Best deals on SUVs

Big savings on versatile sport-utility vehicles

Published: March 10, 2015 11:00 AM

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With the brunt of winter (hopefully) behind us, now is a great time to look for deals on SUVs. Scouring the latest incentives, we’ve found significant savings available on many models.

As is often the case, those vehicles with the deepest discounts tend to be older models, due for imminent replacement. With the case of the Kia Sorento, a new model is already at dealerships.

This list is strictly based on dollars saved. (Our Best New Car Deals list routinely covers just models that meet the stringent performance, reliability, and safety criteria to be Consumer Reports recommended.) Although we highlight one specific configuration, there are similar savings available on other variations.

Each vehicle highlighted below is available with a 5- to 15-percent discount off the retail price in national incentives. Some may also carry additional regional or other special incentives. Specific pricing details on these and other trim variations are available on the model pages, along with complete road tests, reliability, owner cost, and other key information. The vehicles are listed in alphabetical order.

Consumer Reports Build & Buy

When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of more than 9,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Buick Enclave

Even after six years on the market, the large Enclave remains a competitive three-row SUV. We liked its firm, comfortable, and quiet ride and its agile, secure handling. But like its corporate cousins, the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, it's beginning to show its age. The 3.6-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic are smooth and powerful enough, but at times they work hard in this large SUV, and its 15-mpg overall is paltry. A big plus is the ability to fit adults in the roomy third row. Fit and finish is impressive, and for 2015 forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems are available.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Buick Enclave Premium AWD 3/31/15 $50,230 $48,751 $2,979
Photo: Alan Vanderkaay

Cadillac SRX

Cadillac's SRX luxury SUV straddles the divide between slightly smaller compact competitors like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 and larger competition like the Lexus RX. Handling is fairly agile and the ride balances being taut yet supple. The extremely well-appointed cabin features very supportive front seats. The rear seat is fairly snug. Acceleration is ample yet lackluster transmission response means the heavy SRX still manages to feel underpowered despite the powerful direct-injected 308-hp, 3.6-liter V6. The CUE infotainment system controls are complicated, hurting the SRX’s overall road test score. The rear seat is also fairly snug. Reliability has been average.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Cadillac SRX Premium AWD 4/30/15 $52,725 $50,397 $3,552
Photo: AJ Mueller

Dodge Journey

Dodge's midsized SUV seats five, with an optional third row that theoretically increases seating to seven. Although the 3.6-liter V6 delivers strong performance, we were able to muster only a worst-in-class 16-mpg overall from it in our tests. A thriftier but noisier 2.4-liter engine is available on front-wheel-drive versions. Despite its recently updated interior appointments, the Journey remains mediocre overall. It rides fairly well and the cabin stays quiet, but the Journey's lack of agility makes it feel larger than it is. Drivers sit tall in the Journey, with a good view out to the front and sides and over the low gauges. Even tall drivers found good head and leg room behind the tilt-and-telescoping steering column.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Dodge Journey Limited AWD 3/31/15 $33,790 $32,111 $3,484

Ford Expedition

The big news about this big SUV is that the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine has made its way under the hood with a 2015 freshening. The V6 pulls a double win, delivering more power and better fuel economy than the old V8 it replaces. Paired with the standard six-speed automatic transmission, ours returned 14-mpg overall in testing—a 1-mpg improvement. The V6 also has plenty of torque for trailer towing. New features include Sync with MyFord Touch, push-button start, and blind-spot monitoring. Regular- and long-wheelbase versions are available, as well as eight-passenger seating. And that's where the fun stops. Handling is clumsy, and the aging Expedition still trails all others in the category with its noisy, cheap-feeling interior.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Ford Expedition EL Platinum 4WD 3/31/15 $65,515 $62,580 $2,930

