Midsize SUVs are generally considered to be spacious, convenient, and practical.
These vehicles accommodate five to seven passengers and can often tackle rugged terrain and have some degree of offroad capability – although some offer better ride height than others.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the more popular midsize SUVs that have the best ground clearance.
Table of Contents
Mazda CX-9 (8.8 inches)
The CX-9 is one of the more unique three-row midsize SUVs in today’s market as it is known for creating a great blend between style, driving experience, and overall performance.
It began as a 2007 model year in North America and is fast approaching its 20th year in the market.
The ground clearance of a standard Mazda CX-9 is 8.8 inches, which is the best in its class of vehicles. Replacing the stock tires of your CX-9 with a bigger set of wheels can give you an additional inch of clearance.
There are 5 trim levels to choose from, including the entry-level Touring trim, the midrange Carbon Edition, and the top-spec Signature Edition.
The CX-9 offers advanced safety features such as smart city brake support and lane keeping assistance.
When purchased brand new, expect to spend anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 to acquire a CX-9.
Subaru Ascent (8.7 inches)
The Subaru Ascent is a standout in its three-row midsize SUV class for its reliable all-wheel-drive system, various standard safety features, and solid build quality.
Estimates have shown the Ascent to be quite good with fuel management, securing 22 miles per gallon for combined driving, 20 miles per gallon for city driving, and 26 miles per gallon for highway driving.
The ground clearance of a standard Subaru Ascent is 8.7 inches. Paired with Subaru’s patented X-MODE, the Ascent would be able to conquer rough terrain with relative ease.
There are 5 trim levels to choose from, the most popular of which is the Limited Edition trim level, which costs approximately $41,000.
Owners have praised this vehicle for being consistent over the years and reliable in tough situations (such as during rainy weather or snowstorms).
The Ascent has also performed admirably in standard tests, with most of the latest model years securing a 5-star overall rating from NHTSA.
Kia Telluride (8.4 inches)
The Telluride is an impressive three-row midsize SUV that is as luxurious as it is satisfying to drive.
Its impressive tech features, various safety features, and adult-friendly third-row seating make it a worthy pick for any family.
It is a relatively new model, having first been introduced as a 2020 model year in the United States.
The ground clearance of a Kia Telluride is up to 8.4 inches. The Telluride is built to withstand prolonged offroad adventures with its excellent brake system and precise steering mechanics.
The Telluride offers a lot of variety as it can come in a total of 10 variants/trim levels, starting with the entry-level LX and S trims all the way to the top-spec SX Prestige X-Line and SX Prestige X-Pro variants.
Notable safety features include a blindspot view monitor, safe exit assist, and highway drive assist system.
The price range of the Telluride is quite wide, beginning at approximately $37,000 and ending at around $55,000.
Jeep Grand Cherokee (8.4 inches)
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is comfortable, spacious, and is in a class of its own in terms of offroad features and capabilities.
Fuel economy, on the other hand, may need a bit of improvement, as combined driving results place estimates at around 17 miles per gallon to 22 miles per gallon.
The ground clearance of a typical Jeep Grand Cherokee is a respectable 8.4 inches. While not the best on this list, fans of the model are left with two great options to boost clearance – the installation of an air suspension which increases ground clearance to 10.9 inches or the purchase of the popular Trailhawk variant which grants a ground clearance of 11.3 inches.
There are a total of 5 trim levels to choose from, with the midrange Limited Edition, priced at approximately $48,000, being the most popular.
Reviews were mostly positive. The major theme was how complete the Grand Cherokee was in terms of features and performance.
Hyundai Santa Fe (8.2 inches)
The Santa Fe provides owners with impressive acceleration, wonderful fuel economy, and upscale interior design at more-than-reasonable prices.
According to test drives, the Santa Fe can definitely meet (or even exceed) EPA estimates, which has rated the model at 24 miles per gallon for combined driving, 21 miles per gallon for city driving, and 28 miles per gallon for highway driving.
The ground clearance of a standard Hyundai Santa Fe is 8.2 inches. This value varies depending on trim level, add-on packages installed, and model year purchased.
There are five trim levels to choose from, starting with the amazingly priced SE trim level (approximately $30,000) and ending with the top-spec calligraphy model (approximately $44,000).
