Every 2021 Mid-Size SUV Ranked from Best to Worst

a maroon 2020 kia telluride parked on a dealer parking lot

Mid-size SUVs make up the largest class of vehicles on the market, at least in terms of the number of models available to choose from. Because of the sheer number of vehicles, the mid-size class is particularly competitive. It takes a long to stand out from the pack. On the other hand, that means only a few minor quibbles separate many of the models from one another in our rankings.

We’ll help you cut through the noise by succinctly detailing the pros and cons of each SUV. We rank 21 mid-size SUVs from best to worst by combining their ratings on driving performance, standard features, design, and value.

21. 2021 Toyota 4Runner

a red toyota 4runner

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The Toyota 4Runner is going on 13 years without a full redesign. That’s basically ancient in today’s market. But you wouldn’t know it by the sales numbers; it’s selling the most units in its entire history. That’s probably due to its excellent reliability and off-road prowess. Still, the interior is dated and lacking in modern tech. Plus, the ride is unforgivingly stiff. But, Toyota has finally announced a redesign coming next year.

20. 2021 Nissan Murano

a dark blue nissan murano

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The Nissan Murano notches one spot above its sibling. While it has some sleek styling and a clean, spacious interior, there is noticeable body roll through turns. Steering feedback was numb, and it’s not as powerful as some other V6 engines on the market. The cargo space is also lacking compared to others in this segment.

19. 2021 GMC Acadia

a black 2021 gmc acadia

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The Acadia can have a third row, but should it? We say no, as it’s a pretty cramped affair back there. Plus, the third row cuts into some much-needed cargo space. The cabin is well-designed and upscale, but we can’t help but think the high prices GMC asks of the Acadia make the Chevrolet Traverse (a mechanically similar cousin) the much better value.

18. 2021 Chevrolet Traverse

a black chevrolet traverse

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The Chevy Traverse is spacious for the entire family and all of the cargo to go along with it. As is often the case with Chevrolet infotainment systems, the one in the Traverse is intuitive and not overly complex. It also has affordable price points that make it a much better value proposition than the mechanically similar GMC Acadia. The smooth-riding powertrain is also enjoyable for drivers and passengers alike, but the interior quality materials look like they belong on a budget vehicle.

17. 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

a forest green chevrolet blazer

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The Chevy Blazer returned in 2019 after a long absence, but it bears no resemblance to the S-10 Blazer that left the market in 2005. We’re a fan of the aggressive styling borrowed from the Camero, and the Blazer is surprisingly responsive and agile for its size. The downside is that value seems to disappear quickly at high-priced higher trims. The cargo area is also smaller than some competitors.

16. 2021 Jeep Wrangler

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The tried-and-true Jeep Wrangler is the granddaddy of off-roading vehicles. And while it may be a beast off the beaten track, things go wonky on the pavement. City drivers will find that it’s not particularly agile for having compact dimensions. It also has a high starting price compared to similarly equipped mid-size SUVs, though it does retain its resale value very well. We also wish there was more cargo space. It’s soon to have some more direct competition with the impending arrival of the resurrected Ford Bronco. New for 2021 is a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

15. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

a red 2021 volkswagen atlas

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The Volkswagen Atlas also has three spacious rows of seats but drives like a much smaller vehicle. It’s agile without lots of body roll through turns, common among other SUVs of this class. It also is well appointed in terms of both materials and tech options. The minimalist dashboard styling is easy to use and read, which is important when you want to keep your eyes on the road ahead. For buyers looking for a more streamlined, less-boxy design, Volkswagen offers the Atlas Cross Sport which is a little bit shorter with a more slanted back roof.

14. 2021 Dodge Durango

a maroon dodge durango

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The 2021 Dodge Durango has some strong engines, which probably helps it have some of the strongest towing capacity in the class. There’s also lots of room inside. However, fuel economy numbers are particularly terrible. Handling is a wash, and there are few standard safety features. Not something you want in a family vehicle. Reliability also tends to be poor. It’s soon to be the only SUV that Dodge offers.

13. 2021 Subaru Ascent

a white subaru ascent

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The Subaru Ascent features great handling and a comfortable ride. That’s something most of the other mid-size SUVs on this list aspire to. The third-row seat is a little cramped, but the Ascent makes up for it with tons of tech options and good first- and second-row room. It also has good fuel economy numbers for a mid-size SUV: 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

12. 2021 Ford Edge

a royal blue ford edge

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The 2021 Ford Edge is right in the middle of our ranking thanks to strong engine options, an open and airy cabin, and an infotainment system that isn’t overly complex. Ford updated the transmission this year, also, from a six-speed to an eight-speed automatic. There is some noticeable body roll when cornering, however.

