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Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs


PUBLISHED FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2021

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: New Hero | CarMax

Get ready to load up and head out.

If you're looking for a spacious vehicle with plenty of room for camping gear, groceries, sports equipment, and more, an SUV is an excellent choice. Whether you're seeking something small for city living or something a little bigger for longer journeys with lots of people and things, it's great to have cargo capacity to spare.

To help you in your search for an SUV with the best cargo space, we've compiled a list of the most spacious SUVs based on CarMax sales data from November 1, 2020, through April 30, 2021. Read on to explore the best cargo space SUVs by category: compact SUVs, midsize SUVs, and full-size SUVs.

Compact SUVs

  1. Nissan Rogue

  2. GMC Terrain

  3. Ford Escape

  4. Honda CR-V

  5. Toyota RAV4

Midsize SUVs

  1. Ford Explorer

  2. Acura MDX

  3. Honda Pilot

  4. Toyota 4Runner

  5. Toyota Highlander

Full-Size SUVs

  1. Buick Enclave

  2. Chevrolet Traverse

  3. Ford Expedition

  4. GMC Yukon XL 1500

  5. Chevrolet Suburban 1500

Compact SUVs

5.

Nissan Rogue

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Nissan Rogue | CarMax

This capable crossover is filled with the latest technology, which can make your daily commute and city errands a breeze. If you're the kind of person who always has their arms full, take a look at the 2019 Nissan Rogue SV. This model's motion-activated liftgate just needs a wave of your foot to give you access to the 39.3 cu ft of cargo space behind the second row—or a whopping 70 cu ft with the second row folded. Cargo capacity drops to 27.3 cu ft and 61.4 cu ft respectively in the 2019 Rogue hybrid model.

Here's what you can expect on the 2019 gas-engine Nissan Rogue:

  • EZ FLEX® seating system with second-row split-folding, sliding, and reclining seat with pass-through

  • Divide-N-Hide® cargo system

  • Motion-activated liftgate (SV, SL, and hybrid models)

  • Rear privacy glass (S trim special edition, SV, SL, and hybrid models)

4.

GMC Terrain

2021 GMC Terrain SLT EVOXBest Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: GMC Terrain | CarMax

The GMC Terrain offers a first-class experience in a compact SUV. For ultimate comfort, look for the 2018-2020 GMC Terrain Denali. The contemporary styling is full of soft-touch materials that offer a sumptuous experience. Combine this with the wealth of entertainment features in 2018-2020 models, and you've got an ideal vehicle for long trips. There's a premium Bose® sound system in all 2018-2020 Denali models; look for the GMC infotainment system on all SLT models from 2018 onward.

As for cargo space, the 2018-2020 Terrain features 29.6 cu ft behind the rear seats and 63.3 cu ft with them folded. This is more than enough space for shopping bags, sports gear, or even a bicycle. What's more, the front passenger seat folds to accommodate items up to eight feet long, with a total space of 81 cu ft.

Here are the standard features you can expect on the 2018-2019 GMC Terrain:

  • Fold-flat front-passenger seat and 60/40 split-folding second row

  • Front and rear 110V power outlets

  • Hands-free power programmable liftgate (Denali trim)

3.

Ford Escape

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Ford Escape | CarMax

The Ford Escape is a fun-to-drive compact SUV with sporty handling and plenty of space for your around-town needs. It boasts a wealth of standard features across 2017-2019 models, and it benefited from a full refresh for the 2020 model year. The 2017-2019 Escape offers a great mix of comfort and athleticism, making it great for long stints in traffic as well as fun trips to the countryside.

Behind the second row, you'll find 34 cu ft of cargo space on 2017-2019 models. This opens up to 68 cu ft with the rear seats folded, offering plenty of room for luggage on your next vacation.

You can expect these features on the 2019 Ford Escape:

  • Rear 60/40 split fold-flat bench

  • Four 12V power outlets, including one in the cargo area

  • Available hands-free foot-activated liftgate

  • Available interior cargo cover

2.

Honda CR-V

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

If you value a calm interior, this high-tech compact SUV is a great choice. Looking for a great mix of features without jumping to higher trims? Shop for the 2019 Honda CR-V EX with available all-wheel drive for added grip in winter—though the front-wheel-drive model is capable as well. The 2019 EX trim also features a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto capability.

