Some vehicle buyers are focused on factors like style, reliability and performance when making their decision, but for many the primary factor is that the vehicle must meet their people-hauling requirements. Many need a vehicle that is capable of seating 7 or even 8 passengers to accommodate a growing family, their kids’ friends, lots of cargo, etc. A minivan is one option, but many buyers today are shying away from the minivan and are opting for a SUV for its sleek exterior and superior power and handling.
In addition to the sortable table above, we have written in-depth reviews on the top options that are summarized below. The reviews outline and compare the safety, performance, cargo and passenger space, warranty information, fuel economy and other features that come standard in the models. You can easily narrow down your search for your next vehicle when you spend time focusing on the following 5 models on the market for 2016.
Updated for 2016!
- Enter a term in the search bar to narrow down your results.
- Hold shift to select and sort multiple columns.
- “std” means that number of seats comes standard. “opt” denotes that the capacity is available as an option.
- The “3rd Row Room” column outlines the Head/Leg/Shoulder room in inches.
2016 Honda Pilot – $29,995
Best SUV With 3rd Row Seating
Japanese automobiles tend to be a byword in quality and long-term reliability. Like anything with a Honda badge, the Pilot has followed this tradition; many of the Pilot’s released during the model’s initial debut in 2002 are still on the road today.
With seating for eight, a new suspension, and a low entry-model pricetag, the Honda Pilot has once again struck a chord with fans of Honda SUVs. The Honda handles reasonably well for a large SUV, but fans of the brand shouldn’t expect GT style acceleration and maneuverability.
Rated at acombined 22 mpg, the Pilot is light on fuel consumption for its spacious interior. Like most Honda’s, standard equipment is a balance between sparse and extravagant, with plenty of optional extras to compliment the package.
The 2016 Pilot is also a IIHS Top Safety Pick. The exterior styling took a hit in the trade-off between interior design and driving functionality, but this vehicle still scores top marks for its functional and smart implementation in all other categories.
2016 Nissan Rogue – $23,240
Best Fuel Efficiency
Not a true full-size SUV, the Nissan Rogue still punches well above its weight in everyday driveability and second-row seating space. While the third row is going to be too cramped for most adults, the vehicle still comfortably seats four between its first and second row seats.
Like most Nissan’s, the 2016 Rogue is equipped with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and like most vehicles with CVT it does reasonably well for an everyday commuter vehicle. Also an IIHS top safety pick, the Rogue comes with a wealth of standard safety features, including stability control, rear-view camera, tire-pressure monitors, and curtain airbags. The full compliment of technology related driver-safety features are optional extras, such as cross-traffic alerts and forward collision warnings.
The Rogue is incredibly fuel efficient, rated at 28 combined mpg. The 2016 Nissan Rogue is a perfect choice for the consumer interested in a reliable and inexpensive mid-size SUV with third-row seating.
2016 Dodge Journey – $20,995
Best Affordable SUV
Another mid-size crossover, the Dodge Journey is a clever blend of minivan and SUV. Although it’s the least expensive vehicle on this list, it also punches well above its weight when it comes to value for money. The third-row seating option still suffers from the same space restriction as other mid-size crossovers, but the second-row seating is incredibly comfortable and will easily seat two in perfect comfort for long trips.
The ride itself is comfortable and smooth, and the higher tier models can be equipped with a 283 horsepower 3.6L V6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The standard entry model’s 2.4L inline-4 runs its power to an ancient 4-speed automatic, and will feel sluggish to most drivers. Even the more powerful V6 is rated for a combined 19 mpg, and the slower 2.4L engine should have an upside in increased fuel-efficiency.
In crash tests, the 2016 Journey faired decently well, receiving “Good” ratings in every category save one, where it scored a poor rating in the small overlap front category.
The low price and exceptional value of the 2016 Journey aims to attract buyers interested in an entry-level mid-size crossover, and it does admirably well in that respect.
2016 Chevrolet Traverse – $31,205
Best SUV for Families
Closely imitating a larger and more modern station wagon, the Chevrolet Traverse places its focus on interior space, passenger comfort, and functionality. Its price sits comfortably in the lower-range for mid-sized crossovers, and the standard equipment list is impressive for a vehicle with its price tag.
A pioneer in mid-size SUV safety features, including a standard equipped front-side airbag, the Traverse received a good ratings in all categories from the IIHS. The ride quality is smooth, and the 288 horsepower V6 provides ample power and a combined 18 mpg.
With one of the most spacious interiors of any mid-size crossover SUV, the Chevrolet traverse is a great value for its low cost.
2016 Volvo XC90 – $49,800
Best Luxury SUV
Volvo sets a high standard for affordable luxury with the 2016 Volvo XC90. With spacious third row seating for a crossover, and obscenely comfortable first and second-row seating, the XC90 makes good use of its larger crossover profile. The vehicle itself looks large for a mid-size SUV, thanks to its large back-end and height. All new styling, interior, and features abound for 2016, with almost every part of the XC90 being revamped from last year.
The available hybrid-electric drive motor boasts an impressive 400 horsepower, with an estimated 20-mile range on electric drive alone. This will cost a pretty penny, however, as its only available on the most expensive model available in the lineup.
The entry level trim comes with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with a reported 250 horsepower and an EPA estimated combined 22 mpg for FWD or 24 mpg for AWD. The XC90 has an air of quietly understated luxury, a spacious interior and attractive looks all at a mid-range price tag for the entry model.
