Cars and Trucks

Best SUVs and Crossovers of 2021

Crossovers and SUVs are among the most popular new cars on the market today, and automakers are supplying that demand with models of all shapes and sizes. To make the shopping process less daunting and easier to navigate, we’ve compiled a list of the best crossovers and SUVs of 2021. The collection includes at least one model from every segment, our 10Best winners, Editor’s Choice picks, and other highly ranked models.

Every Crossover and SUV Ranked from Worst to Best:

Compact | Sub-Compact | Mid-Size | Full-Size | 3-Row

Subcompact: Mazda CX-30

Although the 2021 Mazda CX-30 is close in size to the CX-3 SUV, it’s a more modern—and hugely desirable—offering. It borrows its styling, interior design, and powertrain from the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback, and adds a slightly lifted suspension that gives it an SUV-like feel (albeit barely) from behind the wheel. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder provides adequate power and can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive; a far more powerful turbocharged 2.5-liter is optional and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Inside you’ll find a near-premium cabin that should give more-expensive rivals such as the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1 pause; Mazda throws in a host of standard driver-assistance features as well. In our opinion, if you insist on a subcompact SUV over a similarly priced sedan or hatchback, the CX-30 belongs at the very top of your shopping list.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Subcompact: Hyundai Kona

Even three model years into its initial run, the 2021 Hyundai Kona continues to turn heads with its bold styling. But this SUV is more than just a style item, as it offers crisp handling and a gutsy optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If you can’t afford to upgrade to the 175-hp turbo powertrain, the base nonturbo model is slower but still plenty fun to drive. The Kona’s cabin is nicely trimmed and comfortable for four adults, although rear-seat headroom and cargo space aren’t as generous as slightly larger rivals. Despite its practical downfalls, the Kona remains one of the best looking and best driving small SUVs available today and it’s one we’re happy to recommend.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Subcompact: Kia Soul

The 2021 Kia Soul puts the “fun” in funky and functional with its distinctly boxy design and remarkably roomy cabin. The subcompact SUV has corporate competition from the new Kia Seltos and the Hyundai Kona, but the Soul is significantly cheaper. Kia offers buyers the choice between two gas-powered four-cylinders, one of which is a powerful 201-hp turbocharged engine. Alternatively, you can wait for the forthcoming electric model (reviewed separately). While Kia markets the Soul as an SUV, the vehicle’s lack of all-wheel drive and limited ground clearance make it seem like more of a large hatchback. Still, it possesses entertaining driving manners that complement its eccentric nature. The 2021 Soul isn’t especially fuel-efficient, and the base model doesn’t offer any driver-assistance features, but it’s hard to beat this ute’s affordability and personality.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Subcompact Luxury: Volvo XC40

Volvo’s fun and funky 2021 XC40 blends everything we love about the brand’s large SUVs with a more youthful appearance and a charming driving demeanor. Volvo offers two different turbocharged four-cylinders: The 184-hp T4 engine comes with front-wheel drive, and the more powerful 248-hp T5 gets all-wheel drive as standard. Inside, buyers will find a thoughtfully designed cabin complete with plenty of storage cubbies and a smattering of high-tech features. Compared with most of its subcompact-crossover rivals—such as the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-class—the XC40 has a more commanding driving position, making it feel larger than it is.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Subcompact Luxury: BMW X1

Under the 2021 BMW X1’s somewhat anonymous-looking outer skin lies a playful chassis that give this small SUV a winning character. All X1s come with the a 228-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which provides considerable pep and reasonable fuel economy. On a twisty road, the ute comes alive and delivers much of the same crisp handling and ride refinement that the BMW brand is known for. Inside, the cabin is spacious for four adults, and the large cargo area will swallow suitcases, groceries, and bulky items with ease. A few down-market materials and a pair of bar-stool-shaped front seats slightly dull the X1’s shine, though. For a sportier compact SUV wearing the roundel, check out the mechanically similar X2, which we review separately.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Subcompact Luxury: BMW X2

