The car-based crossover has revitalized the market for utility vehicles, as this new breed combines the trucklike utility that Americans prefer with the carlike comfort and fuel economy they expect. Old-school, truck-based SUVs are still the default choice for towing and rugged off-road adventure, but crossovers are becoming more capable for these tasks as well. Overall, utility vehicles appeal to consumers looking for an extra-spacious passenger package with an easily accessible place for cargo. And while the number of super-size, truck-based SUVs has dwindled, the compact crossover subcategory is one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments. Here we don't separate SUVs from crossovers (in some instances the distinctions between the two are negligible), but instead divide the entire category by price range.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Honda HR-V: None of the entries in our new subcompact SUV segment has stood clearly above the rest to earn an "A" rating. Many have fallen short for the very reasons we ultimately recommend the 2016 Honda HR-V: interior space and versatility. With a large, low and flexible cargo area facilitated by its flipping and folding "Magic" rear seat, the little HR-V can hold far more stuff than its rivals. It also offers generous rear passenger space, abundant features for the money, class-leading fuel economy and Honda's strong resale value. Unfortunately, acceleration is lethargic, the touchscreen controls can frustrate and some may find the driving position uncomfortable. But the HR-V is still among the best of this bunch.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Mazda CX-3: In many ways, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is the opposite of the HR-V. Its cabin is tiny, with a backseat and cargo area that would be considered modest even among subcompact hatchbacks. What you will find is the most engaging vehicle in the segment to drive ? by quite a wide margin. Steering precision and handling are up to the usual, excellent Mazda norm, while acceleration is class-leading. At the same time, the CX-3's fuel economy shares the class lead with the HR-V. And although the cabin is small, it is attractive, well-crafted and has a reasonably easy-to-use tech interface. If you're more interested in a subcompact SUV for its available all-wheel drive, higher driving position and style than for its space and versatility, the CX-3 delivers.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Subaru XV Crosstrek: The Subaru XV Crosstrek certainly stretches the definition of the term "SUV" or even "crossover," as it is literally an Impreza hatchback with extra ground clearance and more rugged styling. Nevertheless, those are two of the more important factors people consider in this segment, plus the Crosstrek has a comfortable and roomy backseat, a more spacious cargo area than most, a supple ride, easy-to-use controls and more ground clearance than all in the segment except the off-road-oriented Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. Note, however, that the Crosstrek's fuel economy is lower than our other top choices (though average for the segment) and its acceleration is among the class slowest.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Honda CR-V: If you're shopping for a top-shelf compact SUV, the 2016 Honda CR-V is a very well-rounded choice that readily meets the needs of most shoppers. It has ample passenger space and an enormous cargo area that further benefits from a low load height. It's also one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the segment, and although we wouldn't describe it as swift, it isn't the slug that past CR-V models were. A well-equipped interior and a fair price combine with Honda's sterling reputation for reliability to provide a powerful value proposition.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Mazda CX-5: The 2016 Mazda CX-5 combines excellent fuel economy, top safety scores, a well-made interior and a degree of driver engagement that no other compact crossover can match. Indeed, the CX-5's brakes, suspension and steering are all best-in-class, yet it still boasts a family-friendly ride quality, backseat and cargo area. A greatly improved tech interface for 2016 makes it even more appealing. If you're looking to move from a small, nimble car to a crossover SUV, the CX-5 should make your transition a little less jarring.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Ford Escape: One of the 2016 Ford Escape's main strengths is a choice of powertrains, including two punchy turbocharged four-cylinders that provide spirited acceleration. However, it also scores high marks for its sporty handling manners, some cool tech features (including Ford's new Sync 3 touchscreen interface for 2016) and a well-crafted cabin that stands above most competitors. It isn't quite as utilitarian and spacious as the CR-V or Forester, nor does its fuel economy match the class leaders. But as with the CX-5, the Escape's carlike manners make it a great choice for those coming out of a car.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Subaru Forester: The 2016 Subaru Forester may be the most unabashedly sensible compact SUV in our group. It has a large, highly versatile cargo area that's perfect for hauling big items or dogs, plus an impressively spacious and airy interior that provides unmatched visibility for the segment. Its new touchscreen tech interface for 2016 (available in two different screen sizes) is among the simplest to use. Standard all-wheel drive, excellent fuel economy and an optional turbocharged engine that delivers best-in-class acceleration are icing on the cake.