The Best SUV From Every Major Brand

SUVs are one of the most lucrative segments of the car market, and as a result, almost every manufacturer now has at least one in their lineup. That means competition is fiercer than ever, with buyers demanding the space and convenience of a traditional SUV, but the road manners and creature comforts of a passenger car. Achieving the right balance of truck-like practicality and car-like handling is no easy task, but the current crop of SUVs and crossovers on the market are more adept at pulling off both than ever before.

Arguably, the key ingredient in the formula for a winning SUV is character — with so many models on the market, it's easy to get lost in the crowd. Adding ludicrous engines or trail-ready all-terrain capability is one way of doing so, but simply offering best-in-class value for money is an equally good way to stand out. With that in mind, these models represent the best that each of the major manufacturers has to offer.

Ford Bronco

Resurrecting an iconic classic for the modern car market is always a tricky task, but Ford got the formula just right for the Bronco, which relaunched in 2021. We drove one shortly after launch and found it delivered a great balance of highway and off-road capability, with a more refined feel than the Bronco's biggest rival, the Jeep Wrangler. It packed plenty of everyday creature comforts and all the tech you'd expect from a modern SUV, but without compromising on its trail-ready nature.

Its styling is also commendable, as Ford has managed to toe the line between incorporating a retro-inspired design without making it feel like a pastiche of the classic Bronco. This is very much a modern SUV in a funky retro package, and buyers can't seem to get enough of it. Even with supply chain shortages beginning to ease up, Ford still has a huge backlog of unfulfilled Bronco orders, and in January 2023, the automaker resorted to offering customers on the waitlist a $2,500 discount if they switched their order to a less in-demand model.


While the recently-unveiled XM serves as the range-topper for BMW's line of SUVs, its divisive design and starting price of $159,000 stop it from earning the title of the Bavarian brand's best SUV. Instead, that honor goes to the X5 M, which saw a mid-life styling refresh for the 2024 model year that's thankfully nowhere near as polarizing as the XM. It also gains a 48-volt hybrid system, but its power output remains the same, at 617 horsepower. That's only 27 horses less than the XM, yet the X5 M retails for $36,700 less.

Inside, you'll find all the usual BMW luxuries, with a long options list to add things like massaging front seats and plusher leather. For all its performance capabilities, this is still an X5, so there's plenty of legroom in both the front and rear seats and enough cargo space to carry a family's worth of luggage with ease.

Toyota 4Runner

The 4Runner might not be the most refined or economical SUV on the market, but it's hard to argue with its off-road chops. Its traditional body-on-frame construction sets it apart from the competition, and 2023 marks its 40th year in production. To celebrate, Toyota has unveiled a 40th Anniversary Special Edition with a retro design. Despite its old-school platform, the 4Runner offers a decent level of tech as standard, and its on-road driving manners are reasonable as long as you're not expecting the agility of a car-based crossover.

Rumors have been spreading that Toyota is looking to debut the sixth generation of the veteran SUV within the next year or two, and there might be some major styling changes on the horizon due to a switch to Toyota's global TNGA-F platform. It remains to be seen how much these changes will affect the 4Runner's all-terrain capabilities, but for now, at least, it remains a top choice if you're looking for a no-frills off-roader.

Chevrolet Suburban

The Chevy Suburban was last refreshed in 2022, landing it on our list of the best SUVs that year. The refresh focused on two key areas where the Suburban was starting to show its age: a suite of new tech features was added, and a more powerful V8 engine was available for higher trims. It follows the classic large SUV formula to a tee — it's huge both inside and out, powerful enough to tow almost anything you'll need, and luxurious enough that you can forgive the top trim's steep asking price.

Being a typical full-size SUV does mean that the Suburban suffers from the same weak spots as its competition. This isn't an economical car, so expect plenty of trips to the gas station, and despite its assured handling, it can still feel oversized around town. Not that either of those things will concern Suburban buyers, of course — this is a predictable, familiar SUV that won't hide any surprises, and it's all the better for it.

Acura MDX

Acura's three-row SUV aims to stand out from the crowd by positioning itself as a more athletic alternative to the usual family haulers. It very much achieves that goal – we found the MDX to be one of the most enjoyable cars in the segment to drive, without ever compromising on the practicality and convenience that draws buyers to family SUVs in the first place. Its styling was also overhauled for the 2022 model year, and it now looks a lot sharper than its predecessors both inside and outside.

The MDX Type S offers the most power and optimal handling, but it's also significantly more expensive than base trims. Considering that most MDX buyers will be using their car first and foremost as a family hauler, it's probably not worth the extra cash, as the lower-spec trims offer more than enough athleticism. The optional all-wheel drive system is worth the money though, giving the car greater grip and a more planted feel than the base front-wheel drive setup.

