Midsize SUVs are sort of the navel of the automotive world: Just about every mass-market company has one. In fact, some have two, and one manufacturer has three.
That’s probably because midsize models were long the biggest-selling segment in the SUV market. Today there are 17 in the class, actually down a bit from their peak. All, except one, are “crossovers”: high-riding wagons offering all-wheel drive but built on passenger-car platforms.
Only the Toyota 4Runner is of the old truck-type body-on-frame design. Body-on-frame SUVs tend to have higher towing limits, and are sometimes aimed more at off-road driving.
All models in this class offer all-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, the latter sometimes available in part- and full-time versions. With all-wheel drive, it’s always engaged and the vehicle decides whether power should go to all four wheels. With 4-wheel drive, the driver can choose between 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive. Some Toyota 4Runner models offer a part-time 4-wheel-drive system, which is intended for severe off-road work and cannot be left engaged on dry pavement for fear of driveline wear. That’s not a concern with full-time 4-wheel drive.
The midsize crossover/SUV class gains one member and loses two for 2018. The all-new Volkswagen Atlas debuts as a plus-size 7-passenger midsize SUV with a choice of V6 or 4-cylinder power and a host of state-of-the-art available technology features. The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain are both redesigned for 2018 on a downsized platform, so they migrate from the midsize SUV class to our compact crossover SUV category. The Chevrolet Traverse is redesigned on a larger platform that pits it more directly against 3-row rivals such as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. Chevrolet is also reported to be readying a new midsize SUV for 2019 that will slot between the Equinox and Traverse.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup adds a super-performance Trackhawk model that is powered by a 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 borrowed from Dodge’s Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat models. The Trackhawk is packed with racetrack-focused hardware and is capable of a 3.5-second 0-60-mph run and an 11.6-second quarter-mile time. The Grand Cherokee lineup also gets several new appearance packages and appearance options. The Mazda CX-9 now has Smart City Brake Support—a collision-mitigating automatic braking system that works at 19 mph and below—as standard equipment, as well as standard blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and Mazda G-Vectoring Control. The Nissan Pathfinder gets an automatic emergency braking system, a Midnight Edition appearance package, and a Rear Door Alert system that reminds users to check the rear seat for forgotten items. The Nissan Murano now has standard automatic emergency braking on all models.
The rest of the class is either unchanged or sees minor revisions such as subtle styling updates, new appearance packages, reshuffled options, and/or updated infotainment systems.
The only vehicle that really stands out in that regard is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s the sole vehicle in the class to offer a V8 engine, and its high-performance SRT and Trackhawk versions have even more powerful V8 engines. The Grand Cherokee previously offered the class’s only diesel, but that engine has been discontinued, at least temporarily.