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Ford Edge: The Edge provides the superior comfort and passenger space that car shoppers expect from a midsize SUV, constituting a clear step up from less expensive compact SUVs like Ford's Escape. We found its supple ride, plush seats and whisper-quiet cabin to be standouts in the segment, while its value, interior quality and driving dynamics easily meet expectations. The Edge also offers an appealing range of engines, including a base turbocharged four-cylinder, an upgrade V6 and a turbocharged V6 in the Edge Sport.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee: You don't have to be an off-road enthusiast to enjoy the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee, as it's comfortable and well-appointed for pavement duty, too. Passenger and cargo space are certainly not its forte, yet there is a solidity, composure and overall refinement to the Grand Cherokee that makes it rise above the typical five-seat crossover. Its interior in particular is far nicer than you'd expect from a rough-and-ready Jeep. All four engines are impressive, but we recommend the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel that can tow the same 7,400 pounds as the Hemi V8, while being far more fuel-efficient.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Kia Sorento: The redesigned 2016 Sorento is a substantially higher-quality vehicle than those that came before. Cabin materials give up little (if anything) to pricier competitors, feature content embodies the term "generous" and the styling is unusually eye-catching for a midsize crossover. Mechanical improvements include a strengthened structure, upgraded suspension and improved steering, which together create a substantial, comfortable and altogether refined driving experience. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine also joins the lineup between the underpowered base four-cylinder and more powerful V6 engine. You can select a Sorento with a third row of seats, too, although it's really only for children.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Honda Pilot: After taking a generation and six years off, the Honda Pilot returns to our top-recommended good graces courtesy of a complete redesign that not only better provides what three-row family crossover shoppers are looking for, but does so to a degree that bests most rivals. The styling is sleeker and the cabin more spacious, boasting more third-row passenger space than all but the big GM crossovers. Cargo space is excellent, whether you're talking about maximum capacity or small-item storage, while cabin quality has been greatly improved and now ranks among the class leaders. Finally, revised powertrains and a big-time drop in weight have yielded one of the best-performing and fuel-efficient choices in the segment. Simply put, the 2016 Pilot is very well-rounded and a must-drive.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Toyota Highlander: Like the Pilot, the 2016 Toyota Highlander boasts a refined interior, seating for up to eight (though not quite as much room), a quiet and compliant ride, and an abundance of comfort and convenience features. Further setting the Highlander apart from most rivals is its V6 engine's remarkable trifecta of strong performance, good fuel economy and above-average towing capability. Factor in Toyota's long-standing reputation for reliability and it is easy to see why the well-rounded 2016 Highlander achieves its enviable position as a top pick in this very competitive segment.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Ford Explorer Sport: Every Explorer received significant updates for 2016 to make it more appealing, but it's the Sport trim level that impresses us the most, earning both an "A" rating and a place on this list. Beyond its powerful turbocharged "EcoBoost" V6 that produces best-in-class acceleration by a wide margin (an honor shared by the Flex), we were wowed by its sport-tuned suspension, which transforms the Explorer from ponderous to sporty without ruining the ride. If you're grudgingly transitioning from a car to a big family vehicle, the Explorer Sport could be your best bet. Otherwise, like every Explorer, the Sport benefits from a high-quality and whisper-quiet interior, ample feature content and superior cargo space behind the raised third row.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2015 Ford Flex: The 2015 Ford Flex is a crossover in the truest sense of the word, as it nicely fills the gap between wagons and SUVs. Genuinely adult-friendly three-row space, a versatile boxy cargo area, outstanding visibility and a refined ride address practical concerns. Uncharacteristically responsive steering adds to the Flex's well-rounded dynamics, as it makes parking easy and instills confidence on winding roads. And if you're looking for the speedster of the lot, you've found it, as the Flex shares its optional turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine with the Explorer Sport, allowing it to sprint to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds. The Flex has been on the market far longer than the others on this list, and there are areas where it feels a bit old in terms of refinement and interior materials, but it nevertheless remains one of the best family haulers.