Best SUVs for the Money

All SUVs share common features, like available all-wheel drive and a focus on functionality, as reflected in greater passenger space and cargo space. SUVs also have the potential for higher towing capacity and off-road capability than traditional cars, but not all SUVs are created equal.

Many of today’s most popular SUVs are very car-like in their design. That includes being built on a car-based platform with a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder powertrain as the base engine. This design improves an SUV’s driving experience, giving it a more refined ride quality while improving its fuel economy. Most compact SUVs, like the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 or Subaru Forester, use this approach to create a roomy, fuel-efficient SUV with a long standard features list and an affordable starting price. High-trim versions typically benefit from more powerful turbo engines and standard all-wheel drive (AWD).

While that’s the most common approach, the spectrum of SUV variants on sale today for new car buyers means the options are nearly limitless. Serious off-road machines, such as the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler, and Land Rover Defender, sit at one end of this spectrum. Premium models, with powerful engines and high-tech features, including the Genesis GV80, Mercedes-Benz GL, and Porsche Cayenne, reside at the opposite extreme.


Buyers seeking the best mix of practicality and reasonable mpg should consider the midsize SUV segment, with models like the GMC Acadia, Kia Sorento or Volkswagen Tiguan. These models can be had with up to three rows of seating, gas mileage ratings in the mid-to-high 20s, and enough cargo capacity to carry a family of five, and their luggage, for a weekend getaway

For bigger families seeking roomier road trips, larger SUVs like the Ford Explorer, Kia Telluride or Jeep Grand Wagoneer offer sizable third-row seats with all-day comfort for adults. These models include high horsepower engines that easily haul people or cargo while towing 5,000-plus pounds. These models also include the latest infotainment system technology and driver assist features.

Conversely, SUV buyers on a tight budget might be surprised by how many standard technology and safety features are included in the latest model year SUVs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among the items included in nearly every modern SUV’s standard equipment specs, while rear-seat USB ports and wireless charging are increasingly common on base trim levels. Shoppers can research these items on each model’s product page.

How We Rank These Cars

The Best Cars for the Money list ranks cars by their annual cost, which compares the purchase price of the car against how long it lasts. We believe this is a good value determinant —the lower the annual cost, the better the value.

iSeeCars analyzed millions of cars to determine how long each car can last. Then we calculated the annual cost over the lifespan for each vehicle. In the event two or more vehicles have the same annual cost, we use iSeeCars proprietary rating of the overall quality of the car (iSeeCars Score) to break the tie.

The overall iSeeCars Score is an analysis of three factors: reliability, resale value and safety. It is calculated based on the latest research and analysis by our data science team. The data analysis comes from over 12 million new and used vehicles in our Longest-Lasting Cars and 5-Year Depreciation Studies, combined with NHTSA and IIHS Safety Ratings.

Here are the Best SUVs for the Money ranked by their annual costs.

Best Subcompact SUVs for the Money

  1. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - $2,447.89

  2. Chevrolet TrailBlazer - $2,772.22

  3. Jeep Compass - $3,214.97

  4. Honda HR-V

  5. Hyundai KONA

Best Small SUVs for the Money

  1. Honda CR-V - $2,671.56

  2. Toyota RAV4 - $2,720.87

  3. Nissan Rogue - $3,016.44

  4. Hyundai TUCSON - $3,053.06

  5. Chevrolet Equinox - $3,140.40

Best Luxury Small SUVs for the Money

  1. INFINITI QX50 - $3,998.37

  2. Acura RDX - $4,015.26

  3. Volvo XC60 - $4,603.92

  4. BMW X3 - $4,990.49

  5. Audi Q5 - $5,125.94

Best Midsize SUVs for the Money

  1. Mazda CX-9 - $3,722.11

  2. Toyota Highlander - $3,888.78

  3. Hyundai SANTA FE - $3,904.94

  4. Toyota 4Runner - $3,917.04

  5. Chevrolet Blazer - $3,950.70

Best Luxury Midsize SUVs for the Money

  1. Lexus RX 350 - $4,665.71

  2. Lexus GX 460 - $4,995.94

  3. Acura MDX - $5,305.24

  4. INFINITI QX60 - $5,669.40

  5. Audi Q7 - $7,305.57

Best Large SUVs for the Money

  1. Nissan Armada - $6,059.08

  2. Chevrolet Tahoe - $6,929.51

  3. Ford Expedition - $7,566.63

  4. Chevrolet Suburban - $7,774.52

  5. GMC Yukon - $8,204.89

Best Luxury Large SUVs for the Money

  1. Buick Enclave - $5,400.11

  2. Lincoln Aviator - $6,587.52

  3. Volvo XC90 - $6,784.77

  4. Lexus LX 600 - $7,448.06

  5. INFINITI QX80 - $9,128.84

Best Crossover SUVs for the Money

  1. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - $2,447.89

  2. Honda CR-V - $2,671.56

  3. Toyota RAV4 - $2,720.87

  4. Chevrolet TrailBlazer - $2,772.22

  5. Nissan Rogue - $3,016.44

Best Luxury Crossover SUVs for the Money

  1. INFINITI QX50 - $3,998.37

  2. Acura RDX - $4,015.26

  3. Volvo XC60 - $4,603.92

  4. Lexus RX 350 - $4,665.71

  5. BMW X3 - $4,990.49

Best Hybrid SUVs for the Money

  1. Ford Escape Hybrid - $3,764.33

  2. Toyota Highlander Hybrid - $3,990.73

  3. Toyota Sequoia (hybrid)

  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee (Plug-in Hybrid)

  5. Toyota Venza (hybrid)

Best Luxury Hybrid SUVs for the Money

  1. Lexus RX 350h - $4,518.56

  2. Lexus RX 500h - $5,308.30

  3. Audi Q5 (Plug-in Hybrid)

  4. Mercedes-Benz GLE (Plug-in Hybrid)

  5. Lincoln Aviator (Plug-in Hybrid)

By choosing one of these top-ranked SUVs, you can ensure you're getting the best value for your money, combining cost-efficiency with performance, comfort, and reliability.

More from iSeeCars:

About is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars has saved users over $417 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.

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