Large cargo holds and more seating shouldn’t be the only criteria for purchasing a large SUV. Full-size SUVs are family haulers that tend to accrue hundreds of thousands of miles, so they need to hold up for many years. It’s best to pick a model with a consistently high reliability rating, like a Toyota.
Consumer Reports rewards trusted vehicles with its CR Recommended label to make your decision easier. And only two large SUVs got this title for 2021: the Toyota Sequoia and Ford Expedition. What makes them better than the competition?
The capable Ford Expedition
The 2021 Ford Expedition is lighter than previous generations, so its 375-hp twin-turbo V6 has no problem powering daily driving. It also comes with a smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and start/stop fuel-saving technology. The engine doesn’t make any intrusive noises even at higher speeds, but harsh bumps can send shakes throughout the interior.
Though it’s relatively fast for a large vehicle, its dimensions make the Expedition a chore to handle. The steering wheel is cumbersome, and CR testers detected some body lean during the avoidance maneuver test. Even with the stop/start feature, the Expedition still uses a lot of gas: 16 mpg combined city/highway.
Fortunately, the 2021 Ford Expedition makes up for its shortcomings with overall utility and more optional features. It boasts an upscale interior, including perforated leather trim on all three rows of seats. These models usually seat seven or eight riders, but a two-row Expedition is a standard beginning this model year.
Regardless of the body configuration, every seat is comfortable and suitable for adults. Center stack controls and the gear selector are clearly labeled. CR’s testers also liked the advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning.
The reliable Toyota Sequoia
The Toyota Sequoia is the only large SUV this year with both high owner satisfaction and predicted reliability ratings. However, it earned a below-average score on its Consumer Reports road test. It’s slightly quicker than the Ford Expedition, but it’s hard to notice because the Sequoia is such a heavy vehicle.
The ride is also unsettled, jittering over hard bumps and leaning hard into corners. Regardless, CR testers found the Sequoia remained firmly planted to the road in avoidance maneuver tests. But the brakes are still mushy, and it has roughly the same low fuel economy as the Expedition.
However, CR was impressed with the Toyota Sequoia’s off-road performance. It has a full-time four-wheel-drive system that works flawlessly over steep inclines and hazardous terrain. CR testers detected infrequent wind noises at higher speeds, but the cabin remained quiet otherwise. It can also tow up to 7,400 pounds with the right upgrades.
But the interior is a far cry from many other large SUVs, with a dated design and chunky, hard plastics. Still, the seats are nice, and all three rows are roomy enough for adults. The Toyota Sequoia also has high cargo capacity and several deep storage cubbies throughout the cabin.
Large SUVs that didn’t make the cut
The Chevy Suburban is typically a popular large SUV choice, but Consumer Reports didn’t find the 2021 model particularly reliable or pleasant to drive. It offers a quiet ride but struggles to accelerate and provides poor rear visibility. Limited visibility is also an issue for the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon.
At the bottom of the pack, the 2021 Nissan Armada received the lowest owner satisfaction and reliability scores from CR. Though it’s the fastest SUV in its class, it uses too much fuel and has a shaky ride quality. At least it has an updated infotainment system, but that wasn’t enough to win CR’s approval.