Buying Guides

2018 Best Midsize Crossovers

The industry's top-notch jack-of-all trades

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

In the race toward the top of the family-friendly heap, the midsize crossover fight is a tough one. But out of the fray come a handful of truly excellent models that have quality, size, technology, style, and versatility down. Here are our favorites.

2018 Toyota Highlander


for the practical driver

  • PROS: Potent available V6, truly spacious inside, smooth and quiet ride, excellent standard safety features
  • CONS: Busy grille looks worse after refresh, antiquated infotainment system, dull interior design

The Highlander might not be the prettiest crossover around, especially with the somewhat odd refresh that makes the front fascia less attractive, but it is hugely practical thanks to an uncomplicated interior that provides excellent quality and solid space in the first two rows. Its two strong points are its reliability and the stellar standard features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking, which cost far more as options in many of its competitors.

2018 Mazda CX-9


for the driving enthusiast

  • PROS: Best driving crosssover in the segment, excellent interior design and quality, easy-to-use infotainment system, fuel-efficient
  • CONS: Overly instrusive stability control, small-ish third row

The CX-9 might just be the best-looking, best-driving vehicle in this set thanks to smooth and slick sheetmetal and a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine. You get pep and fuel-efficiency wrapped in a great body. And then there's the masterful interior, which looks and feels far more upscale than the competition, especially in Signature trim. The interior is tighter than larger competitors like the Atlas and the Pilot, but what you get is a seriously entertaining drive each and every time.

2018 Dodge Durango


for the muscle car lover

  • PROS: Serious towing capability, one of the best infotainment systems around, distinct tall muscle car look, spacious third row, serious grunt with the optional HEMI V8 engine, 475-hp Durango SRT is a missile
  • CONS: Too much dark plastic inside, gulps gas with the V8 engine

The Durango was supposed to get canceled by Dodge, but thankfully it lives on. You'd swear this thing was body-on-frame because it's rugged and capable with potent towing capability that ranges from 6,200 pounds with the V6 all the way up to 8,700 pounds with the 6.2-liter Hemi V8. The latest Uconnect infotainment system also happens to be one of the best systems in the industry with its ease of use, great response, and ideal aesthetics.

2018 Honda Pilot


for the family conscious

  • PROS: Serious room for occupants and cargo, real third row for adults, ample storage space, potent base engine
  • CONS: Looks like a minivan, feels big and ponderous on the road, optional touchscreen has frustrating touch controls for audio

The Pilot happens to be one of the most capacious crossovers here with ample space for adults in all three rows, a must for those with full-grown families. The seats fold completely flat, too, for maximized large cargo stowage. The Pilot may not be a carver like the Mazda CX-9, but the ride is pillow soft for maximum on-road comfort. For a truly utilitarian interior, however, the upgraded touchscreen lacks physical controls for audio, which is frustrating. But as a whole package, the Pilot doesn't disappoint.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

  • PROS: Truly cavernous interior that's bigger than the Pilot, drives surprisingly adroitly despite its size, easy-to-use infotainment system, strong physical presence
  • CONS: The V6 engine feels strained at times, thick front end can look clumsy in certain colors

The Atlas is a sign that VW is on a comeback. The biggest VW is just what families in America want and need. Size, size, and more size. Three rows of adult-friendly space highlight the Atlas, while its driving dynamics belie its mid-size crossover categorization. The Teutonic exterior looks good, too, but avoid the more boring colors that give it a clumsy appearance. Believe it or not, it looks the best in bright Kurkuma Yellow Metallic.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

  • PROS: Driving dynamics inversely proportional to its size, serious three-row space inside, easy to use technology, fantastic new exterior styling
  • CONS: Some GM parts bin piece inside look and feel cheap, expensive starting price can be off-putting

The Traverse is all-new for 2018, and it not only looks way better than the last model, it drives better and swallows just about everything you throw at it. No one will mistake this big beast for a minivan, like the Honda Pilot, and yet it holds even more thanks to a huge interior that includes a nifty hideaway compartment behind the sliding infotainment system. Too bad Chevy still insists on making their interiors look on the cheap side with too much grey plastic.

2019 Kia Sorento

  • PROS: Gutsy available V6, optional torque vectoring helps it handle better, swankier refreshed exterior, standard third row, low entry price, great UVO infotainment system
  • CONS: Can get thirsty with the V6 engine

It's too bad the Sorento doesn't get purchased more often because it really is a great midsize crossover, and now you don't have to pay extra for the third row, which is standard across all trims. The two-row is history. The more upscale exterior makes it look more expensive than it is, and the interior is spacious enough for seven. The UVO system is easy to use if not the most visually attractive, but everything is laid out well, and now the 2019 model offers a driver attention warning system that monitors your driving habits and can alert you if it thinks you need to take a break. Apple CarPlay and Android auto also come standard.

What to look for in a good midsizer

  • All-wheel drive should at least be an option.
  • Solid in-car technology and charging ports for all occupants.
  • Three-rows for true passenger capacity.
  • Enough horsepower to move people and stuff.

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