2016 Kia Sorento – $25,100
The 2016 Kia Sorento is completely redesigned for 2016, with a more roomy interior and a host of materials upgrades. Moving from a small compact cross-over to a true mid-size, the Kia Sorento is now one of the least expensive ways to find a third-row seat in a vehicle. It’s also capable of modest terrain tackling, with fair ground clearance and a locking differential for power distribution in the AWD models.
Under the hood, the base Sorento comes equipped with a 2.4L inline-4 reportedly providing 185 horsepower and more powerful options available including a V6. It’s good to note that the third-row seating option is not available on the turbocharged inline-4 model.
The front passenger seats are comfortable and spacious, but the second and third-row seats do leave something to be desired; as befitting the Sorento’s small exterior profile. The second-row seat is smaller than most competitors offerings due to the Sorento’s overall small size in comparison to other vehicles. It will still comfortably seat four adults in the first two rows and possibly two more in the third row for short trips.
The Sorento may have had some awkward years struggling to find its place in the market, but for 2016 it’s clearly found its stride and looks to compete with the best in the mid-size SUV class.
2016 Acura MDX – $42,865
Its not hard to see what attracts customers to the Acura badge. Sophisticated styling, superior reliability, a focus on driving enjoyment, and attention to detail have been hallmarks of Acura since the brand’s inception. Their SUV line, the MDX, embodies these traits; competing with the likes of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 at a more affordable price.
The interior of the MDX continues to be a smart blend of luxury and function, with a spacious interior and seating for seven. Powered by a 290 horsepower 3.5L V6, the MDX is no slouch on the road, and like most Acuras handles more like a coupe than an SUV. This is to be expected from the craftsman at Acura, who have sculpted the MDX into a more sleek looking vehicle more similar to a large wagon than a true full-size SUV.
Options abound and standard equipment is plentiful in the MDX including a wealth of safety features that help to earn the vehicle an IIHS top safety pick, with an excellent rating in the cars front-crash prevention monitoring. The MDX impresses when it comes to fuel consumption as well, scoring above average with a combined 23 mpg in the FWD models.
A contender for many years in the mid-range SUV class, the 2016 MDX continues to shine against its competitors with its low price and attractive luxury offerings.
2016 Chevrolet Tahoe – $45,550
The Tahoe has undergone a number of changes in recent years. The styling has been reworked several times into the incarnation we see today; some may like this change and some may not. Regardless of how you feel about its exterior looks, it’s hard to deny the rugged functionality of the Tahoe, presented in a welcoming way with a touch of a class.
Nine seats, hauling power and off-road potential are all present in the 2016 Tahoe, and its standard equipment package is above average compared to the usual offerings from Chevrolet. A big throaty V8 sits in the front, providing 355 horsepower and rated to haul 8,000 lbs. Driving the Tahoe is a joy despite its large size, and the ride is smooth for driver and passengers alike. The second and third-row seats are comfortable and roomy.
A wide array of Safety features help keep the driver alert and aware while on the road, many of which come standard. The only downside may be the vehicle’s large size and thirsty V8; the Tahoe gets a combined 18 mpg, and even that is an acceptable amount for what’s on display here.
The Tahoe has been an excellent vehicle for many years and Chevrolet seems to acknowledge what attracts its buyers, giving them more of what they want where they want it.
2016 Toyota Highlander – $29,990
The Highlander is a more functional and versatile offering from Toyota than its larger and more off-road oriented 4Runner, or the more compact RAV4. Aimed at families looking for more space in their everyday commuter vehicle, the Highlander isn’t out to win any points for styling. What it does do is deliver on its promise of an inexpensive, reliable and functional mid-size SUV.
It will seat up to eight, with six adults in relative comfort for mid to long distance trips. There’s more space in this years’ Highlander, and despite the added weight provided by the larger size, the Highlander is still rated for an above-average combined 22 mpg in the FWD model or, if you spring for the Hybrid-electric, 28 in both 4WD specs.
The Highlander clearly knows its role and plays upon its strength, providing impressive utility in an inexpensive package for the busy family.
Tesla Model X – $80,000
The Tesla Model X is by far the most expensive, technologically advanced, and comfortable SUV on this list. Closer to a mid-size crossover than a full-size SUV, the Tesla will still seat up to seven, including six full-size adults in complete comfort, and still do 0-60 in under four seconds. This is thanks to its advanced all electric-drive that provides instant torque and horsepower response to the vehicles front and rear tires.
Technically rated for over 700 horsepower in the higher end models, in reality, the power transfer ratio works differently than in a traditional gasoline powered vehicle. There is only one gear in a Tesla X, as there’s no need for a complex transmission and clutch to bring power to the tires, due to individual electric motors drawing power directly from the vehicles massive lithium battery. As soon as your foot goes down the acceleration is instant and there is never a drop in power from a gear change.
Aside from its impressive under-the-hood mechanics, the interior itself is filled with a dizzying array of features and functions; if it can be found on a car owner’s wishlist it’s very likely found in the Tesla X. Gull-wing doors, fully adjustable seating in every row and large touchscreen displays; there isn’t much Tesla hasn’t thought of here. The fully electric-drive motor is rated by the EPA to provide a jaw-dropping 257-mile range, a huge distance for an electric vehicle.
To top it all off, Tesla is well aware of the major failing on every electric motor; their purchase price includes a full lifetime warranty on the cars battery. This means that when the vehicles maximum charge begins to lose its luster, Tesla will toss a new one in for your, free of charge, for the life of the vehicle. Say goodbye to electric woes and worries, Tesla has truly brought electric vehicles to the fore with their new lineup of electric-drive cars, including the functional and feature packed Tesla-X.
Over to You
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