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Open any best auto brands list for 2023, and you might expect to find an automaker with off-road SUVs in the lead. But that’s where one new list might surprise you. An OEM better known for handsome, user-friendly crossovers than rugged utility vehicles earned the best SUV brand of 2023 nod: Hyundai.

Hyundai named best SUV brand of the year

A red 2023 Hyundai Tucson SUV cruises down a road with green trees beside it. Hyundai has been cited as the year's best SUV brand.
2023 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

U.S. News and World Report has chimed in with its best brands of 2023 list, and Hyundai arrived atop the SUV field. It’s the third consecutive year that Hyundai has landed the honor, winning among arguably the industry’s most competitive segment. 

It’s a statement for Hyundai that the brand has earned recognition ahead of automakers who have poured significant resources into developing ever-more flavorful SUV models. Recent arrivals like the Ford Bronco, Land Rover Defender, and Rivian R1S have made big splashes in the SUV market. Yet, Hyundai’s commitment to sharp style, usability, and electrification seems to have helped it pull ahead.

Hyundai SUVs thrive on practicality and style

A 2023 Hyundai Palisade SUV cruises through the desert in twilight.
2023 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

Several Hyundai SUV models received specific praise from U.S. News and World Report. The publication called the new Tucson compact crossover one of the best models in its class and lauded its hybrid variants. The Ioniq 5 and Kona Electric also received praise for offering competitive range and roomy, comfortable interiors.

Which Hyundai SUV is best?

A 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric SUV rolls down a road with blurred greenery in the background.
2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 | Hyundai

Hyundai offers a robust selection of SUVs in its lineup. Picking the top Hyundai SUV is a challenge that depends on a driver’s lifestyle and preferences. 

The smallest of the bunch are the 2023 Venue and the 2023 Kona. Each of these subcompact crossovers packs a balance of utility, comfort, and style into an affordable package. Hyundai recently announced the launch of its new 2024 Kona, which it developed as an EV-first SUV with more cabin space than the first-generation model. 

The 2023 Tucson sits in the ultra-competitive compact crossover segment. Its sleek style and abundant technology make it a fierce competitor against rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. 

Hyundai offers family-friendly SUVs in the 2023 Santa Fe and 2023 Palisade. Each offers three rows of seating along with Hyundai’s signature fashion-forward styling.

Perhaps the crown jewel of Hyundai’s SUV lineup is its commitment to electrification. Both the Tucson and the Santa Fe have hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The 2023 Ioniq 5 electric SUV is among Hyundai’s top achievements, earning critical acclaim upon its release.

Gaps remain in Hyundai’s SUV lineup

Hyundai has earned its praise from U.S. News and World Report with a variety of quality crossovers and practical electric SUVs. Still, the brand lags in a couple of sub-categories. 

The off-road SUV segment is hotter than ever. Yet Hyundai has yet to roll out a true all-terrain model of its own. The 2023 Santa Cruz crossover pickup does hit a niche lifestyle need — but it’s more a beach cruiser than a trail runner. Hyundai leaves an opportunity on the table until it drops a rugged off-roader (or at least offers a dedicated off-road package for an existing model).