Land Rover Defender

Another recently revived SUV icon, the classic Defender can trace its roots all the way back to the original Land Rover of 1947. After several decades of absence from America, the updated Defender debuted for the 2020 model year. Although it sported a much more modern design than its predecessor, the Defender's basic blocky proportions were left unchanged, being especially noticeable in the short-wheelbase Defender 90, which we drove in 2021.

The updated SUV's road manners are a world away from the agricultural feel of the old Defender, but it's just as off-road capable as ever. Although, most new SUV buyers will never get anywhere close to testing the limits of their Defender's all-terrain capability. Instead, they'll be more concerned about the comfort, practicality, and convenience the car offers, all of which it delivers with as much aplomb as many purely road-focused SUVs. It might not be the revival that purists were hoping for, but the new Defender manages to cater to a wider audience than ever, all while losing none of the rugged charm that made it an icon in the first place.

Mazda CX-90

New for the 2024 model year, the Mazda CX-90 does an excellent job of replacing the CX-9, the previous largest SUV in the Japanese automaker's lineup. Its biggest selling point is that it feels more fun to drive than other three-row SUVs of its size, with an inline-six engine that's more than happy to test the limits of its rev range, especially in Sport mode. In top-spec trim, the car also feels surprisingly luxurious inside, with Nappa leather and microsuede adorning the seats and dash respectively.

All-wheel drive comes as standard, increasing grip in colder, wetter conditions, and encouraging you to take corners at higher speed (although don't expect Miata-style handling — this is still a large SUV, albeit an athletic one). It's not the roomiest car in its segment, especially in the third row, and other rivals offer a lower starting price or better fuel economy. However, none of those rivals are quite as engaging to drive. So, if you have to buy a family hauler but don't want to completely sacrifice the ability to have fun behind the wheel, it's hard to beat the CX-90.

Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade is not without its detractors, but it remains the go-to SUV in its segment, and for good reason. The latest generation, introduced in 2021, is easier to drive around town than its predecessors thanks to its magnetic ride control and adaptive air suspension. It's no less hulking than before though, with a cavernous interior that can fit up to eight passengers and all the luggage they might need.

Cadillac's semi-autonomous Super Cruise system means long highway drives can be hands-free, as long as said highway is one of the pre-mapped routes recognized by the system. Most major routes across North America are now included after a big expansion to the mapped network in 2022. The latest Escalade doesn't really mess with Cadillac's winning formula at all, but then it simply doesn't need to. If you're looking for a plush, full-size SUV that's all-American in every sense of the word, the Escalade remains the gold standard.

Audi RS Q8

The Audi RS Q8 sits in a strange spot in the market, because it's based on the same platform as the Lamborghini Urus, yet it's cheaper and marginally slower. It also sports Audi's coveted "RS" designation, being only the second SUV to do so, and putting it among Q-car royalty like the RS6 Avant and RS7. That said, it's also an SUV, and if you're not concerned about practicality, the R8 offers a more traditional supercar experience. With so many comparisons to be made, you'd expect it to miss the mark in at least one aspect, yet it doesn't.

It doesn't feel like a cheapened Urus, and in fact, in many ways, it's arguably better value for money than its Lamborghini-branded cousin. It lives up to the "RS" moniker, feeling just as exciting to drive as the RS6 Avant and RS7 when we tested it in Spain. Yet, it's still a practical SUV, with enough head and legroom in the back to comfortably seat two adults. It might not have the star power that other super-SUVs of its nature enjoy, but really, that's about the only downside to this otherwise excellent car.

Hyundai Palisade

With three rows of seats and a starting price just north of $35,000, the 2023 Hyundai Palisade proves that budget-oriented family transport doesn't have to mean getting a minivan. Its huge grille might put off some buyers, but other than that, there's very little to dislike about this well-equipped, comfortable SUV. Every trim gets a 3.8-liter V6 engine making 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.

The Palisade comes loaded with plenty of tech for the price, and there's a 12.3-inch central touchscreen to control most of the car's features and functions. Not all of them, though, as there's still a reassuring number of physical buttons and dials to control basic features like driving mode and volume. On the road, the Palisade feels refined if never athletic –this isn't an SUV that pretends to be sporty, far from it, but it's no slouch either. There are very few competitors out there that offer such a well-rounded SUV for such an affordable price, with the Palisade's biggest competitor ironically being the closely-related Kia Telluride.

Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot's formula hasn't really changed in four generations — it's still a roomy, family-friendly SUV with conservative styling and a focus on safety. For 2023, the new Trailsport trim promises to add another factor into the mix: all-terrain capability. We tested the Pilot Trailsport on the Broken Arrow Trail in Arizona, and it dealt with everything we could throw at it, even if there were a few bumps and scrapes along the way. If you don't need the extra off-road chops, then the base-spec LX trim offers the best value for money, with the same spacious, comfortable cabin and refined driving dynamics.