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Ford Expedition: For buyers who require the robust passenger, cargo and towing capacities that only a traditional body-on-frame large SUV can provide, the 2016 Ford Expedition delivers more than its admittedly few rivals. It has a powerful and efficient turbocharged six-cylinder engine that's good for towing and almost makes this big truck feel fleet of foot. Its trusty steering and adaptive suspension also make it feel more maneuverable than its lumbering competitors. Plus, this big Ford continues to outdo its GM counterparts with a far more spacious and comfortable third-row seat that folds more completely into a lower cargo floor. We only recommend truck-based, full-size SUVs to those who truly need their immense capability, but if that's what you're after, then the Expedition is your best bet.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Land Rover LR4: The LR4 can tackle terrain that will leave most other SUVs stranded, boasting even more capability than other, posher Land Rover models. Yet there's little effort required to take the LR4 off-road, as the many electronic systems allow it to climb and descend with incredible ease. Full-time four-wheel drive is standard on all LR4s, and although a single-speed transfer case is standard, a traditional two-speed transfer case with selectable low-range gearing is available. Both are governed by Land Rover's Terrain Response system that allows the driver to toggle among settings (General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand, Mud/Ruts and Rock/Crawl) to get out of just about any off-road jam.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser: In many respects, the Land Cruiser seems outdated, but it also ranks highly among large SUVs for its power, luxury, passenger-friendliness and legendary off-road capability. The current Cruiser has full-time four-wheel drive, 8.9 inches of ground clearance, an active and lockable Torsen center differential, five-speed crawl control, hill descent control and Toyota's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that electronically modulates the stabilizer bars for improved handling on any terrain. Whether you're contending with deep snow, muddy trails, rain-slicked pavement or midwinter ice, the Land Cruiser will get you and your family through it in first-class comfort.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee: The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee combines prodigious off-road performance with a comfortable, well-appointed cabin. Jeep offers multiple four-wheel-drive systems, and there's even an adjustable air suspension that allows you to change the ride height from 6.6 inches for easy entry into low-clearance garages to 11.3 inches for maximum ground clearance while tackling rough terrain. Not all Grand Cherokees are created equal when it comes to off-road readiness, but all are more capable than the typical family crossover.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Jeep Wrangler: No unmodified vehicle can go as far into the unknown as the 2016 Jeep Wrangler, the ultimate convertible off-road icon. It's available in classic two-door or more family-friendly four-door Unlimited form, and both are powered by a stout 3.6-liter V6 engine. The basic Jeep is plenty capable, yet ripe for customization, while the top-level Rubicon comes standard with serious off-road hardware that makes it formidable right out of the box. Keep in mind, however, that the Wrangler is quite crude compared to more modern, pavement-oriented SUVs. If you don't plan on venturing off-road, it's a questionable choice.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Toyota 4Runner: Even at a glance, you can tell the 2016 Toyota 4Runner has the right stuff for off-road ventures. Underbody clearance is generous, while the stubby front and rear bumpers are hiked up for superior approach and departure angles. The new TRD Pro suspension and tire package takes the capable chassis to a new level, and the Trail trim level can be fitted with the KDSS automatic stabilizer bar disconnect system for extra articulation. We'd skip the Limited trim, however, as it's a dressed-up suburban version with less clearance and 20-inch street tires.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Acura RDX: Like many of Acura's models, the RDX is a solid value offering among compact luxury SUVs. Though it is available with only one engine (a 279-horsepower V6), its performance and fuel economy are quite competitive. The RDX's solidly built cabin is especially spacious for the segment, including an elevated rear seat that provides plenty of room for adults and an expansive outward view. Additionally, features like heated seats, navigation and a rearview camera are available on the RDX for thousands less than many competitors. On the whole, the RDX is among the most comfortable and easiest-to-drive SUVs in this class.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 BMW X3: The 2016 BMW X3 manages to be both opulent and modest at the same time. Its interior is a pleasing combination of spartan design, high-quality materials and many available features. Rear-seat space and cargo capacity are among the best in this segment, making the X3 one of the more family-friendly choices. It's available with three outstanding turbocharged engines: four- and six-cylinder gasoline-powered mills and a diesel good for 30 mpg combined. Plus, as a BMW, it should be no surprise that this little SUV is engaging and even rewarding to drive.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Porsche Macan: Even the base 2016 Porsche Macan outperforms nearly every other luxury compact SUV. The way that it dives into corners and makes you want to take the long way home speaks to its athletic Porsche bloodlines. All-wheel drive is standard and two turbocharged engines are available: the 340-hp 3.0-liter V6 in the S model and the 400-hp 3.6-liter V6 in the Turbo. Surprisingly, both earn the same combined EPA fuel economy rating. The Macan's interior is far from being the most spacious, but it's of the highest quality and its controls are ultimately an ergonomic success, even if they require some initial familiarization.