Temperatures are heating up across the country, so we’ve put together a list of the 10 hottest SUVs for the summer of 2018. With this hot segment rapidly growing in popularity over the past few years, we decided to take a look at some of your favorites. These fun, practical vehicles are the 10 most-searched new, used and certified pre-owned utility vehicles on Autotrader. Any of these would be great for a summer road trip, a camping outing or bringing your friends to a music festival. If you’re thinking about upgrading your ride this summer, here are a few to consider.
Always a popular model, the Jeep Wrangler is all new for 2018. The new "JL" model gets a subtle exterior refresh with big changes under its familiar look. With a thoroughly revised interior, new powertrain options and updated tech, the new Wrangler gives you everything you love about this icon without sacrificing comfort and convenience. And yes, it still has the off-road capability you’d expect from the nameplate. Starting at $27,495 for the 2-door Wrangler and $30,995 for the popular 4-door model, Wranglers are good to buy new, because they hold their value very well.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
For a Jeep that’s a bit more civilized but still has serious off-road chops, the Grand Cherokee is a popular choice for good reason. The Grand Cherokee has a look that’s rugged, yet refined, and that theme continues in the interior and in the SUV’s performance. A 4-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee is just as comfortable running errands around town or eating up miles on the highway as it is exploring new territory off-road. If you want to save a few bucks and off-roading isn’t all that important to you, a rear-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee is a bit more affordable. While the upper trims of the Grand Cherokee can get pretty expensive and luxurious, a base model can be had for as low as $30,895.
Toyota’s long-time rival to the Jeep Wrangler is also one of the only other serious off-roaders on the market. With an old-school body-on-frame construction, the 4Runner is durable, rugged and a beast off-road when equipped with 4-wheel drive. Some serious fun can be had this summer with a 4Runner, and there’s plenty of room for passengers and gear. It may be a bit old-fashioned, but that’s exactly what people love about the Toyota 4Runner. Pricing for the 4Runner starts at $34,810, which is a bit high for its segment, but with the exception of the 4-door Wrangler, there’s nothing else on the market quite like it.
Another beloved body-on-frame brute, the Chevy Tahoe is as good as it’s ever been. What’s great about the Tahoe is its versatility. It can be a family car, a rugged work vehicle, a comfortable commuter or anything in between. The Tahoe is also one of the longest-lasting vehicles on the road not only because of its strong reliability record, but because their owners love them so much that they drive them for as long as they can. Pricing for the Tahoe starts at $47,500, but its strong dependability, class-leading fuel economy and low cost of ownership make it a bargain.
For a long time, the go-to family car from Ford was the Taurus. With the Taurus on its way out in the next couple years and every other Ford sedan along with it, the Explorer has taken its place as the default family car from Ford. What people love about the Explorer is that it delivers a comfortable, car-like driving experience thanks to its unibody construction, while still offering all the utility of an SUV. Pricing for the Explorer starts at $32,140, which is a little less than the average new car transaction price.
Honda has a strong reputation for building affordable, practical cars that offer a strong value. The CR-V compact SUV holds up that reputation very well. The CR-V has a premium look that could make your neighbors think you spent more on this crossover, even though it starts at just $24,250. The sophisticated Honda Sensing safety tech suite comes standard, beginning with the EX trim, which starts at only $27,050. Honda Sensing includes active safety features like collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist to help avoid accidents.
The Chevy Suburban is the big brother to the smaller Tahoe. Both are considered full-size SUVs and the two are mechanically identical, but the Suburban is longer, offering more room. That means a Suburban can be fully loaded with up to eight passengers and still have plenty of room for all of their stuff. The mighty Suburban can haul passengers and cargo while towing a boat all at once without breaking a sweat. If you need one vehicle that does it all, the Suburban is the SUV for you, starting at $50,200.
Remember how the Jeep Grand Cherokee is kind of like a more civilized Wrangler? A similar comparison could be made between Toyota’s Highlander and 4Runner. The Highlander has better road manners and seating for up to eight people. Among its many desirable available features, Toyota Safety Sense is one that’s worth serious consideration. It’s like Toyota’s version of Honda Sensing, and it comes with lane-departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system and automatic high-beams. For environmentally conscious drivers with a lot of passengers to carry, the Highlander is available as a hybrid. Highlander pricing starts at $31,230 with the hybrid model starting at $36,870.
The GMC Yukon is another SUV from General Motors that’s mechanically identical to the Chevy Tahoe. However, the Yukon is a bit more upscale and can be optioned into a full-on luxury SUV with the ritzy Denali trim. But even the non-Denali Yukon has the same versatility and toughness of the Tahoe in a classier package. Choosing between the Yukon and the Tahoe is purely a matter of personal taste and budget. The GMC Yukon starts at $49,100, but if you want a Denali, it will set you back at least $66,200.
So you want the reliability and practicality of a minivan like a Honda Odyssey, but you want it packaged as an SUV? The versatile Honda Pilot is a practical, affordable mid-size SUV that’s very family friendly. With an eye-catching design and a lovely, roomy interior, the Pilot can haul the whole family safely and in style. The Pilot is a little less on the rugged side as far as crossovers go, but it’s a strong offering for any adventurous family. Pricing for the Pilot is on the low end of its segment, starting at $30,900.
Anyone in the market for an SUV this summer should find something to love in at least one of the offerings on this list. To find the right SUV for you, do some shopping around on Autotrader.