, Consumer Reports only recommends five 2021 models. In fact, the top spot is shared by the 2021 Subaru Outback and its 2022 counterpart.
Consumer Reports determines its recommendations using a comprehensive rating system. When ranking each model, it takes into account a variety of factors, including predicted reliability, predicted owner satisfaction, road test score, overall
, acceleration, braking, routine handling, emergency handling, ride, and noise.
Consumer Reports considers how each model scores in these categories, and then synthesizes the result into an overall score. This score determines whether or not they recommend the vehicle to consumers.
The top five 2021 midsize SUVs, according to CR
Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Subaru Outback the highest overall score of the 2021 midsize SUV models, at 86 out of 100. The price of this model ranges from $30,995–$43,995.
The 2021 Ford Edge was ranked second, coming in at 83. This model costs between $36,399–$49,499. In third is the 2021 Nissan Murano, at 79, which costs between $34,098–$46,898.
In fourth is the 2021 Toyota Venza, with 78 and a price of between $38,490–$47,690. The fifth and final 2021 midsize SUV recommended by Consumer Reports is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. This model came in at 76 points, with a price of between $31,399–$47,499.
While the Subaru Outback received the highest overall score, each recommended model has its strengths and weaknesses. In fact, though the Subaru Outback scored well in most categories, the model missed the mark in a few places. Similarly, though the Toyota Venza and Hyundai Santa Fe had the lowest scores out of the recommended models, both models excelled in certain categories.
For example, the Subaru Outback didn’t fare as well as other 2021 models in terms of reliability. In fact, all the other recommended 2021 models—the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Toyota Venza, and Hyundai Santa Fe—were all given a higher reliability rating than the Subaru Outback.
Additionally, when it came to predicted owner satisfaction, the Subaru Outback attained the same score as the lower-ranking Toyota Venza and Hyundai Santa Fe. The Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano trailed behind in this category.
Where the Subaru Outback really began to shine was with their road test score. The model’s score was by far the highest, coming in at a whopping 91. The next-highest score belonged to the Ford Edge, at only 84. The Nissan Murano scored 77; the Toyota Venza, 75; and the Hyundai Santa Fe, 76.
Meanwhile, the Toyota Venza took the cake when it came to CR’s overall mileage, with 37 mpg. The Hyundai Santa Fe and the Subaru Outback tied for second, with 24 mpg, while the Ford Edge scored 22 mpg and the Nissan Murano, 21 mpg.
In terms of acceleration from 0-60, the Subaru Outback was once again in the lead, taking only 7.1 seconds. The Ford Edge and Nissan Murano were both a bit slower, at 7.7 seconds, and the Toyota Venza was slower still, at 7.8 seconds. The Hyundai Santa Fe lagged far behind at 10 seconds.
While all five models scored comparably well in routine handling, emergency handling, and noise, the Subaru Outback earned the highest ride quality score.
And the winner for best 2021 midsize SUV is…
The contest for best 2021 midsize SUV was a close call, with the Subaru Outback only scoring three points higher than the next-best option. Each recommended model was highly-ranked in some categories and less so in others, and thus different models will appeal to different consumers. Interested buyers should decide which categories matter most to them and make their decision accordingly.
That being said, the 2021 Subaru midsize SUV is an all-round good bet, with high scores in almost every category. The fact that the 2021 model is tied in first with its 2022 counterpart further boosts the Subaru Outback’s status as the top-recommended midsize SUV of this year.
Isabel is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She holds a master's of English literature from the University of Toronto, where she worked as a student journalist for four years. In her free time, Isabel loves to read, write, and cook, and she serves as the blog news editor for Toronto feminist magazine Shameless. You can find her writing in places like This magazine, She Does the City, and U of T News.