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As sports utility vehicles continue to dominate American auto sales, it’s no surprise that drivers want to find the best brakes for an SUV. Nearly 80% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2023 were SUVs. Chosen for their size, elevated visibility, and passenger capacity, SUVs represented 12.3 million of the 15,549,907 total vehicles sold in America in 2023.

Whether you are planning your next road trip, off-road adventure, or you just want to have dependable stopping power on your daily drive, this comprehensive guide will help you find the best brakes for your SUV.

What Are the Best Brakes for an SUV?

SUVs demand reliable stopping power. Most SUVs weigh between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds. Mid-size models are most popular and weigh around 5,000 pounds.

With so many brake products on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for the best brakes for an SUV. We’ve created this comprehensive guide to help.

Brake Pad Material

The performance of your brake pads is significantly impacted by the material from which they are made. Given the varied duties of today’s SUVs, from long highway trips to rocky dirt trails to everyday commutes, SUV drivers need brake pads that can handle a wide range of situations.

Popular types of modern brake pads include:

  • Ceramic Brake Pads: Affordable, reliable, and perfect for the multifaceted uses of SUVs, these types of brake pads feature exceptional wear resistance and consistent friction levels, making them a great choice for towing, offroading, and daily driving.
  • Carbon Fiber Brake Pads: With high friction coefficients and exceptional durability, these types of brake pads are effective for heavy-duty towing.
  • NAO Brake Pads (Non-Asbestos Organic): These brake pads are made of organic materials like resins, fibers, glass, and rubber, glass. Their softer composition reduces strain on rotors and minimizes noise.
  • Low Metallic Brake Pads: Offering a balance of durability and noise reduction, these brake pads contain roughly 10-30% metal.
  • Semi-Metallic Brake Pads: Made of about 30-65% metal, these pads contain a mixture of friction-modifying elements and materials like wire, graphite, copper, or steel wool.

If you’re looking for reliable brake pads for everyday driving tasks, Powerstop’s Z23 Evolution Sport Carbon-Fiber Brake Pads may be your ideal choice. They are crafted with our special carbon-fiber ceramic formula to maximize braking power without sacrificing everyday drivability.

If you plan to push your SUV, whether by taking it offroad or hauling heavy loads, you need severe-duty braking power you can trust. Look no further than PowerStop’s Z36 Truck & Tow Carbon-Fiber Ceramic Brake Pads. Combining carbon and ceramic, they deliver powerful stopping power with everyday drivability, minimizing noise and vibration. Choosing PowerStop means you are getting the highest standards of durability and stopping power.

Unwanted Brake Noise

If you hear unwanted braking noise – especially when towing with your SUV – the noise may be the result of vibrations and friction between the rotor and the surface of the brake pad. PowerStop brake pads are specially designed to reduce squeals and squeaks when braking. When you select PowerStop brake pads; you are selecting a quieter braking experience.

Read More: Brake Squeal – Causes and Solutions

Choosing the Best Brake Rotors For an SUV

SUVs are incredibly popular in the U.S. because they have such a broad range of uses. In addition to getting the right SUV brake pads for daily driving, you may want to make sure that you have rotors you can count on to handle more difficult situations, such as towing or going offroad. If you’re looking for the best brake rotors for your SUV, consider these factors:

  • Heat Dissipation: It’s important to select brake rotors that are made from materials with exceptional heat dissipation properties, such as composite materials or high-quality cast iron. Effective heat management is crucial during intense rock crawling to prevent brake fade.
  • Drilled & Slotted Rotors: When it comes to enhanced heat dissipation, drilled & slotted rotors are the ideal choice. These types of brake rotors provide better performance in even the most demanding situations.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Corrosion-resistant coatings, like zinc or other protective finishes help extend the life and performance of rotors. SUVs often encounter mud, water, and other elements that can accelerate corrosion.

The friction generated by braking can lead to significant heat buildup. To help prevent brake fade, choose PowerStop’s Drilled & Slotted Rotors. These rotors provide superior heat dissipation, ensuring optimal braking performance throughout any rock-crawling adventure.

