Top-Rated 2021 Family SUVs in Appeal According to Consumers

Jack R. Nerad | Sep 15, 2021

If you have a family, you are almost undoubtedly looking for a family-sized SUV that has the most appealing attributes. The answer to that quest is right here in this list of the 11 most appealing family SUVs, according to the consumers who own them. 

2021 Kia Telluride Teaser

As it has done for decades, each year J.D. Power takes the pulse of thousands of verified family SUV owners in order to learn how they feel about their vehicles. And we use the word "feel" advisedly because the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study measures vehicle owners' emotional attachment to their vehicles. 

Consumer responses are aggregated to compute an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale. The higher the index score, the better the model is in terms of overall appeal.

In this article, you'll find the 11 highest-rated 2021 family SUVs for appeal according to their owners. The list of the top-rated 2021 model-year Family SUVs includes Midsize SUVs, Upper Midsize SUVs (typically 3-row models), and Large SUVs. The vehicles are listed in ascending order by index score, so you'll find the most appealing family SUV at the end of the list. 

Of course, in a field as large as this one, all of these listed vehicles have excellent appeal.

11. 2021 Ford Expedition - Find the best Ford deals!

2021 Ford Expedition MAX Front Quarter

The Ford Expedition is a full-size traditional SUV with body-on-frame construction and three rows of seating. Most versions are powered by a 375-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine, while the top-level Platinum trim has a 400-horsepower variation of the engine. Equipped with the heavy-duty trailer tow package, the Expedition offers a 9,300-pound towing capacity. 

With a host of safety and driver-assistance features in its standard Ford Co-Pilot360 array, the Expedition is available in XL, XLT, Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum trims. It is also available in longer-length MAX editions in the same trim levels.

The index score for the 2021 Ford Expedition is 864. The Expedition ties with the Kia Sorento on this list, but they do not tie in the APEAL Study because they are in different vehicle segments.

10. 2021 Kia Sorento - Find the best Kia deals!

2021 Kia Sorento Front Quarter View

The Kia Sorento is redesigned for the 2021 model year. The model's completely new exterior styling is accompanied by an equally new interior that is more luxurious than ever. It features natural materials like open-pore wood and plush details like quilted leather. The SUV offers four powertrains — 191-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 281-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 227-horsepower hybrid, and 261-horsepower plug-in hybrid.

Available in front-drive drive (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations, the Sorento offers five trim levels: LX, S, EX, SX, and SX-Prestige. The SX-Prestige with AWD and the X-Line appearance package is the top-of-the-line model. 

The index score for the 2021 Kia Sorento is 864. The Sorento ties with the Ford Expedition on this list, but because they are in different vehicle segments they do not tie in the APEAL Study.

9. 2021 Mazda CX-9 - Find the best Mazda deals!

2021 Mazda CX-9 Carbon Edition Front Quarter View

The Mazda CX-9 is the brand's flagship midsize crossover SUV. A capable three-row people-hauler, it is also known for its driver-oriented handling and near-luxury interior style. For the 2021 model year, the CX-9 adds a 10.25-inch infotainment display and a blackout-style Carbon Edition trim level with special paint and interior leather.

The Mazda CX-9 is powered by a 250-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine backed up by a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-drive is standard, and the optional AWD system has off-road traction assist. The CX-9 is available in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature.

The index score for the 2021 Mazda CX-9 is 865.

8. 2021 Nissan Murano - Find the best Nissan deals!

2021 Nissan Murano Front Quarter View

An upscale 5-passenger crossover SUV with expressive styling inside and out, the 2021 Nissan Murano comes in four different trim levels. Each is equipped with a 260-horsepower V6 engine and FWD or AWD. Unlike many vehicles in its class, it uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) instead of a conventional multi-gear transmission.

For the 2021 model year, Nissan's Safety Shield 360 collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) became standard on all four trim levels. The Murano is available in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trims. A new-for-2021 Special Edition package includes a dual-panel moonroof, surround-view monitor, and other equipment.

The index score for the 2021 Nissan Murano is 868.

7. 2021 Chevrolet Blazer - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

2021 Chevrolet Blazer Premier Front Quarter View

The Chevrolet Blazer reentered the Chevy lineup in 2019 and it has enjoyed an impressive run in J.D. Power studies ever since. The style-conscious 5-passenger crossover SUV is offered in four major trim levels: L, LT, RS, and Premier. In base form a FWD vehicle, the Blazer offers optional AWD on the majority of its trims. 

