Best Crossover SUVs For 2021

By

Automotive Editor

A lover of all things automotive, Anthony has been writing about cars in one way or another since high school. Besides his CarsDirect work, he also dabbles in fiction and travel writing. When he's not putting pen to paper, you can probably find him roaming a junkyard or driving his Mazda Miata.


, Automotive Editor - January 22, 2021

With more and more crossovers coming to market, buyers are spoiled with a constant stream of new and improved choices. The best crossovers for 2021 bring it all: lusty styling, excellent room, plenty of capability, and value to boot. Of the legions of crossovers vying for attention, here are the real standouts that have raised the bar for all the rest.

Be sure to also see our guide to the best truck-based SUVs.

Best Small Crossover: Ford Bronco Sport
2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Why it's a top pick: One look and we were smitten by the new Ford Bronco Sport. Though based on the Ford Escape, the kinship is impossible to discern - the butch looks of this baby Bronco share no resemblance with the carlike Escape.

Backing up the trendy styling is a nice interior and a pair of strong powertrains. Most trims are oriented for the asphalt, but what they lack in bouldering skills they make for in comfortable commuting accommodations.

Worth knowing: The top-of-the-line Badlands model gets skid plates, dedicated off-road modes, a lifted suspension, and knotty all-terrain tires. It should be the choice of anyone who wants real capability in something a bit smaller and more efficient than the full-size Bronco.

Honorable mentions: Buick Encore GX, Toyota Venza, Honda CR-V

Best Midsize Crossover: Hyundai Santa Fe
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

Why it's a top pick: Hyundai does value better than just about anyone. Who else could make such a compelling SUV starting at about $28,000? The new Santa Fe follows the same formula of every winning Hyundai product that has debuted recently: attractive styling, an excellent assortment of standard features, and that low, low price.

In its nicest trims, you'll feel like you stole it from the hapless dealer; even base models have the quality and features of vehicles more expensive. It's no wonder the automaker has been on everyone's radar as the brand to watch.

Worth knowing: Those who want the most dapper crossover on the block will want to check out the Calligraphy model. It gets all the usual trappings of luxury, such as quilted seats and fancy trim, and actually feels convincing rather than kitschy.

Honorable mentions: Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Subaru Forester

Best Three-Row Crossover: Kia Telluride
2021 Kia Telluride

Why it's a top pick: What were we saying about Hyundai being on a roll? The three-row Kia Telluride exemplifies everything that makes the South Korean conglomerate brand a powerhouse.

Behind the Telluride's commanding presence is a cabin outfitted with especially fine touches like knurled knobs and tasteful trim.

A powerful 3.8-liter V-6 is under the hood of every model. The third row is usable in a way that many aren't, and available second-row captain's chairs make for easy access rearward. For a bargain price, the Telluride simply delivers unrivaled luxury.

Worth knowing: The SX trim is the priciest, but anything less feels like shortchanging both yourself and the car. Multi-way power seats, a fancy Harman-Kardon audio system, and dual sunroofs are just some of the fine touches that the SX employs to elevate the driving experience.

Honorable mentions: Volkswagen Atlas, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander

Best Crossover For Towing: Ford Explorer
2021 Ford Explorer

Why it's a top pick: It might seem like towing is the exclusive domain of full-on SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe, but the truth is there are a select few crossovers that can pull plenty of trailer.

Case in point is the Ford Explorer, which can tow up to 5,600 pounds. It does so without fuss or fanfare; even when loaded up with three rows of passengers and a full cargo hold it still tows with confidence.

Worth knowing: The best trims to tow with the Explorer? The ST or Platinum. They both get the 5,600-pound towing rating without any extra equipment necessary; even the hitch is included.

Honorable mentions: Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee

, Automotive Editor

A lover of all things automotive, Anthony has been writing about cars in one way or another since high school. Besides his CarsDirect work, he also dabbles in fiction and travel writing. When he's not putting pen to paper, you can probably find him roaming a junkyard or driving his Mazda Miata.


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