October 4, 2023

Consumer Reports picks the best two- and three-row SUVs under $40,000

Consumer Reports conducted its battery of tests and gathered input from readers to compile a list of the best two- and three-row SUVs under $40,000. The simple thing is that there are eight two-row and six three-row family dumpers here. The not-so-simple part is that there’s quite a bit of MSRP latitude between choices. The least expensive two-row SUV is the 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid, which starts at $28,815 (with destination) and tops out at $37,715 before a buyer starts throwing shiny features at it, while the entry-level 2023 Ford Edge SE starts at $ 39,440. Among the three-row options, the 2023 Subaru Ascent starts at $33,895, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts at $41,955, and all easily top $50,000 in top trim except the Ascent.

Ranked, the magazine recommends these two-row models:

  • 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, $37,545: Chosen for its combined horsepower of 225 horsepower and overall rating of 30 miles per gallon CRtesting; credited with driving”more comfortable than the gas-only Santa Fe,” because the center console is “a sea of ​​buttons,” and because “the push-button gear lever is difficult to use without looking.”

  • 2023 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, $32,685: With the same powertrain and power as the Santa Fe Hybrid, CR liked the Tucson Hybrid’s “firm but stable” handling, “responsive and safe” handling, “nicely trimmed cab” and generous cargo space, but was not a fan of the digital controls for the HVAC and volume in higher trims , nor the push button gear lever.

  • 2023 Honda CR-V, $29,705: This one seems most like a likeable choice, the once segment-defining Honda now getting a big meh for “underpowered” and “unremarkable propulsion” from its 190 hp and its 26 mph in CRis testing. The solid ride and handling are accompanied by a spacious rear seat, a spacious luggage compartment and easy entry.

  • 2023 Subaru Outback, $30,190: The 182 hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder in the bottom five trims “does its job, but can feel strained”, CR prefer the 260-horsepower 2.4-liter turbocharger, which means spending more than $40,000 before options. A “very comfortable” ride and good handling are accompanied by the kind of fun, outdoorsy details Subaru is known for. The only downside is that “Some tasks through the large infotainment screen require more than one step.”

  • 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid, $28,815: Known as the most spacious compact crossover, the hybrid stands out for being faster and quieter than the non-hybrid which isn’t much cheaper, and for getting in at 36mpg CR to test. On the other hand, having to switch back and forth between the dual-use touch controls for climate and media systems is annoying.

  • 2023 Toyota Venza, $35,955: Akin to the CR-V, called “pleasant enough”, its 37 mpg in CR test the highlight, otherwise it won’t stand out. Decent ride and handling compromised by “fatigue and engine noise [that] can be spoken” and controls that are “very distracting”.

  • 2023 Ford Rand, $39,440: Called roomy and capable with “smooth, quiet acceleration” from the turbocharged 2.0-liter and capable of “matching some luxury SUVs with [its] quiet cab”, but the “driving position is uneven” due to the position of the left footrest.

  • 2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, $32,560: Powertrain “feels energized” and returned 37mpg overall, handling remains secure “even when pushed”. The low roof, “slightly stiff” handling and “noisy engine” were problems.

The magazine recommends these three-row models:

  • 2023 Kia Telluride, $37,255: Perennial favorite Telluride is once again praised here for its spacious, quiet cabin, easy-to-stow second-row seats, intuitive controls, long list of contents and 5,000-pound towing capacity. It only suffers from not being a sporty handler, the least surprising complaint about a three-row SUV.

  • 2023 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, $37,955 and $41,955: Both make the list, though the Highlander only got 22 mpg, while the Highlander Hybrid got 35 mpg, and CR considers the third row to be “small”. Good points were the simple operation, the safe operation and the good fit and finish in the cabin.

  • 2023 Hyundai Palisade, $37,235: Hyundai’s version of the Kia Telluride earns similar coos for its roomy, “very quiet” cabin, “interior full of thoughtful details,” gets mixed results for comfortable handling that “isn’t particularly nimble” and a “non-intuitive push-button gear lever.”

  • 2023 Chevrolet Traverse, $35,915: Nothing bad here, from the “very comfortable ride”, “responsive handling” and “quiet interior” to the “rapid acceleration”, comfortable second row seats, spacious third row and intuitive infotainment system. I only got 20 mpg in CRa test.

  • 2023 Subaru Ascent, $35,120: Like a baby bear’s bed, dubbed “highly functional” and “easy to live with,” the drivetrain delivers “plenty of power” but only 22 mpg overall and needs a nimble right foot to overcome the “jumpy first start.” Despite being “not the most nimble around corners”, it is “ultimately safe to the hilt”, and the cabin is quiet, comfortable and roomy up to the third row, which is “usable for shorter journeys”.

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