Among the numerous standard safety features included, there are three unique functions worth noting: the forward collision avoidance system, safe exit assist, and surround view monitor.
Honda Passport (8.1 inches)
The Honda Passport is a versatile midsize SUV that is viewed as an athletic performer in terms of both design and performance, without sacrificing ride safety and comfort.
EPA estimates place the fuel efficiency of the Passport at 21 miles per gallon for combined driving, 19 miles per gallon for city driving, and 24 miles per gallon for highway driving.
The ground clearance of a Honda Passport is 8.1 inches, sufficient enough to allow its owner to trudge through muddy terrain or a nasty snowstorm.
There are only 3 trim levels to choose from: EX-L, TrailSport, and Elite.
Owners have shown tremendous love and admiration for the Japanese automaker’s midsize SUV, claiming that it is consistent, comfortable, and spacious.
The latest model years were also able to garner a perfect 5-star NHTSA overall rating, making the Passport one of the safest SUVs to drive.
Toyota Highlander (8 inches)
The Highlander is one of the most popular three-row midsize SUVs in the modern era, thanks to its superb comfort and above-average fuel efficiency.
Known as the Toyota Kluger and the Toyota Crown Kluger in other nations, the Highlander was first introduced as a 2001 model year in North America.
The Toyota Highlander has a ground clearance of 8 inches, which is reasonably decent as it falls right in the middle of this list. Fortunately, the wheel well of the Highlander is spacious enough to fit bigger tires which could increase clearance to about 9 inches.
There are 6 available trim levels, beginning with the entry-level L trim all the way to the premium Platinum Edition.
Notable safety features of the model include a pre-collision with pedestrian detection system, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and lane departure alert with steering assist.
The pricing is also reasonable, given the build quality and standard features. Expect to spend anywhere from $37,000 to $50,000 on a brand new Highlander.
Ford Edge (8 inches)
The Ford Edge is a midsize SUV that boasts expansive luggage space, a spacious cabin, and a user-friendly touchscreen infotainment system, among other great benefits.
Driving test estimates have this SUV’s fuel economy at 23 miles per gallon for combined driving, 21 miles per gallon for city driving, and 28 miles per gallon for highway driving.
The Ford Edge has a ground clearance of 8 inches, which is quite average with respect to this list but is better than most of the other SUVs offered in today’s market.
The Edge comes in 5 trim levels, namely: SE, SEL, ST-Line, Titanium, and ST.
Owners have provided a lot of great feedback for the Edge, with roominess as the common thing among most reviews.
In its lifetime, the Edge has belonged to a handful of noteworthy accolades and categories, including “Best Cars for Families,” “Top Safety Pick,” and “10 Best Engines.”
Hyundai Palisade (7.9 inches)
The Palisade is a great three-row midsize SUV as it is packed with value, comfort, and mechanical capability.
It is a relatively new model in the market. The very first model was released as a 2020 model year in the United States.
The ground clearance of the Hyundai Palisade is 7.9 inches, which means that this SUV is capable enough of being driven through rocky or uneven terrain when necessary but grounded enough to give a relatively stable and comfortable ride on normal roads and highways.
There are 5 trim levels to choose from, including the base-level SE trim (approximately $37,000) and the premium Calligraphy Edition (approximately $51,000).
Advanced safety features of the model include: forward collision-avoidance assist, safe exit assist, and surround view monitor.
Ford Explorer (7.9 inches)
The Ford Explorer is a rare breed in the midsize SUV segment. It is praised for its balance, infotainment features, and standard safety capabilities.
The model’s fuel economy is quite average for a three-row vehicle. EPA estimates have measurements at 24 miles per gallon for combined driving with the rear-wheel-drive variant and 23 miles per gallon for combined driving for the all-wheel-drive version.
A typical Ford Explorer has a ground clearance of 7.9 inches. For those who would like to opt for a more offroad-capable variant, the Timberline trim boosts its clearance to an outstanding 8.7 inches, which rivals a lot of the top vehicles on this list.
The Explorer has a whopping 10 trim levels/variants to choose from, ranging from the entry-level Base and XLT trims to the top-spec King Ranch and Platinum trims.
While the Explorer received quite a number of negative and mixed reviews, the majority of feedback is positive, noting the vehicle’s value proposition, engine performance, and sharp exterior design.
