After looking through the sea of options, we’ve come up with this list of the best new mid-sized SUVs for $40,000.
With a $40,000 budget to buy an SUV, a buyer these days is awash with possibilities. Big or small? Luxury or mainstream? Two or three rows? It’s a lot to consider, so we’ve put together this list of the best new mid-sized SUVs for $40,000. Though the average price of a new car continues to move up, there are quite a few options at this price point. To help manage budget expectations, we’ve organized this list from lowest to highest starting prices.
With the lowest starting price on our list, the 2023 Santa Fe SE is an excellent value. Power comes from a naturally aspirated 2.5L inline-4 making 191 horsepower and like nearly every vehicle here, AWD can be added for $2,000. Towing is on the low side at 2,000 pounds, but maximum cargo space measures 72 cubic feet and every model comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 8-inch infotainment system, forward collision mitigation, a lane-keeping system, and adaptive cruise control.
Unlike its corporate cousin Kia Sorento, the Santa Fe can only seat 5 with 2 rows. However, the $33,785 SEL model comes with heated front seats, a wireless charging pad, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. You can even get into a hybrid in Blue trim for $37,545 that gets 34 mpg combined and rear sunshades, a road trip essential. Don’t forget the 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 3 years of complimentary maintenance.
Though it shares a powertrain with the Santa Fe, a new Kia Sorento comes with 3 rows of seating and space for up to 7 passengers. Second-row legroom is ample at 42 inches and the base LX model includes LED headlights, wireless smartphone mirroring, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Like the Santa Fe, a Sorento is rated for 26 mpg combined in FWD, or 24 with AWD. For about $37,000, the EX model is upgraded with a hands-free liftgate, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10.25-inch infotainment interface, and adaptive cruise control.
A Sorento Hybrid EX runs about $38,000 for which you can enjoy 37 mpg combined, heated front seats, navigation, and rear parking sensors. The SX model requires a small stretch to $40,215 but boasts 20-inch wheels, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, and a fully digital gauge cluster. Kia does not include complimentary maintenance, but it of course comes with the 10-year/100-mille powertrain warranty.
With a powerful 3.6L V6 churning out 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, the 2023 Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds. It doesn’t help on the efficiency front however as a FWD Traverse comes in at only 21 mpg combined. But it is cavernous inside with 38 inches of second-row legroom, room for 8, and up to 98 cubic feet of cargo space – helping it earn a spot on our list of most spacious SUVs.
The entry-level Traverse LS sports 18-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, triple-zone automatic climate control, and a 7-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple and Android smartphone integration. With a budget of $40,000, the $38,440 LT model is also a possibility. It adds fog lights, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert to the standard roster of advanced driver aids that include forward collision mitigation and lane keep assist.
Nissan’s latest Pathfinder is another purveyor of strong V6 powertrains, which in this case is a 3.5L unit making 284 hp. It enables a 6,000-pound tow rating, which is the most of any on this list though the speedy Dodge Durango can handle even more. Like the Chevy, fuel economy is weak with a combined rating of 23 mpg in FWD or 21 with AWD. However, the Pathfinder can handle 8 occupants with its standard 3 rows of seats and up to 80 cubic feet of cargo.
The entry-level S trim is well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, passive entry, triple zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch display, a Wi-Fi hotspot, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, automatic cruise control, and automatic high beams. Stepping up to a $39,965 Pathfinder SV yields heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot collision avoidance. If you can swing the $2,170 SV Premium package, it brings a panoramic moonroof, power liftgate, and second-row captain’s chairs.
Bigger than a Sorento, the 2024 Kia Telluride is powered by a 291-horse V6 and 8-speed automatic good for 22 mpg combined or 20 when fitted with AWD. The Telluride has an 87 cubic-foot cargo hold with the second and third rows folded down and an impressive 42 inches of legroom in the middle row when it’s upright.
Base LX models are equipped with 18-inch wheels, dual zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, and a relatively large 12.3-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control are all standard, but moving up to an S model for $39,255 adds 20-inch rims, a sunroof, heated front seats, and a wireless phone charger to the mix.
A mechanical twin to the Kia Telluride, the 2024 Hyundai Palisade has more elegant sheet metal and a slightly higher level of standard content. In base form, a Palisade SE comes with LED headlights, Hyundai’s Digital Key tech, auto-dimming side mirrors, a power-folding second-row bench, navigation, and Bluelink+ connectivity. It also matches the Telluride on infotainment and advanced safety system features.
At $40,485, the SEL model boasts a hands-free liftgate, dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and leatherette upholstery. If you can find a Palisade with the Premium package, you’ll enjoy a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, a 12-speaker audio system, climatized first and second-row seats, a cabin intercom system, and a surround-view monitor – the latter of which is typically reserved for more high-tech cars.
Though the hybrid model is beyond our $40,000 budget, a new Highlander in base L trim comes with a 265-hp turbocharged four-cylinder power plant, a 5,000-pound tow rating, and the option for AWD. Along with seats for up to 8, these Highlanders feature heated side mirrors, triple zone automatic climate control, wireless Apple and Android integration, an 8-inch display, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
At a few hundred dollars past $40,000, the LE model adds a power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and leather wrapping on the steering wheel and shifter. Like all Toyotas, it also has a 2-year complimentary maintenance component as part of the warranty.
The only rear-wheel-drive option on this list of the best new mid-sized SUVs for $40,000, a new Ford Explorer can tow 5,300 pounds and is motivated by a 300-horse turbocharged inline-4 powertrain. Ride quality also leans more athletic than the other options here thanks to the unusual drivetrain. Entry-level models feature LED headlights, a power liftgate, triple zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an 8-inch infotainment display, and smartphone mirroring.
At $40,165, the XLT trim adds heated front seats and side mirrors along with rear parking sensors. Like the base model, standard driver aids include forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high beams. With the XLT Technology package, amenities like power-folding side mirrors, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are added to the roster.
Brand new last year, the 2024 Pilot is a 3-row SUV capable of seating 8 passengers and towing 5,000 pounds. All models are powered by a 3.5L V6 making 282 horsepower that is rated for 22 mpg combined. Cargo space tops out at 87 cubic feet, there are 41 inches of second-row legroom, and Honda includes 2 years of complimentary maintenance on all new purchases.
Only the base LX model falls within our $40,000 target budget. It features 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, triple zone automatic climate control, a 7-speaker stereo system, and a 7-inch infotainment interface with Apple and Android integration. Standard advanced driver aids include forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
VW’s biggest SUV, the Atlas, sports a 269-hp turbocharged 2.0L inline-4, a 5,000-lb tow rating, and a huge cabin that can handle 97 cubic feet of cargo. The Atlas can accommodate 6 or 7 passengers depending on the second-row configuration and comes with 2 years of complimentary maintenance.
At just over $39,000, the SE model is the only one that fits our budget criteria. Highlights include adaptive LED headlights, heated side mirrors, triple zone automatic climate control, and a heated steering wheel. The front seats are heated and ventilated and there is a fully digital gauge cluster, a 12-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone mirroring, and a wireless charging station. On the advanced driver-aids front, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control are all standard fare.