Top 10 2020 Upper Midsize SUVs by Customer Satisfaction

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 22, 2020

When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, and you meet someone who owns the make and model you’re considering, you naturally ask them: “What do you think of it?”

2020 Kia Telluride SX Prestige Front Quarter

J.D. Power customer satisfaction studies, such as the Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study, bring a powerful answer to that question amplified by thousands of voices from verified owners of the types of vehicles you are researching. 

Each year, J.D. Power surveys tens of thousands of people who actually own the makes and models you’re considering. Based on this consumer-provided information, the company publishes industry-benchmark studies summarizing what consumers like you tell them about what has gone right and what has gone wrong during the first 90 days of ownership. The annual APEAL Study is focused on overall customer satisfaction with factors including design, comfort, controls, driving dynamics, and more.

Using the collected data from consumers like you, J.D. Power gives each vehicle an APEAL index score. This list contains the top-rated 2020 upper midsize SUVs with three rows of seating in terms of overall appeal, presented below in rank order according to their index score. The average index score for this segment is 858.

1. 2020 Kia Telluride – Highest Upper Midsize SUV in Customer Satisfaction According to Consumers! - Find the best Kia deals!

Available in four trim levels, the 8-passenger 2020 Kia Telluride is a hot commodity, and the company’s West Point, Georgia factory is struggling to build enough examples of this SUV. The sole engine choice is a 291-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 powering the front or all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the Telluride can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Maximum cargo volume measures 87 cubic-feet, and this Kia is a Top Safety Pick according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Kia Telluride is 883, and the Telluride receives an APEAL award in the Upper Midsize SUV segment. 

2. 2020 Hyundai Palisade - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Though the 2020 Hyundai Palisade shares plenty with its corporate sibling, the Kia Telluride, choosing between the two SUVs depends mainly on your design preference – though the Palisade’s free scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles sure is enticing. Hyundai uses the same 291-horsepower V-6 engine and 8-speed transmission as the Kia in the Palisade, with front- or all-wheel drive. Maximum tow capacity is 5,000 pounds and the Palisade can hold up to 86.4 cubic-feet of cargo. It also gets a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS and comes in three trim levels. 

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Hyundai Palisade is 877. 

3. 2020 Dodge Durango - Find the best Dodge deals!

If variety is the spice of life, the 2020 Dodge Durango supplies it. Available in five trim levels and with three different engines ranging from a 293-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 to a 475-horsepower 6.4-liter V-8, the Durango is rear-wheel drive unless you opt for 4-wheel drive. Properly equipped, this Dodge will tow 8,700 pounds, carry up to 7 passengers, and haul as much as 84.5 cubic-feet of cargo. It has been nearly a decade since the Durango’s last redesign, though, and that’s reflected in unimpressive IIHS crash-test ratings.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Dodge Durango is 866. 

4. 2020 Ford Explorer (in a tie with the Toyota Highlander) - Find the best Ford deals!

Redesigned for 2020, the Ford Explorer switches to a new rear-drive platform with all-wheel drive an available option. A turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine making 300 horsepower is standard, while ST and Platinum trim feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 generating up to 400 horsepower. An Explorer Hybrid is available, too, good for 318 horsepower and up to 28 mpg in combined driving. The maximum tow rating for this Ford is 5,600 pounds, and with all seats folded down the SUV carries 87.8 cubic-feet of cargo. The Explorer does not earn a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Ford Explorer is 863, in a tie with the Toyota Highlander. 

4. 2020 Toyota Highlander (in a tie with the Ford Explorer) - Find the best Toyota deals!

Toyota redesigned the Highlander for 2020, improving the technology and introducing a far more efficient hybrid powertrain to the SUV. A 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine is standard, while Highlander Hybrids get a 243-horsepower drivetrain that returns as much as 36 mpg in combined driving. Both are front-wheel drive unless you opt for all-wheel drive, and the maximum tow rating with the V-6 is 5,000 pounds. Five trim levels are available, and this Toyota seats up to eight passengers. It gets a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Toyota Highlander is 863.

5. 2020 GMC Acadia - Find the best GMC deals!

Equipped with updated styling, the 2020 GMC Acadia comes in five trim levels and seats up to seven people. Three engines are available, including a 193-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, a 230-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, and a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Each uses a 9-speed automatic to drive the front or all four wheels, and this GMC can tow up to 4,000 pounds. Fold all rows of seats to maximize the 79 cubic-feet of cargo capacity. Safety ratings from the IIHS bode well but are incomplete.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 GMC Acadia is 855.

6. 2020 Mazda CX-9 - Find the best Mazda deals!

A 7-passenger crossover SUV, the 2020 Mazda CX-9 comes in four trim levels that aim to provide an upscale look and feel at a mainstream price. Every CX-9 has a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes up to 250 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 6-speed automatic drives the front or all four wheels. Towing capacity measures 3,500 pounds, and this Mazda offers up to 71.2 cubic-feet of cargo space. The CX-9 excels in crash-testing, earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Mazda CX-9 is 853.

7. 2020 Chevrolet Traverse (in a tie with the Subaru Ascent) - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

One of the largest vehicles on this list, the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse seats up to eight people, carries as much as 98.2 cubic-feet of cargo, and tows a maximum of 5,000 pounds. Seven trim levels are available, each equipped with a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine driving the front or all four wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Good safety ratings from the IIHS paint a positive picture for this Chevrolet, but are incomplete.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse is 852, in a tie with the Subaru Ascent.

7. 2020 Subaru Ascent (in a tie with the Chevrolet Traverse) - Find the best Subaru deals!

Equipped with standard all-wheel drive and a 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission, the 2020 Subaru Ascent is sized for family duty. Available in four different trim levels, this Subaru seats up to eight people and carries up to 86.5 cubic-feet of cargo. The maximum tow rating is 5,000 pounds, and thanks to 8.7 inches of ground clearance the Ascent is capable when the pavement ends, and the dirt begins. The IIHS gives this SUV a Top Safety Pick rating.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Subaru Ascent is 852, in a tie with the Chevrolet Traverse.

8. 2020 Buick Enclave - Find the best Buick deals!

Size and style characterize the roomy 2020 Buick Enclave. Offered in four trim levels, each equipped with a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission, the Enclave seats up to seven people and carries as much as 97.6 cubic-feet of cargo. All-wheel drive is an option, and when properly configured this big Buick SUV tows up to 5,000 pounds. The Enclave does not qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. 

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Buick Enclave is 849.

9. 2020 Honda Pilot - Find the best Honda deals!

One of the older SUV designs on this list, the 2020 Honda Pilot comes in five trim levels. Each one uses a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired with a 6-speed or a 9-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard for most versions of this Honda, with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system optional. A Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds and carry as much as 83.9 cubic-feet of cargo. The IIHS gives the Pilot a Top Safety Pick rating.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Honda Pilot is 842.

10. Nissan Pathfinder - Find the best Nissan deals!

Seven years have passed since the Pathfinder was last redesigned, and for 2020 this Nissan comes in four trim levels plus an available Rock Creek Package that adds ruggedness to the family-sized crossover. Every 2020 Nissan Pathfinder has a 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a continuously variable transmission, with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Maximum towing capacity measures 6,000 pounds, maximum cargo capacity amounts to 79.5 cubic-feet, and maximum seating capacity is seven. The IIHS says the Pathfinder is a Top Safety Pick, too.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is 839.

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