In the past five years, the SUV market has exploded worldwide. Even supercar manufacturers like Lamborghini and Aston Martin produced SUVs to meet demand. With so many segments and so many SUVs available, it can be challenging to find which one best fits your needs. To help, we’re listing off the best midsize, compact, and entry-level luxury SUVs for $35,000 as tested by Consumer Reports.
Midsize SUV: Kia Telluride
The 2020 Kia Telluride is no stranger to praise, winning MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year award. With a $31,990 starting price, there is room left in the budget for a higher trim level. For $34,390, the Telluride S offers features such as heated seats, 20-inch wheels, power-adjustable seats, and a folding second row for extra storage. Under the hood of the Telluride lives a 3.8-liter V6 producing 291 hp. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes as standard, and all-wheel drive is available. The Telluride also comes standard with Kia’s 10-year/100,000 mile warranty.
During their testing, Consumer Reports noted that the Kia Telluride’s engine delivered smooth power even at high speeds. A comfortable ride and a quiet cabin mean that the Telluride should excel in daily driving scenarios. Aside from a positive road test, the Telluride also received top scores in key areas such as reliability, value, and interior quality.
Compact SUV: Mazda CX-5
Moving to a cheaper segment with the same budget means we are now shopping for top trim models. Much like the Kia Telluride, the Mazda CX-5 is loved by reviewers the world over. With a starting price of $25,190, the budget allows us to opt for the second-highest trim level, the CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve. The lengthy name brings along an even longer list of standard options. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard.
The CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve comes equipped with the range-topping 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 250 hp. This trim level includes a six-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system with off-road traction assist. Consumer Reports’ road test of the CX-5 found that the compact SUV is agile in corners, comfortable and powerful. The low-end torque produced by the turbocharger makes it a breeze to drive in traffic. Above all else, the CX-5’s cabin was extremely quiet and solidly built.
Entry-level luxury SUV: Lexus UX
A list of best SUVs would not be complete without a luxury contender. While $35,000 isn’t a lot to play with for luxury vehicles, it’s more than enough to afford the 2020 Lexus UX. The Lexus UX is a subcompact SUV with a $32,300 starting price. For the eco-conscious buyer, the Lexus UX 200h is available for $34,500.
Consumer Reports noted that the UX’s strong points were its fuel economy, driving experience, and overall comfort. Aside from being affordable to purchase, the Lexus UX should be cheap to maintain long-term, given its Toyota CH-R underpinnings and high-reliability rating.
The sporty UX 200 F Sport is also available for $34,300. The F Sport offers unique exterior and interior color combinations, allowing buyers to give it a sporty look. Although the improvements are visual, the standard naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine produces 169 hp. The UX’s compact size allows for a light curb weight of just 3,307 lbs, meaning it should be luxurious and fun to drive.