The top 7 hottest crossovers and SUVs so far in 2019
These are the best sport utility vehicles that are trending this year.
Brian CooleyEditor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
ExpertiseAutomotive technology, smart home, digital health.Credentials
When it's time to shop for an SUV or crossover, the usual suspects pop up: Toyota Highlanders, Ford Explorers, Subaru Outbacks and Toyota RAV4s. They're top-rated for a reason, but the ultimate rating is the wisdom of the crowd, and the crowd is going nuts for seven crossovers and SUVs that aren't the usual suspects.
My methodology for this list starts with crossovers and SUVs that have sold at least 10,000 units in the US through May, 2019, then are ranked by their increase in sales over the same period last year. In other words, these are all mainstream and en fuego.
Watch this: The 7 best crossovers and SUVs in soaring popularity.
All new in 2018, the VW Atlas really put VW squarely on the SUV map with three rows of seating, frankly American lines and an available Audi-style digital cockpit that is cutting-edge stuff. But unless you get the AWD Atlas, you won't get the sophisticated drive mode tech we really liked, a grating choice to have to make.
We love the looks and comfort of the 2019 RDX but wouldn't put it up against competing German crossovers on the track. But you aren't going to the track, you're going to the Container Store to spend all the money you saved by not buying one of those German cars. That's why we summarized the RDX as "the best value in the luxury SUV class."
BMW probably won't love our summary of the latest X3: "Stable, steady and serene." Sounds like marrying a good provider who happens to be a Buddhist. But "ultimate driving machine" just didn't come to mind as we gave this one a 7.7 rating. It doesn't help that the tech options are pricey and do not even include Android Auto because, after all, who would want to cater to more than half of smartphone owners?
It's pronounced "echo sport" for reasons we can't fathom, and we gave this rather homely little guy a mediocre 6.7 rating, but it's a great value story and compact enough to make it a real gutter fighter in dense urban confines. You'll get a surprising amount of amenities for your paltry spend, including access to Sync3, which is one of the best cabin tech platforms from the auto industry. Give it a look if your ego and wallet are as svelte as the EcoSport is in traffic.
The Expo is big: big sales, big growth and a big 8.4 Roadshow score. It's not exactly a new name, but the fourth-generation version has a new level of panache you never associated with Expedition before. If you were thinking of an Escalade or Navigator, get a loaded Expo instead and impress your neighbors with your car and financial savvy.
"A smart buy with a wacky face" doesn't get the Kona off to a great start, but it's part of that ugly-hot crowd that includes the Juke and Kicks. It's not much of a cargo hauler, even for its size, but its turbo engine gets up and goes, and you get a lot of nice amenities for under $30 grand. Add in Hyundai's generous warranties and this one deserves a look -- especially since you'll mostly see it from the inside.
To be fair, a big part of the Eclipse Cross sales gain is that it's coming off a small base, but at a time when everything else that Mitsu sells in the US is trending down, the Eclipse Cross is something to notice. We found the ride a bit harsh, the engine a bit optimistic, and the looks a bit Pontiac Aztec, but this is probably the cheapest way you can get into a crossover from a company with a reputation for building tough products.
You may ask, where's the Kia Telluride? Probably in your neighbor's driveway: It's sold a stunning 17,000 copies in just the few months it's been on sale in the US, but we were unable to rank it without 2018 sales data for comparison. That said, its 8.6 review score underlines our summary of the Telluride: "Big style, bigger value." If you're angling for a Telluride, you might want to also check its sister ship, the Hyundai Palisade.