Almost ironically, the large SUV class is not all that large. Most buyers seem to have migrated to midsize SUVs due to fuel-economy concerns, especially since several entries in that class offer three rows of seats. Almost by definition, these large SUVs get rather poor fuel economy and can be a handful in around-town driving. That can end up being quite a price to pay for the added space and towing capacity. However, for some buyers, only the biggest of the big will do, for hauling both people and stuff. This class has seen a fair amount of activity in recent years—the Nissan Armada was redesigned for 2017, the Ford Expedition was redesigned for 2018, and new versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon debuted as 2021 models.
One functional element that tends to separate midsize SUVs from large ones is towing capacity. Save for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, here are no three-row midsize SUVs that offer a V8 engine, and few manage even a 5,000-lb towing capacity. By contrast, all large SUVs offer a V8 engine (save for the Ford Expedition, which has a satisfyingly powerful turbocharged V6), and maximum towing capacity starts at about 7400 lbs and goes up to about 9300 lbs—and some models come in heavy-duty versions that go even higher than that.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2022
Jeep re-enters the full-size SUV segment and revives a name from its past on a new-for-2022 SUV. The Jeep Wagoneer comes standard with Hemi V8 power and offers a choice of three available 4-wheel-drive systems in addition to rear-wheel drive. The Wagoneer launches alongside a full-luxury version named Grand Wagoneer, which falls into our Premium Large SUV class.
The Ford Expedition gets a significant refresh that includes styling and infotainment-system updates and two new trim levels: the off-road-oriented Timberline and the street-performance Stealth Edition, both of which get a 440-hp version of the Expedition’s turbo 3.5-liter V6. After their redesign last year, the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon see expanded availability of the step-up 6.2-liter V8 engine option, as well as digital instrument panels and updated infotainment systems with built-in Google app functionality. The Dodge Durango loses its 710-hp SRT Hellcat version.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Both the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are offered in extended-length versions: the Chevrolet Suburban and similar GMC Yukon XL, which add 13.2 inches in wheelbase and 15 inches in overall length. The Ford Expedition also offers extended-wheelbase models, called Expedition MAX, that are about 12 inches longer overall.
Most entries in this class seat up to eight passengers, but the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and similar GMC Yukon and Yukon XL seat up to nine. At the other end of the scale, the Dodge Durango seats up to seven. The Chevrolet Tahoe High Country and Suburban High Country, Ford Expedition Platinum, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL Denali, Jeep Wagoneer Series III, Nissan Armada Platinum, and Toyota Sequoia Platinum are all high-end offerings that approach the level of some premium large SUVs for luxurious style and price.
The Chevrolet and GMC SUVs offer a turbodiesel 6-cylinder engine in addition to their gasoline V8s. Though the super-performance Hellcat version has been dropped, the Dodge Durango still stands out for its high-performance SRT 392 model—it gets muscle-car styling cues, a sport-tuned suspension, and a 475-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V8.