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9 Best Midsize SUVs for 2021

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The best midsize SUVs can provide the seating capacity and cargo space of a larger vehicle while boasting the driving dynamics and fuel efficiency of a smaller car. Today’s models provide seating for up to eight people with plenty of elbow room, cup holders and USB ports for the family to ride in comfort. The midsize SUVs on this list include spacious cabins, comfortable seats and a suite of safety equipment. Additionally, many of the models below are offered in several trim levels to accommodate your household budget.

Best Midsize SUVs
Model Score MSRP
Two-row SUVs
Hyundai Santa Fe 4.63 $26,850
Honda Passport 4.31 $32,790
Subaru Outback 4.28 $26,795
Toyota Venza 4.15 $32,470
Three-row SUVs
Kia Telluride 4.53 $32,190
Hyundai Palisade 4.42 $32,675
Honda Passport 4.31 $32,790
Toyota Highlander 4.13 $34,910
GMC Acadia 4.07 $29,800
Volkswagen Atlas 4.06 $31,555

How we chose the best midsize SUVs

We ranked a total of 15 new midsize SUVs according to how well they performed in expert and consumer reviews from Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book (KBB). While midsize is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, car manufacturers often use the term to describe their two- and three-row sport utility vehicles, cars that are larger than their compact SUVs but smaller than land yachts like the Ford Expedition or Cadillac Escalade.

We narrowed that initial list to nine vehicles and broke them into two categories: best two-row midsize SUVs (seating for five) and best midsize SUVs with three rows that can seat up to eight. Within each group, models are ranked highest to lowest, by average score.

Best two-row SUVs

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • 4.63 out of 5
  • $26,850 starting MSRP
  • 26/25/28 MPG

The Hyundai Santa Fe delivers above-average fuel efficiency with its base four-cylinder engine capable of 191 horsepower. Shoppers may opt for all-wheel drive, which provides extra traction in rain or snow, for an extra $1,700. If upgrading trims is an option, a 277-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine comes standard starting with the Limited trim. Hyundai’s second-largest SUV is available in a total of five trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited, and two versions of the range-topping Calligraphy. The five-passenger SUV comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an 8-inch touch screen. Higher trims offer: leather upholstery, head-up display and a hands-free liftgate that opens the trunk when you stand next to it for three seconds with the key.

2021 Honda Passport

  • 4.31 out of 5
  • $32,790 starting MSRP
  • 22/20/25 MPG

The Honda Passport midsize SUV is capable of light off-roading when properly equipped. But even the base Sport trim is pretty beefy with a V6 engine and towing capability up to 5,000 pounds when paired with optional all-wheel drive. The Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety features comes standard as do Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The five-passenger SUV comes in three other trims: EX-L, Touring and Elite. Those upper trims offer comforts such as heated, leather-trimmed seats and a moonroof. Starting at $44,180, the Passport’s range-topping Elite trim has these features and more.

2021 Subaru Outback

  • 4.27 out of 5
  • $26,795 starting MSRP
  • 29/26/33 MPG

Whether you call the Outback an SUV or a wagon, this is a vehicle that stands apart thanks to its standard all-wheel drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance and EyeSight driver assist technology. EyeSight includes advanced safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane keep assist. Steering-responsive headlights and a rear-seat reminder, which buzzes if you leave children or pets in the car, are also standard for 2021. There are even more bells and whistles on upper trims of which there are many: Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT. A fully loaded Touring XT can easily exceed $40,000.

2021 Toyota Venza

  • 4.15 out of 5
  • $32,470 starting MSRP
  • 39/40/37 MPG

After a five-year hiatus, Toyota reintroduced its Venza nameplate as a 2021 model and this time, it’s offered as an all-wheel drive hybrid only. The five-passenger crossover pairs a four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a combined 219 horsepower. As a hybrid SUV, the Venza delivers the best fuel efficiency ratings on this list: 40 mpg around town and 37 mpg on the highway. It comes in three trims: LE, XLE, and Limited. All models come with at least Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, 8-inch touch screen and hands-free power liftgate. Standard safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition.

Best three-row SUVs

2021 Kia Telluride

  • 4.52 out of 5
  • $32,190 starting MSRP
  • 23/20/26 MPG

Launched in 2019 as the brand’s flagship SUV, the three-row Kia Telluride provides plenty of cargo room for weekend jaunts or sports outings. The Telluride seats eight people in its standard configuration. Swapping captain’s chairs for the second-row bench seat reduces capacity to seven. The standard engine is a 291-horsepower V6. All-wheel drive is available. The 2021 Kia Telluride comes in four trim levels: LX, S, EX and SX. Standard features include: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touch screen and safety equipment, such as lane-keeping assist and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Higher trims add luxury appointments like Nappa leather and heated and ventilated seats.

2021 Hyundai Palisade

  • 4.42 out of 5
  • $32,675 starting MSRP
  • 22/19/26 MPG

The three-row Hyundai Palisade showcases sleek styling, ample elbow room for eight people, and plenty of cargo space for hauling suitcases and weekend camping gear. All models get a muscular 291-horsepower V6 engine. All-wheel drive is available. The Hyundai Palisade comes in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited and new for 2021 Calligraphy, which pushes the Palisade’s pricing into near-luxury territory starting at $46,200. It comes with quilted leather door panels, a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 20-inch wheels and a restyled grille.

2021 Toyota Highlander

  • 4.12 out of 5
  • $34,910 starting MSRP
  • 24/21/29 MPG

The three-row Toyota Highlander boasts the most powerful standard engine on this list: a 295-horsepower V6. That’s plenty of power to merge onto the highway and pass slower moving vehicles in the right lane even as you’re hauling up to eight people. The Highlander comes in six trims: L, LE, XLE, new-for-2021 XSE, Limited and Platinum, not including its hybrid variants. All-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels. Standard features include: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, an infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, and safety features including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning.

2021 GMC Acadia

  • 4.07 out of 5
  • $29,800 starting MSRP
  • 23/21/27 MPG

The GMC Acadia can be outfitted with two or three rows, but its standard configuration seats seven people with a second-row bench seat. The midsize SUV slots between GMC’s full-size Yukon and compact Terrain utility vehicles. With five trims and the choice of three engines: the standard 194-horsepower four-cylinder, mid-tier 230-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder or range-topping 310-horsepower V6, it might be hard to choose which Acadia is right for you. All models come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and several safety features, including rear cross traffic alert, rear seat reminder and GMC’s Teen Driver feature, which allows the driver to set volume and speed controls for secondary drivers.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

  • 4.06 out of 5
  • $31,555 starting MSRP
  • 22/21/24 MPG

The Atlas seats seven  people in its standard configuration that includes a turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 235 horsepower. Its optional V6 produces 276 horsepower. VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive is available starting on the base S trim. The Atlas provides more cargo room than many rival SUVs. Volkswagen updated the three-row version’s exterior for the 2021 model year. The facelift includes new front and rear styling, as well as redesigned wheels. Standard advanced safety features include blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection.

Ways to finance the best midsize SUVs

If you plan to finance a new SUV, shopping around for an auto loan can be just as important as shopping for a vehicle. Take the time to research financing options before you buy — you may be able to get better rates and save money. At LendingTree, you can fill out a single form online and receive up to five auto loan offers from lenders, based on your creditworthiness.

 

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