Buying Guide: Best 2017 SUVs

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - January 4, 2017

While demand for car-based crossovers remains insatiable, some buyers still need the capability of a traditional SUV. With their rugged truck frames and running gear, SUVs are able to haul heavy loads and tow a boat or camper without breaking a sweat. They can also take you on off-road adventures (some better than others) and sail through deep snow and mud. It's safe to say that the SUV is simply too useful to ever go away. Here are our top picks in this class for 2017.

Chevrolet Tahoe
Chevrolet Tahoe

Now in its third year of production, the full-size Tahoe provides plenty of comfort for up to nine passengers and refined styling inside and out. All models are well-equipped from the start, and you can add just about every convenience and safety feature known to man. With the rear seats folded, the Tahoe can handle up to 95 cubic feet of whatever you want to carry.

The standard 5.3-liter V8 achieves an outstanding 23 mpg on the highway and enables the Tahoe to pull up to 8,500 pounds. Despite its inviting interior and smooth ride, there's no sign that the big rig is going soft. Chevy offers an off-road package that makes the Tahoe a surprisingly capable companion in the wilderness.

Ford Expedition
Ford Expedition

The current Expedition has been with us since 2007, but received a significant refresh in 2015 that included an all-new V6 engine. The turbocharged 3.5-liter puts out 385 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, enough to help the Expedition outperform several V8 competitors.

You can expect 18 mpg in combined city and highway driving, as good as it gets for a vehicle of this size and weight. Four-wheel drive with low range is available for all-terrain travel. The Expedition can tow up to 9,200 pounds.

There's plenty of room for eight passengers and 108 cubic feet of cargo space with the back rows folded. The second row slides and reclines, and the third row folds neatly into the floor when not needed. The extended-length EL model can swallow 130 cubic feet of stuff, more than any other SUV on the market.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep's traditional SUV, the midsize Grand Cherokee behaves just as well in the wilderness as it does on the road. Buyers can be assured of go-anywhere capability along with all the luxury and technology they can handle. The Grand Cherokee is one size down from the Ford and Chevy, but still provides generous room for five passengers and up to 68.3 cubic feet of cargo pace.

You have a choice of three engines: a 290-horsepower V6, a 5.7-liter V8 with 360 horsepower, or a 3-liter turbodiesel V6 that develops 240 horsepower. With the V8 or diesel under the hood, you're good to tow up to 7,200 pounds. The Grand Cherokee is eligible for numerous mechanical upgrades for enhanced off-road performance. The new Trailhawk model promises the most exhilarating off-road experience yet.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The four-door version of Jeep's quintessential 4x4, the Wrangler Unlimited looks like nothing else, goes anywhere, and is priced within reach of those spry enough to truly enjoy it. Of course, the Wrangler line has been refined over the years to make it a suitable everyday companion, but the basic formula carries on undiluted.

As expected, four-wheel drive with low-range gearing is standard, along with hill start/descent control. Under the hood is a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 285-horsepower. With the rear seat folded, you get 82 cubic feet of load space, a terrific amount for a vehicle for this type. The top, doors, and windshield are all removable—what other vehicle can you say that about?

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.