Best Selling Family SUVs

Collage of SUV badges

The Automobl Value Comparison of the Top Five Best Selling Family SUVs

There’s no doubt that with lower fuel prices and the need to carry a lot of stuff, the family SUV market is huge. Manufacturers pour a lot of resources into this category because of the tremendous volume of sales it promises.

Auto sales in general took a beating in the second quarter of 2020, but family SUVs are still selling well. Of the best selling family SUVs, Ford actually increased its sales of Explorer over the same period last year, and the new Hyundai Palisade makes our top five starting from very few sales in Q2 of 2019. Our other contenders include the perennial favourite, Toyota Highlander, in addition to Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse.

Families Need Space!

What do people need in a family SUV? Inside, three rows of seats, lots of cargo space, perhaps an entertainment system for the little ones and lots of cup holders are definitely on the list. Outside, good looking styling, a comforting safety record and enough horsepower to carry everyone and their stuff.

These vehicles are very well equipped, even in their base trims. Most people will look to the middle of the line-up, which often gives the purchaser the best value. Let’s see what under $40,000 will buy in a three row, family SUV.

The Ground Rules

We’re going to leave out the hybrid versions of the Explorer and Highlander. Their prices are in the upper $40Ks. We’ll also equip all of our vehicles with AWD, so we’ll literally put them on equal footing. And, we’re going to keep the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) under $40,000.

The Contenders

Contestant 1Contestant 2Winner
2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT + Driver. Conf. Pkg2020 Ford Explorer XLTExplorer
2020 Ford Explorer XLT2020 Toyota Highlander LEExplorer
2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT + Driver. Conf. Pkg2020 Toyota Highlander LEHighlander
2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT + Driver. Conf. Pkg2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL + Conv. PkgPalisade
2020 Ford Explorer XLT2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL + Conv. PkgPalisade
2020 Honda Pilot EX-L2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL + Conv. PkgPalisade
2020 Hyundai Palisade SEL + Conv. Pkg2020 Toyota Highlander LEPalisade
2020 Chevrolet Traverse LT + Driver. Conf. Pkg2020 Honda Pilot EX-LPilot
2020 Ford Explorer XLT2020 Honda Pilot EX-LPilot
2020 Honda Pilot EX-L2020 Toyota Highlander LEPilot

Fifth Place - Chevrolet Traverse

Chevrolet Traverse didn’t win any of the Automobl Value Comparisons. It lost mainly from giving up Adaptive Cruise Control and LED headlights to its competitors. These were more than enough to overcome features on Traverse like OnStar, Heated front seats and Automatic emergency braking. It is a slightly bigger vehicle than Palisade with more front headroom, and has significantly more room in the third row. Traverse’s cargo capacity is impressive, so if carrying cargo is really important to you, Traverse still merits a look.

Fourth Place - Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander edged Traverse in its only Automobl Value winning comparison. Highlander was close in value extras to Traverse, and mainly won this comparison based on MSRP. Highlander’s extremely efficient engine is worth investigating; its fuel cost is $800 lower than Traverse.

Third Place - Ford Explorer

Explorer just eked out a win over Highlander, and edges out Traverse by virtue of a lower MSRP and a higher total of Automobl Value items. Explorer’s engine has the most torque of this group, so in-town driving will be spirited. Explorer’s towing capacity of 5300lbs is also the highest among the vehicles we’re comparing.

Second Place - Honda Pilot

Pilot has an impressive list of features, from Straight driving assist, Fog lights and Leather seating material to its Power moonroof and Adaptive cruise control. Highlander’s extra features are limited at this trim level, and Pilot’s value list has more big dollar items as the aforementioned Power moonroof and leather seats. It finished a very close second to Palisade, mostly on MSRP. Pilot’s third row seat is more spacious than Palisade and has just a little more overall cargo space too.

And The Winner Is:

Hyundai Palisade is the new kid on the block. With that in mind, Hyundai has loaded Palisade with Adaptive cruise control, a power moonroof, heated front seats, rear air bags and an array of small thoughtful features such as Conversation mirror, Rear window side sunshades and Sliding rear seats. Palisade’s extra Automobl Value Feature total was almost identical to Pilot, but wins based on a lower MSRP. Contrast that with the near identical MSRP Palisade shares with Highlander, but has an impressive $3,114 Automobl Value Advantage over Highlander with a Power moonroof, Front and rear sonar parking assist and a Power folding rear seat leading the way. Palisade is the Automobl Value winner in this comparison.

Wrapping Up

All of these vehicles are best sellers. They bring their individual personalities to the segment. Some are exceptionally roomy. Some have an impressive array of amenities. Some can tow and carry more cargo than others. One vehicle can’t be all things to all people, or we’d still be driving 1977 Ford LTDs. Check out the comparisons for yourself with our comparison tool. See if you agree with our assessment of the Hyundai Palisade winning this round of Automobl Value Comparisons.

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