It’s that time of year again! Many Canadians had been put off looking for a new vehicle this past year due to supply chain shortages in the auto industry. Many buyers are drawn to SUVs for their elevated ride height, all-wheel drive, improved off-road ability, interior versatility and image compared to their car counterparts. They are the go-to vehicles these days, so there’s a constant stream of new models making their debuts. Whether you’re looking for something sporty, luxurious or rugged, there’s SUV and crossover options out there for you. And in a sign of the times, many electric models are gaining traction, as well. In this article, we have included a brief overview of what constitutes an SUV, as well as the different varieties of SUVs available. If it’s an all-around vehicle you are looking for, we’ve got our top recommendations for the most popular SUVs and Crossovers for 2023.
Types of SUVs
According to the Consumer Report website, the majority of modern SUVs, sometimes called Crossovers or Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs), utilize a structure that resembles a typical car more closely than it does a body-on-frame truck, as were more common in the past. As such, expect better handling and ride comfort in crossovers than in truck-based models. Usually, they also offer all-wheel drive and can handle only moderate off-road situations.
The various sizes of SUVs available
- Subcompact SUVs: As one of the fastest growing categories, these SUVs offer a slightly taller alternative to similarly-sized subcompact cars. Their small footprint also makes them easy to park and maneuver. However, buyers shouldn’t expect huge cargo volume or much in the way of off-road capability.
- Small SUVs: These are well-suited for drivers who are looking for more room than a small sedan can provide. Most have limited off-road abilities, but are sufficient for the occasional dirt road or muddy trail.
- Mid-size SUVs: For many families, they provide the best balance of power, interior space, cargo room and safety. Mid-size models come in two- and three-row variants, and fuel economy hovers around 18 to 22 mpg (but a few hybrids make it into the 30s.)
- Large SUVs: These have plenty of power, interior space and towing capacity, but many are very big, bulky and require a lot to fill the tank. They may be just the thing for drivers who need to haul a trailer, lots of gear or a bunch of people.
Compact or Crossover SUV: Which is better for you?
Subcompact SUVs offer the high seating position and flexible cargo space of compact SUVs, while costing less up front. Due to their smaller size, they are returning better gas mileage. If you opt to go small, however, you’ll have to sacrifice in some areas. Cargo space, and in some cases, seating space, engine power and a few standard or available features may not be available.
Why choose a small SUV
This highly competitive segment of the market boasts several sure-fire names. But, there are also a few models that might not be on people’s obvious shortlists – and perhaps should be. Compact or small (subcompact) SUVs are designed on the whole as practical and versatile options for young families. They are becoming increasingly popular and even more car-like than ever before. If you’re torn between buying a midsize SUV, sedan or hatchback, you just might find that a small SUV has enough going for it to sway you.
Here’s why small SUVs are so popular right now:
- Compact crossovers or small SUVs are more affordable than the midsize or compact sedans on which many are based.
- They have the advantage of offering greater height and all-wheel drive as a rule and not an exception.
- Compact SUVs offers nearly as much storage as a full-sized SUV– and far more storage than any car could offer.
- Compact SUVs have been outselling similarly priced hatchbacks for quite a while now. This is not surprising, for a compact SUV brings in many advantages at only a slightly higher price.
Buying an SUV
SUVs rank among the most popular vehicles these days because of two differentiators: Passenger and cargo space. Along with performance and design, the balance between space, cargo and comfort is crucial for most shoppers. There are multiple factors that people are specifically looking for when considering acquiring an SUV, such as:
- Comfort: Car seats for kids take up a lot of space when it comes to the interior of a vehicle. The same goes for when your kids are older or even teenagers. It is easier when your kids are between ages five to nine than when they are infants or older.
- Cargo space: Diapers, strollers, groceries, skis, toys, more bags when traveling… space is crucial, even if you have a roof rack/roof box.
- Seating capacity: When you have two kids in an average vehicle, you are 80% full, meaning that you would only have room for one extra passenger.
Now that we’ve learned a little bit of background information when shopping for the different types of SUVs, let’s take a look at our list of the top SUVs and Crossovers for 2023:
1. 2023 Toyota RAV 4
There are good reasons why the RAV4 is a consistent bestseller for Toyota. The 2023 RAV4 continues the tradition, with a cargo-friendly interior, an attractive base price, and offers a hybrid and a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, as well. The RAV4’s rugged looks are designed for tackling suburban tasks, such as daily commuting, than off-roading. The 2023 RAV4 uses a 203-HP 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive remains standard, but Toyota now offers a choice of all-wheel-drive systems, dependent on trim. The RAV4 has also earned class-competitive fuel-economy estimates from the EPA.
