The Best SUVs of 2018
This is our list of the Best SUVs 2018 has brought to market
Finding ourselves in the midst of 2018 already halfway through, it’s probably time we take a look at the best SUVs for 2018. In terms of the SUV segment, that is. With the best SUVs of 2017 well behind us, it’s time to take a look at what the successors of these worthy people-movers have brought our way. Whether it’s the updated look, new equipment, sweeter deal, or just a vehicle one year junior to those currently available, buying a new car during its prime in the model year it was released almost feels like a special accomplishment, as a way to tell the world “I’m here, and gosh darn it, I’ve made it.“
Furthermore – come summer time – most details about the upcoming models are already disclosed, which means the current models are slowly starting to creep down in price in anticipation for the new model year vehicles, which should be arriving in the third or fourth quarter. That gives us the opportunity to compare the two models by looking at their most obvious differences – and there always are some, even if manufacturers decide to keep them at a minimum. So, without further ado, here are what we consider to be the best SUVs 2018 has brought us.
If you’re looking for newer rides we’ve now released the Best SUVs of 2019
11. Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Although not that visually different from other Range Rovers, the all-new Velar still manages to bring something new to the table. Slotting between the Evoque and Sport in terms of price range, the Range Rover Velar also successfully mimics the Land Rover Discovery’s price tag. What it does better than the rest, however, is adapting to modern roads. Thus, the fourth member of the Range Rover family distances itself from Landy’s traditional off-road philosophy.
This doesn’t mean it won’t be able to traverse rough terrain, though. Just because it’s intended for road trekking doesn’t mean a Land Rover will suddenly lose its ability to get dirty. Starting from $49,900, the Range Rover Velar offers an aluminum body, mandatory all-wheel drive, a full host of off-road tech goodies and a choice of three different engines. Focusing on efficiency, the Velar’s base engine is 247-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged petrol 4-cylinder. Those in need of an even more efficient engine can opt for a 2.0L turbodiesel 4-cylinder producing 180 horsepower. Finally, those requiring more firepower should be satisfied with a 380-horsepower 3.0L supercharged V6, which is certainly enough bang to get you anywhere you need to go, on-road or otherwise.
10. Volvo XC60
2018 marks the beginning of the Volvo XC60’s second generation. Completely redesigned for 2018, the compact crossover should easily count itself among the best SUVs 2018 has to offer. The sharp new design brings the XC60 closer to its larger XC90 sibling in terms of looks and in fact, they now share the same Scalable Platform Architecture. But that’s not all that Volvo’s best-sold model (accounting for 30% of the Swedish maker’s global sales) has to offer.
As is always the case, the Swedes have again upgraded the overall safety of their newest model. They’ve done so by introducing the all-new Oncoming Lane Mitigation System. This active electronic safety feature operates at speeds between 37 and 87 mph, takes control of the vehicle thanks to steering assist, and helps mitigate head-on collisions by steering the vehicle out of the way of oncoming traffic. The City Safety system and blind-spot monitors are still there, but they too, have been upgraded. Even the optional semi-autonomous autopilot is available this time. Just like the full-size XC90, the smaller XC60 will also offer a choice of three engines. They’re actually the same as in XC90 which means the 250-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder, 316-hp twin-charged version of the same mill, and a 400-hp version of the engine with an additional electric motor are all available in a smaller package.
9. Ford Expedition MAX/Lincoln Navigator
The largest two of the Blue Oval’s SUVs have finally received a much-needed facelift after 10 long years. The Ford Expedition will be henceforth known as the Ford Expedition MAX, while the stoic Lincoln Navigator continues on as before. This actually means that the 2018 Ford Expedition has grown in size, while the 2018 Lincoln Navigator continues with two sets of wheelbases.
Although almost a whole foot longer than the outgoing models, the new Expedition will still manage to shed a couple hundred pounds of weight. It has aluminum architecture adopted from the F-150 to thank for that. The biggest change associated with the new Navigator, apart from the new design, is the new range-topping Black Edition model. Both SUVs will be powered by a 450-horsepower 3.5L EcoBoost V6 mill mated to an optional 10-speed automatic transmission. The Expedition MAX should be available for around $47,000 as before while the Navigator’s top tier might require more than $80,000.
8. GMC Terrain
The GMC Terrain’s slab-sided frontal fascia and somewhat boxy overall design were always an acquired taste. Much to the joy of some and the dismay of others, the 2018 GMC Terrain continues with more of the same. Only this time, GM’s soon-to-become-compact SUV raises that to an entirely new level. It might be smaller and shorter than outgoing models (seeing as the wheelbase shrunk from 112.5 to 107.3 inches) but that doesn’t hinder its interior room. And on top of that, the new model has shed 460 pounds of weight.
