The Best New SUVs of the Year

2020’s new or redesigned crossovers and SUVs with the most promise

Christian Wardlaw | 
Apr 9, 2020 | 7 min read

Land Rover

To find the best new crossovers and SUVs for 2020, the goal is simple: identify new (or newly redesigned) vehicles that either set new standards in their respective classes or at least offer dramatic improvement over the popular models they replace.

In other words, these are the 10 best new crossovers and SUVs for 2020: whether an all-new model or the next generation of an established flagship, they’re the automobiles with the most promise to live up to.

2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Lincoln Aviator

Ford / Lincoln

The 2020 Ford Explorer is redesigned from the ground up, with dramatic engineering updates underpinning the three-row, family-sized SUV’s familiar styling themes. Engine choices include a turbocharged four-cylinder and a twin-turbocharged V6, and a Hybrid joins Explorer’s lineup.

Returning to a rear-wheel drive platform (all-wheel drive is optional) changes the Explorer’s proportions for the better. The improvement in style and driving dynamics is worth the trade-off to third-row seat and cargo space (which drops to 18.2 cu.-ft. behind the third-row).

Based on the same platform as the Explorer but equipped with more upscale design and equipment, the new-for-2020 Lincoln Aviator has a standard twin-turbocharged V6 or an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain making 450 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. All-wheel drive is an option, replacing the standard rear-drive layout.

Standard, Reserve, and Black Label trim levels are available, and the plug-in versions are known as the Grand Touring.

2020 Hyundai Palisade


The Hyundai Palisade is a three-row, 8-passenger family-sized SUV with big, boxy, and bold looks that lend it luxury feel, inside and out despite pricing that’s more than competitive for its segment.

Why? For starters, it boasts a compelling value equation, starting with Hyundai Shopper and Owner Assurance programs including one of the best warranty and roadside assistance programs available. Then there’s the free subscription to Blue Link connected services for a full three years. And when you compare the window sticker to the Palisade’s stylish and tailored appearance, cavernous and quality interior, and long list of high-tech features, the value factor continues to rise.

A robust 291-horsepower V6 engine is standard and powers the front or all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Cargo space measures 18 cu.-ft. behind the third-row seat, 45.8 cu.-ft behind the second-row seat, and 86.4 cu.-ft. with both rear rows folded down.

2020 Kia Telluride


Though based on the same platform and powertrain as the Hyundai Palisade, the Kia Telluride looks completely different inside and out, and different dynamic tuning makes it feel unique on the road, too. Every Telluride has a 291-hp V6 engine, an 8-speed automatic, and front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Regardless of which Telluride you choose, cloth seats are not an option. The lower trims have simulated leather, while the higher trims get the real deal. The SX trim, which features an upscale look and trendy dark wheel finish, is available with a Prestige Package that adds premium leather and decidedly luxurious cabin detailing.

Like its Hyundai cousin, the Kia Telluride is a genuine value and offers one of the most comprehensive  of any SUV.

2020 Land Rover Defender 110

Land Rover

Land Rover is expanding its family of SUVs in 2020 with a new Defender series joining the existing Discovery and Range Rover lines. Two new Defenders arrive in 2020, the Defender 90 2-door and the larger Defender 110 4-door.

It’s easy to see that the 2020 Defender 110 will be irresistible to people who love boxes on wheels—a tradition that Land Rover’s Defender has proudly continued for more than 70 years.

As it has since its inception, serious off-roading ability is prioritized on the new Defender, as evidenced by permanent four-wheel drive, the ability to hold over 600lbs on its roof, and to wade through nearly three feet of water (35.4-inches). That it can seat up to seven people, feature similar infotainment, driver assist, and collision avoidance technology as Land Rover’s other premium offerings is simply a bonus.

The best part? Land Rover is selling it in the United States for the first time since the Clinton administration.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS


The redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS represents a huge improvement over the SUV it replaces in terms of design and technology. It also boasts the Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) powertrains, which deliver better performance and fuel efficiency.

The 2020 GLS comes in GLS 450 and GLS 580 model series. The former uses a turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine, while the latter gets a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Inside, modern Mercedes-Benz design rules with dual-panel, widescreen instrumentation and infotainment display.

This plush, technically advanced, 7-passenger SUV competes with everything from top-specification Audi Q7s to entry-level Land Rover Range Rovers. It’s no midsize model, but isn’t quite as big as a Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator.

2020 Polestar 2


Polestar has long been Volvo’s performance vehicle brand, and now the company is applying it to its new family of electric vehicles. The Polestar 1 is a sensuous 2-door coupe, while the Polestar 2 is a 5-door hatchback aimed directly at the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.

This vehicle blurs the lines between a car and a crossover SUV, but with its standard all-wheel drive, raised body, and SUV-style body cladding, it clearly will compete with other luxury electric sport ‘utes. It produces more than 400 horsepower and Polestar says the targeted driving range is 275 miles.

The cabin is a work of art, infused with typically restrained Scandinavian design elements. Polestar offers buyers a choice of interior themes inspired by major cities around the world. The Polestar 2 also showcases next-generation infotainment technology, which will likely trickle over to mainstream Volvos as well.

2020 Subaru Outback


With a glance at the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback, you might wonder how it landed on this list of the best SUVs. After all, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the previous version of the car. The secret resides under the familiar bodywork.

Subaru has placed this perennial bestseller on its latest global platform, and in doing so has simultaneously improved crash energy absorption by a claimed 40% while lowering the center of gravity for improved handling characteristics. Add a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine shared with the larger Ascent, as well as upgraded EyeSight driver assistance technologies, and the familiar-looking 2020 Outback represents a big leap forward.

2020 Toyota Highlander


One of the best-selling family-sized SUVs in America, the Toyota Highlander is nearing two decades in production. When it first went on sale in 2000, it was an instant hit for its combination of car-like driving dynamics and SUV style and utility. Now, the redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander reflects those traits better than ever—while seating up to eight passengers.

From its new platform and more efficient optional hybrid powertrain to its next-generation infotainment and driving assistance technologies, the redesigned Highlander is improved over the SUV it replaces. A 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the front or all four wheels, while the available hybrid trades maximum power for a bump in fuel efficiency to an estimated 34 mpg in combined driving.

2020 Ford Escape


The Ford Escape is redesigned for 2020, and is available with a choice of two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain, and a plug-in hybrid powertrain offering an electric driving range with what Ford claims is a range of more than 30 miles. It comes in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL, and Titanium trim levels, and with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Highlights include front- or all-wheel drive, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a head-up display, a 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, and semi-autonomous Active Park Assist 2.0, which takes full control of the SUV while parking as long as the driver remains ready to take control.

2020 Mazda CX-30


The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is based on the Mazda3 and slots between the CX-3 and CX-5 in the automaker’s SUV lineup. It comes equipped with a 186-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and your choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

As a small SUV, it’s quick, nimble, and comfortable—and it even offers more ground clearance than the Mazda3. This is no off-roader, though. Rather, it’s made for use on pavement, where it excels. Mazda’s engineers designed the CX-30 to be enjoyable for wheeling around in a city or the suburbs.

Standard, Select, Preferred, and Premium trim is available, with the latter giving the CX-30 a distinctly luxurious vibe with 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system, leather seats, and more.

Written by humans.
Edited by humans.

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Christian Wardlaw

My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.