If the 2021 BMW X2 looks like a chopped-roof version of the X1 SUV, that’s because it is—but this little crossover dials in a bit more aggression to the driving dynamics. The standard engine is the same 228-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that’s in the X1, but the X2’s slightly sharper handling makes it more fun to wield on a twisty road. Unlike on the X1, BMW offers the X2 with a 302-hp four-pot, which turns it into a fire-breathing performance machine. The X2’s racier bodywork and faster roofline do come with some compromises, though: Interior space is more limited here for both people and cargo. But those crossover shoppers who value performance above all else will find the X2 more desirable than its squarer sibling.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact: Mazda CX-5

When it comes to compact crossovers, it’s easy to see why the 2021 Mazda CX-5 wins the SUV equivalent of Best-in-Show. Not only does it boast beautifully sculpted bodywork, its interior is just as interesting to the eyes. Of course, Mazda has shown us that its attention to detail is more than skin-deep, with thoughtful ergonomics and engaging driving dynamics. Compared with its predominantly dull competitors, the CX-5 is delightfully athletic and equally refined. While the standard four-cylinder engine lacks the punch of the available turbo-four, both pair with a highly proficient automatic transmission and are more fuel efficient than their EPA ratings suggest. Despite a smaller cargo area than its key competitors, the 2021 CX-5 shines brighter than all its classmates and even some more-expensive alternatives, making it a shoo-in for our 2021 10Best list.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact: Volkswagen Tiguan

The compact SUV segment is full of good options, but one of our favorites is the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan, which is one of the most well-rounded choices. It’s handsomely styled, well-equipped, and practical. Plus, the VW is one of only two compact SUVs that offer an optional third row of seats (the other is the Mitsubishi Outlander). All models come with the same 184-hp four-cylinder engine, which is admittedly a little poky. Still, its fuel economy is competitive with rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. While the Tiguan does offer some of the same sharp driving dynamics that endears us to majority of the Volkswagen lineup, its practicality is really what makes it worth buying.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact: Honda CR-V

If you’re seeking a compact SUV with impressive versatility, know that the 2021 Honda CR-V does just about everything well. The two-row Honda provides an attractive and spacious cabin bolstered by bountiful storage solutions that are perfect for pack rats and road trips. While neither of its four-cylinder powertrains—one turbocharged, one hybrid—are especially quick, both have notable fuel-economy ratings. Compared with the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan, the CR-V is less entertaining from behind the wheel, but it has a pleasant ride and never feels uncoordinated. It also comes equipped with myriad active-safety features and offers all manner of popular technology. These qualities and a sophisticated appearance make the 2021 CR-V one of the best compact SUVs for small families.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact: Toyota RAV4

From spartan to swanky to outdoorsy, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 offers something for almost everyone. The base LE covers the economical end of the spectrum while the well-equipped Limited and TRD Off-Road models offer impressive amounts of equipment aimed at two very different types of buyers. No matter which trim you choose, the RAV4 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard but all-wheel drive is optional on the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, and Limited, and standard on the Adventure and TRD Off-Road models. The RAV4’s square-jawed looks are inspired by the 4Runner SUV and Tacoma pickup truck, but its car-based construction delivers a smoother ride than either of those trucks. Interior accommodations are spacious and the materials chosen are durable, but those buyers seeking modern-day convenience features such as power-adjustable seats, push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring will want to avoid the entry-level model.

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Compact: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Full-electric and hybrid powertrains continue to spread rapidly throughout the automotive industry, so it’s no surprise that hybrid-car specialist Toyota offers a 2021 RAV4 Hybrid and plug-in hybrid RAV4 called the Prime. The Japanese automaker has applied the lessons learned from its Prius hybrid to its entry in the far trendier compact-SUV class. Based on the regular nonhybrid RAV4 (reviewed separately), the RAV4 Hybrid and Prime offer similar practicality and features with much better fuel efficiency and, in the case of the Prime, respectable electric-only driving range. These electrified Toyotas aren’t alone in the segment—hybrid versions of the Honda CR-V, the Ford Escape, and the Mitsubishi Outlander are also available—but they are well-equipped to compete for your hard-earned dollar.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: Porsche Macan

