUV that has not been experiencing a lot of issues recently is the Land Rover Range Rover. Because of this, the Range Rover has received low reliability ratings. Among the engines available for the 2018 Range Rover is a 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 engine. This one is capable of achieving as much as 340 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm.
Meanwhile, it has an estimated fuel efficiency rating of 23 miles per gallon the highway and 17 miles per gallon in the city.
As reasonably good as this may sound, however, several problems have already been reported regarding the 2018 model, particularly with regards to performance. One verified review on Consumer Affairs stated, “I purchased a NEW 2018 Range Rover Sport in October 2018. Right out of the gate I noticed the throttle response was delayed. When I press the gas there is a 1-2 second delay before the truck moves. When you have the wheel turned it's an even longer delay and then the truck bucks and goes.”
3 Worst: Ford Explorer
Yes, the Ford Explorer looks like a very handsome large SUV. And as powerful as it can be, we cannot forget that the 2018 Explorer failed miserably during a recent crash test. That means it is not one of the safest SUVs to drive around with. According to crash test results from the IIHS’ Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI), the 2018 Explorer had received a Poor rating for passenger-side crashworthiness. Meanwhile, it received a Marginal rating for driver side crashworthiness. At the same time, the tests also revealed problems with visibility when it comes to the SUV’s headlights. According to the IIHS HLDI, “The low beam created excessive glare.”
2 Worst: GMC Acadia
Another SUV that is not having a good year is the GMC Acadia. Initially, this midsize SUV looked promising. For starters, it comes with two engine options. There’s the 2.5-liter SIDI engine with a modest output of 193 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque.
And then, there’s the available 3.6-liter SIDI V6 engine that can produce as much as 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque.
At the same time, it’s got a pretty reasonable estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway. The problem, however, is that this SUV has run into some serious issues. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2018 Acadia has already suffered from two recalls. Moreover, there are also eight filed complaints against this vehicle.
1 Worst: Infiniti QX60
In recent years, Infiniti has been rather aggressive in their bid to improve the QX60. In fact, according to a report from Car and Driver, the SUV had already gone some changes in the interior and chassis dynamics. At the same time, the engine was also improved for the 2017 model. We believe these upgrades were necessary as the QX60 has suffered from reliability issues historically speaking. For 2018, a rear door alert feature had been added. At the same time, the QX60’s 3.5-liter V6 engine can deliver a decent 295 horsepower which is satisfying enough especially if you are not looking to race with anyone. Unfortunately, however, complaints still persist. Based on reviews posted on Edmunds by consumers, there are reports regarding a vibration noise or a “humming sound” while driving. One owner also noted that their unit has already had multiple repairs after running a mere 12,000 miles.
Source: Reuters, Edmunds, Car Complaints, and Wired.