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. At the moment there are 18 in the class, but that number is set to grow by at least a couple in the near future. All, except one, are “crossovers”: high-riding wagons offering all-wheel drive but built on passenger-car platforms.
As of now, only the Toyota 4Runner is of the 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 new member for 2019, with more scheduled to arrive in the near future. The all-new Chevrolet Blazer revives the name of a line of off-road-oriented SUVs from Chevrolet’s past, but the new model is a rakishly styled, front-wheel-drive-based crossover that’s focused on street driving and all-around family use.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is redesigned, gaining new powertrains, new styling, new technology features, and a model-line revamp. The all-new 2019 Santa Fe is a two-row, five-passenger model that takes the place of the previous-generation Santa Fe Sport. The previous-gen three-row, 7-passenger Santa Fe is renamed Santa Fe XL this year, and is slated to be replaced soon by an all-new three-row, 8-passenger model.
The Ford Edge gets a performance-oriented ST model that includes an upgraded sport suspension and a 335-hp twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6. The entire Edge lineup is refreshed for 2019 with facelifted styling and an updated interior. The base 2.0-liter turbo engine gets a 5-hp boost and an 8-speed automatic transmission in place of a 6-speed. Newly available features include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and lane centering, evasive steering assist, and post-collision braking.
The Kia Sorento gets revised styling and an 8-speed automatic transmission on V6 models in place of the previous 6-speed, among other minor updates. Lane-keep assist, a driver-attention monitor, and wireless cellphone charging are newly available. The Mazda CX-9 gets new available features that include ventilated front seats, a 360-degree surround-view monitor, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality. The Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup adds a uniquely trimmed Limited X model. The Chevrolet Traverse’s sporty RS model is now available with AWD and a 3.6-liter V6; it previously came solely with FWD and a turbo 4-cylinder.
Information on the 2019 Nissan Murano was unavailable as of this writing, but we are not expecting any major changes. The rest of the class is either unchanged or sees minor revisions such as new appearance packages, a shuffling of standard and optional equipment, and/or updated infotainment systems. For 2020, Ford is set to introduce the long-awaited revival of the Bronco, and Honda is preparing a two-row, 5-passenger SUV that will likely be named Passport.
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 also offers the class’s only diesel engine at the moment—a 240-hp 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6.