With a refined chassis, strong turbocharged engines, and a comfortable cabin, the 2021 Porsche Macan is a dual-purpose package unlike any other vehicle on the road today. It’s equally at home tearing it up at a track day as it is running Sunday errands. Performance is impressive, and the Macan’s suspension is poise personified: taut while cornering but not so firm that it sacrifices ride comfort on the work commute. It’s this flexibility that earned the Macan a place on our 2021 10Best list. All-wheel drive is standard, and buyers can pick from one of three turbocharged engines. Some auto enthusiasts may kvetch about the infiltration of SUVs—and we’re guilty of similar complaints—but with the Macan, there are so few compromises that it deserves respect from even the most ardent SUV detractors.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: Porsche Macan

The 2021 Porsche Macan Turbo is the single best driving crossover on the planet. That’s not hyperbole, it’s truth. Despite a higher center of gravity and heftier curb weight than the Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman the compact luxury SUV is almost as enthralling. While the Turbo model shares a lot with the Porsche Macans we review separately, it packs the lines highest price tag and mightiest engine, a 434-hp twin-turbo V-6 that’s audibly rousing and brutally quick. It teams with a zealous dual-clutch automatic transmission and a tenacious all-wheel-drive system. Armed with these compelling attributes, the Porsche’s supernatural chassis tuning gives the driver an immersive experience that transcends the limitations of the SUV species. Consider also that it can carry more people and stuff than any sports car. Which is why we think the Macan Turbo is practically perfect—and vice versa—so we’ve given it a 10Best award for 2021.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and GLC63

Mercedes-AMG juiced up the standard GLC-class to create the 2021 GLC43 and GLC63 performance SUVs, and the results speak for themselves. Unlike the Benz model, available only with a turbocharged four-cylinder, the AMG athletes come with either a 385-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 (GLC43) or a 469-hp twin-turbo V-8 (GLC63). Both offer blistering acceleration and sharper handling than the standard model. Despite their performance potential, each retains the GLC-class’s refinement and sports an upscale interior with all sorts of modern technology and luxury features. Rival SUVs with similar price tags may be slightly more practical or a bit more subtle, but the AMG GLC-class SUVs offer everything a driving enthusiast dreams about.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: BMW X3

Even though it’s an SUV, the 2021 BMW X3 will surprise with its fun-to-drive nature, a hallmark of the brand’s sports sedans through the years. A trio of available powertrains provide plentiful performance, especially the gutsy turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six in the sportiest M40i model. While rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class and the Volvo XC60 offer a slightly more elevated interior design, X3 occupants are treated to a nicely-trimmed cabin of very conservative design that offers plenty of space for adults in both the front and rear seats. A host of tech features make the X3 a well-connected SUV, and behind the folding second-row there’s plenty of space for all manner of luggage, groceries, home-improvement items, and any of the other gear an SUV is expected to haul.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

There are several other hot-rodded compact crossovers, but none is as ravishing as the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Thankfully, the Italian stunner is as fun to drive as its curvy body is to look at. Alfa Romeo supplies the zestiest Stelvio (the rest of the lineup is reviewed separately) with a 505-hp twin-turbo V-6 that slings from a stop and sings at WOT (read: wide-open throttle). It is worth mentioning that Alfa is known for its reliability issues. Still, the enthralling six-pot sends power to all wheels via a prudent eight-speed automatic that can be shifted with prominent column-mounted paddles. Encounter a snaking mountain pass—like the one the Stelvio is named after—and the Quadrifoglio (QF for short) will showcase its surprising athleticism and immersive controls. Sure, the 2021 Stelvio QF’s interior volume is smaller and its price higher than luxury rivals, but its attractiveness and exclusiveness are more apparent.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Compact Luxury: Volvo XC60

Handsomely styled and thoughtfully designed, the 2021 Volvo XC60 offers a unique Scandinavian take on the compact luxury SUV. A trio of four-cylinder powertrains is offered—the turbocharged T5 is standard, while a turbocharged-and-supercharged version called T6 and a plug-in hybrid T8 variant are optional—all providing ample power and decent fuel efficiency. The XC60’s upscale cabin puts real pressure on rivals such as the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class, and its suite of standard driver-assistance features gives it an edge in the safety department. A 12.3-inch digital gauge display and a vertically oriented 9.0-inch infotainment screen are both standard, as well, and provide plenty of options for connectivity. The infotainment’s slow startup, though, is a rare annoyance in an otherwise exquisite package.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size: Kia Sorento