The RAV4 lineup boasts an array of standard driver assists. Toyota’s latest software interface is both prettier and more intuitive than the outgoing system. It’s capable of over-the-air updates, and provides wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Starting price: $34,140, toyota.ca
2. 2023 Honda CR-V
The 2023 Honda CR-V arrives with a whole new look, inside and out. With it comes a slew of improvements: it’s larger overall, sports fresh exterior styling, and has a roomier interior with fancier features. The new design of the CR-V promises to deliver even more of its trademark practicality. Its interior has an attractive design that complements its modern tech. The infotainment system has an available 9.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Of course, every CR-V also has a host of standard driver assists. This includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist. A 190-HP turbo-four is the standard engine; a 204-HP hybrid powertrain is optional. Both can be paired with front or all-wheel drive. No matter which engine you choose, the CR-V delivers a comfortable ride and confident—if not exactly exciting—road manners.
Starting price: $34,790, honda.ca
3. 2023 Kia Sportage Hybrid / Plug-in Hybrid
The Kia Sportage catapults to the top of the class after a radical re-design. It’s substantially larger, going from one of the smallest in the segment to the largest. The cargo area is expansive and the back seat is very family-friendly. Technology is one of its strong suits, with exceptional infotainment features and touchscreen interfaces. It also has one of the best suite of driver assistance tech in the segment. Finally, the Sportage’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains stand out for saving you gas. Additionally, the genuine performance upgrades behave more normally than the typical hybrid. Which is why it lands in the third place on our list of top SUVS and Crossovers for 2023.
Starting price: $28,395, kia.ca
4. 2023 Mazda CX-50
The CX-50 is all about style and driving fun, and can also be considered an alternative to luxury compact SUVs. It all starts with its sporty-yet-rugged styling. It then carries on inside, where its handsome design and plush materials are a clear step up from others at its price point. When you’re behind the wheel, the CX-50 impresses with a drive that is routinely described as indicative of a “budget Porsche.” As it doesn’t have as much passenger or cargo space as the CR-V or RAV4, it may not be for everyone. The CX-50’s slightly larger proportions, improved off-road driving chops and nicer interior make it, arguably, the more well-rounded option to its CX-5 model.
A hybrid model is also in the works that will use a powertrain from Toyota. It also comes standard with a host of desirable features. These include a panoramic sunroof, a 10.3-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and leather upholstery with heated front seats.
Starting price: $38,250, mazda.ca
5. 2023 Honda HR-V
For 2023, Honda has given its 2023 HR-V a complete makeover to better combat the onslaught of desirable and stylish small SUVs on the market. The model’s new sporty vibe achieves this at the expense of that beloved “magic” rear seat. It allows for the rear bench to flip and fold to create an especially low, flat floor. This feature helps the HR-V lead the segment in cargo capacity despite its diminutive size. Independent rear suspension replaces the old model’s torsion beam setup, a change that promises to improve ride and handling. The new model features a tune-up to its infotainment system with more modern driver-assistance technology. All models come with either a 7.0- or 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Starting price: $28,730, honda.ca
6. 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross
The Corolla Cross is intended to provide affordable, reliable, straightforward transportation in an SUV. Just as the new version of the HR-V is essentially a Civic made into a crossover, so the Corolla Cross took the best qualities of the Corolla sedan and migrated them to roomier SUV format. The Corolla Cross straddles the narrow line between the smaller C-HR and the larger RAV4. It also comes standard with a bevy of driver-assistance features, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Every Corolla Cross now gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that features new wireless functionality for the Apple CarPlay. Additionally, SiriusXM satellite radio and Android Auto systems are standard. As well, the “Hey Toyota” digital assistant, over-the-air updates, six-speaker audio system and navigation with Google points-of-interest data are also included.
Starting price: $25,790, toyota.ca
7. 2023 Hyundai Kona
Whether you call it a low-riding SUV or a tall hatchback car, the diminutive 2023 Hyundai Kona is a practical and fun-to-drive vehicle. The Kona comes with a generous list of standard features. This includes driver assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and Hyundai’s safe-exit warning system at a reasonable price. That last feature watches for approaching cars or bicycles to warn the driver and passengers upon exiting the vehicle. Considering that rivals, such as the Kia Seltos and the Volkswagen Taos, cost thousands more to start, you may find it easy to justify splurging on a higher-trim Kona model, even on a budget. When it comes to driving satisfaction, it’s a bundle of spunky, funky fun—no matter whether you think it’s a car or an SUV.
The Kona delivers agile handling that doesn’t translate to a rough ride over choppy roads. In fact, the suspension offers quite the opposite, damping out bumps and providing occupants with a cabin that is well isolated from pavement imperfections. Kona’s dashboard is an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with simple shortcut buttons that allow you to easily switch between common menus. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard, with a wireless connection for such features available as an option.
Starting price: $25,004, hyundaicanada.com
When you’re ready to look at buying or leasing an SUV or Crossover for 2023, speak with one of our isure representatives in the new year to discuss your car insurance needs and various options.