SUVs and crossovers alike are all the rage in the USA this era, and for good reason. But with so many automakers making so many different models, it can be difficult deciding which is the best for you. Each and every automaker usually has concerted qualities or something unique to offer with their vehicles – anything from fun and capable performance to polished ride quality and all-out luxury. While the Honda Pilot, for example, offers balanced performance, good reliability and safety, and a decent selection of features, it’s its exceptional passenger and cargo room that make it stand out above everything else.
Automakers also offer their vehicles, especially their many crossover SUVs, with numerous specification options and configurations. These include powertrain, drivetrain, body, seating, and feature options which can be standard depending on the trim within the lineup, or optional within an available package or standalone. All that choice can make it tough to decide exactly what you want, but hopefully, the brief descriptions below of most of these options will help make deciding a little easier.
Optimal Power or Efficiency?
Most cars these days prioritise gas mileage efficiency over outright power, that is, of course, unless you’re shopping within the full-size or off-roader segments. For large vehicles, a large-capacity high-powered engine is necessary to handle the inherent weight of the car. Off-road-purposed vehicles also require powerful, high-torque motors to help tug them over rough terrain and work in conjunction with their heavy 4×4 apparatus. If you’re just a regular urban commuter, then a small turbocharged or moderately sized naturally-aspirated engine will do just fine, either of which are typically the standard these days. They provide ample pulling power and deliver good fuel economy for highway and city driving, too.
Front, All, 4×4, or Rear-Wheel-Drive?
Most SUVs and crossovers come equipped with either front or all-wheel-drivetrains that are ideal for driving on urban streets with the AWD’s benefiting those that regularly travel in wet or snowy weather. 4×4 systems will usually come standard-fit in SUVs purposed for off-roading along with a host of other equipment such as a low-transfer case and/or low-range gearing. There are some SUVs, usually from premium brands such as BMW, that come outfitted with rear-wheel-drivetrains to complement their sporty looks and nature. It may seem amiss, but many performance SUVs do actually deliver profound levels of performance and handling capability.
Infotainment and Features
When it comes to what you get in infotainment, it really depends on how old the car is that you’re buying. Most if not all modern cars come installed comprehensively with smart connectivity features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay amongst others. These are typically important features for any family-centric car as keeping everyone sufficiently entertained plays a big role. Standard features generally vary between the base model of a lineup to the top-tier model. Many features will also be optional for lower-tier models which allow for more specificing in what you really need or want rather than paying for expensive upgrades or a list of things you’ll likely never use.
Three-row Bench or Captain’s Chairs?
Midsize and full-sized SUVs usually come with a couple of seating configurations for buyers to choose from. A three-seater bench in the second-row, if a three-row SUV, is typically standard with captain’s chairs offered as an option. In three-row SUVs, this will determine whether occupancy is set at eight passengers, with the bench, or seven, with the captain’s chairs. Captain’s chairs are beneficial for multiple reasons – firstly, they’re really comfortable, a lot more than a bench because they are singular and therefore more spacious and better cushioned. They often also come with armrests and more movement and folding adjustability. Captain’s chairs also allow for better access to the rear-most seats thanks to a center pathway.
The Best of the Best
There are just about an infinite number of SUVs on the market all with their own perks and drawbacks. SUVs are praised for their all-rounder qualities but there are only a few that hit most of their marks just right – here are the three best of the best three-row SUVs money can buy:
- Kia Telluride – The Kia Telluride is not only one of the best looking SUVs out there, but also one that delivers potent yet efficient performance, plenty of modern creature comforts and conveniences, and near consummate levels of safety and reliability. It has one of the most commodious interiors, too, and a truly competitive cargo capacity.
- Hyundai Palisade – The Palisade exudes a commanding presence with its aggressive yet sophisticated design and immense size. It has a powerful and polished V6 engine under the hood and it delivers a ride quality as refined as a premium car. It’s a truly contemporary SUV with an array of advanced infotainment and convenience features and it’s one of the safest vehicles on the road.
- Toyota Highlander – Both the regular and hybrid versions of the Highlander are lauded for their consummate safety and reliability standards. Both carry a commodious interior brimming with contemporary technologies and plenty of safety specifications. The hybrid is impressively frugal for such a large vehicle, too.
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