SUVs: A Buyer’s Guide

SUVs come in many shapes in sizes. The three main types are small, midsize and large SUVs. But these three have sub-types too that differ in seating configuration and levels of luxury. Let’s break it down.


These are subcompact SUVs, which also may mean that they’re hatchbacks on stilts. They’re practical, priced well, great in cities, but will have limited off-road capabilities. Examples include Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and offroaders like Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Renegade. Luxury options are BMW X1 and Mini Countryman.


These compact but spacious SUVs have replaced compact and midsize sedans with families. These SUVs tend to be comfortable, thoughtfully designed, and offer road-focused performance. Some may have 4WD, but their off-road abilities will be limited. Examples include Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Hyundai Tucson. Luxury options are Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60.

Small 3-Row

Exactly like the above category, but with three rows of seats crammed into the cabin. The third row isn’t that great, honestly. Examples include the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Midsize SUV

Take the best features of a small SUV, make it longer and wider, add more passenger and cargo space, a more powerful engine, and you get a midsize SUV. Expect these to have the ability to tow small toys and trailers. Examples include Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Passport, Ford Edge, and Hyundai Santa Fe. Luxury options include Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q8, and BMW X5.

Midsize 3-Row

Same as above but with three rows. They’re more family-focused and easy to drive in cities. Examples include Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Subaru Ascent. Luxury options include Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery.

Large SUV

This is the traditional big, powerful, dominating SUV of yore. They can seat eight or nine easily, tow over 9000 pounds behind them, and go anywhere. They’re cumbersome to drive, and available from basic trucks trim all the way to optional opulence. Examples include Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon XL, and the Chevrolet Suburban. Luxury Options include Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz GLS, and the BMW X7.

Super Luxury SUVs

Powerful engines, extreme levels of luxury, sophistication, and customization, impressive performance, and a legendary badge on the grille, these are ultimate objects of desire. Examples include Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and Rolls Royce Cullinan.

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