A good SUV doesn’t have to cost you over $50,000. Some of the most efficient and stylish models can be purchased well below that marker. You can save yourself thousands of dollars to put toward road trip adventures when you buy a cheaper SUV with just as many perks as more luxurious options. Here is some helpful information about SUVs and 10 SUVs that start under $50,000:
What is an SUV?
In a nutshell, SUVs (short for sport utility vehicles) typically have a higher seating position and sit higher off the ground than cars. The majority of SUVs offer all-wheel drive and a good amount of space for additional passengers or storage.
Historically, SUVs were meant to be able to drive through rough terrain and carry supplies and cargo, specifically in military operations. However, as the automotive industry evolved, and with it, the cars themselves, automakers coined the term ‘crossover’ to describe and even rename the infamous ‘SUV.’ A crossover is a passenger vehicle with similar features to the SUV, and nowadays the terms are virtually interchangeable.
Great SUVs for Less Than $50,000
With SUVs growing in popularity, efficiency, and style, it’s no wonder there are so many affordable options out there. Here are some SUVs well worth considering with a starting price under $50,000:
1. Hyundai Kona: $21,685
The Hyundai Kona subcompact crossover is more than just a style item, offering crisp handling and the choice between a standard four-cylinder or a gutsier turbocharged engine. The Kona’s interior is nicely trimmed and comfortable for up to four adults, but cargo space and rear-seat headroom aren’t as generous as slightly larger rivals. Despite having average fuel-economy ratings for its class, the little Hyundai impressed during our real-world highway test where the thriftiest version returned 33 mpg. The base model starts just below $22,000, but we’d get the nearly loaded Limited model that starts just under 30 grand.
2. Mazda CX-30: $23,224
The subcompact Mazda CX-30 is either an SUV for car people or a car for SUV people, but either way its classy looks and fun-to-drive nature make it one of our favorites. It comes standard with impressive technology, both in terms of connectivity and active safety features. It also has a handsome, well-crafted interior. Equipped with a perky four-cylinder engine or a spicier turbocharged option, the CX-30 oozes that enthusiast appeal for which the brand is famous. While its fuel-economy estimates are unremarkable, the all-wheel-drive model we tested on our 75-mph real-world route matched its 31-mpg highway rating. We’d spend more money on the Select trim level, which adds more desirable features and starts at $25,225.
3. Mazda CX-5: $26,650
The Mazda CX-5 rises above all other compact crossovers thanks to its many transcendent traits. Not only does it boast beautifully sculpted bodywork, but its cabin is just as pleasing to the eyes. The CX-5 is delightful to drive and exceedingly refined for its price tag. Its standard four-cylinder engine lacks the punch of the available turbo-four, but at least they’re both more fuel-efficient than their estimates suggest. The all-wheel-drive turbocharged model we tested on our real-world highway route beat its EPA rating by 3 mpg. There are more practical alternatives, especially when it comes to cargo space, but no other compact SUV can match the Mazda’s elegance and many satisfying elements. Our pick of the litter is the Turbo trim level, which best exemplifies the CX-5 and costs around $37k.
4. Volvo XC40: $34,795
The Volvo XC40 is a luxury subcompact crossover that exhibits a quirky personality without straying too far from the brand’s core values. Inside, it’s comfortable and surprisingly spacious for its size, and we enjoy its decidedly Swedish vibe. The infotainment system operates through a vertically oriented 9.0-inch touchscreen. The XC40 is offered with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but the more powerful version provides better thrust. There’s also the all-electric Recharge model, but it exceeds our $50,000 threshold. Don’t expect the gas-powered XC40s to be extra fuel-efficient; the all-wheel-drive version we tested on our real-world highway route returned an unremarkable 29 mpg. We like the mid-level R-Design trim, which comes with the turbo engine and all-wheel drive for about 40 grand.