Chevrolet Traverse (7.5 inches)
The Chevrolet Traverse is one of the best three-row midsize SUVs in today’s market, known for its generous passenger leg room and head room (for all three rows), zippy acceleration, and various safety and entertainment features.
The first-ever model of the Traverse debuted in the United States as a 2009 model year.
The Chevrolet Traverse’s ground clearance is an acceptable 7.5 inches. It is enough to warrant the occasional offroad exploration but may not be capable of withstanding daily adventures through uneven terrain.
There are 8 variants to choose from, the most popular of which is the midrange LT Cloth trim level, priced at approximately $38,000.
Interesting safety features include: teen driver mode, side blind zone alert, and front automatic braking.
The price range of the Traverse is quite wide, starting at around $35,000 and ending at nearly $53,000.
Buick Enclave (7.5 inches)
The Buick Enclave is a sleek midsize SUV with a cohesive exterior design. It was built to cater to owners who would like a more luxurious feel without sacrificing the availability of standard safety and entertainment features.
The Enclave’s fuel economy is acceptable but not as impressive as the others on this list. According to EPA, the all-wheel-drive variant landed at 20 miles per gallon for combined driving, 17 miles per gallon for city driving, and 25 miles per gallon for highway driving.
A standard Buick Enclave has a ground clearance of 7.5 inches. Unfortunately, this is quite a step-down from previous model years as the very first iteration of this SUV had a ground clearance of 8.4 inches. Nevertheless, its current clearance measurement should fit well with brief trips to offroad terrain.
There are only 3 trim levels to choose from: Essence, Premium, and Avenir.
User reviews for the Enclave are few and far between, but from what we have gathered, owners praised the Enclave for its technology-rich interior, quiet driving experience, and upscale design.
Honda Pilot (7.3 inches)
The Pilot is one of the most practical three-row SUVs in today’s market. It is space-efficient, smooth-riding, and fuel-efficient (around 25 miles per gallon based on a standardized drive test).
The Pilot has a long and rich history as it started over two decades ago as a 2023 model year.
The ground clearance of the Honda Pilot is 7.3 inches. While this measurement is already acceptable for the occasional offroad trips, replacing the model’s stock wheels with a larger set of tires may boost clearance by an inch to an inch and a half.
There are 7 trim levels to choose from, including the base-level Sport and EX-L trims and the high-end Elite and Black Edition trims.
Noteworthy safety features include the following: blindspot monitoring system, Honda sensing system, and parking sensors.
The most affordable brand new Pilot you could get these days is priced at roughly $40,000 while the higher-end trim levels can cost up to approximately $54,000.
Nissan Pathfinder (7.1 inches)
The Nissan Pathfinder is reasonably spacious, fun to drive, and is filled with a lot of in-car tech features and driver assistance systems.
According to EPA estimates, the Pathfinder has a combined driving estimate of 23 miles per gallon, a city driving estimate of 21 miles per gallon, and a highway driving estimate of 27 miles per gallon.
The latest Nissan Pathfinder model years have a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, a 0.1 inch upgrade from its earlier models. While it is not the best measurement on this list, the clearance of the Pathfinder should hold up well in flooded roads or snowy locations.
There are 5 trim levels to choose from, namely: S, SV, SL, Rock Creek, and Platinum.
User reviews for the latest model years of the Pathfinder were quite mixed. While performance, tech, and roominess were among the positives mentioned, a lot of owners complained about its lackluster acceleration, problematic electronics, and general unreliability.
Kia Sorento (6.9 inches)
The Kia Sorento is a midsize SUV filled with quality, practicality, and great performance, making it one of the most versatile offerings from the Korean automaker to date.
The Sorento debuted as a compact SUV in the early 2000s and eventually transitioned to the midsize segment in the late 200s.
The ground clearance of a standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) Kia Sorento is 6.9 inches. Fortunately, potential owners can opt for the all-wheel-drive version which boasts up to 8.2 inches of ground clearance.
The latest model years can be availed off in 8 different trim levels/variants, starting with the entry-level LX trim and ending with the pricier X-Line SX Prestige trim.
The Sorento boasts a lot of standard safety features, including smart cruise control with stop and go, lane following assist, and blindspot view monitor.
The price range of the Sorento is quite attractive for a wide range of customers, with the base model starting at around $32,000 and the higher end models reaching up to approximately $45,000.