A Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) is supposed to offer solid performance, high-tech amenities and advanced safety technology. Of course, a good SUV must have a spacious interior that’s designed to accommodate a large family, as well. When equipped with all-wheel drive, such a vehicle should also be versatile enough for normal driving and off-road cruising.
Reliable sources such as Kelley Blue Book, U.S. News & World Report and Motor Trend surely provide plenty of helpful tips on selecting the best SUV models for 2017. Additionally, it’s important to consider safety ratings that are given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The following list presents five models that truly stand out in the 2017 SUV class.
2017 Nissan Armada
Available in three editions, the 2017 Nissan Armada has a powerful design. With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that ranges between $44,900 and $57,590, this Nissan SUV is naturally loaded with premium features. The Armada runs on a 5.6 L Endurance V8 engine that produces 390 hp and 394 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is paired with the optional All-Mode 4WD, which comes with a two-speed transfer case. With the turn of a knob, you can select a custom mode for this patented drivetrain. The tow/haul mode prepares the powertrain for demanding towing tasks. In fact, this muscular Nissan is strong enough to pull an 8,500-pound trailer.
When equipped with the captain’s chairs in the second row, the Armada can accommodate seven people. You’ll need to select the 60/40 split-folding seat for the second row to increase the seating capacity to eight individuals. As expected, this model is loaded with the signature NissanConnect infotainment system that’s accessible via an 8-inch touch screen. NavWeather and NavTraffic by SiriusXM are integrated into the vehicle’s GPS navigation system. Connected to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, the 13-speaker sound system by Bose is another premium installation in the Armada. Additionally, the Tri-Zone Entertainment System includes a DVD player and dual 7-inch monitors.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC
Carrying a starting price tag of just under $40,000, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC gives you a taste of affordable luxury. With the 2.0 L turbo engine, you have access to 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0 L biturbo V6 engine increases the total output to 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Both turbo engines are managed by the ECO Start/Stop system that saves fuel. The 4MATIC All-Wheel Drive (AWD), Dynamic Select and Agility Control are some other superb installations that enhance the performance of this sporty Mercedes-Benz SUV. Such premium technology ensures a smooth ride on paved roads, but you shouldn’t expect to take the vehicle for wild off-road adventures.
The GLC SUV also boasts industry-leading safety features such as the Adaptive Brake Assist and pre-safe brake with pedestrian recognition, which lowers the risk of a front crash. The attention assist analyzes 70 parameters to determine if you’re drowsy or distracted while behind the steering wheel. When the vehicle rolls on cruise control, the Distronic Plus with Steering Assist makes adjustments based on the movement of other cars ahead on the highway. Other class-leading safety amenities in this SUV include the Speed Limit Assist, Surround View System and Parktronic with Active Parking Assist.
One of the most notable features in this Mercedes-Benz is the touch pad that’s used to manage the Comand infotainment system, which includes a separate 7-inch display. Installed in the central console near the shift knob, this controller has an intuitive interface that responds to your entire hand rather than just the tap of a finger. Since it has five seats, the compact GLC SUV appeals only to small families that prioritize luxurious amenities over a spacious interior design.
2017 Ford Explorer
With a MSRP of just under $32,000 for the base trim, the 2017 Ford Explorer offers tremendous value for your money. It may seem odd that a four-cylinder engine would propel a large SUV, but the 2.3 L EcoBoost engine packs a big punch. The turbocharged engine whips out 280 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 cranks out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The third powertrain option for the Explorer is the 3.5 L Ti-VCT V6 engine that produces 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque.
Despite having three rows, the Explorer comes with seven rather than eight seats. Having a 50/50 split-folding design, the third-row seats are controlled by the patented PowerFold function. The Power-Assist Fold also provides leverage for adjusting the second-row bucket seats that are available with heating. Some other signature amenities inside the Explorer include the SYNC 3 infotainment system that comes with an 8-inch touch screen.
Available in Ruby Red, Blue Jeans and Canyon Ridge, this Ford is also known for its awesome exterior styling options. Since it’s not quite a luxurious SUV, the Explorer has a more playful character than other expensive models.
2017 Toyota 4Runner
Available in six versatile models, the 2017 Toyota 4Runner offers a good combination of off-road performance and luxury. With a starting price of over $34,000, this mid-size SUV is driven by a 4.0 L V6 engine that generates 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. The part-time 4WD with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) is suitable for normal driving and off-road cruising. If you plan to enjoy off-road adventures more frequently, then select the full-time 4WD with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and the Torsen differential. With a ground clearance of 9.6 inches and an approach angle of 33 degrees, the 4Runner can confidently make its way through rugged terrains.
Besides having a robust design, this Toyota offers plenty of high-tech amenities to keep all of the occupants happy during road trips. The Entune multimedia system is connected to HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. You can also use the Entune App Suite to access iHeartRadio, Pandora, Slacker and other online apps, such as social networks. The 15 JBL GreenEdge speakers fill the vehicle’s cabin with high-quality sound. The 4Runner’s versatile interior configuration is available with five or seven seats.
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe
The 2017 Chevy Tahoe is a full-size SUV that has a heavy-duty design. Under the hood, the 5.3 L EcoTec3 V8 engine delivers 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Unlike traditional gas-guzzling V8 engines that once powered most American-made SUVs, the EcoTec3 unit comes with economical technology, such as the Active Fuel Management and Variable Valve Timing. This efficient engine has a maximum towing rating of 8,600 pounds, so you can confidently haul a bulky trailer for a road trip.
Available with seven or eight seats, the Tahoe’s cabin feels much wider and longer compared to most SUVs. Seven USB ports, a wireless charging station and 110-v power outlet make it easy for all of the occupants to charge their gadgets during a trip. Additionally, this Chevy comes with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi network that’s powered by OnStar. Featuring an 8-inch touch screen, the Chevrolet MyLink multimedia system offers plenty of other connectivity options including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as wireless Bluetooth. The head-up display and Safety Alert Seat are some class-leading features that are also available in this family-friendly SUV.