GMC Acadia

Though it's starting to feel a little dated, the Acadia is still competitive among three-row SUVs. Like its twins, the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, it has a spacious and quiet interior, with a third-row seat that's roomy enough for adults. Seating for eight is available. Handling is relatively agile and secure, with responsive steering, and the ride is comfortable and steady. Its 3.6-liter V6 is smooth and refined, but it has to work hard and it gets mediocre gas mileage. Upgraded touch-screen infotainment systems bring more capability. Rear visibility isn't great, but clever extra mirrors reduce side blind spots. Denali versions have more features but no better functionality or performance. Reliability has been average.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 GMC Acadia AWD Denali 3/31/15
$50,615 $49,124 $2,991
Photo: AJ Mueller

Jeep Compass

Despite the front face mimicking the look of the Grand Cherokee, it remains outdated and uncompetitive. Its low-speed ride is composed, and handling is secure but not agile. The sluggish 2.4-liter four-cylinder returned 22-mpg overall. The upright front seats are narrow and are not particularly comfortable, and the cabin is cramped. Controls are straightforward, and the basic interior is austere. The high rear window makes the cabin feel claustrophobic, though, and the styling restricts visibility to the rear. The Compass is an affordable way to buy a new Jeep, but it isn’t the best example of the pedigree.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Jeep Compass Limited 4x4 3/31/15 $29,190 $28,147 $3,096

Jeep Patriot

With looks reminiscent of the previous-generation Jeep Cherokee, the Patriot soldiers on unchanged against fresher competition. A small, car-based SUV derived from the Dodge Caliber and mechanically similar to the Jeep Compass, the Patriot remains a mediocre vehicle overall. Handling is unimpressive, and even the up-level engine that comes with all-wheel-drive versions feels sluggish and sounds noisy. To its credit, the Patriot has an absorbent ride and well-suppressed road noise, and mostly simple controls. Reliability has been average.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Jeep Patriot Limited 4x4 3/31/15 $27,690 $26,667 $3,301
Photo: Bruce Benedict

Kia Sorento

Sitting alongside an impressive, all-new Sorento, remaining 2015 Sorentos at dealerships should be poised to move. This Sorento offers lots of interior space yet is easily maneuverable and not too bulky in day-to-day driving. Its refined V6 averaged 20 mpg overall in our tests. The ride is a little jiggly, and handling, though responsive and secure, isn’t exactly sporty. Comprehensive infotainment and electronic connectivity features are available and work well. The EX trim brings comfortable leather seats among its long list of features. An optional third-row seat, though tiny, is OK for small children. Reliability of the V6 version is average; the four-cylinder is unknown.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Kia Sorento Limited V6 2WD 5/4/15 $40,795 $38,810 $3,197
Photo: Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander

With its tight, kids-only third-row seat, the Outlander is one of the few small SUVs that provide seating for up to seven people. Effective air conditioning is one of its only strong points. Otherwise, the Outlander handles clumsily and feels like a larger vehicle. The ride is fairly stiff. The sluggish four-cylinder acceleration is accompanied by raucous engine noise, but the available V6 is smooth and refined. The Outlander is the only small SUV to offer a Six. The loud cabin is dressed in trim that looks cheap and feels insubstantial. Its 23-mpg overall is decent for this class but is nothing special. There are several better competitors, making the deal one of the more compelling elements for the Outlander.

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD GT 3/31/15 $29,045 $28,106 $2,564
Photo: Nissan

Nissan Pathfinder

Pathfinder has transformed from a truck-based workhorse into a softer, gentler, car-based SUV with three rows and seven seats. An enlarged interior and easier access moves it closer to a family-friendly minivan substitute, which could be a good thing. We found that the 3.5-liter V6 and CVT delivered respectable acceleration, while returning 18-mpg overall in our tests. The ride is comfortable enough, but handling lacks agility. Towing capability is competitive at 5,000-pounds. The cabin is quiet and spacious, the controls are fairly easy to master, and the passenger-side rear seat can be moved forward with a child seat installed, aiding access to the way back. A hybrid with a 2.5-liter, supercharged four-cylinder is optional. Updates for 2015 include available blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. 

Make & model Expires MSRP Invoice Potential savings off MSRP
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD Platinum 3/31/15
$43,985 $41,012 $3,192

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