11. 2021 Ford Explorer

a forest green 2021 ford explorer

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The 2021 Ford Explorer is completely redesigned from the ground up. We are fans of the new distinctive look with its side-swoop rearward. It has some impressive standard safety tech and other features that come with this design upgrade. Plus, there’s lots of cargo space for passengers and cargo. The exciting engine lineup even has a hybrid offering. The finishing materials are somewhat bland though.

10. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

a dark gray jeep grand cherokee

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Like Jeep’s other offerings, the Grand Cherokee has stellar off-roading capabilities. But it’s also just at home on the pavement as off it. The engines are powerful, and the interior is well-appointed and stately. Also appreciated are blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts. These are now standard offerings and really up the safety factor. It also improves on cargo space from the smaller Wrangler further down on this list.

9. 2021 Toyota Venza

a red 2021 toyota venza

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The Venza nameplate is back after a break of six years. This time around, the new 2021 Toyota Venza is a crossover (what isn’t these days) that only comes with a hybrid powertrain. It’s essentially a more upscale version of a RAV4 and has the upgraded interior to make that claim. The driving dynamics and hand-off between the electric and gasoline engines show off Toyota’s knowledge of having done this for a while longer than most rivals. However, at these prices, we don’t really see a good reason why you wouldn’t just want a hybrid RAV4 that is cheaper. The cargo capacity is also smaller than some of its competitors.

8. 2021 Honda Pilot

a brown honda pilot

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The well-rounded Honda Pilot is a good minivan substitute. There’s plenty of space around the cabin—including adult-friendly third-row seating. It drives smoothly and assuredly, responding well to input from the driver. The infotainment stack is also intuitively designed with a clean layout. Plus, the Pilot should hold its value well for when you do decide to trade it in years down the line.

7. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

a dark gray 2021 hyundai santa fe

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The 2021 Santa Fe sports a mild facelift even though it was completely redesigned in 2018. It no longer has 3 rows, as that position has been ceded to the larger Palisade. With good reliability ratings, tons of standard features, and affordable price points, the new Santa Fe is a winning package. New for this year, there is a hybrid model offering up to 34 mpg combined (compared to the FWD gasoline version).

6. 2021 Mazda CX-9

a metallic gray mazda cx-9

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Like its smaller sibling (the CX-5), Mazda’s CX-9 is a larger SUV that almost drives like a sports car. It has powerful engines that allow it to be speedy around town. The CX-9 also has nimble handling, a solid list of standard features, and a cockpit that looks like it was pulled straight from the luxury class. With all that packed into an affordable package, it makes the CX-9 hard to beat.

5. 2021 Honda Passport

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When this new version of the Honda Passport arrived in 2019, it was a sight for sore eyes. It, essentially, looks like a Honda Pilot with the back third cut off (and that’s a good thing). It has a spacious cabin that is also well designed. You might not think of Honda when it comes to off-roading prowess, but the Passport holds its own. When compared to something like the Chevy Blazer, the Passport offers more bang for your buck.

4. 2021 Toyota Highlander

a maroonish red 2021 toyota highlander

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The 2021 Toyota Highlander was brand-new for the 2020 model year. We actually don’t like the new design very much. It’s a typical overly-busy choice from Toyota. That said, the interior is made up of high-class materials and sports modern features. The driving dynamics are good, especially for a family SUV, though the third-row is cramped. That’s something families won’t like.

3. 2021 Kia Sorento

a dark teal green 2021 kia sorento

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The newly redesigned Kia Sorento brings a fresh face to 2021. It features a more aggressive front fascia and a more modern interior layout. That big upgrade on the inside is what really sends the Sorento shooting up our list to #3. The Sorento already had good fuel economy numbers for this class (26 mpg combined), but now there is a hybrid model that offers an even better 37 mpg combined! Yes, the third row is uncomfortable, but just fold those down for added cargo space and utilize the much more comfortable first and second rows.

2. 2021 Hyundai Palisade

a deep purple 2020 hyundai palisade

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The pair of sister Korean companies both released their largest mid-size offerings ever in 2020, and they hit it out of the park. The interior of the Hyundai Palisade is sufficiently upscale (and, honestly, something you would probably more commonly find in a luxury vehicle). As is the Hyundai way, there is an extensive list of standard safety and tech features, as well as even more upgrade options. It falls behind its Kia cousin simply because some early models had a production issue (that has since been remedied) where odd smells would come from the seats.

1. 2021 Kia Telluride

maroon 2020 kia telluride

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Kia’s newest and largest SUV has great boxy proportions that give it an aggressive stance on the road. Inside, the interior also features a great design that isn’t quite as luxurious as the Palisade but is by no means cheap. The Telluride also has a large array of standard features, especially for its price tag. Where it really beats the mechanically similar Palisade is with a peppy engine lineup and some off-roading chops. It’s equally at home carrying kids around town or mudding through rough terrain.