SUVs Under $50,000

Ranging from the traditional full-size models to tall station wagons, the SUV market segment is currently broader than at any time in its previous history. This collection of SUVs under $50,000 represents a cross section of the category, as represented by few all-new models and returning favorites.

Acura MDX

Smooth, quiet, confident and understated, the Acura MDX is the family SUV to get when you care about luxury, but don’t want ostentation associated with your presence. A real bargain for the money, you’ll get features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a dual-screen infotainment system with a capacitive touchscreen and a wide array of other luxury features. You’ll also find an array of active driver assistance equipment to enhance safety. Comfort and spaciousness are among the attributes of the Acura MDX as well. Power comes from a 290-horsepowrt 3.5-liter V6. This is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission with a manual function. All-wheel drive is offered as an option, as is a 321-horsepower hybrid powertrain. Pricing starts at $44,300.

Buick Enclave

Debuting as one of the most spacious of the mid-size SUVs on the market back in 2008, the Buick Enclave enjoyed a good run with very few updates before being completely redesigned for the 2018 model year.  This new model, in addition to being more handsome, still delivers generous room for passengers in all three of its rows. The Buick can also still be counted upon for its smooth and quiet ride quality, as well as a plethora of standard features. These include LED headlights, three-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable heated front seats, remote start and rear parking sensors. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a nine-speed transmission are standard. All-wheel drive is an option. Both lighter and more powerful than the model it replaces, the 2018 Buick Enclave goes with newfound vigor, while delivering 97.6 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. Pricing starts at $39,995.

GMC Terrain

Also benefitting from a complete redesign for the 2018 model year, the GMC Terrain’s handsome new styling draws admiring glances wherever it goes. This revised version of GMCs entry in the small crossover SUV category comes to market three inches shorter and some 400 pounds lighter than its predecessor.  Comfortable and easy to drive, the 2018 GMC Terrain also offers outstanding headroom and the rear seats fold flat at the pull of a lever.  Standard features include keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, CarPlay and Android Auto. The base powerplant is a turbocharged 170-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 230 lb-ft of torque. Front drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission are standard. Engine upgrades include a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four and a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, which is good for 137 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission comes with this engine. Maximum cargo capacity measures 63.5 cubic feet. All-wheel drive can be had with each powerplant option. Pricing starts at $24,995.

Hyundai Santa Fe

When it comes to the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe,  the Korean manufacturer must have thought, “Why change what doesn’t need fixing?”  Which is why the the Santa Fe received only meek tweaks for this model year. Perfect for parents who are not minivan fans, the midsize Santa Fe is an ideal family hauler. You’ll get 41 cubic feet of cargo space, even when the second row is upright. Hyundai’s infotainment solution conveniently supports  Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Offering a smooth ride and controlled handling, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 delivering 290 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive comes standard on all trim levels, while all-wheel drive is optional. An available Tech Package will amp up the advanced safety features to include lane departure, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning. Pricing for the 2018 Santa Fe starts at $21,200.

Infiniti QX60

For those who appreciate the advantages of a minivan, but would loathe being seen in one, the 2018 Infiniti QX60 offers many of the same attributes, but with a sport utility profile. One of the oldest vehicles on this list, the Infiniti still impresses with its outstanding ride comfort and easy third-row access. The latter comes courtesy of a set of tilt-and-slide second-row seats. For the 2018 model year, Infiniti has added a rear door alert function to remind the driver to check the back seat for children and pets before leaving the vehicle. It works by monitoring the rear doors to determine if they were opened at the start of the drive. then observing whether they were opened again at the end of the drive. A 295-horsepower V6 with 270 lb-ft of torque. provides more than ample motivation.  A continuously variable transmission routes power to the wheels. Front-drive is standard; all wheel-drive is an option. Standard features include automatic xenon headlights, heated side mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control and leather. Keyless entry and ignition, as well as power-adjustable and hated front seats are standard too. Maximum cargo capacity measures 76.5 cubic feet. Pricing starts at $43,300.