Inside, you'll find 39.2 cu ft of cargo space on all 2017-2020 models except the Touring trim, which has 37.6 cu ft of space. Drop the rear seats on standard models and you'll find a huge 75.8 cu ft, demonstrating that a compact SUV doesn't have to be small.

You'll find these standard features across 2017-2020 Honda CR-V models:

  • Multi-angle rearview camera

  • Rear privacy glass (from EX trim)

  • Power tailgate with programmable height (from EX-L trim)

  • Cargo area tie-down anchors

  • Cargo area lights

  • Driver-assistance features (from EX trim)

1.

Toyota RAV4

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Toyota RAV4 | CarMax

If you love adventure, the Toyota RAV4 is an excellent choice. Not only do you get a spacious vehicle, but the blend of sport and utility checks all sorts of boxes. The 2.5L engine that comes standard on 2018-2020 models is well-suited to running up highway miles, but there's a hybrid model available if you're looking for electric power.

You'll find 37.6 cu ft of space behind the second row, and 69.8 cu ft behind the first row. Combine this with available all-wheel drive and you've got a compact SUV that was made for off-road excursions. The 2019 Adventure trim ups the ante with roof rails and a deck-mounted power outlet, making camping trips easier than ever—even if you have lots of stuff.

Significant features of the 2019 Toyota RAV4 include:

  • Rear cargo area cover (optional on LE; standard from XLE)

  • Rear liftgate window defogger

  • Height-adjustable rear cargo area deck board

  • Rear cargo area deckside-mounted storage net (standard from Adventure trim)

Midsize SUVs

5.

Ford Explorer

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Ford Explorer | CarMax

This three-row SUV offers a host of options, whether you're hitting the carpool lane on weekdays or taking camping trips on weekends. With plenty of interior cargo space, you'll be able to load up with whatever you need. On 2017-2019 Explorers, you'll find 21 cu ft of space behind the third row, which is plenty for groceries and duffel bags when you've got a full load of passengers. There's 43.9 cu ft of space with the third row folded, or a total cargo volume of 81.7 cu ft behind the first row.

If all that interior space isn't enough, you could always hitch up a trailer for even more practicality. Ford's 2019 models with either the 3.5L EcoBoost® engine or 3.5L V6 can tow an estimated 5,000 lbs, when properly equipped.1

You'll find these standard features on the 2017-2019 Ford Explorer:

  • Second-row 60/40 split fold-flat seat

  • PowerFold® third-row seat

  • Standard rearview camera with washer and backup assist grid lines

  • Privacy glass

  • Cargo tie-down hooks and cargo net hooks

  • 10 cup holders

4.

Acura MDX

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Acura MDX | CarMax

This is a performance SUV with a low stance that speaks to its sporty nature. If you want to live the high-octane lifestyle, look for the A-Spec package on 2019 models. The bold red interior makes a clear statement and exterior details give it an aggressive look. If you'd rather have your performance credentials a little less obvious, you'll love the fact that the 2019 Acura MDX has plenty of power from standard, thanks to its 290-hp, 3.5L V6 engine. Add Acura's super-handling all-wheel drive and you've got a machine made for sweeping mountain roads and wilderness treks.

Wherever you want to go, you know you can bring plenty of stuff with you, too. You could fill up three rows with passengers in 2017-2019 MDX models and still get 15 cu ft of space. That opens up to 38.4 cu ft with the third row folded, or 68.4 cu ft with the second row folded.

You'll find these standard features on all 2017-2019 Acura MDX models:

  • Electric parking brake with automatic brake hold

  • Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines

  • Third-row access via one-touch smart-slide walk-in

  • Power-operated tailgate

3.

Honda Pilot

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Honda Pilot | CarMax

The Honda Pilot received a significant refresh in 2019, with plenty of new exterior details and interior features. Inside, you'll find three rows of seating for seven or eight people (depending on the trim) and a wealth of in-demand technology from the base level. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity became available in 2017, and the 2019 refresh added wireless charging for compatible devices, driver-assistance features, and more.