The radical new design is based around cornerstone HID or LED (Denali) headlamps, 17 or 19-inch wheels, a huge radiator grille and floating D pillars. The engine department underwent some major changes as well. The 170-hp 1.5L 4-cylinder is rather unconventional for a genuine American vehicle (let alone an SUV), but here it is. Then there’s another peculiar option that might surprise some of you – a 1.6L turbodiesel 4-cylinder making 137 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Finally, the top-of-the-line Denali models will be powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder making 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. While the diesel is mated to an older 6-speed auto, petrol engines are tied to a new 9-speed automatic transmission sporting a new space-saving electronic mechanism. Oh, and they’ve shamelessly copied that cool swooping rear window thing that Nissan and Lexus have been doing for a few years, so that’s nice too.
7. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Alfa made a comeback to the US market recently and they hit us with what they do best almost immediately: sexy style and performance. Offering sublime looking vehicles no matter the segment is something only an Italian-bred company (now American owned) like Alfa can pull off. Unlike Europe, where Alfa Romeo is just one of the bricks in the wall called family vehicles, their angle in the states is somewhat different. Here, they deal in luxury exotically-styled vehicles, and the Stelvio fits that picture perfectly.
This compact SUVs base model starts from $42,000 and offers 280 horsepower thanks to a 2.0L turbo four petrol engine. The ridiculously wonderful Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, on the other hand, appears to be one of the best SUVs 2018 is storming the beach with. The high-performance version of the crossover, graced by Alfa’s four-leaf clover performance mark (quadrifoglio in Italian), will develop a whopping 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of twist through an all-aluminum 2.9L twin-turbo V6 mill. This juice is enough for a top speed of 177 mph and a 0-60 time of about 3.6 seconds, though it seems that there are varying reports on this one. Not bad for a compact crossover. Not bad indeed. This should allow it to compete with the compact German trio of BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC just fine. It sure has the performance to match and more than what’s needed in terms of design in order to compete with them. But, will it be as reliable? That remains to be seen.
6. Subaru Crosstrek
Although a bit of an oddball, the Subaru Crosstrek was pretty much to be expected, come to think of it. Based on Subaru’s famed Impreza (now WRX) rally car, this compact crossover represents the next step in its role model’s evolution. The Japanese took what was already capable off-roader (although basically a family car when down-tuned), and gave it a few-inch lift. Now, the current Crosstrek (Impreza XV in Japan) models aren’t that popular, but 2018 brings us an all-new fifth gen WRX. That means the Subaru Crosstrek is also being overhauled.
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek has grown in size, but barely so. Just 0.6 inches overall, although the wheelbase is now 1.2 inches longer. Styling changes don’t seem to be that substantial. It’s a Subaru, after all. Engine choice(s) are also limited. In fact, there’s only one, regardless of the chosen trim level. a 2.0L boxer inline-four will yield 152 horsepower, and it’ll be tied either to a 6-speed manual or 7-step CVT transmission. As with every other Subaru, though, the Crosstrek will come with mandatory all-wheel drive. That and an abundance of active electronic safety systems should make it one of the safest small crossovers out there. It’s definitely worth the consideration.
5. Audi SQ7 TDI
Thanks to the dreaded Oldsmobile Diesel, most people in America never knew the struggle of a diesel family car owner during the winter. After a breakthrough in diesel engine technology in the last decade or so, they never will. The last step (or at least, the next one) in that rapid advancement of new diesel powertrains comes from Audi and their new full-size SUV, the SQ7 TDI.
Apart from everything else that one German luxury full-size SUV needs to possess, the Audi SQ7 TDI comes with a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 capable of producing 435 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Why is this turbo diesel so good? Because it has virtually zero turbo lag, that’s why. The engine and its two sequential turbos are positioned very close to one another in order to reduce the lag as much as possible. Then a 48-volt electrically-powered supercharger kills the remaining lag altogether and propels this 5,000-pound 7-seater to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. An impressive piece of engineering from Germans, but we didn’t expect any less. If people manage to get over their fear/beef with diesel engines, this could turn out to be one of the best SUVs 2018 has churned up for us.
4. Buick Enclave
As one of only 8 vehicles officially worthy of a “Made in America” badge, the Buick Enclave deserves more recognition than it currently gets. Then again, with more than 50,000 units sold in the US annually, this premium full-size SUV is doing quite well for itself. The 2018 Enclave is another GM nameplate that has evolved to the next generation this year.
Always considered to be a looker, the new Enclave seemingly looks even better. To add to that, Buick has prolonged its wheelbase for more interior space and upped its towing rate to 5,000 pounds. The 3.6L displacement hasn’t been changed, but the engine itself has. The V6 mill should be capable of delivering north of 300 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque from now on. New for 2018 is the top-of-the-line Avenir model which should serve as Buick’s sub-brand from now on. Something like Denali is for GMC. Apart from offering premium materials inside and lots of chrome pizzazz outside, the Avenir trim will come with much more advanced equipment. Some of it includes LED lighting, a state-of-the-art infotainment system and plenty of standard advanced electronic safety gear.
