Best SUVs For 2021

Table of Contents Best Mini SUV: 2021 Hyundai VenueBest Sub-Compact SUV: 2021 Ford Bronco SportBest Sub-Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLABest Compact SUV: 2021 Nissan Rogue Best Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB Best 2-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia SorentoBest 2-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Audi Q8Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia […]

The hardest thing about choosing the best SUVs on sale today is deciding what an SUV actually is. That’s why we’re doling out this superlative in multiple categories ranging from Best Mini SUV to Best Full-Size True SUV. In between we have categories for different size SUVs, luxury and non-luxury SUVs, and the aforementioned “True SUVs,” which are the ones based on truck-like frames. 

Motor1.com editors have driven and reviewed all of the SUVs that appear on this list, and together we considered every SUV on sale in each of these categories. Some were easier to pick a winner for than others – Best Compact SUV was a unanimous vote for the Rogue, but blood was spilt deciding Best 2-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV.

Whatever kind of SUV you’re looking for, we’ve got the best one to recommend below. If you have any questions, leave them for us in the comments. 

  1. Best Mini SUV: 2021 Hyundai Venue
  2. Best Sub-Compact SUV: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport
  3. Best Sub-Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA
  4. Best Compact SUV: 2021 Nissan Rogue
  5. Best Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB
  6. Best 2-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia Sorento
  7. Best 2-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Audi Q8
  8. Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia Telluride
  9. Best 3-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Lincoln Aviator
  10. Best Full-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS
  11. Best Full-Size True SUV: 2021 Chevy Tahoe/Suburban 

Best Mini SUV: 2021 Hyundai Venue

The 2021 Hyundai Venue may be small in stature, but it’s been a big success for the brand. And once you spend some time with the Venue, it’s easy to see why. The subcompact crossover looks great, is nice to drive, and offers a suite of standard safety equipment like automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist.

Powering the Venue is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces a decent 121 horsepower, paired to a continuously variable transmission. The Venue is no performance crossover, to be fair, but it does return up to 32 miles per gallon combined. But most importantly, the Venue is affordable, asking just $18,750 to start for the 2021 model year. 

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Hyundai Venue

  • Base Price: $18,750
  • Destination Charge: $1,185
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume: 19.0 / 32.0 Cubic Feet

Best Sub-Compact SUV: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands front quarter wide

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is based on the same platform as the Escape, but the two couldn’t be more different. Befitting its nameplate, the Bronco Sport comes with all-wheel drive standard, with a respectable 7.8 inches of ground clearance on the base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks trims, and a standout 8.8 inches on the Badlands. Powering all but the Badlands is an adequate 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-three, while the flagship Bronco Sport gets a feisty 2.0-liter turbo four with 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet. The Ford Bronco Sport doesn’t just play the numbers game, either. 

While it may not offer the low-range, body-on-frame ruggedness of the regular Bronco, the Sport model is still plenty capable on rocky trails, thanks to two different all-wheel-drive systems. Both can send up to half the engine’s torque to the rear axle, and they’re actively cooled to keep them performing well in taxing conditions. The more advanced Badlands gets a twin-clutch rear differential that portions up to 100 percent of the rear axle’s torque to either the right or left wheel, preventing slip. 

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport.

  • Base Price: $27,215
  • Destination Charge: $1,495
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume: 32.4 / 65.2 cubic feet

Best Sub-Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was one of the first subcompact luxury crossovers on the market when the first generation debuted in 2014. Now more than five years later, Mercedes has totally revamped its smallest offering, giving it more style, better tech, and two sharp AMG trims – one with nearly 400 horsepower on tap.

But even the entry-level GLA 250 is a winner. The base model sports a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 221 hp, with the option of front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. The sporty AMG GLA 35 delivers a more robust 302 horses from its turbocharged engine, while the range-topping GLA 45 pumps out an impressive 382 hp. The GLA is a great little luxury crossover and only costs $36,230 to start.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA.

