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Best SUVs for the Money for 2024

The best SUVs for the money are ranked based on an analysis of their price and average lifespan, with the top-ranked models offering the longest life at the lowest price.

The best subcompact SUV for the money is the Chevrolet Trailblazer, with the Honda CR-V being the best small and compact SUV for the money. The Acura RDX ranks #1 for the best luxury small and compact SUVs for the money.

The best midsize SUV for the money is the Mazda CX-9 and the best luxury midsize SUV for the money is the Acura MDX. Topping the list for the best large SUVs for the money is the Nissan Armada, while the Buick Enclave ranks first for the best luxury large SUVs for the money.

The best crossover SUV for the money is the Chevrolet Trailblazer, with the Acura RDX being the best luxury crossover SUV for the money. The Mazda CX-9 ranks #1 for the best three-row SUVs for the money.

The best luxury three-row SUV for the money is the Acura MDX and the best hybrid SUV for the money is the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Topping the list for the best luxury hybrid SUVs for the money is the Mercedes-Benz GLE (Plug-in Hybrid), while the Jeep Grand Cherokee (Plug-in Hybrid) ranks first for the best plug-in hybrid SUVs for the money (PHEV).

The best luxury plug-in hybrid SUV for the money (PHEV) is the Mercedes-Benz GLE (Plug-in Hybrid), with the Mazda CX-9 being the best 7-seater SUV for the money. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid ranks #1 for the best hybrid 7-seater SUVs for the money.

The best luxury 7-seater SUV for the money is the Acura MDX and the best 5-seater SUV for the money is the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Topping the list for the best 6-seater SUVs for the money is the Mazda CX-9, while the Honda Pilot ranks first for the best 8-seater SUVs for the money.

The best luxury 5-seater SUV for the money is the Acura RDX, with the Volvo XC90 being the best luxury 6-seater SUV for the money.

iSeeCars.com identified the best value (“best for the money”) new SUVs based on their price and potential lifespan. SUVs with the lowest cost per 1,000 miles of total potential lifespan are ranked the highest.

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.

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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 the car lasts. We believe this is a good determiner of value--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.

Vehicles are scored in three categories:

Reliability | 33.3%

The reliability score represents an analysis of iSeeCars' proprietary research on the longest-lasting vehicles.

Value Retention | 33.3%

The value retention score is based on our data science team's statistical analysis and prediction of 5-year depreciation from MSRP to determine which cars hold their value best, using US Bureau of Labor Statistics data to adjust for inflation.

Safety | 33.3%

The safety score is calculated based on the last five years of crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and incorporates the latest Top Safety Pick information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

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