The best commuter SUVs, according to KBB, come with plenty of personal opinions. What might be the perfect commuter for one person is not for another. Just like with anything, everyone has a preference. A person who carpools for 10 minutes with six other people will want a different SUV than someone who drives an hour to work alone. Regardless of your preference, this list has the best commuter SUVs for everyone.
Safety and fuel economy make the perfect commuter SUV
KBB chose the vehicles on its list from a few different metrics. One is safety because no one wants to drive an unsafe car every day. The best commuter SUVs, according to KBB, include only ones that received high ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS).
Additionally, fuel economy is a huge factor to consider. When driving back and forth to work every day, you’ll want to stop for gas as little as possible. That’s why some of the choices include plug-in hybrids, standard hybrids, and even electric vehicles. Although, there are standard gas-powered options if that’s important to you.
Comfort, covenience, and technology
After ensuring safety and low fuel costs, the next most important thing is comfort and entertainment. This stuff is critical, especially for people who are stuck driving for long periods. Features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, power outlets, and an intuitive touchscreen are priorities.
Other features of importance provide comfort and ease of use. Things like cupholders and comfortable seats ensure your back doesn’t hurt and your drink doesn’t spill. Finally, having hard physical controls for climate and audio is also important because they’re easier to use while driving.
Best commuter SUVs and minivans for carpoolers with many passengers
2022 Toyota Sienna – best commuter minivan
- Base MSRP: $37,500
- IIHS Rating: TSP+
- Combined fuel economy: 36 mpg
The Toyota Sienna minivan is an excellent option for someone needing plenty of space for passengers and cargo. The spacious interior can seat up to eight people so that carpoolers can maximize their efficiency. Thanks to every Sienna model moving to a hybrid powertrain, even the cheapest option provides excellent fuel economy. Have you ever been more comfortable in any car than a minivan if we’re worried about comfortability?
The suite of safety features includes a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and more. Other amenities include dual power sliding doors, three-zone climate control, smartphone connectivity, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, and a 9-inch touchscreen. Lastly, seven USB ports are available inside, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are easily usable from the touchscreen.
2022 Kia Carnival
- Base MSRP: $32,100
- IIHS Rating: TSP
- Combined fuel economy: 22 mpg
Kia calls the Carnival an MPV, or a multi-purpose vehicle, instead of an SUV or minivan. It combines the look and style of an SUV with a minivan’s functionality in the perfect way. Different seating configurations will decide whether it can seat seven or eight passengers. Either way, carpoolers can fit everybody inside with ease.
The standard hands-free power-sliding side doors are very convenient and make it easy to get in and out of the rear seats. The lowest trim includes features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, and an 8-inch touchscreen. Safety features include driving aids like forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist.
2022 Ford Explorer – best commuter SUV for carpooling many people
- Base MSRP: $33,245
- IIHS Rating: TSP+
- Combined fuel economy: 24 mpg
If you’re not into the minivan design of the Sienna and Carnival, you might like the next option. The Ford Explorer is an SUV that seats seven but maintains excellent gas mileage. Thanks to its hybrid powertrain, which is highly recommended for daily commuters. The V6 engine paired with an electric motor increased the combined mpg to 27.
Inside the base model, you’ll find tri-zone automatic climate control, a power liftgate, an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Ford CoPilot360 bundle of driver aids. CoPilot360 includes forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist. The higher XLT trim adds even more, like additional USB ports and heated front seats.
Best commuter SUVs for carpoolers with only a few passengers
2021 Toyota RAV4 – best commuter SUV
- Base MSRP: $26,350
- IIHS Rating: TSP
- Combined fuel economy: 30 mpg
The Toyota RAV4 offers gas engines and a plug-in hybrid and standard hybrid variant. Depending on your preference, they each can provide different fuel economy levels. The PHEV gets 94 MPGe and 38 mpg once the battery is dead, but the HEV gets a combined 40 mpg. Regardless of which one you choose, the RAV4 is very fuel economical and provides ample space to boot.
The bottom trim, LE, still offers tons of features and technology. Highlighting these are a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, and high-beam assist. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is also standard and includes forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-tracing assist, and lane-keeping assist.
2022 Subaru Outback
- Base MSRP: $26,945
- IIHS Rating: TPS+
- Combined fuel economy: 29 mpg
The Subaru Outback comes with a standard all-wheel drive across all models. KBB says Subaru Eyesight is also included, which provides forward collision warning, lane-centering, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. You’ll get single-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for the base model.
2022 Chevrolet Equinox
- Base MSRP: $25,800
- IIHS Rating: Good
- Combined fuel economy: 28 mpg
One of the highlights of the Chevrolet Equinox is its meager price. It provides plenty of features, even against the competition, for a much lower price. Those on a tight budget needing a spacious SUV for commuting should look no further.
The base model includes forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. For technology, the Equinox LS comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, USB ports, Wi-Fi capability, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. KBB highlights its low starting price, giving it great bang-for-your-buck.
2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E – best commuter crossover EV
- Base MSRP: $42,895
- IIHS Rating: TSP
- Combined fuel economy: 100 MPGe
If you’ve got a bit of extra cash burning a hole in your pocket and need a fuel economic choice, this crossover EV might be the right choice. Although it shares a name with a more popular model, it’s nothing like its sporty sibling. With a maximum range of up to 300 miles, you’ll be driving to work all week without plugging in (Provided you live within a comfortable distance of your place of employment).
The bottom trim offers rain-sensing wipers, a windshield de-icer, a 15.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and Wi-Fi capability. The standard technology isn’t the only great suite of features. For safety, the Mach-E comes with Ford CoPilot360. This package includes forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, and rear park assist.
There are plenty of options in the market for SUVs, crossovers, and even minivans. The best commuter SUVs are ones that come in at an affordable price with excellent fuel economy and safety ratings, according to KBB. We’d recommend going electric or hybrid with one of these options. That way, you’re stepping into the future while saving money on gas right away. KBB also listed the best cars for commuting if SUVs aren’t your forte.