  • Base Price: $36,230
  • Destination Charge: $1,050
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume: 15.4 / 50.5 Cubic Feet

Best Compact SUV: 2021 Nissan Rogue 

2021 Nissan Rogue Comparison Exterior

For as long as it’s been on sale in the US (about 12 years now), the Nissan Rogue has been the brand’s best-selling crossover. And with the new 2021 model arriving recently, Nissan hopes to keep that sales train rolling – and we don’t see why the brand wouldn’t find the same success. The latest Rogue is stylish, comfortable, and darn nice to drive based on our time with it.

Under the hood of the new Rogue is a 2.5-liter inline-four engine with 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet, paired to a continuously variable transmission. The powertrain setup isn’t all that inspiring, but gobs of comfort, impressive tech, its innocuous character, and affordable pricing make the Rogue one of the best buys of 2021.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

  • Base Price: $25,820
  • Destination Charge: $1,150
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume: 36.9 / 72.9 Cubic Feet

Best Compact Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Front

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB fills the gap between subcompact and compact crossover. This delightful little SUV strikes the perfect balance between fun and grown-up with boxy styling and fantastic interior appointments. We love the MBUX infotainment system with its twin 10.3-inch displays and easy-to-use setup. Meanwhile, gorgeous multicolor ambient lighting fills the cabin at night.

Motivating the standard GLB250 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. However, those looking for something a little spicier can opt for the GLB35 AMG model, which puts out a more pronounced 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. Handling is crisp and nimble, thanks to the GLB’s tiny packaging, while the interior is spacious for 5 passengers. There’s even an optional third row of seating, though that is reserved for the smallest members of your road trip. 

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB.

  • Base Price: $38,050
  • Destination Charge: $1,050
  • Seating Capacity: 5 (Optional 7)
  • Cargo Volume: 27.0/ 62.0 Cubic-Feet

Best 2-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia Sorento

2021 Kia Sorento X-Line Exterior

Following the wildly successful Telluride, the 2021 Kia Sorento is the company’s other new three-row SUV. Slightly smaller in size and price, the Sorento packs much of the same charm as its bigger sibling. Design touches like Kia’s signature tiger nose grille and LED lighting signature look aggressive, as does the optional X-Line package. The cabin is filled with premium materials like cross-stitched leather and matte wood paneling. Higher trim models come with an easy-to-use 10.3-inch touchscreen, while cheaper versions get an 8.0-inch unit with standard Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Under the hood is a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 191 horsepower, while a more powerful optional turbocharged four-cylinder pumps out 281 hp. All-wheel drive is available on all trims for $1,800 making the Sorento a more capable off-road companion. This SUV is a fantastic blend of capability, efficiency, and almost-luxury with a price that won’t scare most buyers away.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Kia Sorento.

  • Base Price: $29.390
  • Destination Charge: $1,175
  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Cargo Volume:12.6/ 45.5 Cubic-Feet

Best 2-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Audi Q8

6. 2019 Audi Q8

The 2021 Audi Q8 has a sleek design and tech-heavy interior, making it one of the most enjoyable SUVs on the market today. Available in three trim levels, every Q8 gets Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch MMI infotainment display, and Matrix-design LED headlights are available with some packages. A turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with mild-hybrid electrification appears under the hood, good for 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet, and Quattro all-wheel drive is obviously standard.

Of course, those who want more power can swap into the SQ8, which retains its sibling’s sense of style but adds a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 500 hp. Meanwhile, the mighty RS Q8 gets a Lamborghini-rivaling 591 hp, good for a sprint to 60 of just 3.8 seconds. But even the standard model is an ultra comfortable machine on either a highway or winding road, with competent handling that still provides a hushed, pleasant ride for passengers. 

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Audi Q8.

  • Base Price: $68,200
  • Destination Charge: $1,095
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume: 30.5 / 60.7 Cubic Feet

Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUV: 2021 Kia Telluride

2020 Kia Telluride: Review

The 2021 Kia Telluride is one of the biggest surprises the company has ever foisted on us, offering premium materials, handsome styling, a good driving experience, and a spacious interior for up to eight passengers. It’s also value-oriented, starting at $32,190 and extremely well equipped for less than $50,000. Powered by a 3.8-liter V6 with 281 horsepower, the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is competitive with other midsize family crossovers.