Kia transforms the 2021 Sorento from minivan-esque to muscular with the reimagined version of its mid-size crossover. With a squarer silhouette and more assertive exterior details, the new generation looks a lot different than the one it replaces. The cabin design is an improvement over its predecessor, too, with slick digital interfaces and snazzier styling throughout. The three-row SUV also has a diverse selection of powertrains, including a 281-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a hybrid model that will deliver 39 mpg in the city. Slotting between the 10Best-winning Telluride and the compact Sportage, the 2021 Sorento looks to further bolster an already impressive portfolio of Kia SUVs.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size: Kia Telluride

The 2021 Kia Telluride is a terrific three-row crossover because it’s great for shuttling families and looks more expensive than it is. Credit Kia’s ability to deliver an upscale experience and popular features at a bargain price for its largest model’s success—earning a spot on this year’s 10Best list. The Telluride has few compromises and outshines its mid-size SUV competitors in all the important categories. While its standard V-6 powertrain could be more fuel-efficient, and we wouldn’t mind if its driving behavior was sharper, there’s no denying that it exceeds its mission of moving people and their stuff better than anything in its class. The 2021 Telluride simply provides unrivaled levels of luxury and remarkable utility, which is why it’ll make you feel richer than your bank account might suggest.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size: Hyundai Palisade

Although the 2021 Palisade shares a platform with the Kia Telluride, the Hyundai’s distinct styling cleverly carves out its own niche. That allows it to appeal to a different subset of the SUV-buying public while offering much of what we like about the Telluride, including a smooth-running powertrain, spacious cabin, and composed on-road demeanor. The Palisade takes a more upscale approach, with its top trims offering almost Genesis-like levels of comfort and refinement. Along the way, its cheaper value-minded trims still offer a generous set of convenience and infotainment features made to suit the modern family. Its long warranty coverage and standard driver-assistance tech are yet two more reasons to have the Palisade at the top of your shopping list.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size: Mazda CX-9

If the idea of buying a crossover is an affront to your driving-enthusiast sensibilities, we’re happy to report that the 2021 Mazda CX-9 delivers plenty of the brand’s hallmark driving verve. Its handling is far sharper than any of its rivals’ and it’s powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder that will provide enough pep for most drivers. The Mazda’s cabin earns just as much love from our editors as its driving dynamics, as it offers a near-luxury atmosphere and competitive list of standard and optional features. A host of driver-assistance features are standard, too. Rivals such as the also-excellent Kia Telluride and its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Palisade, offer more passenger and cargo space, but the CX-9 remains one of our favorite SUVs to recommend to those who value athletic handling and driver engagement as much as we do.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size: Honda Passport

Spacious, capable, and nicely equipped for the money, the 2021 Honda Passport hits its mark as a mid-size SUV. Sharing many of its mechanicals with the three-row Pilot and Ridgeline pickup, the Passport uses a familiar name from Honda’s 1990s lineup but is fully modern, with plenty of standard safety equipment and optional tech features. Its standard V-6 engine is powerful, and its interior is practical and capacious. We chose it as our favorite two-row mid-size crossover in a comparison test over the Ford Edge, the Nissan Murano, the Chevy Blazer, and the Hyundai Santa Fe on these merits and because it’s good to drive, with confident handling. Its main demerits include so-so fuel economy and some occasionally fussy interior controls. Despite these quibbles, it is one of our highest-rated SUVs.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size Luxury: Porsche Cayenne

The 2021 Porsche Cayenne is an SUV by design but a sports car by nature. This largest of Porsches provides a diverse range of powertrains that include a pair of proficient V-6s, a modern plug-in hybrid, and a thundering twin-turbo V-8. Of course, power is pointless if it isn’t properly harnessed, and the Cayenne’s innate athleticism and sublime handling traits ensure it lives up to the German brand’s illustrious history. Its spacious interior is basically a canvas for customization thanks to Porsche’s extensive roster of available options. While these features can quickly inflate its price, and we think some should be standard, at least they’re discretional. Besides, the 2021 Cayenne—and its coupe counterpart (reviewed separately)—are mid-size luxury crossovers that fully engage driving enthusiasts. That makes them our favorite choice.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size Luxury: BMW X5