The Pilot doesn't really excel at any one thing, but then, it doesn't need to. Instead, its biggest strength is its ability to be a comfortable all-rounder, equally at home on an urban commute as it is on the rougher roads out of town. It handles both situations with the unwavering sensibility that Honda's SUVs are famous for, and that's exactly what earns it its spot on this list.

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Luxury SUVs don't get much more ostentatious than the AMG-tuned Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, which packs more horses under the hood than any driver could realistically ever need. 577 of them, to be exact. There is no sensible justification for buying one — cheaper off-road SUVs will be just as capable, and there are plenty of other luxury cars that offer better value for money. But all that goes out of the window when you're driving a G63 AMG. It turns heads wherever you go, and it can pull away from the lights comically fast for something that looks like it's actively trying to ignore the laws of aerodynamics.

Inside, you get a lavish cabin that's typical of high-end Benzes, with two 12.3-inch displays providing a futuristic touch to what's otherwise a traditional-looking SUV. Unsurprisingly, fit and finish is excellent, with Mercedes-Benz fine-tuning every last detail. The cabin isn't quite as roomy as you'd expect it to be from the outside, and with its biturbo V8 engine, fuel economy is predictably terrible. The thing is, none of that matters — this is an SUV you buy because you want to, because it's unlike anything else on the road. That is, if you can stomach its sky-high asking price — our test vehicle had a sticker price of over $180,000, and it's possible to push that figure up even higher if you go ham with the options list.

Tesla Model X

Tesla's original SUV is still its best, although in April 2023, the automaker hiked its prices so that the cheapest Model X is now perilously close to six figures. The base-spec car now costs $97,490, while the Model X Plaid will set you back at least $107,490. Performance figures for the SUV remain unchanged, with the top-spec Plaid able to launch from a standstill to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds.

There's a lot to like about the Model X, not least its interior, which is packed with Tesla's usual bevy of features and hidden extras. The falcon wing doors also add a layer of drama to getting in and out of the car, and remain unique in the segment. The electric SUV market is rapidly expanding, with big industry players and newcomers alike all looking to cash in. For now though, Tesla's biggest SUV remains the benchmark, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.

Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

The king of muscle SUVs is back for 2023, with Dodge relaunching the Durango SRT Hellcat in limited numbers. It packs 710 horsepower thanks to its 6.2-liter V8 engine, and tops out at 180 mph. It also boasts an NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of just 11.5 seconds, and it can pull 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Those are impressive figures for most factory muscle cars, never mind a seven-seater family SUV. Obviously, the engine is the star of the show here, but buyers won't be disappointed when they step inside the Durango SRT Hellcat either.

Laguna leather upholstery is included with the Plus package, alongside a power sunroof, and some additional driving aids. Shell out a little extra for the Premium package and you'll get a Harman Kardon audio system, some carbon fiber interior trim, and racing-inspired red seatbelts. The sad reality is that muscle cars like this are a dying breed as the industry turns towards electrification, but for now, at least, the Durango SRT Hellcat lives on as a gas-guzzling brute that'll leave almost every other SUV in the rearview mirror.

Nissan Armada

The latest refresh of the Nissan Armada debuted in 2021, with updated styling and a redesigned cabin. The changes brought the Armada much more in line with the competition, both in terms of appearance and connectivity, but the old-school V8 engine remains for all trims. In fact, it's one of the cheapest new V8-powered cars on the market right now. The Armada's strongest suit was always its comfort, and the latest model does nothing to change that.

It's still a softer, cushier ride than most, which stands out as unusual when most three-row SUVs now aim for some level of athleticism. The Armada makes no such claims: It's a big SUV of the traditional sort, and one that will appeal to buyers who take no interest in any three-row that aims to be "sporty." It's worth noting, though, that it isn't quite as spacious inside as its Ford or Chevy-branded rivals, despite its bulky frame.

Lexus LX 600

The replacement for the Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 570, the LX 600 debuted in 2022 as a welcome mix of both its predecessors. We found it to be just as capable off-road as the last-gen Land Cruiser, conquering the roughest terrain that our New Mexico drive could throw at it with ease. It's also comparatively priced to the previous generation, yet it comes with a plusher interior and more tech as standard.

Head towards the top end of the LX 600 lineup and the Ultra Luxury trim boasts one of the nicest cabins of any SUV in its price bracket. A particular highlight was the Mark Levinson sound system, which was capable of pumping out crystal clear sound at way beyond advisable volume levels, remaining just as clear no matter where we were sitting in the car. Turn the sound system off, and the V6 engine was barely audible most of the time, leaving us with as relaxing a cabin as you'd find in a Range Rover. Only, the LX 600 can transport you to remote places that the Range Rover could only dream of.

