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Best midsize SUVs for the money in 2019

Roadshow logo Roadshow 3/14/2019 Roadshow staff
a car parked on the side of a road© Toyota

We get it -- sometimes you need lots of seats, lots of space and lots of features. And nowhere are those traits combined more perfectly than in a midsize SUV.

Research

With so many options on the road today, a bevy of two- and three-row crossovers offer plenty of value. Here are nine of our editors' favorites.

Mazda CX-9

Sure, the seven-passenger Mazda CX-9 hasn't seen an update since 2016, but it's still a good-looking crossover that has Mazda's signature fun-to-drive characteristics. The steering is quick and direct, and the chassis has a nimble quality that belies its larger footprint.

Research the Mazda CX-9 | Find a Mazda CX-9 near you

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 engine that makes up to 250 horsepower when fueled with 93 octane. The CX-9's powertrain has been optimized to deliver up to 310 pound-feet of torque as low as 2,000 rpm.

While it doesn't offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet), the CX-9 doesn't skimp on advanced driver-aid systems. Lane-keeping assistance, forward precollision braking and adaptive cruise control flesh out a fully featured i-ActivSense suite of technologies.

Related Story: 2019 Mazda CX-9: Style and substance

a car driving on a road: The Mazda CX-9 rolls into 2019 nearly unchanged.

The Mazda CX-9 rolls into 2019 nearly unchanged.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot was revamped in 2016 and gets a number of thoughtful updates for 2019. We like its strong 280-horsepower V6 engine, which returns 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with the optional 9-speed automatic transmission.

Research the Honda Pilot Find a Honda Pilot near you

The Pilot is incredibly spacious for both passengers and cargo. The top-end Elite trim gets second row captain's chairs and allows for seven passengers, but the rest of the line-up can seat eight. Fold the second and third rows down and there's 83.8 cubic feet of cargo space. 

The Pilot is available with front- or all-wheel drive and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Honda Lane Watch is standard on all but the lowest trim, and other ADAS systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are available on mid trims and standard on higher trims.

Related Story: 2019 Honda Pilot Elite: A smoother, tech-rich crossover SUV

a car parked on the side of a road: After originally debuting in 2016, the third-generation Honda Pilot receives updates for the 2019 model year.

After originally debuting in 2016, the third-generation Honda Pilot receives updates for the 2019 model year.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Toyota 4Runner

One of the few midsize body-on-frame SUVs still on the market offers rugged looks and has a sterling reputation as a stone reliable vehicle. The 4.0-liter V6 engine puts out 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.

Research the Toyota 4Runner | Find a Toyota 4Runner near you

It's a simple, throwback SUV that has truck-like qualities, but it's compliant enough to ride on the pavement. It doesn't have any of the Toyota Safety Sense features, however, such as adaptive cruise control or blind-spot monitoring.

The 4Runner is capable of doing some legit off-pavement motoring. TRD Off-Road versions of the 4Runner come standard with an electronic-locking rear differential. An adaptive Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System is available as an option on the 4Runner TRD Off-Road to provide additional wheel travel off-road. In addition, the suspension system improves on road handling by reducing body roll in corners.

Related Story: The 2019 Toyota 4Runner is old, but still spry off-road

a red and black truck parked in front of a car: The Toyota 4Runner entered its current fifth generation almost a decade ago.

The Toyota 4Runner entered its current fifth generation almost a decade ago.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Subaru Ascent

Subaru's been flirting with SUVs for ages, and while the Tribeca didn't quite stick, the new Ascent looks like it takes everything that makes the Forester work and just adds... more.

Research the Subaru Ascent

While the interior may be rather low-rent in areas, the Ascent is all about capability and flexibility -- including the greatest selection of cupholders found on any modern vehicle.

A proper, full-time AWD system will make sure you get to the lifts in time for first tracks on your next powder day.

Related Story: 2019 Subaru Ascent is a well-rounded family hauler

a car parked on the side of a mountain: The Ascent is Subaru's largest vehicle to date.