Mitsubishi Outlander

If you’re a city dweller with a growing family looking for a budget-friendly SUV with which to master the urban landscape, the revised 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander is worth a test drive. Right off the top, the seven-passenger Outlander is one of the least pricey SUVs you can purchase with a third-row seat. The generous list of available features includes a seven-inch touchscreen display, a 360-degree view camera system and a heated steering wheel. When you consider all of this can be had for right around $35,000, you’ll see the Mitsubishi for the bargain it is.  Two engines are offered; a 166-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 224-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. The four comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The V6 is teamed with a six-speed automatic with a manual function. Outlander is also available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Standard Outlander pricing starts at $24,695, while the hybrid starts at $35,795.

Nissan Armada

Marking the sophomore year of its 2017 full revision, the 2018 Nissan Armada comes to market with but minor changes. Added standard features include NissanConnect telematics services, an eight-inch touchscreen display, HD radio, hands-free text messaging, and additional USB charging ports. A slick new rearview mirror streaming a continuous video feed from the rear camera is also a new offering for the 2018 model year. Easily the largest vehicle on this list, the full-size, eight-passenger Nissan Armada lives solidly up to its name for history buffs familiar with the origins of its moniker. Motivation comes from a 390-horsepower, 5.6-liter V8 good for 394 lb-ft of torque. A seven speed automatic transmission and rear-drive are standard. Four-wheel drive is optional.  While the sheer size of the Nissan might be intimidating, its driving manners mask its girth admirably. The Armada is light on its feet and quite quick. Maximum cargo capacity measures 95 cubic feet. Pricing starts at $46,090.

Toyota C-HR

With its avant garde styling, definitive personality and sporty handling, the 2018 Toyota C-HR goes strongly against the conservative image Toyota cultivated when the Scion nameplate was included among its offerings. Aimed decidiedly at the market Scion served, the C-HR infuses the Toyota lineup with a youthful flair. Standard features include automatic headlights, along with surprises such as dual-zone automatic climate control and smart cruise control. On the safety side, the little Toyota continues punching above its weight class with brake hold, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. A 144-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 139 lb-ft of torque drives the C-HR’s front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive is not available. Maximum cargo capacity is 36.4 cubic feet. Pricing starts at $22,500.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Consider this fact before the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack’s diminutive dimensions dupe you. At 66.5 cubic feet, this little all-wheel drive wagon offers more cargo capacity than the much larger GMC Terrain reviewed above. Further, with its additional ground clearance and Off-Road drive mode, the VW is capable of going anywhere the typical crossover SUV can be expected to travel. Meanwhile, it boasts more agility than a crossover, as well as a particularly Germanic feel at speed on the highway. For 2018, VW endowed its soft-road wagon with automatic headlights as standard equipment. Other standard features include roof rails and a rearview camera—along with heat for the seats and side-view mirrors. The engine is a 1.8-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder with 199 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model, while a six-speed dual-clutch automatic is an option. If you go with the manual, the engine’s torque output is reduced to 184 lb-ft. Pricing starts at $25,955.

Volvo XC90

The recently redesigned Volvo XC90 has been one of our absolute favorites since its first appearance in the American marketplace in 2016. Its handsome styling belies the comparatively bargain price tag, as does the Volvo’s gorgeous interior treatment.  With the 2018 model year came heated seats and four-zone automatic climate control for all-wheel drive models. A killer Harmon Kardon audio system was added to the lineup for R-Design and Inscription models. Meanwhile, the handling, smoothness and sophistication we’ve come to appreciate remain solidly intact. A great unsung bargain among European luxury SUVs, you’ll also get all of the legendary safety features one expects from the Volvo brand. Two engine choices are offered, a 316-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 400-horsepower supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four.  An eight-speed automatic transmission is mated to either engine. Pricing starts at $46,900.

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