What a great year for new SUVs. They’re once again exploding in popularity in large part due to some of the lowest gas prices we’ve seen in years.
When it comes down to choosing a new SUV, though, it can be difficult since there are so many great choices out there. I’ve been lucky enough to test drive a bunch of 2016 and 2017 models.
So without further ado, here is a short list of my favorite five family haulers, so far in 2016, in no particular order. They include the Acura MDX, Nissan Murano, GMC Acadia, Mazda CX-9 and Cadillac XT5.
2017 CADILLAC XT5
There is much to love about the all-new 2017 Cadillac XT5.
This five-seater is one of the more pleasurable SUV’s I’ve driven. My platinum model handles, rides and corners extremely well. The XT5 has Cadillac’s new more aggressive styling. And I love that they tucked the rear wiper under the rear spoiler. It’s also 300 pounds lighter for improved fuel economy.
Inside, it’s incredibly quiet. And it’s true Caddy luxury with real rosewood and oh-so-comfy leather seats. The power lumbar supports have more range than anything I’ve ever been in. I also love the terrific heads-up display. Also have to mention Cadillac’s industry first new rearview “camera” mirror.
2016 Mazda CX-9
The all-new, seven-seater 2016 Mazda CX-9 is a surprise in all the right ways.
Let’s start with the biggest shocker – the inside. I’m blown away by how luxurious it is. You’d think you were in a Lexus or Audi. Mazda used just the right amount of aluminum and genuine rosewood. It’s also so much quieter over the outgoing model. Mazda did a great job cutting road noise down. The CX-9 also offers great storage with an easy to fold down third-seat.
I’m impressed with the paint quality on my Signature model. A lot of people remarked how pretty this SUV was during my test drive.
Under the hood, a new 2.5-liter turbo engine and six-speed automatic delivers 227-horses on regular fuel, and 250-horses if you fill up with premium. Plus, it has an amazing 310 pound-feet of torque.
2016 ACURA MDX
The three-row 2016 Acura MDX is also fantastic.
I don’t say this a lot, but this SUV is a ton of fun to drive. I love its all-wheel drive driving dynamics. It’s three distinct drive modes are also great.
I also love the strong, acceleration on this SUV. It delivers 290-horses, terrific for a SUV this size. I also love the way the 9-speed transmission shifts. Unlike many of the 8- and 9-speed transmissions I’ve tested, you never feel like you’re searching for the right gear. A pushbutton transmission is new for 2016.
The interior is quiet and super-plush, with materials soft to the touch. I like the two color screens above the center console. Also, if you’re a cubby person this is the SUV for you.
2016 NISSAN MURANO
Next up to the plate we have the 2016 Nissan Murano.
First, can we just talk about the Nasa-inspired seats! My platinum model came with the most comfortable, plush leather seats I’ve ever sat in.
Nissan redesigned this five-passenger midsize SUV last year. It’s one of the most aerodynamic SUVs on the road, with better fuel economy than in previous years.
It also offers one of the best front and rear view cameras you can get. Plus the surround view camera gives you a spectacular overhead view.
It has a Continually Variable Transmission. I don’t love CVTs but this one is smooth and responsive. It’s also another key to great fuel economy for a large SUV that weighs in at 4,000 pounds.
2017 GMC ACADIA
Last, but not least, the 2017 GMC Acadia. My test vehicle is the top-of-the-line Denali version with all-wheel drive.
GMC downsized this SUV big time. It’s 700 pounds lighter on the scales. So it’s more fuel efficient and nimble. It’s easier to drive, park, and make a U-turn in. Note, the smaller size reduces the third-row seat room to pretty much just for kids.
The Acadia’s big standout feature is GM’s new rear seat reminder system. It you open either rear door, it reminds you to check the back seat when you get to your destination. It’s designed to keep people from forgetting kids in the backseat. The driver alert package, which vibrates the seat if you stray out of your lane, is also worth a mention.
GMC also greatly improved the Acadia’s interior quality and quietness.