If you're going to use the 2019 Honda Pilot for recreation, you'll be pleased with its interior space. Behind the third row, you'll get 16.5 cu ft of storage, which opens up to 46.8 cu ft behind the second row. If you have lots of stuff to carry, fold all the seats for 83.9 cu ft of space—enough for ski gear, golf clubs, or mountain bikes. Keep in mind that the cargo space drops slightly in the top-tier Elite trim, thanks to second-row captain's chairs.

Here's what you'll find on all 2019 Honda Pilots:

  • Honda Sensing® driver-assistance features

  • Available hands-free power tailgate (Touring and Elite trims)

  • Third-row access via one-touch walk-in feature

  • Ground clearance of 7.3 inches

2.

Toyota 4Runner

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Toyota 4Runner | CarMax

The Toyota 4Runner can make life easy no matter what errands you're running or new places you're exploring. Get off the beaten path with available all-wheel drive on 2018-2020 models, and consider taking some toys along for the ride, too. The 2019 Toyota 4Runner with the V6 engine can tow an estimated 5,000 lbs, when properly equipped (all trims).1

On 2018-2019 models, you'll find 9 cu ft of space behind the third row, 47.2 cu ft behind the second row, and a full 88.8 cu ft behind the front row. The optional sliding cargo deck on 2018-2020 models offers the most workable space when you're getting things in and out of your 4Runner—making it a great choice if you regularly go camping or fishing—but it reduces cargo space by about 1 cu ft.

Enjoy these standard features on the 2019 Toyota 4Runner:

  • Power rear liftgate window with auto up/down and jam protection

  • Privacy glass on the rear side, quarter, and rear liftgate windows

  • Rearview camera

  • 120V AC power outlet and 12V DC power outlet in the cargo area

  • Ground clearance of 9 inches (rear-wheel drive) or 9.6 inches (all-wheel drive)

1.

Toyota Highlander

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Toyota Highlander | CarMax

The Toyota Highlander is an explorer's dream, with seating for up to eight, available all-wheel drive, and more. Third-generation models (2013-2019) are particularly well-equipped to go off the beaten path, but all Highlanders are versatile. Even if this SUV never saw a dirt track, it would be happy doing the school run, entertaining passengers on road trips, or carpooling with your colleagues.

If ample space is a must-have, the 2018-2019 Toyota Highlander could be the SUV for you. Behind the third row, there's 13.8 cu ft of space for your daily cargo. This opens up to 42.3 cu ft behind the second row and 83.7 cu ft with all rear seats folded.

You'll find these standard features across all 2018-2019 Toyota Highlanders:

  • Four cargo area tie-down cargo hooks

  • Cargo area lights

  • Privacy glass on the rear side, quarter, and liftgate windows

  • Integrated rearview camera with projected path

  • Rear liftgate window defogger

  • Eight cup holders and four bottle holders

  • 60/40 split, fold-flat third-row seat with sliding headrests and recline function

Full-Size SUVs

5.

Buick Enclave

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Buick Enclave | CarMax

The driver-focused cockpit of this SUV is bound to please, regardless of whether you're running around town, hitting the highway, or rounding up the crew for a family road trip. Part of the Enclave's second generation, all 2018-2020 models feature a 3.6L V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver 310 hp.

Passenger capacity is seven on 2018-2020 models, with upper trims offering third-row power-folding rear seats. On all 2018-2020 models, you'll find 23.6 cu ft of space behind the third row, 58.0 cu ft behind the second row, and 97.6 cu ft behind the first row.

Look for these standard features on the 2018-2020 Buick Enclave:

  • Hands-free power liftgate.

  • QuietTuning with active noise cancellation

  • Smart Slide® second-row seating

  • 60/40 split-folding third-row seats (with available power-folding from Premium trim onward)

  • Roof rails

  • Rearview camera

4.

Chevrolet Traverse

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Chevrolet Traverse | CarMax

With a range of trims to suit a variety of lifestyles, the Chevrolet Traverse is a great choice if you're looking for a versatile SUV. The 2019 Traverse High Country is the high-end trim that elevates the driving experience with a large sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a power-folding third-row. 2018-2020 models come with a standard 3.6L V6 engine or an optional 2.0L turbo.

