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Top-Rated Midsize SUVs in 2019

The sport utility vehicle market has become rather crowded these days, with many automakers choosing to forgo sedans and compact cars in order to focus on these slightly larger options.

But that doesn’t mean your only option is a vehicle the size of the soccer team — midsize SUVs are smaller, and thus may be a better fit for some drivers than their big brothers. Full-size SUVs — think the Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition — are generally built on a truck platform; midsize SUVs, meanwhile, still pack a punch, often powered by six- or eight-cylinder engines, but have car-like handling. And what manufacturers may call a midsize SUV can actually be quite large, with some offering three rows of seating. More expensive than smaller or “compact” SUVs, midsize SUVs generally start around the $30,000 mark, though several of our picks are below that.

We also chose vehicles for their high marks by Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts and consumers on Edmunds, in addition to safety ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when available. All vehicles are Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) top safety picks. (Ratings are up to date at time of publication.)

Two-row midsize SUVs

  • 2019 Honda CR-V
  • 2019 Mazda CX-5
  • 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

Three-row SUVs

  • 2019 Subaru Ascent
  • 2019 Nissan Pathfinder
  • 2019 Mazda CX-9
  • 2019 Toyota Highlander

Two-row midsize SUVs

2019 Honda CR-V

MSRP $24,350
30 combined, 28 city/34 highway MPG
4.8 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (13 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick

Sliding in between the smaller HR-V and larger Pilot, the CR-V carries over into 2019 largely unchanged. It’s the ideal SUV for those wanting something that’s spacious yet still packs a punch. A turbocharged engine (available as an upgrade) gives it a bit more pep than others in this class, while a spacious rear seat and cargo area make it an ideal option for small families. A nice suite of enhanced safety features, Honda Safety Sense, is standard on all but the base trim level.

2019 Mazda CX-5

MSRP $24,350
25 combined, 25 city/28 highway MPG
4.7 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (12 reviews)
5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+

This Mazda SUV excels in its sharp handling, as well as a sharp, modern interior. Its available driver aids also modernize the cabin and driving experience, though you’ll still have to upgrade for features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. In terms of space, it’s slightly small for a midsize SUV, but not small enough to be impractical. Perhaps most notable is the CX-5’s upscale interior options, which include wood, leather and ambient lighting.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

MSRP $25,500
25 combined, 22 city/29 highway MPG
review unavailable from KBB experts; 4.7 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (48 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick+

Hyundai has switched it up a lot in the past few years under the Santa Fe nameplate. The earlier generation Santa Fe, from 2013 to 2018, are three-row SUVs. Redesigned in 2019, it’s now a two-row, taking over for a two-row SUV called the Santa Fe Sport in 2018. If you were looking for that third row, however, Hyundai still has one more model to add to the mix — the Santa Fe XL. But even at the base model, the Santa Fe offers many standard features, from several advanced safety technology features to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Three-row SUVs

2019 Subaru Ascent

MSRP $31,995
23 combined, 21 city/27 highway MPG
Review unavailable for KBB experts; 4.1 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (69 reviews)
5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick

New for 2019, the Ascent is finding its place as Subaru’s first three-row SUV. Alluring points include Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive, and even a towing capability of up to 5,000 pounds. Inside, you’ll find top-of-class passenger space and a cavernous 86 cubic feet of available cargo space. And while it doesn’t seem to have the best gas mileage, it does offer the comfort of a larger SUV with the capability of a smaller Subaru.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder

MSRP $31,340
23 combined, 20 city/27 highway MPG
4.2 out of 5 by KBB experts; consumer reviews unavailable on Edmunds
5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick

The Pathfinder is a good option for those looking for seating space for seven, but for eight-person seating, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Like many other three-row SUVs, the Pathfinder’s third row cuts back on cargo space, and you might be surprised to find that the rear seats don’t fold flat for more space. Its lively V6 engine is certainly a strong point, making this SUV far from underpowered — however, you might end up paying for it in fuel costs. Nice perks on the Pathfinder include standard emergency braking and rear sensors.

2019 Mazda CX-9

MSRP $32,280
24 combined, 22 city/28 highway MPG
4.0 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.7 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (9 reviews);
5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick

The Mazda CX-9 is not to be confused with the smaller CX-5 — it’s slightly larger. But, similarly to the CX-5, sharp and athletic handling give it an edge over competitors and quality interior materials give this SUV an upgrade. However, it’s worth noting that the third row might often need to be sacrificed for cargo space, making it less practical for families needing the extra seating.

2019 Toyota Highlander

MSRP $31,330
23 combined, 21 city/27 highway MPG
4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (4 reviews)
5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick

Though we focus on the all-gasoline-powered version here, the Highlander is one of the rare hybrid options available with three rows of seating, and it pretty much corners the market since the Pathfinder hybrid’s 2015 demise. The Highlander hybrid, which starts at $36,970, can get up to 29 miles per gallon combined. But no matter which Highlander you choose, it comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense P suite. However, it lacks compatibility with technology features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that others have standard.

Ways to finance the best midsize SUV

Today’s SUVs are capable but also can become expensive, especially as you climb the trim ladder. Before shopping for a new midsize SUV, first shop for an auto loan. Potential lenders can include credit unions, banks or online lenders. Apply to a few in order to compare offers and see which one is best for you. Dealers are often able to raise your APR and make profit off your loan, not just your car, so the best way to avoid this is to go in with a preapproved auto loan. If the dealer can beat it, great — you can feel confident knowing that you shopped around for a good rate. On LendingTree, you can fill out an online form and receive up to five potential auto loan offers at once, instead of filling out five different lender applications.

Methodology

To earn a spot on our list of best midsize SUVs for 2019, vehicles received at least 4 out of 5 stars from consumers on Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book experts, when available. They also earned 5-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when available, and are included in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) list of top picks for 2019. All vehicles have a starting MSRP below $40,000, with base trim level MSRPs shown above. Standard features are included, while available or optional equipment — which may add to the price of the vehicle — are indicated as such.

 

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