Kia also gave its biggest SUV a stylish and well-thought-out interior, with a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen or a larger 10.3-inch unit on the mid-level EX trim and above. Automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot collision prevention, and adaptive cruise control are standard, and Kia’s excellent Highway Driving Assist feature is available. And with 21 cubic feet of cargo room with all the seats up or 87 with them stowed, there’s more than enough room inside for long trips. The handsome Kia Telluride is a very compelling option for families who need a spacious and well-equipped SUV.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Kia Telluride.

  • Base Price: $32,190
  • Destination Charge: $1,225
  • Seating Capacity: 8
  • Cargo Volume: 21.0 / 46.0 / 87.0 cubic feet

Best 3-Row Mid-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Lincoln Aviator 

2020 Lincoln Aviator Reserve: Pros And Cons

Ten years ago, people would have laughed in your face if you suggested Lincoln was building the best three-row mid-size luxury SUV on the market. But here we are, with the 2021 Lincoln Aviator boasting a modern exterior design that mixes with a mid-century modern interior aesthetic to create a classy and comfortable luxury vehicle.

Particularly in Black Label trim, the Aviator has one of the best interiors in a sub-$100,000 vehicle, which Lincoln pairs with over-the-top options like 30-way seats and a 28-speaker Revel audio system to craft a segment-leading cabin experience. Under the hood sits either a twin-turbocharged V6 or a twin-turbocharged V6 with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack – either option gives the Aviator ample performance, while the latter provides usable real-world electric range. From how it looks to how it drives, the 2021 Lincoln Aviator is the mid-size three-row luxury SUV to have.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Lincoln Aviator.

  • Base Price: $51,570
  • Destination Charge: $1,095
  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Cargo Volume: 18.3 / 41.8 / 77.7 Cubic Feet

Best Full-Size Luxury SUV: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS

2020 Mercedes-Bens GLS-Class

Regardless of your needs, there’s a Mercedes-Benz GLS model for you. The mainline GLS 450 and GLS 580 match the S-Class driving, ownership, and tech experience with a roomy and luxurious SUV body. If you want performance, the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 provides breath-taking acceleration and agility that will make you question whether an SUV can break the laws of physics. Finally, the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 represents the ultimate in luxury, with unique seating, a bespoke cabin, and a flashy two-tone exterior.

Regardless of which you choose, the GLS has the design and engineering to satisfy. Each of its powertrain options is impressively potent, while the overall cabin experience is whisper quiet. With so much versatility from one vehicle family, it’s little surprise the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is our best full-size luxury SUV.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class.

  • Base Price: $76,000
  • Destination Charge: $1,050
  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Cargo Volume: 17.4 / 42.7 / 84.7 Cubic Feet

Best Full-Size True SUV: 2021 Chevy Tahoe/Suburban

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Exterior

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban prove once again why the Bowtie brand has been a leader in truck-based SUVs for decades. The modern exterior design riffs on the Silverado pickup (which the Tahoe/Suburban share underpinnings and powertrains with), while the cabin is ideally suited to large, active families. There’s a huge amount of space, including in the third row thanks to a new independent rear suspension, which ensures substantially more legroom.

The Tahoe and Suburban have a range of engine options, but we’ll take the 6.2-liter gas-powered V8 or the 3.0-liter turbodiesel any day of the week. The former provides immense torque and a fantastic soundtrack, while the latter is whisper quiet around town and provides the kind of effortless torque that one-ton truck owners have enjoyed for decades. Range-topping models up the ante with an available air suspension, which means even a Chevy SUV can provide a luxury car-like ride.

Get real pricing near you on the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.

  • Base Price: $49,600 / $52,300
  • Destination Charge: $1,695
  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Cargo Volume: 25.5 / 72.6 / 122.9 Cubic Feet, 41.5 / 93.8 / 144.7 Cubic Feet

FAQ

Elida Schollmeyer

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