5. Volkswagen Tiguan: $27,190
The Volkswagen Tiguan has a stylish appearance and refined driving manners that give it a distinctly European vibe. It’s also sporty and fun to drive, even if its standard turbocharged powertrain isn’t very quick. However, it feels peppy enough around town. The Tiguan’s interior is simple and functional, and it’s one of the only compact crossover that offers a third row. Families are warned, it’s not very big. The VW SUV has trendy technology features and so-so fuel-economy ratings. To maximize its value, we’d stick near the bottom of the lineup and select the SE trim, which only costs a few thousand dollars more than the base model that starts at $27,190.
6. Ford Bronco: $29,995
The Ford Bronco isn’t the most refined mid-size SUV, but that’s a small price to pay for its retro design and off-road ruggedness. Even with the ability to remove its doors and roof as well as crawl around on rocks and in the mud, the Bronco drives with an uncanny smoothness on most roads, which is more than we can say about the Jeep Wrangler. We’re also not too bothered by the Ford’s lack of a V-8 since the standard turbo-four and twin-turbo V-6 are both strong engines, and the four-pot can be paired with a manual. The Bronco is available with myriad driver assists, and the 12.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system looks slick. We’d get a four-door one with the Wildtrak trim level that has desirable off-road equipment and a starting price of $48,475.
7. Kia Telluride: $41,995
The Kia Telluride transcends the belief that affordability is often offset by frugality thanks to the mid-size, three-row SUV’s utterly lavish qualities and absolute bargain price. It has all the tenets of a great family hauler, such as contemporary features and abundant passenger space. Its one-size-fits-all V-6 powertrain is strong and smooth, while its ride-and-handling balance is satisfyingly cohesive. At the pump, the Telluride isn’t the most fuel-efficient SUV in its class, but it is rated to tow up to 5000 pounds. Its interior is undeniably upscale and there’s seating for up to eight with storage space aplenty. It’s not so shocking that Kia has crafted such an incredible SUV, it’s that even a fully loaded model costs under $50,000.
8. Genesis GV70: $42,045
The Genesis GV70 is a sporty and luxurious compact crossover thanks to gutsy engine options, a surprisingly athletic chassis, and a high-end interior. However, choosing between the standard turbo-four and the optional twin-turbo V-6 partly dictates whether its starting price stays under $50,000. Still, even the smaller engine is up to most speed needs, plus it gets greater fuel-economy ratings. The GV70’s cabin has a daring design, but almost everyone will enjoy its rich quality. Less impressive is the ute’s rear-seat room, which is better than the Genesis G70 sedan, but not tops compared with other compact luxury crossovers. Where the GV70 excels versus its classmates is its unique style and excellent execution.
9. BMW X3: $44,695
While the brand’s sports sedans don’t deliver the same driving thrills of yore, the BMW X3 is a compact luxury SUV that’s fun to drive and more practical than a 3-series. The X3 comes with either a turbo four-cylinder or turbo-six, with the latter reserved for the spicier M40i model. Those looking for a more extroverted appearance will appreciate the mechanically identical, albeit pricier, BMW X4 and its couple-like roofline. The X3’s interior is nicely appointed and can be had with comfy, highly adjustable front seats. The SUV’s cargo space and fuel economy aren’t particularly impressive, but we found there’s only a small penalty at the pump when selecting the bigger motor. Even the entry-level model is well-equipped for its $44,695 starting price; adding all-wheel drive is $2000 extra.
10. Genesis GV90: $49,945
The Genesis GV90 is a full-fledged luxury SUV that boasts distinctive bodywork, a lovely interior, and ride-and-handling that would likely please a member of the royal family. The GV90 competes against mid-sizers with premium pedigrees, such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-class. However, the Genesis feels twice as nice because its price is considerably lower than the Germans. The GV90 comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder or a twin-turbo V-6, but the latter put it over our $50,000 bogey. In fact, the only way to keep its price under that mark is to stick with the entry-level model. That’s okay, though, because every GV90 is good to drive and has a plethora of standard features, including a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a suite of driver assists.
See, finding an affordable SUV is easier than you think. By taking the time to do research, you can find one that fulfills your needs while also staying well within your price range.
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