You'll find roof rails from the LT trim to expand your carrying capacity, but inside the Traverse you'll also find plenty of space. On 2018-2020 models, there's 23 cu ft of storage space behind the third row, 57.8 cu ft behind the second row, and 98.2 cu ft behind the first row. All you need to do is decide where you're going and load up.

This is what you can expect from the 2018-2019 Chevrolet Traverse:

  • Surround vision with bird's-eye view (from RS trim)

  • Teen driver technology

  • Roof rails (from LT trim)

  • 10 cup holders

  • Tinted glass (from LS trim)

3.

Ford Expedition

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Ford Expedition | CarMax

Now in its fourth generation, which began in 2018, the Ford Expedition is a real crowd-pleaser. The standard model from 2019 has plenty of cargo space, with 16.5 cu ft behind the third row, 46.8 cu ft behind the second row, and 83.9 cu ft behind the first row. If you think you'll need even more space, shop for the 2019 Ford Expedition Max, which is almost a foot longer and offers an additional 16.9 cu ft of space for all the extra things you want to take on your next road trip. That takes the total capacity to 100.8 cu ft on Max models.

In addition to the 40/20/40 split-folding middle row and the 60/40 power-fold third row, you'll get ample storage space on all Expedition models from 2018, thanks to handy bins throughout the cabin. This is an SUV you and your passengers can really spread out in.

2018-2019 Ford Expeditions include these standard features:

  • Privacy glass

  • Cargo management system

  • Cargo net

  • Cargo protector

  • Rear cargo area lights

  • 15 cup holders

2.

GMC Yukon XL 1500

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: GMC Yukon | CarMax

If you're looking for plenty of space as well as seating for up to nine, the GMC Yukon XL 1500 is a great choice. Want to carry the maximum of nine people and no less? Shop for the 2017-2020 SLE trim. But this large SUV does more than carry passengers. The flat, easy-load cargo area can make shifting big items a breeze, and the available hands-free liftgate on 2017-2021 models is handy if you've got lots of stuff to move.

You'll love that the 2017-2020 GMC Yukon XL is practical even with the third row in use, offering 39.3 cu ft of cargo space with all seats in place. Lower the third row and you'll get 76.7 cu ft of space, with a total of 121.7 cu ft with all seats folded. This gives you so many options when it comes to DIY projects, family holidays, or big shopping trips.

Look for these features on the 2019 GMC Yukon XL:

  • Available power-release fold-and-tumble second-row seats

  • Available third-row power fold-flat seats

  • Standard front and rear parking sensors

  • Underfloor cargo management system

  • Standard rearview camera

  • Available hands-free power programmable liftgate (from SLT trim)

1.

Chevrolet Suburban 1500

Best Cargo Space: Comparing SUVs: Chevrolet Suburban | CarMax

At the top of our list as the best cargo space SUV is the Chevrolet Suburban 1500, which enters its twelfth generation for the 2021 model year. You'll find luxury touches, capable handling, and a spacious interior across all recent models of the Suburban. 2017-2020 models offer cool storage features, including a hidden cargo area in the dash, which can only be accessed by inputting a password into the eight-inch touchscreen. This gives you a secure place to store valuables such as your phone or wallet.

In terms of hauling capacity, you'll find 39.3 cu ft of cargo space behind the third row, 76.7 cu ft behind the second row, and 121.7 cu ft with all seats folded. Whether you use that space for running errands around town or you fill it to the brim with sporting equipment for a trip to the lake, the 2017-2020 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 has you covered. Add to this a range of configurations, including the luxurious Denali trim, and you're bound to find a Suburban that fits your lifestyle and cargo-hauling needs.

Look for these features on the 2019 Chevrolet Suburban 1500:

  • Rearview camera

  • Rear park assist

  • Cargo lights

  • Underfloor cargo management system in rear cargo area

  • Cargo net

  • Programmable power liftgate (from LT trim)

  • Power-folding 60/40 split-bench third-row seat (from Premier trim)

When you're shopping for a spacious SUV, you have lots of choices. Compact SUVs have plenty of room for your hobbies, luggage, and other things, but if you want to max out the storage capabilities of your next SUV, consider the large and midsize options.

Need more inspiration? Take a look at these related articles:

1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.


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