How Are “Mid-Size SUVs” Defined? (Easy Explanation)

The term “mid-size SUV” is not defined by government regulations or industry standards, but it can be loosely described as a vehicle that falls between full-size and compact SUVs.

The mid-size SUV class is a hot segment, with buyers opting for these vehicles’ versatility and comfort. But what does it take to classify a vehicle as a mid-size SUV? 

In this article, we’ll examine how mid-size SUVs are defined.

1. Mid-size SUVs Typically Offer More Space: Legroom and Headroom than Compact SUVs

Compact SUVs are excellent for buyers looking for style, versatility, and fuel economy. However, if you’re a tall driver or passenger, you may find the cramped seating position uncomfortable and even painful.

Mid-size SUVs have traditionally been considered more spacious than their compact counterparts, and recent improvements in this segment have made them even more accommodating.

While they aren’t as roomy as their full-size cousins, they offer much more space than compact SUVs and many other vehicles, such as sedans and hatchbacks.

For example, the 2022 Honda Pilot offers an impressive amount of headroom (40.1 inches), legroom (40.9 inches), and cargo capacity (109.2 cubic feet).

These figures outpace its smaller counterpart, the 2022 CR-V, which features 39.2 inches of headroom, 40.4 inches of legroom, and 75.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Most compact SUVs have two rows enough for just five passengers. Meanwhile, the fifth passenger may have to cram himself/herself into the back seat’s center position.

That said, mid-size SUVs frequently offer five to seven seats, with 2-3 rows of seat. Whereas, the third row is not assured, you’ll have a better probability of finding a third-row option in this segment.

Similar to the seating space, a mid-size SUV also offers more cargo capacity than the compact variant.

If you ever drive a 3-row mid-size SUV like the Volkswagen Atlas or Buick Enclave, you’ll appreciate how roomy the cabin is. These 3-row SUVs frequently enable folding or removing the back seat to create a roomy luggage compartment. 

Overall, the cabin of a mid-size SUV is roomier than that of a compact SUV, and they frequently feature more rear space and ground clearance than the small-sized variants.

2. They Feature Better Fuel Economy Than Full-size SUVs

The fuel economy of your vehicle is an essential aspect of car ownership. But, it is something that most people don’t pay much attention to. 

The average person looks at the sticker price, the car’s features and performance, and then maybe looks at the fuel economy rating. While that’s enough for most people, there are some things you should know about fuel economy if you want to get the most out of your ride.

One of the biggest reasons fuel economy is essential is that it helps to save some bucks on gas. This could be a significant saving, depending on how much you drive each year.

While some people might not be concerned with the cost of gas, many people are. If you’re one of those people, consider getting a mid-size SUV over a full-size one.

For example, the mid-size 2022 Lexus RX SUV offers 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway. In comparison, the full-size 2022 Hyundai Palisade cannot match those numbers, with only 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. 

It makes sense to choose the path of fuel-saving capabilities when you can, given how volatile gas prices are and how uncertain the future of fuel is.

Almost invariably, a mid-size SUV will have more outstanding gas mileage than a full-size SUV. Apart from size considerations, this is because mid-size SUVs are lighter since they transport fewer passengers and cargo.

Furthermore, smaller SUVs are also more aerodynamic, which makes them reduce fuel use. So, if you purchase a full-size SUV, you’ll probably have to make do with a vehicle that uses more fuel.

3. They Are More Suited to City and Highway Driving 

The mid-size SUV is an excellent choice for urban environments, where it’s easy to park in tight spots and maneuver through traffic. Their body style offers good visibility and a smooth ride. 

These SUVs also have plenty of power, so merging onto the highway won’t be a problem. And if you want to take your family on an extended road trip, a mid-size SUV can handle long distances easily.

However, off-road conditions are another point to note. Mid-size SUVs have all-wheel drive (AWD), but they’re not designed for serious off-roading like some full-size SUVs. 

You might be able to get away with light trails at low speeds, but don’t expect your mid-size SUV to conquer an actual rock climbing or river crossing!

Of course, some models and trims will be leveled up to offer better-than-average off-road experiences, but generally, a full-size SUV will offer superior off-road capabilities. 

4. These Rides Are Easier to Maneuver Than Full-Size SUVs

When you’re looking at buying a new car, it’s always important to consider what size will best fit your needs.

Full-size SUVs are great if you need extra cargo space or the ability to tow heavy loads. However, these vehicles are more challenging to park and maneuver than other cars.

Driving a mid-size SUV is often easier than driving a full-size SUV.

For example, SUVs like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 are easier to park because they have smaller bodies, which means smaller turning circles and less weight on the front axle. 

These features make them easier for inexperienced drivers or those who need more confidence behind the wheel.

Mid-size SUV Examples

The mid-size SUV category is the biggest and most popular in the SUV market. It’s also the most diverse, with many styles and models available.

While there’s no exact definition of a mid-size SUV, you can generally expect them to offer less passenger space and have a smaller footprint than their larger counterparts.

However, these SUVs also tend to be more spacious and offer more cargo room than smaller compact SUVs, making them ideal for families.

Below you’ll find an example of a mid-size SUV. 

1. 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep’s two-row, five-seater 2023 Grand Cherokee has several positive characteristics, such as: 

  • Class-leading towing capacity
  • True off-road prowess
  • Comfortable space for passengers
  • Great fuel economy 

This SUV also offers finely tuned, cutting-edge driving assist features that make driving simpler and safer. However, where the Cherokee falls short is value for money.

The Grand Cherokee holds an oddly broad spot in the market. Although the entry-level Grand Cherokees are reasonably priced, they lack some of their rivals’ features.

The price of this SUV falls between $39,395 – $66,650, depending on the trim desired.

While upscale consumers will undoubtedly want a premium product if they spend that much money, budget-conscious purchasers would certainly look for even more value than the entry-level models provide.

The Grand Cherokee is worth considering if you want a premium mid-size SUV that serves as a pleasant daily ride and an off-road juggernaut.

Meanwhile, the three-row Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride may be good alternatives if you require additional space and cargo for passengers but don’t intend to venture off-road.

Make sure to also check out our article on 5 best mid-size SUVs for all-round use.

Final Thoughts

One of the most significant benefits of owning a mid-size SUV is that it offers enough room for passengers to ride comfortably without sacrificing cargo space. This makes them great for families who need to haul lots of groceries or sports equipment.


A Look at Compact SUVs vs. Mid-Size SUVs: How Do They Compare? | BillMarsh

Best Mid-size SUVs for 2022 and 2023 | USNews

How Much SUV Do You Need: Mid-Size vs. Full-Size | ZeckAuto


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