Cargo space is what puts the utility in sport utility vehicle, and one of the main reasons consumers seek out an SUV as their vehicle of choice.
Finding one that can fit your baggage, grocery shopping, golf clubs and sports gear—often all at the same time—can be challenging, since the larger the cargo capacity, the more expensive the vehicle usually is.
The search for that ideal balance of interior space and affordability has become elusive for automakers, too. “Cargo space is getting tough to track and even tougher to purchase, as automakers make cars lighter and more fuel efficient while packing in the perks,” according to Jason Notte of The Street.
To help you find a roomy crossover than won’t break your budget, AxleGeeks rounded up 17 SUVS with the most cargo space for under $25,000.
2015 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2dr SUV 4WD
For many, the Wrangler is what comes to mind when mentioning the name “Jeep”: small, rugged, utilitarian, as comfortable on the road as it is off. While the Wrangler actually predates the modern SUV by a couple of decades, it inhabits many of the same qualities, even if its cargo space is a bit lacking.
At 12.8 cubic feet of trunk room, this Jeep has 49% less trunk space than other compact crossovers (at 55 cubic feet with the seats folded, that percentage is cut back to 1.4%). Still, at $22,995, it has a price that most buyers can’t argue with.
What the Wrangler lacks in space it makes up for in strength. Buyers looking for a vehicle that can climb hilly, rocky terrains like no other will be impressed by its 3.6-liter V6, pumping out a formidable 285 horsepower.
2015 Hyundai Tucson GLS 4dr SUV
Hyundai’s SUV embodiment of long treks across Arizonian deserts comes in the form of the Tucson, average in its class for the amount of cargo room it packs in the rear. Drivers and passengers alike can comfortably accommodate camping gear and other items in tow with 25.7 cubic feet of trunk space (1.8% more compared to others in its class), and 55.8 cubic feet with the seats folded.
The $21,650 MSRP Tucson accentuates the fuel efficiency synonymous with the Korean automaker, edging out its competitors with an estimated 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, for a 26 mpg combined fuel economy.
2015 Nissan Rogue Select S 4dr SUV
One of the Rogue’s inherent advantages is that it produces more cargo space than its rivals without the rear seats folded. At a native 28.9 cubic feet of room, it has 15% more trunk space than other compact crossovers, and 16% more than all other SUVs on the market. Nissan’s compact offering also accommodates 57.9 cubic feet of room with the seat backs horizontal.
At $20,150, the Tucson will impress potential buyers with the fact that it’s also 21% cheaper than other vehicles in its class.
2015 Jeep Compass Sport 4dr SUV
The Compass comes with a lower price tag than the Wrangler, but at $18,995, buyers can also expect less cargo space in this compact SUV from the Jeep range. While 22.7 cubic feet of basic trunk space isn’t shabby, it’s up to 10% lower than other compact SUVs for sale; 53.6 cubic feet with the seats folded only beats the Mitsubishi Outlander and Jeep’s own Cherokee.
Back to the Compass’ MSRP, buyers looking for a true value in an SUV can’t deny that its cost (which is 26% cheaper than other cars in its class) is one factor that could gain more Compass sales.
2015 Jeep Patriot Sport 4dr SUV
Another Jeep on our list, the Patriot pledges allegiance to efficiency and affordability, but like the Compass, falls a bit short in the cargo space stakes. Twenty-three cubic feet of trunk room is still 8.9% less than rival compact SUVs and 7.6% less than all others of any size. With the rear seats down, 53.5 cubic feet is on par with others in its class, but the Patriot loses the battle to larger sport-utility competitors with a 16% shortage.
The Patriot fares even better than the Compass in its MSRP: at $16,895, it’s 34% lower than the average crossover.
2015 Chevrolet Equinox L 4dr SUV
Chevy’s Equinox is a paradox. Its 31.5 cubic feet of trunk space is merely average compared to others of its size and class, yet 27% better for all SUV crossovers regardless of size. The numbers level out a bit when the Equinox’s rear seats laid flat; at 63.7 cubic feet, cargo space without restriction is adequate.
The Equinox ($22,120 MSRP) is also noted for its outstanding gas mileage: 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway give buyers a fuel-efficient driving experience no matter how rugged or urban the road.
2015 GMC Terrain SL 4dr SUV
Compared to its cousin the Equinox, and others in its class, the GMC Terrain ($24,070 MSRP) provides for an average amount of rear cargo space—slightly higher than others in its class at 31.6 cubic feet. However, also like its Chevy cousin, the Terrain surprises other SUVs outside its class with 27% more trunk room than most. Folded down, the seats in the Terrain cover a lot of interior ground, doubling available space to 63.9 cubic feet.
General Motors continues to impress by gifting its SUVs with stellar fuel efficiency: the Terrain also shares the Equinox’s habit of sipping gas instead of guzzling it, at 22 city mpg and 32 highway mpg.