Powertrain choices include a 193-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 230-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, and 308-horsepower V6 all backed by 9-speed automatic transmissions. The biggest change for the 2021 model year is the addition of the Chevy Safety Assist package as standard on the top LT models plus RS and Premier trims.

The index score for the 2021 Chevrolet Blazer is 869. The Blazer receives an APEAL award from J.D. Power in the Midsize SUV segment.

6. 2021 Chevrolet Suburban - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

2021 Chevrolet Suburban Front Quarter View

One of the longest-running nameplates in automotive history, the Chevrolet Suburban is a traditional body-on-frame SUV that has become a premier family hauler. With seating capacity for up to nine people in three rows of seats, plus a commodious cargo area, the Suburban delivers a comfortable ride and doesn't feel cumbersome despite its size.

Completely redesigned for 2021, the Suburban offers the choice of two V8s plus an economical turbodiesel engine. For the first time, it has an independent rear suspension that improves handling, ride quality, and cargo space. The Suburban is offered in LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country trim levels.

The index score for the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban is 870.

5. 2021 Hyundai Palisade - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2021 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Front Quarter

In its second year on the market, the Hyundai Palisade is an 8-passenger 3-row SUV that can be fitted with FWD or AWD. It is powered by a 291-hp 3.8-liter V6 backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

The Palisade is offered in four trims: SE, SEL, Limited, and the new-for-2021 Calligraphy. The top-of-the-line Calligraphy model features standard AWD and 20-inch alloy wheels. Hyundai also changed the Palisade's optional packages for the 2021 model year. 

The index score for the 2021 Hyundai Palisade is 873. 

4. 2021 Dodge Durango - Find the best Dodge deals!

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat Gray Front on Track

The Dodge Durango is a midsize 3-row SUV with the heart of a muscle car. Unlike virtually all of its competitors in the midsize SUV segment, it offers V8 power. And its SRT version features a 475-horsepower V8 and special suspension to match. Yet the Durango is a competent family vehicle. 

It will seat up to seven people in three rows, and when properly equipped it will tow loads up to 8,700 pounds. In addition to its V8 engines, it can also be powered by a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Both rear-wheel drive (RWD) and AWD are offered throughout the lineup. 

The index score for the 2021 Dodge Durango is 877. The Durango ties with the GMC Yukon on this list. Because they are in different vehicle segments they do not tie in the APEAL Study.

3. 2021 GMC Yukon - Find the best GMC deals!

2021 GMC Yukon Denali Front Quarter View

The GMC Yukon is a full-size, 3-row SUV with many mechanical similarities to the Chevrolet Tahoe. Completely redone for the 2021 model year, it features its own styling led off by its prominent chrome grille. Its line-topping Denali version also gets its very own interior, including a new instrument panel and second-row seats. 

Sharing its powertrains with the Chevy Tahoe, the GMC Yukon is available in four trims: SLE, SLT, off-road-oriented AT4, and Denali. The Yukon's multi-camera system offers up to nine camera views, and the Yukon also has an available 15-inch color head-up display.

The index score for the 2021 GMC Yukon is 877. The Yukon ties with the Dodge Durango on this list, but because they are in different vehicle segments they do not tie in the APEAL Study.

2. 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 Front Quarter View

A longtime sales leader among full-size SUVs in America, the Chevrolet Tahoe was completely redesigned and re-engineered for the 2021 model year. The truck-based body-on-frame SUV offers three rows of seating in various configurations to suit big families. It's powered by a 355-hp 5.3-liter V8, a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine, or a 277-horsepower 3.0-liter 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine. 

Offered in LS, LT, RST, Z71, Premier, and High Country trims, the Tahoe has a specification to suit a wide variety of buyers. One of the most welcome changes for the 2021 model year is the rear cargo area with substantially more room than before. Also new: a 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment display.

The index score for the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe is 881. The 2021 Tahoe receives a J.D. Power APEAL award in the Large SUV segment.

1. 2021 Kia Telluride - Find the best Kia deals!

2021 Kia Telluride Front Quarter View

Acclaimed by the automotive press and owners alike, the Kia Telluride is a 3-row midsize SUV that hangs its hat on sharp exterior styling and a functional interior. The 2021 edition is largely unchanged from the introductory 2020 model-year version, but the lineup now includes a Nightfall Edition that includes black-out treatments on brightwork and badging.

The Telluride has a single engine — a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-drive is the standard configuration and AWD is a widely available option. The Telluride is available in LX, S, EX, and SX trims.

The index score for the 2021 Kia Telluride is 888. The Telluride receives a J.D. Power APEAL award in the Upper Midsize SUV segment. 

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