- Crossover and midsize SUVs are soaring in popularity, due to their overall utility.
- Although 2021 saw the pandemic have a drastic impact on car sales, many models still sold hundreds of thousands of units.
- Most of the major auto manufacturers have at least one SUV model on this list.
Buying a new vehicle at any time is a big decision. When you are looking for your next vehicle, one great option to consider is a crossover or midsize SUV. These cars provide a lot of benefits including style, safety features, luxury, and can even come at an affordable price. While the pandemic had a big impact on overall car sales — not to mention the supply chain issues — plenty of SUVs still saw great sales numbers. Here are the best selling midsize and crossover SUVs, based on total sales numbers from 2021.
Sold in 2021: 143,062
The 2022 Honda Pilot starts at almost $40,000, but the 2021 model debuted at just $33,775. If you can find a barely used model with low mileage, you could be driving a new Pilot for even less.
The Pilot has solid and efficient V6 engine, along with plenty of interior space for cargo and passengers. For SUVs with three-rows, it remains among the most popular, with close to 150,000 units sold in 2021. On the other hand, some critics point to its bland infotainment system and the fact that adding more options makes the price increase dramatically as reasons to look elsewhere. The current generation Pilot has been around since 2016, so hopefully Honda plans a fresh makeover for this popular SUV.
Sold in 2021: 144,696
The Toyota 4Runner is actually one of our top picks for affordable off-roading. Even if you’re sticking to city streets and local highways, the 4Runner is still a great SUV choice. It’s rugged and spacious, with a ton of standard driver-assistance safety tech included.
Not much has changed on the 4Runner over the last decade. While some criticize Toyota for not trying to innovate the model further, others are perfectly happy they aren’t messing with a good thing. The 4Runner won’t rank at the top of its class for fuel efficiency or interior luxuries, but who cares? It’s big, it’s rugged, and it’s competitively priced. The TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims are especially fun.
Sold in 2021: 145,415
Ever since it was first introduced with the 2001 model year, the Ford Escape has continued to be one of the most popular SUVs in the world. Consumers bought around 145,000 Escapes in 2021 alone. While that number is actually down from previous years, it’s mostly a result of pandemic concerns and the fact that many buyers jumped on the fourth generation model when it was released in 2020.
For anyone looking for more control and power, upgrading the brand new turbocharged engine is often a good option as it can produce up to 245 horsepower. However, the base engine option will produce only around 181 horsepower. In 2018, Ford also introduced the new SEL trim, which comes with a variety of new luxury and tech features. Now in 2022, there are no less than ten different Escape models to choose from. Even better, six of those are hybrid models. And best of all? They all fall between $27,775 and $40,430.
Sold in 2021: 150,949
The 2021 Tucson was a huge success for Hyundai. Not only has their handsome SUV been met with rave critical reviews, but it also saw a 22% sales jump from 2020. A starting price of around $26,000 definitely helped move those units too.
With a unique exterior styling, well-equipped standard features, and a wide variety of trim selections (including five hybrid options), the Tucson offers something for pretty much every SUV buyer. Critics might bemoan the lack of a high-performance model, but the Tucson can’t pretend to be a Model Y or a Porsche Cayenne. It’s just really good at being what it was made to be — a reliable, comfortable, and smooth mid-size SUVs for families.
Sold in 2021: 154,623
Overall, Subaru is continuing to increase in popularity with consumers. The Outback continues to be one of the best-selling vehicles that the company makes, as over 154,000 were sold in 2021 The Outback comes standard with AWD, but the base engine option is considered weak given its 182-horsepower product.
However, the Outback does get good fuel efficiency — up to 32 mpg when driving in the city. Drivers that are willing to sacrifice some fuel efficiency also have the option of upgrading to the 260-horsepower V6 engine. Personally, we’d recommend it.
Sold in 2021: 154,723
Next up is another Subaru SUV, the with Forester barely outselling its cousin by a mere 100 units in 2021. This two-row SUV provides a smooth ride, with plenty of cargo space in the back — especially with the rear seats folded down. Subaru’s EyeSight safety system offers a suite of driver-assistance features, including advanced camera sensors and automated emergency steering.
The base model Forester starts at $26,570, but we’d definitely suggest you spring for at least the next tier up in the Premium trim for just under $30,000. The top tier Wilderness or Touring versions are packed with great extra features too, for another $4,000-to-$6,000. While a fully loaded Forester has tons of attractive additions like additional USB charging ports and a WiFi hotspot, some critics felt the lack of a more powerful engine was a big downside.
Sold in 2021: 165,323
With the 2018 model year, the Equinox was completely redesigned. This included rebuilding the interior and revamping the engine options. Those that are looking for a lot of power will enjoy the upgraded 252-horsepower engine, which also comes with a decent 26 mpg when driving in the city. Those that are willing to forego engine performance for fuel efficiency, picking the standard 137 horsepower engine should be satisfactory. This engine option will provide fuel efficiency of up to 31 mpg.
Critics also loved the Equinox’s generous technology features. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment unit is standard, as are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and even 4G LTE onboard WiFi. This suave SUV boasts tons of room for passengers and cargo, but has been dinged slightly by reviewers for not being as smooth a drive as some rivals.