3. Ford EcoSport
EcoSport isn’t exactly a new model for the Blue Oval. The nameplate was first introduced in 2003, in Brazil, and has now migrated across the oceans. After soul searching for 15 years, the Ford EcoSport is finally coming to US shores for the first time in 2018.
The smallest of Ford’s SUVs and crossovers is based on the Blue Oval’s new B-car platform that underpins the Fiesta, among others. Light, nimble, and economical – the EcoSport shouldn’t have too much trouble finding its market in today’s economy. While a 2.0L EcoBoost 4-cylinder and all-wheel drive don’t exactly sound efficient, the 1.0L EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine coupled with front-wheel drive certainly does. Both options will be tied to 6-speed automatics, and unlike overseas models, should pack a healthy set of features – both standard and optional, making it a top pick for the best SUVs 2018 has surprised us with.
2. Acura RDX
If you’re looking for an affordable luxury SUV, look no further than the 2018 Acura RDX. The RDX is one of the best-selling Acura vehicles on the market and compared to more expensive German luxury brands, the RDX is very much capable of holding its own. While it doesn’t offer some of the more advanced tech options of said German rivals, it does have great safety ratings, plenty of rear legroom and cargo space, great gas mileage, and a slew of standard safety features that are only expensive options in its segment counterparts.
Regardless of trim, the RDX offers a 279 hp and 252 lb-ft 3.5L V6 engine with all-wheel-drive, featuring a combined fuel economy rating of 22 mpg. While the engine can be a bit sluggish compared to other class rivals, the 3900-or-so-lb SUV shouldn’t really have any issues getting around town. As with most Acuras, complaints revolve around interior refinement and confusing infotainment systems, but for the price you’re paying, you could probably look past these small grievances. It is worth noting, though, that while this may be one of the best SUVs 2018 has delivered to dealer lots, the RDX will be seeing a full redesign for the 2019 model year, so if you’re thinking about buying one, you may be better off waiting until next year.
1. Toyota Highlander
The 2018 Toyota Highlander has one of the longest lists of standard safety features in the business and also boasts a quiet and comfortable ride. With the option of a capable V6 engine, the Highlander has no troubles getting around town or merging at highway speeds, either. Even the 2.7L 4-cylinder base model is equipped with Toyota’s Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Unlike some of the other choices on this list, the Highlander actually features a third row, though it is reportedly a bit cramped for anyone larger than a teenager. The main complaint seems to be the lack of power from the base 4-cylinder engine, but with a low price tag and that long list of standard safety features, as well as the high-quality interior cabin design, we’re willing to bet you can develop some patience while those ponies get up to speed. If it’s that much of an issue, the V6 engine seems to solve all of the Highlander’s problems, but be prepared to pay upwards of $9,000 extra for that beefy motor!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does SUV stand for?
SUV stands for sport utility vehicle and is meant to denote a vehicle that is more capable than a traditional sedan off-road or is useful in a wide range of situations thanks to a higher ride height, larger cabin room, more available seating, and extra cargo space. The sport utility vehicle has been around since the Chevrolet Suburban was introduced in the 1930’s, but the concept wasn’t really adopted as a mainstay until the 1980’s with a shift away from station wagons towards minivans, then ultimately SUVs.
Sport utility vehicles are rarely actually sporty in the sense that they are quick or offer agile handling but rather, are sporty in the sense that they can be taken on adventurous activities out of the city, or can haul trailers thanks to capable towing capacities. Utility seems to be the larger target for most SUVs on the market, as they are capable in a wide array of situations whereas cars can be more limited to city activities.
Are SUVs safer than cars?
In the event of a head-on crash, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll want to be in a larger, heavier vehicle with a higher center of gravity. Occupants of SUVs are much less likely to be injured or killed in a head-on collision, but SUVs are also more prone to rollovers, which is an often fatal event. That said, most of those killed in rollover events were not wearing seatbelts, so it seems that many rollover fatalities are actually quite preventable, regardless of the vehicle type.
Ultimately, it seems that vehicle type matters much less in the event of a collision than how modern the vehicle is, as many modern safety features are actually being proven to make huge differences in traffic fatality statistics. Even features as simple as anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are saving countless lives every year, and advanced safety suites are getting more accessible and inclusive with each passing year.
What SUVs have third-row seating?
Of the SUVs on this list, the only ones that feature third-row seating are the Toyota Highlander, Ford Expedition MAX/Lincoln Navigator, and Buick Enclave. There are, however, plenty of options on the market that include third-row seating, such as Chevrolet’s Tahoe and Suburban, the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Armada, and Hyundai Santa Fe, among others.