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The Best SUV Brands

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
GoLocalProv Business Team & Graphiq


For many, SUVs have replaced minivans as the vehicle of choice for family and group caravans. With sleeker profiles and increased efficiency, the modern SUV delivers countless benefits.

To find the top SUV brands, the experts at AxleGeeks, part of the Graphiq network, created a SUV-specific Quant Rating using data from Edmunds. By integrating horsepower, torque, towing capacity, payload capacity, cargo capacity (with all seats folded) and combined gas mileage, AxleGeeks ranked the brands from best to worst. In our calculations, ties were broken based on the brand's average towing capacity.


Volkswagen, Buick and Volvo fall to the bottom of the list for either a lack of fuel efficiency, horsepower or towing capacity.


Volkswagen’s line of SUVs touts impressive capability, as both models boast better towing capacity compared to Buick and Volvo. However, its models deliver less fuel efficiency than their competitors’ average, which is increasingly important for consumers.

Buick scores well thanks to the performance of its Enclave model, where it exceeds its competition’s averages in horsepower, cargo and towing capacity. Meanwhile, Buick’s models fall short in key areas: The Encore offers a 30 percent less horsepower, while the Enclave has 26 percent less cargo space relative to comparable models.

Volvo’s 2016 SUV lineup delivers better fuel efficiency and has more cargo capacity than its competition. However, Volvo’s mere 3,500 pounds of towing capacity, a fall from its competition, lowering the brand’s overall score.


The top 3 SUV brands, all of which boast above-average storage space and enviable towing capacity, are GMC, Tesla and Cadillac.


GMC provides spacious and powerful models. The 2016 GMC Yukon XL, for example, offers 106 percent more cargo space than its 2016 full-size SUV/crossover competitors. Its models also have better towing capacity than Lincoln, Dodge and Buick.

Tesla’s Model X offers breathtaking performance, exceptional styling and the best-in-class interior storage, with 77 cubic feet in its six-passenger model, making it an enticing buy for those who can afford it.

Cadillac earned the distinction as the best SUV brand because it tows the most per average, surpassing the towing capabilities of GMC, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover. Moreover, the 2016 Cadillac SRX boasts above-average horsepower and cargo capacity, adding further credence to Cadillac’s appeal.


Below you'll find a complete listing of the best SUV brands:


Explore More Brands on AxleGeeks

  • Vacation

    Who can forget Clark Griswold aka Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation, going to pick up his new “sports wagon” only to be forced to accept the Wagon Queen Family Truckster with amazing wood paneling.  It was created just for this film and was based on a 1979 Ford LTD Country Squire which was equally embarrassing to drive. And, to add insult to injury, Clark had to try and be cool in this car when Christie Brinkely drove by in her Ferrari 308GTS. 

  • Mad Max

    This may not really be underrated as a picture car but because Mel Gibson soared to stardom after this film, it’s easy to forget the machine that helped make it happen. The 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon was simply, bad ass. This car never made it to the U.S. and was featured in the Australian film with a few modifications. The regular XB GT had a 351-cid V8, but for Mad Max the car creators fattened up the tires, gave it a new front nose and flares, and added a supercharger that stuck out of the hood. Despite the fact that the supercharger wasn’t real, it doesn’t diminish the cool factor. 

  • Death Proof

    Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 homage to the classic ‘70’s exploitation movies and muscle cars was modestly received, but for car geeks and car chase fans, it was awesome. Stuntman Mike, played by Kurt Russell, drove two classic movie cars in his psychopathic attempt to rid the roads of all hot women. His “death proof” cars were a 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS 396  that Rose McGowan’s character found out wasn’t “death proof” for the passenger.  After he dispatched the first batch of women, he finds his next car, a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 500. Unfortunately for Stuntman Mike, he was no match for the “Vanishing Point” 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T. 

  • Gumball Rally

    This 1976 movie was the inspiration to other coast to coast racing movies like Cannonball and Cannonball Run. Don’t hold that against it. This film featured some great fun, great cars and the tagline for every boy racer that summer, “GUMBALL." Michael Sarrazin played a rich, bored businessman. He sends word to his fellow racers via a gumball that the race is on from New York to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The movie featured a young, funny Rau’l Julia who was the professional Ferrari driver and uttered the perfect car racer line as he rips off the rear view mirror, “what is behind me is not important.” Some of the beautiful cars making the cross country trip were an AC Cobra, Ferrari Daytona and Gary Busey behind the wheel in a Camaro Z-28. 

  • Risky Business

    Larry Brown was the West Coast PR manager for VW/Porsche Audi in the early 80’s when a director came to him with a great script idea and wanted to use a Porsche for his movie Risky Business. Brown read the script and then thought about his conservative German bosses and how they would react to a high school kid running a brothel out of his parent’s home when they were out of town. And, oh by the way, dumping a 928 into Lake Michigan. He said he had to pass. Fortunately for us and Porsche, the director had only the Porsche 928 in mind for the star car and found one of his own. Tom Cruise, who had never driven a stick, learned to drive on the Porsche. While the 928 now ranks as one of the least interesting Porsches made, this film made it cool for a while. Who can forget Joel, Lana and Miles escaping from Guido the Killer Pimp and puling up to the curb and Cruise uttering the great Porsche marketing slogan, “Porsche, there is no substitute.”  That is probably only matched when, after the cars swim in the lake, the car door is opened at the dealership and the shop manager asks, “so, who’s the U Boat commander” This was perfect proof that the right car can help make a movie. 

  • To Live and Die in LA

    William Friedkin’s 1985 stylish drama with young William Petersen and Willam Dafoe showcased a chase scene on and off the freeways of LA and rivals that of Bullitt. The car Petersen drove to escape his pursuers was a 1985 Checy Impala F41. It had been rented directly from the LAPD. The car sequence was shot in six weeks and apparently, Fridkin wasn’t so sure of its success and shot it last so that if anything happened to the actors, the balance of the movie was in the can. 

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