In our eyes, a mid-size luxury SUV is at its best when it so effortlessly blends on-road driving satisfaction with modern technology and a posh cabin—and the 2021 BMW X5 does just that. Three different powertrains are offered—including a plug-in hybrid model and a high-performance twin-turbo V-8—and the X5’s road manners are decidedly athletic. Its styling is attractive without being overly flashy, and the interior treats occupants with quality materials, comfortable seats, and a plethora of convenience and luxury features. It faces heady competition from the likes of the Audi Q7, the Porsche Cayenne, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE-class, but the X5 is a richly outfitted package well-equipped for the task at hand.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Mid-Size Luxury: Volvo XC90

Supremely elegant and technologically advanced, the 2021 Volvo XC90 is one of the most desirable mid-size luxury crossovers. Volvo loves to promote its safety-conscious image and makes it real by packing its lone three-row SUV with copious standard driver assists. Along with tech-savvy features such as a fully digital gauge cluster and a tablet-like infotainment touchscreen, the XC90 offers a semi-autonomous drive mode. Although the Volvo isn’t very engaging from behind the wheel, especially compared with sportier rivals such as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, it has one of the prettiest interiors in the game. A trio of four-cylinder engines are highlighted by a quick and potent 400-hp plug-in hybrid. However, the hybrid has a short all-electric range. Still, the 2021 XC90 is a perfectly splendid luxury vehicle with seating for up to seven.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Large Luxury: BMW X7

The 2021 BMW X7 is the brand’s biggest people mover and brings an undeniably upscale aura and impressive levels of performance. Behind the three-row SUV’s borderline-bloated kidney grille are three excellent turbocharged engine options. While the standard straight-six is perfectly adequate with its 335 horsepower, there’s a lusty V-8 that makes either 523 or 612 horsepower. To get the highest-output engine requires ordering the Alpina XB7, which costs almost twice as much as the base model but delivers the excess expected by those who can afford it. Still, the beauty of the big BMW is that every one has a cushy and hushed cabin, as well as a plethora of luxury amenities and driver-assistance tech. Although its interior is smaller than its exterior suggests, and its power rear seats have sluggish operation, the 2021 X7 earns the highest marks among high-end SUVs.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Full-Size: Chevy Suburban

Chevy totally reinvents its oldest nameplate with the all-new 2021 Suburban—and it’s bigger and better than ever. It shares a lot with the redesigned Chevy Tahoe; however, its extra length and newly adopted independent rear suspension bring more cargo and third-row space. Those traits make the ‘Burban the biggest SUV to wear a bowtie and a serious competitor to enormous alternatives such as the Ford Expedition Max. In addition to its familiar V-8 engines, the Chevy now includes a diesel option with loads of torque. Of course, it also offers an abundance of obligatory equipment such as contemporary driver assists and countless infotainment features.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Full-Size: Chevy Tahoe

The phrase latest and greatest may be a cliché, but it actually applies to the all-new 2021 Chevy Tahoe. With a fresh face and contemporary content, the three-row SUV is the shorter version of the equally new Chevy Suburban. The 2021 Tahoe is not only bigger on the outside, its third row and cargo area have grown, too. This is partly due to the debut of its independent rear suspension, which fixes the issues that plagued the previous generation. Along with a roomier cabin, it offers two dutiful V-8 engines as well as an efficient and torquey diesel. There’s also a host of driver-assistance options and popular infotainment features that should delight full-size families.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

Full-Size: GMC Yukon

When it comes to large, three-row family-hauling, toy-towing muscle, the 2021 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL are hard to beat. Redesigned from the ground up for 2021, the new Yukon borrows mechanicals from the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, but goes its own way with unique looks and a few novel features. Three engines are offered—two gasoline V-8s and a turbo-diesel inline-six—all mated to a 10-speed automatic that’s operated via GMC’s signature push-button gear selector. The cabin is roomier and better equipped than last year’s model and cargo space has increased as well—all the better for family vacations, trips to Home Depot, and tailgating parties.

Review, Pricing, and Specs

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