The Ascent is Subaru's largest vehicle to date.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Audi Q7

Audi's Q7 is unlikely to stir passions the way some of its more overtly sporty or luxurious models do, but this three-row crossover SUV does just about everything right. It offers a refined ride and strong in-cabin tech and it handles well. 

Research the Audi Q7 on MSN Autos

The Q7 can get costly when laden down with options, so don't be so quick as to dismiss the inherent goodness of lower-spec models, including those powered by the 2.0-liter four. While you can outfit the Q7 with a 333-horsepower supercharged V6, and it's a great engine, it does reduce fuel economy and add to the base price. 

The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo I4 putting out 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, mated to standard all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Related Story: 2018 Audi Q7 is a suburban stunner

a car parked in front of a building: If you're in the market for a larger luxury SUV and occasionally need to call upon a third row of seats, your search should start right here.

If you're in the market for a larger luxury SUV and occasionally need to call upon a third row of seats, your search should start right here.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Volvo XC60

The XC60 looks a lot like a shrunken-down XC90, and it's gorgeous. The front fascia is dominated by the "Thor's Hammer" headlights and a chrome-lined grille. There's even a crystal shift knob for a fancy-pants interior.

Research the Volvo XC60 | Find a Volvo XC60 near you

The interior is well laid-out, beautifully made and comfortable, and the XC60 has a whole slew of safety features. The Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control system works especially well, bringing the car to a full stop in traffic. Standard on the XC60 is oncoming lane mitigation. There is even an optional air suspension system with automatic leveling. 

It's different. The available T8 power train combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine with an electric motor. The T8 engine produces up to 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. In a world of X5s and Q5s, the XC60 stands out as something else, something cool. 

Related Story: 2019 Volvo XC60 is a sensible Swede

a car parked on the side of a road: The 2019 Volvo XC60 may be the best compact luxury SUV you can buy for $60,000.

The 2019 Volvo XC60 may be the best compact luxury SUV you can buy for $60,000.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Few brands do pure value better than Hyundai, and the Santa Fe is no exception. Its power, performance and efficiency are on par with the competition, but at a price that's easier on the wallet.

Research the Hyundai Santa Fe Find a Hyundai Santa Fe near you

BlueLink tech offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity in the car and advanced phone and smartwatch monitoring apps when you're away.

One of the best warranties in the business covers the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles and the rest of the vehicle for five years or 60,000 miles. Five years of 24/7 roadside assistance means the Santa Fe probably won't leave you stuck like Chuck.

Related Story: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Redesigned and renamed

a car parked in a parking lot

© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

Dodge Durango

We love the way the Durango looks. With its upright fascia, big wheel arches and full-width LED taillights, this thing looks super fresh, even if it's already several years old.

Research the Dodge Durango | Find a Dodge Durango near you

You want V8 power in your midsize SUV? Dodge offers not one, but two eight-cylinder options. The regular Durango can be had with FCA's 5.7-liter Hemi V8, and the Durango SRT gets the big, mean, 6.4-liter engine.

The Durango's interior is well appointed, offers honest seating for seven people and its Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best on the market today.

Toyota Highlander

It's a Toyota, so it will run until the cows come home and the seas reclaim our coastlines. The base Highlander LE has an anemic 2.7-liter I4 engine with 185 horsepower, but other Highlander models have a 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower. The V6 model is actually the most efficient, returning 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with front-wheel drive.

Research the Toyota Highlander | Find a Toyota Highlander near you

It's no-nonsense, three-row transportation. If you need a workhorse, the Highlander can handle it. There is room for seven or eight passengers and lane-keeping warning with steering assist and adaptive cruise control are both standard.

It's available as a hybrid, so you can get up to 30 miles per gallon while taking the little ones around town between school and soccer practice.

Related Story: The 2019 Toyota Highlander is a competent crossover

a car driving on a city street: The Toyota Highlander underwent a design update in 2016, so not much is new for 2019.

The Toyota Highlander underwent a design update in 2016, so not much is new for 2019.
© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.

This was originally published on Roadshow.

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