Our love affair with the sport utility vehicle seems to know no bounds. SUVs and light-duty trucks now account for almost 75 percent of all vehicles sold in Canada, and in the U.S., they’re so popular that some automakers have decided to discontinue sales of family sedans. The rise of SUVs has lead to innovations in a variety of categories—and a wealth of vehicle options to research, test drive and take home. From peppy compacts to high-performance luxury SUVs to fuel-efficient hybrids, here are some of the top SUVs on the market today.
The Toyota RAV4 has been Canada’s bestselling compact utility for the past few years. For 2019, an all-new model will be built off Toyota’s global platform; it’s expected to feature improved handling, interior refinements and much more. (Look for a hybrid RAV4 to be added to Toyota’s 2019 lineup too.) Powering this updated RAV4 will be the same 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, eight-speed automatic found in the Camry. Overall, the RAV4 continues to be known for its bulletproof reliability and maintaining an impressive resale value.
Towing capacity: 680 kg / 1,500 lb
The Toyota Highlander is a winner in its class due to its incredible resale value and reliability. The interior space is very well designed—with huge storage bins, a practical dashboard and second-row seats that slide easily to allow for quick access to the third row. The Highlander is one of a few mid-size SUVs that can actually accommodate eight passengers, making it a good minivan alternative. The Highlander is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine with all-wheel drive, or you can opt for the AWD hybrid model.
Towing capacity: 2,268 kg / 5,000 lb
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Built on a traditional pickup truck chassis, the Chevrolet Tahoe’s classic SUV design makes it more suitable for off-road and rough-road duty. Importantly, it’s also great for towing: For large families with trailers, the full-size Tahoe’s 3901-kilogram (8,600-pound) towing capacity makes it an ideal choice.
Towing capacity: 3,901 kg / 8,600 lb
Boasting second-to-none build quality, a state-of-the-art interior, and superb handling and power, the Porsche Cayenne is everything you could want in a luxury vehicle. The all-new 2019 Cayenne is available with three gasoline engines, ranging from a 340-horespower V6 to a turbo V8 with 550 horses; there’s also a plug-in hybrid option. The Cayenne is an expensive SUV, but it’s also one that delivers amazing capability along with class-leading resale value.
Towing capacity: 3,500 kg / 7,716 lb
The Hyundai Kona is the newest entry into the hot sub-compact class of sport utility vehicles. With a starting price of $21,000, the stylish SUV has room for five passengers and is outfitted with standard features including heated front seats, backup camera, and an infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The Kona’s base-model engine is a 147-horsepower four cylinder, or you can choose a turbocharged 175-horsepower model. (All-wheel drive is also available as an option.) Its fashion-forward styling is on trend for buyers seeking a crossover SUV as an “upgrade” from traditional sedans.
Towing capacity: not available
FUEL-EFFICIENT NON-HYBRID SUV
The most fuel-efficient non-electric SUV on Canadian roads is the Chevrolet Equinox Diesel. Boasting a highway fuel rating of just 6L/100km, this new compact utility is actually more efficient for highway driving than Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid. Granted, Equinox’s city rating is higher—8.5L/100km—but for anyone who does a lot of open-road driving, this is the SUV for the job: It’s smooth and refined, and it’s among of the largest options in its class.
Towing capacity: 1,485 kg / 3,274 lb
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FUEL-EFFICIENT LUXURY SUV
Lexus’s RX SUVs are known for their outstanding reliability and resale value—and its hybrid model ups the ante with excellent fuel economy. The Lexus RX 450h is rated at 8.1L/100km in the city and 8.4L on the highway. New for 2018 is a longer version (the RX 450hL) with room for seven passengers over three rows of seats. Though expensive, these SUVs feature impeccable build quality, refined interior cabins and, of course, Lexus’s sterling brand reputation.
Towing capacity: 1,585 kg / 3,494 lb
GOOD FOR TOWING & HAULING
The new full-size Ford Expedition is getting attention for its mix of hard-nosed strength and interior refinement. It stands out from the competition because it uses a turbocharged V6 engine instead of V8. One might think this would provide less towing capacity, but that’s not the case here: the eight-passenger Expedition offers best-in-class towing of up to 4,173 kilos (9,200 pounds). On top of that amazing capacity, its ride also achieves near-luxury SUV levels of smoothness and quiet.
Towing capacity: 4,173 kg / 9,200 lb
GOOD FOR OFF-ROADING
Jeep was the brand that created the SUV category when, following WWII, it began selling its military 4X4 to the public. To this day, the Jeep Wrangler is the most capable off-road SUV that’s also attainable by the majority of buyers. The 2018 Wrangler is a new (and slightly larger) model that’s nevertheless instantly recognizable. It’s powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, or you can upgrade to a 3.6-litre V6—or a soon-to-be-available three-litre V6 turbo diesel. Two advanced 4X4 systems and its iconically rugged shape make the Wrangler perfect for off-road adventures. Plus, the roof, doors and windshield can be removed, to create the classic Jeep look and outdoorsy feel.
Towing capacity: 1,587 kg / 3,500 lb
THE “COOLEST” SUV
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class (short for Geländewagen) was introduced in 1979 and has been an icon ever since, used for military work, policing… even, at one point, the Popemobile. The clout of its brand (who hasn’t ogled a Mercedes’ three-pointed-star hood ornament?) combined with highly refined styling has made the G-Class a desirable status symbol, but thanks to its truck-based chassis and standard three-differential locking system—not to mention top-of-the-line specs throughout—it’s also a more than capable performer both on and off the road.
Towing capacity: 3,493 kg / 7,700 lb