Buick Enclave

The Enclave might be the best Buick SUV currently on the market, but it's still not a segment leader by any stretch of the imagination. We drove the current generation Enclave in 2021, and since then it's benefitted from a styling refresh and a suite of additional tech features. However, the uninspiring V6 engine remains, and other rivals still offer better value for money, especially in the case of the top-spec Avenir trim.

Even so, the Enclave does get a lot of things right — the three rows have plenty of room, the tech on offer is now much more on par with similarly-priced rivals, and it's a very comfortable cruiser. In fact, our main complaint with the 2021 Enclave was that it simply didn't stand out in a competitive market, and that remains true for the 2023 model. That said, anyone who was already inclined to check out what's on offer in their nearest Buick dealership is unlikely to be disappointed.

GMC Yukon XL

For 2023, the Yukon and long-wheelbase Yukon XL gained GM's Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving mode, making the already great SUV an even more compelling purchase. When we tested the current generation Yukon XL in 2021, the lack of Super Cruise was one of our biggest complaints, so it's great to see GM's latest tech finally make its way over to the range. There wasn't much to dislike about the car, with its cavernous interior and ample cargo space, high levels of equipment as standard, and smooth ride.

In terms of trim, the Yukon delivers at all levels. The Denali we reviewed is still a great choice, but if you've got even deeper pockets, the new-for-2023 Denali Ultimate trim takes the Yukon to a new level of luxury. It adds Alpine Umber leather, an 18-speaker Bose sound system, massaging front seats, and open-pore wood trim. However, it reaches within a hair's width of six figures with all those options ticked, while the still well-equipped base trim can be had for around $60,000.

Kia Telluride

Take a glance at the spec sheet of the Hyundai Palisade and the Kia Telluride, and you might be forgiven for thinking that they're the same car. In a way, they are: the powertrain is the same, the styling is similar, and most of the interior bits are shared. Much like its Hyundai-badged sibling, the Telluride takes the crown as the best SUV in Kia's lineup. The lineup has expanded for 2023, too: We drove the new Telluride X-Pro, an off-road focused trim that's designed for weekend trips up to remote camping spots.

It'll handle those kinds of trails, but take it anywhere tougher and you might come up stuck, especially since most of the upgrades are software rather than hardware. The biggest strength of the Telluride range isn't its all-terrain capability though, but rather its best-in-class value for money. You won't find a better-equipped SUV for the price — unless you're in a Hyundai dealership, of course.


Volkswagen's best-selling electric SUV does everything you'd expect, and nothing more. It's a car built for first-time EV switchers, one which we felt was "a VW which happens to be electric" when we reviewed it earlier in 2023. Plenty of EVs are keen to hype up how different they are from gas-powered cars, but the ID.4 does none of that. Sure, other rivals can go further on a charge, or boast better performance figures, but a significant amount of drivers out there won't really mind.

Instead, they'll care how familiar the car feels, how easy it is to drive, and how practical it is to live with. The car delivers on all fronts here, with plenty of space for passengers and cargo, a comfortable but never flashy cabin, and a starting price that's not far off many of its gas-powered rivals. It might not be the most groundbreaking EV, but it doesn't need to be. It's just a regular Volkswagen, but an electric one.

Volvo XC90

It's no longer the newest kid on the block, but the XC90 still earns its place as Volvo's flagship SUV. It hasn't changed significantly since the current generation was launched back in 2015, with its sleek design and fancy interior receiving only minor tweaks and upgrades over all its years on sale. One thing that has changed is the level of tech included as standard — new features were last added in 2022, to ensure the Volvo kept its place as one of the best-equipped vehicles in its segment.

Volvo has long placed a big emphasis on safety, and as you might expect, the active safety tech included in the XC90 is also class-leading. The Recharge hybrid system is less so, with only a minimal all-electric range available and little improvement in MPG figures over the gas-only model. However, Volvo's all-electric EX90 is due to launch in 2024, so the XC90 might lose its crown as the brand's best SUV soon.

Jeep Wrangler

America's favorite off-road brand has expanded its lineup to include everything from entry-level crossovers to huge luxury cruisers over recent years, but the Wrangler still holds a unique charm that few other vehicles in the Jeep lineup can match. It's not the most civilized vehicle to drive on the road, although we found the 4xe hybrid to be the best-mannered of the bunch. It's also far from the most luxurious SUV you can buy for the money, especially in the top portion of the trim range.

Road noise is also an issue, and it's not the most spacious SUV in its class. But to focus on any of those things is to miss the point of a Wrangler: This is a vehicle that will go anywhere, in any conditions, anytime you want it to. That's it, really — it's about as "proper" as off-roaders get. Nothing more, nothing less.