Honda, Mazda, and Hyundai Make the Best SUVs Under 40k

The SUV category is a hard one to fit into. With major brands like Honda, Hyundai, and Mazda making excellent SUVs for a competitive price, which one should you pick? Check out why the 2021 Honda CR-V, 2021 Mazda CX-5, and 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe made the list.

Does Honda make good SUVs?

A red Honda CR-V sits on display at the Brussels Expo
Honda CR-V compact crossover SUV on display, beating out the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Santa Fe | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

U.S. News ranked the best SUVs for under $40,000, and Honda topped the list. In fact, out of 40 SUVs listed, Honda made the list four times. The 2021 Honda CR-V came in first with a score of 8.7.

What made the Honda CR-V such a hit? U.S. News notes a lot of reasons. Good fuel economy, a roomy cabin, and a solid engine helped. Plus, you get a lot for your money. With a starting MSRP of $25,350, there is room for some upgrades.

The 2021 CR-V won a lot of awards. The SUV came first in the compact SUV category, Crossover SUV category, and SUVs with two rows. It won the Best Compact SUV for the Money award and came in as a finalist for Best Compact SUV for Families.

It has room for adults and kids, leather seats on the upgraded trims, and some helpful new safety features that all come standard. The Honda Passport, Honda Pilot, and Honda CR-V Hybrid also made the list.

Which is better, the Honda CR-V or the Mazda CX-5?

RELATED: Why the 2019 Honda CR-V Is the Best Used SUV for Families This Summer

Well, that depends on who you ask. If we ask U.S. News, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 scored an 8.6, only one-tenth of a point behind the CR-V. With room for five, fuel efficiency, and a fun drive, it is no secret why the CX-5 ranked so high.

Priced at $25,370 for the Sport trim, the CX-5 fits into many budgets. It came in number two on the Compact SUV, Crossover SUV, and SUV with two rows. It was also a finalist for Best Compact SUV for the Money and Best Compact SUV for Families.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 challenges the conventional wisdom that you can’t have great handling, solid fuel efficiency, and an SUV capability in one package. Scored near the top of our compact SUV ranking, every model of the CX-5 fits into our $40,000 budget.

It scored a 9.9 out of 10 for safety and came standard with many safety features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it family and road-trip-friendly. The engine isn’t as powerful as the CR-V, which probably accounts for its second place.

The Mazda CX-9 and CX-30 also ranked on the list.

Is Hyundai Santa Fe a good car?

RELATED: How Safe Is the Hyundai Santa Fe?

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe was priced right at $26,275. This SUV won a ton of awards in the SUV category, include Best New Car for Teens. It scored an 8.5 out of 10 overall, but also a 9.5 for safety.

The Hyundai Santa Fe also has OK fuel economy, a comfortable cabin, and room in the cargo area. It also has some helpful accident-avoidance technology that comes standard.

The engine gets between 185 hp and 235 hp, with a front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive options. It also has room for five. Some tech features are better than rivals, but the Santa Fe lacks in a few areas that others excelled in.

Hyundai actually had the most SUVs on this list. The Santa Fe, Hyundai Palisade, Kona, Venue and Tucson. Not a bad accomplishment for Hyundai!