Consumer Reports: 4 ‘Newer’ Midsize SUV Models

Every car buyer has different priorities and preferences when searching dealer lots for their next vehicle. Some consumers prefer sticking with a model with a recognizable name or legacy, like the Toyota Corolla, which has been one of the best-selling and longest-lasting cars ever since its first release in 1966.

On the other end of the car buying spectrum, some consumers prefer looking at newer models, hoping that new tech, innovative interiors, and better performance come with a brand-new model name. While this isn’t always the case, newer models can be exciting to shop for as a car buyer because you are experiencing a new product that might be ahead of the curve in innovation.

With Consumer Reports releasing their Buying Guide for all SUVs on the market today, we get to see some of the newest SUVs on the market and how they stack up against the competition. Here is everything you need to know about four new SUVs in the midsize segment.

Genesis GV80

A Genesis GV80 midsize luxury SUV model parked on a gravel travel near water
Genesis GV80 | HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY

According to Consumer Reports, the Genesis GV80 is the first SUV model to be released by Genesis. With a few years under its belt as a luxury brand separate from its parent company, Hyundai, Genesis has used the GV80 to compete as an affordable and well-equipped SUV in an underserved luxury market. Initially released in the North American market in November 2020 as a 2021 model, the Genesis GV80 is only in its second year of production.

The Genesis GV80 has been touted as a wonderful midsize luxury SUV that performs very well with its turbo V6 engine and a well-equipped interior that includes leather surfaces, a 21-speaker sound system, wood trim, and an infotainment touch screen that lets drivers use either touch or button controls, whichever they prefer.

As for downsides, the GV80 has had some critics complain about the stiff ride quality on the upgraded low-profile wheels and an underwhelming amount of passenger room in the optional third-row seats.

Land Rover Defender

Many consumers will be surprised to hear that the Land Rover Defender is, in fact, a newer SUV. The original Land Rover Defender was an offroad beast of a vehicle that served as the British answer to the Jeep used in World War II. The Defender was a rugged, utilitarian car that was put into service all around the world, both for military and civilian use.

However, the new Land Rover Defender is a midsize SUV that started production for the 2020 model year, combining the design aesthetic of the old Defender with the luxury expected out of the new Land Rover lineup. The new Defender received praise for its off-road capabilities and pleasant ride, which feels much more civilian than previous models, as well as the design elements that keep it looking modern while paying tribute to its history. Unfortunately, the Land Rover Defender is an expensive luxury vehicle that is also expensive to drive with fuel economy in the sub-20 mpg range.

Toyota Venza

The Toyota Venza midsize crossover SUV is a vehicle that was discontinued but recently reintroduced into the Toyota lineup to satisfy the current market demand for midsize SUVs. The 2021 model year Venza fits in the Toyota lineup as a standard hybrid alternative to RAV4 and is sized below the Highlander. The Toyota Venza has excellent fuel economy across all trim levels, with a four-wheel drive hybrid drivetrain as the only option.

While the Venza does offer excellent fuel economy, critics did not enjoy how bland the vehicle can be with its malaise driving experience and noisy engine. The Toyota Venza also does not come in a plug-in hybrid form, which may lead consumers to prefer the RAV4 Prime, which offers a full-electric drive mode.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport midsize crossover SUV was introduced for the 2020 model year to give the market a sporty version of the award-winning Volkswagen Atlas. The Atlas Cross Sport does a good job of achieving its sporty aesthetic, which is surprising coming from Volkswagen, a company that historically shies from excitement in its designs. The Atlas Cross Sport does gain some passenger space and feels roomier on the inside compared to the regular Atlas, but this comes with a price; the third-row seats found in the Atlas have been removed for the Atlas Sport.

Consumers can be split between the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport regarding which will suit their needs more. Unfortunately, the Atlas Cross Sport retains the same issues found in the Volkswagen Atlas, including lackluster fuel efficiency and rough handling.

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