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Toyota Rav4

The Best SUVs Under $30K

If there’s one type of vehicle that continues to take over the global automotive market at an incessant rate, that is the SUV. Since the late 1990s, SUVs have positioned themselves as the most attractive vehicle segment, to the extent that today some manufacturers aim their strategy to produce SUVs only.

Previously, when people wanted to upgrade from a compact car due to space needs, they used to bet on a sedan, which offered more interior space and a larger trunk. However, these vehicles fell from grace when SUVs arrived in the 90s, with their higher and more natural driving position, more interior versatility, more cargo space, and, in some cases, off-road capabilities. They became the ideal family car too.

Today we bring our selection of the best SUVs under $30K. A list that covers different options with a good balance between amenities, safety features, and performance on a budget.

Honda CR-V

Gray 2021 Honda CR-V SUV

The 2021 Honda CR-V has become a benchmark in the segment in its own right. CR-V strikes an outstanding balance between versatility, durability, and a good level of comfort and technology to remain one of the best sellers. The CR-V starts at $25,350.

The CR-V is powered by a 1.5-liter turbo engine that develops 188 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. It’s not explosive, but it gives you enough agility to move quickly. There’s some turbo lag since the real punch is above 2,000 rpm, but the engine has enough torque from low rpm.

The main reason for this behavior is the CVT transmission and we should mention that Honda currently has one of the best CVTs on the market, even though in this case there’s no option for manual shifting.

Among the safety features of the CR-V, we find ABS, advanced front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover assistance, vehicle stability assist with traction control, electronic brake distribution, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation system, and more.

Toyota Rav-4

Black 2021 Toyota RAV4 SUV
Via: Toyota

The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 has more personality than ever and continues to deliver more than we expect to succeed in the crowded sub-30k SUV segment, starting at $26,350.

The Toyota RAV4 has a bold exterior design; the cabin is also outgoing, something Toyota uses to win over younger consumers. The level of amenities is comprehensive; including two-zone automatic climate control, panoramic roof, wireless smartphone charger, power-adjustable driver’s seat, electrochromic rearview mirror, power-opening tailgate, smart key, and electric parking brake with auto-hold function, just to mention the most relevant.

The responsible for moving the RAV-4 is a 2.5-liter engine, making 204 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. The acceleration is adequate but those who like agile driving will miss a more powerful option with this engine. RAV4 complies but does not excite. The engine is mated to a smooth, well-programmed eight-speed automatic transmission.

Some of the safety features include eight airbags, enhanced vehicle stability control, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, traction control, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, and more.

Mazda CX-5

Gray 2021 Mazda CX-5 SUV
Via: Mazda

If you wonder which is one of the best SUVs on the market, Mazda may answer this question with the CX-5 Touring, starting at $ 27,110. The characteristics of the CX-5 make it a brilliant choice if you are looking for an SUV with an attractive design and necessary equipment to cover your daily requirements.

Under the hood of the Mazda CX-5, we find a SKYACTIV®-G 2.5 4-cylinder 16-valve engine producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. The engine is complemented by a six-speed automatic transmission.

The CX-5 offers key safety systems like front airbags, front side-impact airbags and curtains with rollover protection, ABS, Blind Spot Monitoring6 with Rear Cross Traffic Alert6, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go5, and lane departure warning system with lane-keep Assist26, to name a few.

The CX-5 also comes with reverse sensors, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a 6-speaker audio system with automatic level control, steering- wheel-mounted audio, phone and cruise controls, and dual front USB audio inputs.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Grey 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV
Via: Motor y Racing

The Santa Fe is an SUV with a lot of character. It looks huge and imposing, whilst modern and technological. So, if you’re in the market for an SUV with a premium feel, the Santa FE SEL with its $29,000 price tag is a great choice.

The interior of the Hyundai Santa Fe seeks good ergonomics and comfort. The seats stand out, which not only offer great comfort but also a very high premium look inside with elements that improve life on board.

The Santa Fe comes with a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that generates 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, capable of moving the vehicle with good agility.

In terms of equipment, you get an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, Bluelink® connected car system, wireless device charging, heated outside mirrors, wireless Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay to name a few.

Safety features include ABS, 7 airbags, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, safe exit assist, and forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction turning detection among others.

KIA Sportage

Red 2021 KIA Sportage SUV
Via: KIA

Kia is one of the Asian manufacturers that has best positioned itself in the market, as it has a wide range of models for each segment. With SUVs, the Sportage EX is your best bet with an MSRP price of $28,390.

The Kia Sportage EX comes with a 2.4L 4-Cylinder Engine that makes 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It’s offered with KIA’s six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic®, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, and all-wheel drive.

In terms of safety, it comes equipped with forward collision-avoidance-assist with pedestrian detection, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, and high beam assist.

In the interior of the Sportage you’ll find an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, Smart Key with push-button start, power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear USB Port, SynTex seating materials with heated front seats.

Ford Escape

Red 2021 Ford Escape SUV
Via: Ford

Starting at $27,035, the Ford Escape SE has all the essentials for safe driving and enough power to drive smoothly on the road. Escape can be considered by many as a Crossover, especially because of its size, but if we look at the performance of its engine, the statement loses a bit of sense.

The SE version comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve inline-3 engine, capable of pushing out 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft torque. This engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.

The Escape has all the systems that a modern car should have in the safety department, front, side, knee, driver’s, and curtain airbags. Electronic power steering, stability and traction control, and ABS braking system with EBD brake assist.

In the cabin, there is a touch screen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay compatibility. In addition to the basic AM / FM radio, CD, auxiliary input, and a USB port; all with 6 speakers distributed inside the car.

Buick Encore

White 2021 Buick Encore SUV
Via: Buick

General Motors has one of the largest SUV lineups on the market, with multiple products per segment, but targeting different audiences. Right between the premium and the generalist, we have the Buick Encore GX, starting at $ 24,200, it combines some of the most interesting of the premium world with other details to keep it within the reach of many customers.

Buick used a new 1.3-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque for the Encore GX. It comes with a CVT gearbox that sends all the power to the front axle. The CVT works smoothly in the city, but on the highway, you might struggle above 68 mph if you want to overtake. It takes a while to gain speed, but outside of that, the combination of engine and transmission is good.

In terms of safety, the Encore GX comes with a forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, IntelliBeam® auto high beams, and front pedestrian braking.