..... SUV OF THE YEAR
ACURA RDX • BMW X2
BMW X3 • BMW X4 • CADILLAC XT4
FORD ECOSPORT • FORD EDGE • FORD EXPEDITION HYUNDAI KONA • HYUNDAI SANTA FE • INFINITI QX50 JAGUAR E-PACE • JAGUAR I-PACE • JEEP CHEROKEE JEEP WRANGLER • LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER VELAR LEXUS RX 350 L • LINCOLN NAVIGATOR MERCEDES-BENZ G-CLASS • MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS NISSAN KICKS • SUBARU ASCENT • SUBARU FORESTER TOYOTA RAV4 • VOLVO XC40
If you’ve ever stood next to a piano, you’ve probably felt the urge to tap every key, just to hear what they all sound like. Put 36 SUVS in front of our judges, and you get the same result.
Some years it’s more like playing chords than individual notes: lots of crossovers struggling to stand out while slavishly copying one another. This isn’t one of those years. It’s as discordant as a cat strolling across the keyboard, which makes the job of picking the best SUV that much harder—and that much more interesting.
Take a peek under the lids of this year’s pack, and you’ll find live axles and independent suspensions. Three-, four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines paired with six-, seven-, eight-, nine-, and 10-speed automatics, plus the occasional stick shift or continuously variable transmission and a few singlespeed reduction gearboxes. Gasoline engines and electric motors, sometimes together and sometimes separate. Turbochargers, superchargers, electric assist, and plain old natural aspiration. Front-drive, front-drive-based all-wheel drive, rear-based all-wheel drive, and manually and electronically shifted four-wheel drive. We even have a variable-displacement engine and two AWD systems with no mechanical connection between the axles.
When it comes to finding the high notes among dozens of SUVS, our judges are concert pianists. Armed with crash safety results, price comparisons, equipment lists, reams of our own test data, and more than two centuries of combined experience, we examine the composition of every contender against our six key criteria.
Evaluating each vehicle in such a manner allows us to fairly select a winner from a field that includes cheap and cheerful starter rides, six-figure luxury vehicles, purpose-built electric vehicles, everyday family haulers, and the SUV that invented SUVS.
Finding middle C among 25 models and their numerous variants isn’t easy, but when you hear it, you understand why it’s right in the middle of the keyboard.
HPC features a high-speed oval, a winding road, and an off-road course.