The staggering number of crossovers sold today is mindboggling. How can shoppers even begin to narrow down their search to find the right one for them? Sure, most of them are pretty good, but are you really getting the most for your money? One might look good in terms of style, but the driving experience is disappointing. Or you find a crossover that's incredibly well made, but the infotainment system leaves something to be desired. Then there are those standouts that seem to do just about everything well, and we've narrowed them down to three in varying sizes and prices.
Best Mid-Size Crossover: 2020 Kia Telluride
No one thought the Telluride would be as successful as it's been. The sales numbers are staggering, and it's now coveted by even premium crossover shoppers. The Telluride is the first Kia vehicle to show the rest of the world that it can do luxury and style that rival more upscale brands. What's more, it just received Consumer Reports award for the most reliable SUV of 2020, so it's more than just pretty. It's one of the most coveted awards in the automotive industry.
The Telluride's handsome exterior is one of the best across the segment, including luxury SUVs. The bold tiger nose grille is clad in black, flanked by beautifully framed vertical headlights. The silver notch in the B-pillar adds character to the Range Rover-ish body, and the scalloped taillights look great even from a distance. It seems Kia has gone from being known as a manufacturer of economy cars to one that's at the cutting edge of mainstream car design, and people are noticing.
Step inside, and you'll find the Telluride has one of the nicest interiors for the price. Even the matte wood-like surfaces look upscale, as do the metallic surfaces and rugged grab handles. We especially like the unique seat stitching pattern. In terms of room for all occupants, a big family will have no problem with the accommodations thanks to 41.4 inches of front legroom, 42.4 inches of second-row legroom, and 31.4 inches in the third row. It's also wonderful to drive. Power comes from a 3.8-liter V6 with 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, so there's plenty of oomph. All-in-all, it's one of the best crossovers we've driven and experienced. Here are some of the Telluride's best features:
- LX Trim Base MSRP: $31,890 | SX Trim Base MSRP: $44,090
- 291 Horsepower V6, 8-Speed Automatic Transmission
- Available All-Wheel Drive on all trim levels
- 8-inch Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (LX, S) | 10.25-inch (EX, SX)
- Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go (standard)
- Auto Emergency Braking & Warning (standard)
- One-Touch Sliding & Folding 2nd-Row Seats (standard)
- Heated/Ventilated Front Power Seats (EX, SX)
- Leather Seat Trim (EX, SX), Available Nappa Leather Seats (SX)
Best Compact Crossover: 2020 Mazda CX-5
Mazda knows what it takes to build beautiful vehicles that look and feel premium inside and out. But one thing they've never lost sight of is the driving experience, and it shows across their entire model line. The CX-5 compact crossover is as good as it gets. Sensuous bodywork, an opulent cabin, and the best driving dynamics in its segment make it a remarkably good buy. In fact, from the dark mesh grille to the beautifully sculpted doors and body, the CX-5 looks more expensive than competitors like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4.
Mazda has managed to make the CX-5 look unique while still employing the attractive design language across the model line, a feat the brand has managed to pull off for each vehicle in its stable. From the dark chrome alloy wheels to the standard slim LED lighting all around, the CX-5 looks good coming and going.
Inside, the CX-5 has some of the best materials we've seen at this price point. Wood, metal, and fine leather (on higher trims) abound, and the ergonomics and interior styling are hard to beat. For the 2021 model year, the CX-5 also benefits from more power. The 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine now makes 190 horsepower (up from 187), and the 2.5-liter turbo four is now good for up to 250 horsepower. But it's not just power that makes the CX-5 the best driving crossover in its segment, it's the razor-sharp steering and totally composed handling, as well.
- Sport Trim Base MSRP: $25,190 | Signature Trim Base MSRP: $38,850
- Available All-Wheel Drive across all trim levels
- Available Skyactiv-G 2.5T engine with up to 250 hp 310 lb-ft of torque (Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, Signature)
- Push-Button Start (standard)
- Radar Cruise Control w/ Stop-and-Go (standard), Blind Spot Monitoring w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (standard)
- Adaptive Front Lighting System (Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, Signature)
- 8" Full-Color Touchscreen (Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, Signature)
- 10-Speaker Bose Premium Audio System (Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, Signature)
Best Subcompact Crossover: 2020 Mazda CX-30
When we got behind the wheel of the new CX-30, we were gobsmacked by how good it was to drive and sit in. Everything about the affordable CX-30 seemed much nicer than its price would indicate. It looks like a smaller, slightly more rugged version of the CX-5, and it doesn't give up anything in terms of style thanks to the adoption of similar styling cues that are noticeable all over. It also looks much more attractive than the CX-3.
Under the hood, across the full trim line, is the punchy 186-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine that's good for an 8-second sprint to 60 mph. While that's not blistering, the promise of a 250-horsepower turbocharged Premium Plus trim level was just announced for the 2021 model year, and we're guessing that time will be reduced to about 7 seconds. Plus, the Premium Plus will get additional features not found in the rest of the CX-30 line. What the CX-30 delivers, regardless of trim, is nimble handling and great steering. It manages to outdo the competition by just being that much better to drive.
The interior also inherits much of the CX-5's gorgeous lines. We would dare to say it seems even more driver-focused due to the racy instrument binnacle and the way the door panels' lines meet with the dashboard. A great infotainment system and controller, beautiful analog gauges, and the best materials and design make the interior sublime.
- Base MSRP: $23,300 | Premium Trim Base MSRP: $29,600
- 8-speaker audio system with Mazda Harmonic Acoustics (Base, Select)
- Bose 12-speaker premium audio system (Preferred, Premium)
- Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go (standard)
- LED Headlights with LED DRLs (standard) | Signature LED headlights (Premium)
- Push Button Start (standard)
- 8.8" Full-Color Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (standard)
- Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control System (Select, Preferred, Premium)