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Acura MDX: There's a lot to like about the Acura MDX. With a third-row seat for the kids, a long list of features, a quiet cabin, smooth ride quality, admirable fuel economy and excellent safety ratings, it hits all the marks for family-hauling duties. Additionally, the MDX's surprisingly agile handling and respectably quick acceleration should satisfy those who desire a bit more driving excitement. Points are deducted for its smaller-than-average cargo capacity behind the third row and a fussy infotainment interface, but the Acura's base price handily undercuts other luxury SUVs in its class.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 BMW X5: With five alluring power plants to choose from — a 300-hp six-cylinder engine, a stout 445-hp V8, an economical diesel, a plug-in hybrid and the X5 M's wild 567-hp V8 — the 2016 BMW X5 remains a top choice in the luxury SUV class. Naturally, luxury and comfort factor in significantly, as do excellent build quality and free scheduled maintenance for four years. On the road, the X5 exhibits a solidity and confidence that hardly any rivals can match. Weaknesses are few but do include its higher-than-average price and mediocre cargo capacity.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport: The 2016 Range Rover Sport magically blends on-road performance with off-road prowess, achieving results that seemingly defy physics. It also tackles all tasks with impeccable luxury and style. The base 340-hp V6 should prove adequate for most and the new-for-2016 diesel engine delivers 25 mpg combined, but the 510- and 550-hp V8 engines are simply breathtaking. No Range Rover Sport variant is particularly affordable, though, and fuel economy in the gasoline versions takes a hit in the name of performance. Furthermore, the optional third row of seats is really only suitable for small children. But for those seeking a single luxury vehicle with go-anywhere, do-anything capabilities, the Range Rover Sport earns our recommendation.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Porsche Cayenne: The Porsche Cayenne definitely emphasizes the "Sport" in sport-utility, with handling indicative of a sport sedan and a matching level of driver entertainment. An inviting and comfortable interior with exquisite materials burnishes the Cayenne's appeal, although prices increase quickly as you explore higher trim levels and sample from the cornucopia of options. More likely than not, enthusiastic drivers will opt for higher-output engines over the middling base V6 or fuel-efficient diesel V6. Unfortunately, there's no solution for the relatively limited cargo capacity or the surprisingly unrefined E-Hybrid model, which we do not recommend. But the rest of the Cayenne lineup's appeal is undeniable.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Volvo XC90: The completely redesigned Volvo XC90 is a big step for Volvo, and although it's not perfect, this three-row luxury SUV deserves its place among our top-recommended choices. Besides its outstanding styling inside and out, it boasts best-in-class seats, generous space (except in the kids-only third row) and top-notch safety credentials. Even when compared to other luxury SUVs, it feels elegant, expensive and rich with content. Better still, it's priced lower than most rivals. A rough ride, uninspired acceleration and an occasionally overwhelming tech interface were just enough to keep the XC90 from getting our "A" rating, but we still highly recommend it.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Land Rover LR4: The LR4 may have earned a place among the best off-roading SUVs, but it does an equally impressive job on the beaten path for those looking for a three-row luxury SUV. Importantly, it provides best-in-class space — even adults would be perfectly comfortable in its third row — and its interior quality gives up little to the pricier Range Rover. Ride comfort is above average as well, and although its handling is a bit ponderous, its narrow width and excellent all-around visibility make it a great choice for driving around town. The LR4 also provides a lot of value, with prices that fall well below similarly luxurious and spacious SUVs.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class: As with other vehicles in its class, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is not for the faint of wallet. Those who step up to the GL's plate, however, are amply rewarded. A true seven-seater, the GL is built to haul people in absolute comfort with a superb ride, opulent interior appointments and just about every luxury feature you could think of. In typical Mercedes style, there is a wide offering of engines, ranging from the fuel-efficient diesel in the GL350 Bluetec to the wicked 550-hp V8 in the GL63 AMG. Why would you need this? Ah, because your kids should never be late to soccer practice? Sure, that works.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover: Although it is famous for its legitimate ability to venture well off the beaten path, the Range Rover also provides a shocking degree of on-road sophistication. Not only is its cabin finely crafted with the finest materials and packed with the latest creature comforts (plus extra space in the extended-wheelbase model), its ride comfort and straight-ahead performance also rival the finest flagship luxury sedans. Perfectly blending go-anywhere capability with stylish luxury, the Range Rover is in many ways the ultimate SUV.