SUVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From the gigantic houses that can be seen barreling down the highway or wandering off-road, to crossovers that are just a tad bigger than your average sedan, and these usually fall into the category of midsize SUVs or crossovers. These vehicles are the perfect blend between capability and usability, as they are easier to drive, easier to park, and more fuel efficient than the gas-guzzling giants they’re related to. They offer a lot more wiggle room than a sedan, more off-road ability, and more durability. They’re an ideal middle ground for the driver that doesn’t want to overdo it with the outdoor stuff but still needs a vehicle that can do the job when it needs to. They’ve quickly become the most popular vehicle class in the United States, even surpassing the everyman’s pick-up truck in sales within the past year.
For people that want to be part of the midsize mania, like the those with large families, the ones that want to feel safer, taller, or just want something comfortable to drive, here is a list of 10 best midsize SUVs under $40,000.
10 2024 Mazda CX-90: $39,600
The CX-90 is an All-Wheel Drive SUV that improves on the qualities of the CX-9. Under the hood, it carries around Mazda’s most powerful engine - a 3.3-liter inline six-cylinder hybrid engine that produces 280 horsepower and has a top speed of at least 118 mph on the base model. The fuel economy figures for the Mazda CX-90 are 24 MPG in the city and 28 on the highway, which isn’t bad for a vehicle of its type. Looking at the interior and the practicality of the car, it comes with leather seats, a seating capacity of seven or eight depending on your preferences, 75 cubic-feet of cargo space with the seats folded, and a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. It also has a neat amount of gadgets and safety features that will guarantee an enjoyable experience.
2024 Mazda CX-90: Performance, Price and Photos
9 2023 Kia Telluride: $35,890
There are a lot of reasons to want to ride in the Telluride. The price is great, it looks good, and the base model comes with a good bunch of gadgets and features. It has a naturally aspirated V-6 engine that produces 291 horsepower and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The base model is a front-wheel drive; however, all-wheel drive options are also available for an additional $2,000. A FWD Telluride can do 20 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway.
As far as practicality goes,the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds.The build quality and the comfort of the interior cabin are fantastic, and the car can fiteight passengers or seven if you opt for the captain’s chairs in the second row. It has three rows of seating, and the middle and rear seats can fold, providing up to 87 cubic-feet worth of storage. There are also a bunch of safety features available on the base model too, so it’s definitely a choice worth thinking about.
8 2023 Hyundai Palisade: $35,900
The Palisade is a car that promises a smooth ride and luxurious perks at a reasonable price. It is the largest SUV Hyundai has ever made, and as such, can comfortably carry around eight passengers in its three rows of seats. Storage-wise, the car has 46 cubic-feet if the third-row seats are folded and 86 cubic-feet if the second-row seats are folded as well. There’s also additional storage underneath the load floor too. Other than that, the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds if equipped with a trailer hitch from the dealership.
This beast has a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that produces 291 horsepower. The base version is front-wheel drive, but you can opt for all-wheel drive. It also comes with aneight-speed automatic transmission, though you can change gears with the steering-wheel paddles. In terms of fuel economy, the car can do 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. Overall, a great choice, especially if you want to drive around the city in a quiet midsize SUV. The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are highly rated, with the Hyundai receiving the TopSpeed SUV Of The Year, 2022
2023 Hyundai Palisade - Performance, Price & Photos
7 2023 Honda Pilot: $37,645
The Pilot is more rugged than ever before with a revamped boxy, truck-like appearance modeled after the CR-V and other cool Honda designs. It also has five additional horses under the hood than the previous model, making it a 285-horsepower prowler. Another improvement is the 10-speed transmission which offers smoother gear shifting. The engine featured in the Pilot is a 3.5-liter V-6 and front-wheel drive is given as the standard driveline with AWD available as an option. In terms of economy, the Honda does 19 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.
Inside the Pilot, the cabin features a three-row configuration housing eight seats for eight passengers. The second and third-row seats when folded down, also give 87 cubic-feet of storage space, which is also pretty good. Other than that, the Honda should also be able to tow anything up to 5,000 pounds. Overall, a pretty solid choice that comes at a fairly friendly price, and its fair share of perks.
6 2023 Chevrolet Traverse: $35,915
The Traverse is a car that is built to be a decent start for young drivers and families too. It has a huge cabin and can comfortably fit seven people, no questions asked. With the second and third-row seats folded, the cargo space is up to 98.7 cubic-feet, so it’s definitely good for hauling around stuff. The car has three rows of seats, but the middle is occupied with captain’s chairs. The quality of the seats, though, isn’t great since they are cloth seats and not leather ones. Its towing capacity is 1,500 pounds without any special equipment. That’s an extra $5,000.
