Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have become one of the most popular choices by Canadian consumers, trailing only pickup trucks as the top-selling vehicle throughout the country. While the “best SUV in Canada” can be a subjective endeavour — one person might consider the most affordable to be the best while another would argue that the latest safety features is what qualifies as best — the bottom line is that some SUVs are clear standouts in the industry.
Whether you want pure power, luxury, fuel economy, capability, 4WD and AWD, convenience, or a mix of the bunch, here are some of the best SUVs in Canada.
The Toyota RAV4 has been Canada's best-selling SUV over the past few years, including 2021, and with good reason. With alluring looks, comfort, and top-notch features, this compact SUV has a little something for everyone.
In the past few years, Toyota has expanded the subcompact model beyond its gas-powered option to now offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. With the PHEV RAV4 Prime, drivers can get fuel economy of 5.8L/100KM, putting the vehicle in the upper echelon of all vehicles — not just crossovers. Plus, with a 1,588-kg towing capacity and up to 1,977 litres of cargo space, the RAV4 is quite versatile.
It's also an Insurance Institute for Highway Driving (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+, thanks to many advanced safety features, such as blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert, making it a great choice for families or those with teen drivers.
The RAV4 delivers on all fronts, leading the way in a crowded space of other small SUV options, perfect for commutes through heavy Toronto traffic or a weekend camping trip to get away from it all.
The Hyundai Kona comes in two flavours: gasoline and electric. For this list, we’re looking only at the gasoline model. The Kona is a tiny SUV with plenty to offer within its petite 2,600-mm wheelbase.
Under its hood, the Kona comes standard with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that delivers a respectable 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Bumping to the N-Line model adds a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder with 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. You can pair these engines with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).
If you’re feeling really adventurous, opt for the Kona N and its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that pumps 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque out to the front wheels. The Kona N, sadly, is only available with FWD.
Because it's a subcompact SUV, the Kona isn’t as roomy inside as some on this list. However, it has a decent 1,296-litre cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. It also has many desirable standard features, such as wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, power windows, Bluetooth, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and more.
Midsize SUVs aren't just for the small nuclear family anymore. The Kia Telluride is proof. This larger-than-life midsize SUV doesn't seem like a midsize, boasting seating for up to eight passengers, integrated all-wheel drive, and a host of advanced technology and infotainment features (including a 10.3-inch touchscreen) that make the classic Canadian family road trip a bit more bearable.
A 291-horsepower, 3.8-litre V-6 does the heavy lifting, enabling you to zoom to your destination or easily traverse challenging Canadian terrain with up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. And with head-turning looks with or without the blacked-out Nightfall package, the appearance of the Telluride is far more intriguing than the pricing would suggest.
If you prefer a slightly different style, you can also opt for the Hyundai Palisade, which is essentially the same vehicle with a different body.
As more Canadians turn to SUVs to chauffeur the family, minivans continue to fall by the wayside. But when they're replaced with the majestic looks, power, and versatility of the three-row GMC Yukon, chances are no one will miss the minivan era.
Although once similar to the Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban, the Yukon has spread its wings, delivering many unique styling cues to its brand. A gleaming chrome grille pairs with 20-inch wheels and dynamic styling to provide sleek, sophisticated aesthetics on top of its power and convenience
Behind either a 5.3-litre V-8, a 6.2-litre V-8, or the turbo-diesel 3.0-litre V-6, the Yukon tows up to 7,900 pounds, making short work of trailers, campers, or boats you need for a family trip to Banff.
Inside, heated and ventilated seats, a high-quality sound system, and a 10.2-inch touch screen provide all the bells and whistles that a new car, and even a used car, should.
If you love the finer things in life, the Mercedes-Benz GLE obliges. Bearing all of the sophistication and German engineering that's made the brand a winner over the past century, the GLE marks yet another feat, blending performance, opulence, and drivability that's unmatched by other automakers.
