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The 10 Best SUVs Under $50,000

Deciding on a single SUV is no easy task.

best suvs to buy in 2018 under 50 000 gear patrol lead full
Hunter Kelley

It doesn’t take a seasoned industry expert to tell you how popular SUVs are. Just take a look out your window and count how many vehicles you see that aren’t SUVs (it’ll be quicker than the alternative). In fact, despite the overall drop-off in auto sales in the U.S in 2017, most SUVs actually saw a slight rise in sales. The people have spoken, and SUVs are what they want.

So, chances are, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, there’s an incredibly good chance you’re considering an SUV. However, now that all the manufacturers are getting in on the SUV cash cow and devoting more time and money than ever before to making as many as possible, deciding on a single SUV is no easy task. And since the average price for an SUV 2017 was just under $40,000, it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To cover all the bases, we bumped the budget up to $50,000 and chose the best new SUVs you can buy in 2018.

Prefer to skip directly to the picks? Click right here.

Table of Contents

    The Short List

    Best All-Around SUV: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

    Best-SUVs-to-Buy-in-2018-Under-50-000-gear-patrol-2018-Volkswagen-Atlas

    The Volkswagen Atlas was the German automaker’s first new model after the “dieselgate” scandal first erupted. The all-new three-row SUV was shouldering a lot of responsibilty, but when VW revealed the Atlas, it was hard to imagine the US-only SUV not being a success. The formula was simple: three-rows of seats, decent power, technology and options. VW aimed right for the heart of the American consumer and hit bullseye. If you want options, the Atlas comes in 12 different trim levels. But start with the V6 and opt for the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit (the same as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit) and you can’t go wrong. A full-size SUV from a reliable (if not totally trustworthy) brand at the just the right price point.

    Engine: 3.6-liter V6
    Horsepower: 276
    Torque: 266 lb-ft
    Price: $32,150

    Buy Now: Here

    Best SUV for the Value: 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

    Even at $31,000 you won’t get a barebones CX-5 — that’s only where the top trim level pricing starts. Select AWD, the most expensive paint and every single option offered and you’re still only looking at $36,425. Combine the incredibly affordable price with one the best designs to land on a compact SUV, then throw in Mazda’s signature crisp handling and it gives the VW Atlas a run for its money for the top spot. The CX-5 might just have snagged it, if only it had more power and an extra row of seats. But not everyone needs that much room — for you, this level of bang-for-your-buck can’t be beaten.

    Engine: 2.5-liter inline-four
    Horsepower: 187
    Torque: 186 lb-ft
    Price: $30,945

    Buy Now: Here

    Buying Guide

    What’s in This Buying Guide

      10 Best SUVs of 2018

      Best All-Around SUV: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

      Best-SUVs-to-Buy-in-2018-Under-50-000-gear-patrol-2018-Volkswagen-Atlas

      The Volkswagen Atlas was the German automaker’s first new model after the “dieselgate” scandal first erupted. The all-new three-row SUV was shouldering a lot of responsibilty, but when VW revealed the Atlas, it was hard to imagine the US-only SUV not being a success. The formula was simple: three-rows of seats, decent power, technology and options. VW aimed right for the heart of the American consumer and hit bullseye. If you want options, the Atlas comes in 12 different trim levels. But start with the V6 and opt for the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit (the same as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit) and you can’t go wrong. A full-size SUV from a reliable (if not totally trustworthy) brand at the just the right price point.

      Engine: 3.6-liter V6
      Horsepower: 276
      Torque: 266 lb-ft
      Price: $32,150

      Buy Now: Here

      Best SUV for the Value: 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

      Even at $31,000 you won’t get a barebones CX-5 — that’s only where the top trim level pricing starts. Select AWD, the most expensive paint and every single option offered and you’re still only looking at $36,425. Combine the incredibly affordable price with one the best designs to land on a compact SUV, then throw in Mazda’s signature crisp handling and it gives the VW Atlas a run for its money for the top spot. The CX-5 might just have snagged it, if only it had more power and an extra row of seats. But not everyone needs that much room — for you, this level of bang-for-your-buck can’t be beaten.

      Engine: 2.5-liter inline-four
      Horsepower: 187
      Torque: 186 lb-ft
      Price: $30,945

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Luxury SUV: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic

      If there’s one thing Mercedes excels at, it’s providing a consistent level of luxury throughout its entire model range. The GLC might be further down the totem pole of Mercedes-Benz SUVs, but sit in one and there’s no doubt you’re in a Mercedes. The GLC is by no means the brand’s bare minimum, but even if it was, it’s still more luxurious than most of its competition. The compact SUV handles as well as any other with a three-point star, the only downside is to get the power you might want, there’s a serious jump in price to the next trim.

      Engine: 2.0-liter turbo inline-four
      Horsepower: 241
      Torque: 273 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,001
      Price: $42,075
      Read our review of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S here.