Looking at the car’s performance, it has a 3.6-liter V-6, a nine-speed transmission, and 310 horsepower. You can opt for AWD, but its off-road performance is nothing special. In terms of fuel economy, the FWD model does 27 MPG on the highway and 18 MPG in the city, which is a bit more economical than the AWD model.
2023 Chevrolet Traverse: Performance, Price and Photos
5 2023 Ford Explorer: $38,760
The fourth generation Explorer comes with no great changes compared to the one that dropped the previous year. It has three rows of seats, and fits seven passengers, but the back is not good for older children or adults. With the seats folded, it opens up 87.8 cubic-feet of cargo space. The Explorer can also tow up to 5,300 pounds, when properly equipped, so it’s definitely a powerhouse in logistics. It also has plenty of gadgets and things in the cabin to keep people comfortable and entertained, like onboard Wi-Fi.
Going into other power stats, the base Ford Explorer has a 2.3-liter direct injection, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine which produces 300 horsepower. It also features a 10-speed transmission, stiff suspension, and AWD. Economy-wise, the Ford has a combined economy of 23 MPG. It’s a good choice to consider overall.
4 2023 Nissan Pathfinder: $37,100
The Nissan Pathfinder is a sizable SUV with ample space within its cabin, making it comfortable for family holidays or your basic freight errands. It can house eight passengers comfortably, but the middle row can be modified to fit a pair of captain’s chairs instead. In the back, the cargo space is 17 cubic-feet but with the chairs folded, it can reach up to 80.7 cubic-feet, which isn’t as big as its competitors but is rather decent.
Checking out the power stats, the Pathfinder has the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine that the previous model had, and it's capable of dishing out 284 horsepower. It also has a nine-speed automatic transmission and FWD as standard. AWD is available as well, and they come with seven different driving modes, which make the car rather versatile on several types of terrain. In terms of fuel economy, the Explorer is capable of hitting 23 MPG combined.
3 2023 Toyota Highlander: $37,955
The Highlander is also another solid choice to consider as a midsize trekker. The looks are amazing, and you do keep the polar bears happy, if you choose the hybrid options available. The car comes with FWD as standard, and though you can always opt for the AWD system, they are the least fuel efficient. Looking at the fuel economy, you can get up to 36 mpg combined with the hybrid model. Powering the Highlander is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbo engine that produces 265 horsepower. Other than that, the car also comes with an eight-speed transmission, which is continuously variable.
Looking into the practicality of the Highlander, the car has great handling and a smooth ride. The three-row SUV can fit eight passengers, but it’s not too roomy for adults in the back. It has up to 84 cubic feet of storage space if the second and third-row seats are folded, and it has a towing capacity of around 5,000 pounds.
2 2023 Subaru Ascent: $35,120
The Ascent is currently the largest Subaru the manufacturer has ever made. With that size comes an eight-seater, three-row, AWD SUV that is not so good for adults either in the back seat. Looking at other things related to size, its cargo capacity is 75.6 cubic-feet if both the second and third-row seats are folded and 17.8 cubic-feet when all seats are up. So definitely not the biggest SUV out there.
Power-wise, the Ascent features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 285 horsepower. The transmission is continuously variable, but the steering wheel has been fitted with paddles, which allow the driver to have more control over the driving experience. The ride is fairly comfortable and smooth, and the car does feel on the higher side with its 8.7-inch ground clearance. Other than that, the Ascent has the capacity to tow around 5,000 pounds. Overall, a fairly decent option for anyone that’s interested.
Why The 2023 Subaru Ascent Is A Highly Underrated Three-Row Midsize SUV
1 2023 Volkswagen Atlas: $36,445
The Atlas comes with an iconic feature of being one of the few vehicles that can comfortably fit adults in the back seats. It is a three-row SUV that makes a statement about comfort and practicality. It’s a seven-seater primarily and its cargo space is 20.6 cubic-feet behind the third row and 96.8 cubic-feet when the second and third-row seats are folded, so absolutely massive. Other than that, it has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, but this is only possible with the V-6 variants and not the basic four-cylinder models. The four-cylinder Atlas can only do 2,000 pounds.
As mentioned before, the Atlas comes with two engine options, a four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and a fuel economy of 21 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway, which is also FWD; or a V-6 that chugs out an additional 41 horsepower raising it to 276. The economy of an AWD V-6 is 16 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway, whereas an FWD V-6 has an additional two MPG each. So, it’s definitely a guzzler, but it does know how to get the job done when it needs to.