While the exterior emits a beacon of style and status, the interior is a shining attribute of this luxury SUV. Available in both five-seat and seven-seat options, drivers can choose between family-hauler or single-person options. However, one slight critique is that the third row is only for the vertically challenged. Depending on the configuration, drivers can utilize between 630 and 2,055 litres of cargo space, which should suffice for even larger families.
The most luxurious aspect lies in the breadth of high-tech features, and the centrepiece is the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system. Designed for ease of use courtesy of a large 12.3-inch touch screen, connectivity is at a premium with touch-screen control capabilities from your steering wheel or by saying, "Hey, Mercedes." Even Audi, Lexus, Cadillac, Land Rover, and BMW drivers recognize the detailed aspects of the new system, although the other luxury competitors are just a little behind.
The Mercedes boasts many extras, including standard leather, heated seats and steering wheel, and E-active body control for added comfort. But even with all these features, the Mercedes proprietary 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system paired with the GLE450's 3.0-litre turbocharged V-6 provides precise and fun handling. Put the pedal to the floor, and you'll go from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds. Just be wary of the highway patrol if you want to air this beast out on the Trans-Canada Highway.
While the Kia Niro Hybrid offers the best fuel efficiency for the crossover range, its relatively small size and low engine specs make it pale compared to the Ford Escape Hybrid.
For Canadian families or those looking to lower fuel costs and maximize their carbon tax rebate, the Escape delivers the best numbers of any non-plug-in hybrid on the market. Through a 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid powertrain that pairs with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Escape Hybrid boasts an impressive 6L/100 km combined. Even if you want a bit of extra traction for those Canadian winters, the all-wheel-drive system doesn’t impact its fuel consumption.
The Nissan Rogue continues to impress as an excellent entry-level choice in the SUV market. The 2021 model ushered in the new generation of the Rogue, offering a handsome exterior (including 17-inch alloy wheels standard) that belies its status as the best SUV in Canada for value.
Recently voted the best midsize SUV in Canada, the Rogue piles on the interior and safety features to boot. Wireless smartphone connectivity eliminates wires throughout the cabin, while Apple CarPlay boosts your interior entertainment. At the forefront of the Rogue's IIHS Top Safety Pick rating is a host of advanced safety features courtesy of Nissan Intelligent Mobility and the innovative, semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist.
Though the standard 181-horsepower four-cylinder doesn't burn up the road, the accompanying 8.1L/100KM combined should provide the ideal trade-off. For everything it is, the Rogue is certainly a strong value buy. The Rogue SV and higher trims have a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that cranks out 201 horsepower and pushes its combined fuel consumption down to 7.2L/100KM. Plus, all 1.5-litre models include standard AWD.
To successfully tackle the top-ranked off-road trails in Canada, such as the Gun Mountain Loop Trail in Ontario or the Prairie Creek Provincial Recreation Area in Alberta, only the most rugged SUV will do. And that's why drivers who thirst for off-roading turn unequivocally to the Jeep Wrangler.
With decades of fine-tuning, the Wrangler remains the apex of the off-roading world, challenging all types of terrain through its trail-rated features such as Command-Trac, Selec-Trac, or Rock-Trac 4X4 systems. Also helping off the beaten path is its 246.4 to 327.7 mm of ground clearance.
Five engine options are now available on the Jeep Wrangler to boot, offering power through a 285-horsepower 3.6-litre V6, a 270-horsepower turbo 2.0-litre, a 260-horsepower 3.0-litre diesel, a 470-horsepower 6.4-litre V-8, and a 270-horsepower plug-in hybrid.
And Jeep doesn't forget about the extras. Later incarnations of the SUV now offer standard specs like air conditioning, touch-screen infotainment, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and even a two- or four-door option. Never has the Wrangler been such a one-two punch of capability and comfort.
Although the best SUV in Canada is subjective, deciding where to buy yours should be more objective. You can skip the hassles associated with car dealerships, streamline the process, and get your SUV delivered to your door with Clutch.
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