      Buy Now: Here

      Most Modern: 2018 Audi Q5 Premium Plus

      best suvs to buy in 2018 under 50 000 gear patrol 2018 audi q5 premium plus
      Audi

      Now that tech like assisted braking is to become mandatory by 2022 (much like when ABS went from a luxury option to mandatory in 2013) and traffic-safety assist tech is nearly standard on many cars, base cars have set a new standard. Buyer satisfaction tends to be found in details and extras. If the trend continues, cheap plastics, clumsy console layouts and interior design won’t be tolerated at all, regardless of price point. Brushed aluminum, open pore wood inlays and the softest leather will be the bar for the lowest of entry. And if you want that luxury as standard now, the Q5 is your barometer.

      Engine: 2.0-liter turbo inline-four
      Horsepower: 252
      Torque: 273 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,045 lbs
      Price: $41,500

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Off-Roader: 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE

      It’s true the Jeep on this list is incredibly capable off-road, but at the same price point the Land Rover affords a relatively high level of luxury. The Land Rover Discovery Sport isn’t just an SUV that will confidently off-road, but an SUV that cosset its passengers in the process.

      Engine: 2.0-liter Turbo inline-four
      Horsepower: 237
      Torque: 251 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,150 lbs
      Price: $42,395

      Read our review of the Disvoery here.

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Performance SUV: 2017 Porsche Macan

      The Macan gets a lot of flak. People tend to think just because it’s a crossover, and therefore like all the rest — a compromise, a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. But, those who get a chance behind the wheel are instantly converted into believers. Porsche isn’t the sort of company that slaps its Stuggart shield on a lame vehicle and calls it a day — the Macan is a Porsche through and through. It’s a sporting ride, its throttle, steering, brakes and chassis all engineered for performance like all its siblings. And, like in true Porsche fashion, it may be of athletic build, but it’s still completely fine with the day to day duties.

      Engine: 2.0-liter Turbo inline-four
      Horsepower: 252
      Torque: 273 lb-ft
      Weight: 3,902 lbs
      Price: $47,800
      Read our review of the Macan GTS here.

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Well-Optioned SUV: 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

      Best-SUVs-to-Buy-in-2018-Under-50-000-gear-patrol-2018-Jeep-Wrangler-Rubicon
      Jeep

      In its top factory guise, the Rubicon trim level, it’ll make quick work of both glacial deposits and the slipperiest of mountain passes. When modded by the armies of enthusiasts in the Wrangler universe, mountains tremble in this old-school SUV’s presence. To true off-roaders, the Wrangler is a tool, whether deployed right off the assembly line or deemed a mere starting point for upgrades. It’s a weapon for tackling all the challenges Earth can provide.

      Engine: 3.6-liter V6
      Horsepower: 285
      Torque: 260 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,439
      Price: $40,495

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Design: 2018 Volvo XC60 R-Design

      Best-SUVs-to-Buy-in-2018-Under-50-000-gear-patrol-2018-Volvo-XC60-R-Design

      What the XC60 does well, it does extremely well. In keeping with the brand’s new design language, the XC60 falls in line with the drop-dead gorgeous XC90 SUV as well as with the S90 sedan and V90 wagon variants. It is stunningly beautiful amidst a background of bland competition. Inside design really shines, especially with the optional driftwood trim. It fits in equally well at a seaside Barcelona Hotel as it does in front of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia cathedral or the lush green, vertical peaks of Monserrat.

      Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder
      Horsepower: 250
      Torque: 258 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,105 lbs
      Price: $44,800

      Read our review of the XC60 here.

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Family SUV: 2018 Toyota 4Runner

      The 4Runner is among the prefered overlanders among modern off-road enthusiasts. It’s capable off-road right out of the box and if you spec it with the TRD Pro package, it’s even more capable. Why does it make the cut as ‘the best family SUV’? Considering the 4Runner’s three rows of seats, off-road skills and around town livability, it makes the perfect adventure vehicle to take the family on road trip and go camping with. Its very nature promotes quality family time — most importantly, outdoors. Toyota’s bulletproof reliability will keep your pocketbook in check too.

      Engine: 4.0-liter V6
      Horsepower: 270
      Torque: 278 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,675 lbs
      Price: $36,475

      Buy Now: Here

      Best Compact SUV: 2018 Jaguar E-Pace

      Best-SUVs-to-Buy-in-2018-Under-50-000-gear-patrol-2018-Jaguar-E-Pace

      “The E-Pace rises to the challenge of meeting or exceeding Jaguar’s expected levels of luxury and performance. It handles sharply and smartly, feels appropriately cushy and comfortable and has that hint of presence that is easy to lose with a crossover — in spite of its literally elevated stature. A well-designed sedan has a way of commanding authority better than a crossover or SUV, which has to do with proportions; particularly, an abundance of rear legroom. But the E-Pace is a Jag as much in spirit as it is in name, which speaks exceedingly well of the effort.” – Eric Adams

      Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
      Horsepower: 246
      Torque: 269 lb-ft
      Weight: 4,035
      Price: $38,600

      Read our review of the E-Pace here.

      Buy Now: Here

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