What Is the Best Brake Upgrade Kit for an SUV?

For SUV drivers looking for severe-duty braking power, the PowerStop Z23 Evolution Sport Brake Upgrade Kit is the perfect option. Key Features of the Kit include:

  • Carbon Fiber Ceramic Brake Pads: Experience severe-duty stopping power with precision control.
  • Drilled & Slotted Rotors: PowerStop’s Drilled & Slotted rotors are zinc-plated and provide extreme cooling while resisting rust and corrosion.
  • Premium Stainless Steel Hardware Kit: This kit of premium stainless steel hardware ensures long-term durability for your braking system.

With its drilled & slotted rotors, carbon-fiber ceramic brake pads, and premium hardware kit, PowerStop Z23 Evolution Sport Brake Upgrade Kit is the premier choice for SUV drivers. This popular braking system gives you precise control, rugged reliability, and unrivaled performance in a variety of conditions.

Understanding SUV Classes

PowerStop makes premium-quality performance brakes for nearly every vehicle on the road. No matter what size of SUV you drive, PowerStop has you covered. When considering which brakes you want for your SUV, a number of factors should be considered, such as how you plan to use your SUV (daily driving, towing, or offroading, for example) as well as the weight of your vehicle.

Sports Utility Vehicles are generally categorized into five distinct classes. Here’s a glance at their average weights and some of the leading models in each segment.

Mini, Sub-Compact SUV

This category represents the smallest segment of SUVs. Typically, mini SUVs equipped with standard features have an average curb weight of slightly above 2000 pounds. Recently, CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) models have started to eclipse the mini SUV class, probably due to lower production costs. Noteworthy models in this segment include:

  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep CJ
  • Chevrolet Tracker
  • Lada Niva
  • Kia Sportage
  • Honda HR-V
  • Chevrolet Trailblazer

Compact SUV

Originating in the U.S. during the early 1980s amidst intense competition among leading SUV makers, the compact SUV category has since flourished. Compact SUVs generally weigh just above 3,000 pounds, but modern amenities can increase their weight to about 3,500 pounds. Prime examples of compact SUVs are:

  • Toyota RAV4
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Nissan Xterra
  • Ford Bronco II 2-door
  • Ford Bronco Sport
  • Ford Escape
  • Chevrolet S-10 Blazer 2-door
  • Jeep Cherokee XJ

Mid-Size SUV

Mid-size SUVs include some of the market’s most sought-after models. Whether built on a unibody or a suitable pickup truck frame, these vehicles excellently balance off-road capacity with comfortable driving experiences. Mid-size SUVs vary widely in weight, from 3,500 to 6,000 pounds, with the average off-road-ready vehicle weighing around 5,000 pounds. Key models in this class are:

  • Ford Explorer
  • Mercedes-Benz G-Class
  • Range Rover Classic
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Subaru Outback
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Lexus RX
  • Kia Telluride
  • Honda Pilot

Full-Size SUV

Full-size SUVs represent the largest standard models. While their increased weight and size, particularly the wheelbase, might limit some models’ off-road abilities, vehicles like the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe still prioritize off-road performance. Conversely, models like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator opt for luxury over off-road functionality. Most full-size SUVs, based on full-sized pickup platforms, weigh between 5,300 and 6,000 pounds. Prominent examples include:

  • Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • GMC Yukon
  • Ford Expedition
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Cadillac Escalade

Extended-Length SUV

Particularly in the U.S., manufacturers produce long-wheelbase versions of full-size SUVs, offering more space for rear passengers and cargo. These extended-length SUVs typically weigh between 5,400 to 6,000 pounds, similar to full-size models, and include just over a dozen models. Popular ones are:

  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Toyota Mega Cruiser
  • Jeep Commander
  • GMC Yukon XL
  • Ford Excursion
  • Chevrolet Suburban

Have a Question? Powerstop Can Help!

PowerStop is dedicated to providing top-quality performance brakes for nearly every vehicle on the road. If you have a question about any of our products, contact us today online at [email protected] or toll-free at (888) 863-4415. Our customer service team is available to answer your questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CST). Se habla español.


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