Unlike the free-for-all format of 10Best Cars, where all 10 spots are open to any excellent entry, here we organize the vast market of trucks and SUVs into 10 categories: seven for SUVs, two for pickups, and one for vans. The SUV segments are broken down into subcompact, compact, and mid-size, each with a luxury and nonluxury sector, plus a combined large category, as the prices of rigs such as the Chevy Suburban and the Ford Expedition are fully luxury. We invite any all-new or substantially redesigned models with a base price less than $80,000—plus any that were eligible last year but weren’t available for evaluation—to prove themselves against last year’s winners in a weeklong face-off that involves close scrutiny, lots of data collection, and plenty of behind-the-wheel time by our entire editorial team.
To successfully ascend to the winner’s circle, vehicles need to impress in three ways. The first is by offering a strong value proposition—not to be confused with a low price, as we’re strong believers that vehicular excellence is worth paying for. It must also inspire in how well it fulfills its mission and that of the segment in which it competes. And, finally, it has to be engaging to drive. Not because the pickup truck or minivan that exhibits the least amount of body roll should win—after all, that type of dynamic behavior would likely be at odds with its job—but there’s no reason those with large families, large hobbies, or other reasons for driving a large vehicle should have an experience that’s less than confidence inspiring.
With thousands of miles driven, second- and third-row seats evaluated for space and comfort, cargo holds and interior storage pockets measured, and new features assessed, these vehicles are the 10 that comprehensively stood out from among their peers as the best currently on offer in their respective categories.