2015 Mazda CX-5 Sport 4dr SUV
With the CX-5, Mazda serves up a generous helping of cargo space while leaving room for other interior passenger comforts. Its conventional trunk room of 34.1 cubic feet is 35% larger than rival crossovers and 37% larger than all other SUVS. And at 64.8 cubic feet after seats have been folded, there is ample cargo space.
All this cargo room makes the CX-5’s $21,545 MSRP go further than its price tag would suggest.
2015 Nissan Xterra X 4dr SUV
One of Nissan’s masters of all-terrain driving, the Xterra gives owners a good amount of cargo space that’s just about on average with other similar SUVs. Open the hatch, and the Xterra’s trunk allows for 36.3 cubic feet of space, a decent 15% more than standard average crossovers in its class. With the rearmost seats folded, its 65.7 cubic feet gives this vehicle more room than 46% of all other SUVs.
The Xterra, which costs $23,660, is also a sub-$25,000 SUV that shows some muscles on the road, and can tow 43% more than other crossovers, up to 5,000 pounds.
2015 Dodge Journey American Value Package 4dr SUV
The Dodge Journey might be classified as midsize, but its rear cargo room is anything but. Compared to the average in its class, the Journey’s 39.6 cubic feet of space is 26% larger. Total cargo space isn’t too shabby, either, at 67.6 measured cubic feet.
These numbers are made all the more remarkable considering the Journey’s medium sized body at a compact SUV price of $20,695—20% lower than the average.
2015 Ford Escape S 4dr SUV
On all fronts, the Ford Escape’s rear holds more room whether the seats are upright or folded. In the case of the former, 34.3 cubic feet of trunk space is 36% more than other vehicles in its class, 38% more than all other SUVs. Total cargo space of 67.8 cubic feet proves itself to be 22% larger than the Escape’s rivals, and a respectable 6.4% otherwise.
A 2015 Escape carries an MSRP of $23,450, a cost-conscious choice for budget-minded drivers, good on gas and sporty in style.
2015 Nissan Rogue S w/Prod End 12/31 4dr SUV
The Rogue doesn’t live up to its name when it comes to cargo space, choosing not to stray too far from its rivals. Thirty-two cubic feet of trunk space is 27% and 25% more than other compact crossovers and all SUVs, respectively.
But the Rogue still can’t compete with the Subaru forester and Toyota RAV4. Comparisons aside, however, the Rogue’s 70 cubic feet, seats folded, begins pushing its cargo capacity into luxury territory.
Price and gas mileage are two other perks of looking into the Rogue: at $22,790 and a 29 combined mpg, buyers will be pleasantly surprised.
2015 Honda CR-V LX 4dr SUV
Honda’s $23,445 CR-V packs a lot of cargo space into its small, athletic frame. On average, the CR-V’s 35.2 cubic feet of trunk space beats the compact competition by 39%. Folded over, seats reveal a combined 70.9 cubic feet of storage potential, up to 41% more than any other compact SUV in production.
The CR-V was also the winner of the Motor Trend 2014 SUV of the Year Award.
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 4dr SUV
Like the Tucson, Hyundai’s other Southwestern-themed crossover, the Santa Fe Sport, doesn’t disappoint in cargo capacity. Its 35.4 cubic feet of space in the rear is only 0.2 cubic feet less than other midsize SUVs, 42% more overall. Put the seats down, and the Santa Fe holds up to 71.5 cubic feet of cargo room, beating out the average SUV across the line in class and size.
At $24,950, the Santa Fe Sport is a full 25% cheaper than rival vehicles with fewer features and amenities.
2015 Kia Sorento LX 4dr SUV
Compared to bigger, roomier SUVs on the market, the Sorento impresses with a 36.9 cubic feet of space that’s 48% larger. Seventy-two and a half cubic feet of storage space after folding the seats down opens up plenty of room, better than any SUV of any size can provide. Overall, the Sorento offers 17% more trunk space.
Fuel efficient and affordable at $24,300, the 2015 Sorento received a 5-out-of-5 star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2015 Toyota RAV4 LE 4dr SUV
For more than 20 years, the RAV4 has been one of the leaders in the crossover revolution, a consistent winner in the Toyota lineup for motorists looking for all the qualities an SUV can provide—and cargo space is one of them.
Apart from the Subaru Forester, the RAV4 really has no peers; 38.4 cubic feet of conventional trunk space is more than 52% larger than the class average, 54% more than other medium-to-large sized SUVs. Total cargo capacity, height and width combined, measures in at 73.4 cubic feet.
The RAV4 comes with the price tag of $23,680, great gas mileage (27 mpg combined) and proven reliability.
2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD
Subaru’s Forester ranks No. 1 as the AxleGeeks best SUV under $25,000 with the most cargo space. Regular trunk space, at 34.4 cubic feet, is about average with other compact SUVs, and roughly 36% bigger than larger SUVs. It’s in the Forester’s total cargo capacity that it emerges as the winner, with 74.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded. At $22,195, this is a stellar deal for anyone with larger storage needs who wants to stay under the $25,000 mark.
The Forester continues to receive accolades for its combination of design, economy, safety and perks, winning the 2014 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Award and the Consumer Reports Small SUV Top Pick.