Crossovers that make sense
Sifting through today’s scores of crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, is a daunting task. There are more than 90 crossovers on the market, according to the consumer advice site Edmunds.com, and sorting through such a list is nearly impossible.
To lighten your load, Bankrate has distilled this unwieldy group to a more manageable core of seven crossovers that we believe offer value, make practical sense and are fuel efficient.
Our qualifying filters are:
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail car prices, or MSRP, of $35,000 or less before delivery charges.
- Estimated highway fuel economy from the Environmental Protection Agency of at least 25 mpg.
- An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, top score of “good” for all crash tests.
- A “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports.
At least one entry on our list should meet your crossover needs.
2011 Cadillac SRX
Car price: $34,615
The most expensive crossover on this list, the entry-level SRX offers 36.3 inches of rear-seat legroom, and 61.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the backseat folded down.
Power comes from a 3-liter V-6 that generates 265 horsepower sent to the front wheels by way of a driver-shiftable, six-speed transmission. The EPA estimates a fuel economy of 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive isn’t available on the base SRX model.
Included in the base car price are full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outboard mirrors, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, trip computer, air bags, the OnStar navigation system, and an eight-speaker Bose-infused audio system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary input jack and MP3 integration.
2011 Chevrolet Equinox LS
Car price: $22,995
When is less more? When it’s the fuel-efficient 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder Equinox LS, a CUV with an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and a whopping 32 mpg highway. This is the best highway mpg number on our list. And a six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission hands off engine output to the front wheels.
All-wheel-drive is available for a $1,750 premium.
An Equinox feature we particularly like is the sliding-reclining, second-row seat. When positioned back at its limit, it provides 39.9 inches of rear-seat legroom. Maximum cargo space with the second-row seat folded flat is 63.7 cubic feet.
Although it’s the entry-level Equinox crossover, the LS comes with full power accessories, air conditioning, trip computer, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six air bags, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary input jack.
2011 Hyundai Tucson GLS
Car price: $21,995
Only $300 more than the most affordable entry on our list when comparing car prices, the Tucson GLS crossover doesn’t skimp on standard features that include full power accessories, remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, hill-holder (technology that keeps a vehicle from rolling backward when the brake is released on an incline), six air bags, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary input jack, trip computer and an integrated MP3 connection.
Its 176 horsepower comes from a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a driver-shiftable six-speed automatic transmission. With an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, Tucson’s fuel economy is nearly on par with our list-leading, fuel-efficient Equinox. All-wheel-drive is available bundled with a few other features for $1,650.
Maximum cargo capacity is a tidy 55.8 cubic feet. Second-row passengers enjoy 38.7 inches of legroom.
2011 Toyota Highlander
Car price: $28,090
A true midsize crossover, the Highlander has more interior space and a higher price than several others on this list. We’ve chosen the base model with the V-6 engine for the EPA-estimated 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway fuel economy of its 187-horsepower, 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine. Engine output is ushered to the front wheels by a driver-shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission.
To get all-wheel-drive, you must step up to a V-6 version that has a cost increase of $2,605.
Highlander seats up to seven in its three rows of seats. It offers up to 38.3 inches of second-row legroom with a seat that slides and reclines. With second- and third-row seats folded, there is a spacious 95.4 cubic feet of cargo room.
This is the base version, so there isn’t as much standard content as some others on this list have, but included in the base price are full power accessories, six air bags, cruise control, air conditioning, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary input jack.
2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X
Car price: $21,695
The least expensive of any crossover on our list in comparing car prices and that includes an extra $1,200 for an automatic transmission, the Forester 2.5X comes with all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.
In this era of five- and six-speed automatic transmissions, the Forester’s four-speed automatic tranny seems a bit out of date. However, when coupled with its 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, it is still capable of delivering an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. And remember, that’s with AWD.
Rear-seat legroom is 38 inches. Folding the rear seat opens up a maximum cargo capacity of 68.3 cubic feet.
The Forester comes in six trim packages. We chose the entry-level version that includes full power accessories, remote keyless entry, six air bags, tilt steering wheel, trip computer, air conditioning, cruise control, and a four-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary input jack.
2011 Volvo XC60 3.2
Car price: $32,900
Nudging the upper limit of our car pricing filter, the XC60 3.2 has a standard safety feature worth noting. It is the City Safety system that applies the brakes without driver input to avoid or lessen low-speed, frontal crashes.
Giddyap comes from a 240-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 engine. A driver-shiftable, six-speed, automatic transmission delivers engine power to the front wheels or to all four wheels, if you spring for the $2,000 extra cost of all-wheel drive.
Despite the V6, the Volvo XC60 still is considered fuel efficient by our mileage test with an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway rating.
Rear-seat passengers have 36.4 inches of legroom. Folding that seat down opens cargo space to 67.4 cubic feet.
Among the standard gear are full power accessories, leather seating, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, trip computer, cruise control, six air bags, and an eight-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary input jack and MP3 integration.
2011 Volkswagen Tiguan S 2.0L TSI
Car price: $24,820
With the only turbocharged engine on this bunch, the Tiguan S delivers fuel-efficient mileage of 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The optional driver-shiftable, six-speed automatic transmission hustles production from the 200-horsepower, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine to the front wheels.
All-wheel-drive is available as a $1,955 option.
In a cabin that seats five, the second-row passengers have 35.8 inches of legroom. Folding that reclining backseat down creates 56.1 cubic feet of cargo room.
About average for this group, the array of standard features include full power accessories, remote keyless entry, heated power side mirrors, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six air bags, and an eight-speaker audio system with CD player and auxiliary input jack.