Sold in 2021: 168,383
If you’ve always wanted a luxury SUV but can’t quite afford the prices of those German imports, you should take a long look at the Mazda CX-5. Starting at just $27,000, Mazda has successfully produced a gorgeous SUV that doesn’t look out of place next to the BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes of the world.
While the CX-5 definitely looks the part, the standard engine isn’t particularly punchy. We definitely recommend paying for the turbocharged upgraded option, for 250 horsepower. The CX-5 also isn’t especially built for heavy towing — something to consider if you regularly need to haul a trailer, camper, boat, or whatever else.
Sold in 2021: 204,610
The Jeep Wrangler just always seems to stay popular. It sold just over 190,000 units back in 2017, and those numbers keep creeping up. In 2021, Jeep saw almost 205,000 Wrangler models driven off their lots. A big part of their success was a total redesign of their flagship model in 2018, breathing new life into the classic Jeep.
The newest model of the Wrangler comes standard with a 270-horsepower engine that is ideal for those that are looking for a lot of performance. It also comes standard with 4WD, which is unusual compared to other vehicles in its class that typically only allow AWD with an upgrade. One downside to the Wrangler is that the fuel efficiency of around 25 mpg on the highway is low compared to others in its class.
The newest Wrangler comes in 14 different trims (which are all further customizable), ranging from $31,590 for the Sport model and up to $78,690 for the highest performing Rubicon 392.
Sold in 2021: 219,871
Another Ford vehicle that has been a staple with SUV lovers for decades is the Ford Explorer. This SUV has been produced since the 1991 model year and continues to impress buyers with its annual advancements. This SUV comes with a standard 300-horsepower engine.
However, those that want a lot of power can get an engine that will produce upwards of 400 horsepower in the King Ranch or Platinum models. One drawback is the lack of fuel efficiency, which is below 20 MPG when driving in the city. More than 219,000 Ford Explorers were sold in 2021 alone, although Ford has seen better selling years in the past.
Sold in 2021: 264,128
Toyota actually has two best-selling SUVS, and the Highlander is only the first one. With over a quarter-million sold in 2021, the Highlander has proved to be a popular choice among all sorts of car buyers.
The Highlander comes with a generous amount of standard features, like a 295-horsepower V6 engine, three row seating, a solid infotainment system, and a host of driver-assistance safety features. They all combine to provide excellent value for your dollar, making the Highlander a popular choice for families.
The base model rings in a little higher than some competitors on this list, at $36,620. We still say it’s worth the money, though, considering everything that is included. If you want your SUV to be a bit more luxurious, there are five more trims (all with hybrid engine options too) available, up to the $50,225 Hybrid Platinum model.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Sold in 2021: 264,444
One of the oldest SUVs that is still on the road today is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This SUVs product line dates back more than 40 years and continues to be a top seller today, with more than 260,000 were sold in 2021.
The Grand Cherokee comes standard with a 240-horsepower V6 engine. However, those that want a lot of performance will want to consider the 707-horsepower supercharged V8 engine that comes with the Grand Cherokee’s more expensive trims. This is one of the most powerful SUV engines on the road today. The 2021 model year was also enhanced with many new tech and style upgrades, including a new seven-inch display.
Sold in 2021: 285,602
The Nissan Rogue debuted in 2007, and quickly became incredibly popular. In fact, the Rogue is one of Nissan’s best-selling nameplates. Sales peaked in 2018, with 412,000+ units sold. The pandemic has slowed all car sales down considerably, but the Rogue still sold 285,602 in 2021. That clearly makes it one of the most popular crossover SUVs in North America.
After a total redesign in 2020, the Rogue has lots to love. It’s a bit rugged, rides comfortably, and has plenty of modern tech in the cabin. Overall, it’s just an extremely well-rounded SUV that serves a multitude of purposes. While it starts at just $28,000, the more desirable trims quickly jump to $35,000 and $38,000. Sadly, the optional third-row seating disappeared a few years ago, making the Rogue a non-starter for anyone needing room for at least seven people.
Sold in 2021: 361,271
The Honda CR-V was the second-most popular crossover SUV in the market in 2021, with total sales in excess of 360,000. While this is a good number, sales are actually down from the high point of 384,168 in 2018. Once again, the pandemic did a lot of damage to sales of every make and model. That doesn’t mean the CR-V is getting worse though. Far from it.
The CR-V is Honda’s flagship SUV, and it really shows. Starting at just $27,000 for a decently equipped model, this SUV does just about everything well. It’s remarkably fuel efficient for its class, packs enough engine to not feel sluggish, has multiple hybrid options, and the interior is both spacious and refined. While it’s not exactly a luxury car, it certainly doesn’t feel cheap when you’re driving.
Sold in 2021: 407,739
The RAV4 is an incredibly popular crossover SUV. It’s been produced and sold by Toyota for over 25 years. This SUV is the best-selling model on the market today, with more than 400,000 sold in 2021 alone.
There are a variety of reasons why the RAV4 continues to do very well with consumers. One of the main advantages is that it has strong safety features, which are as good as any other vehicle in its class. The RAV4 also get great fuel efficiency for a SUV, as it gets up to 30 mpg when driving on the highway. While there are plenty of advantages of the RAV4, one common complaint is that it gets only 203 horsepower in its base engine options.