The best crossover SUVs for you
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The best crossover SUVs for you

The crossover SUV hasn’t been around as long is its older sibling, the sports utility vehicle. But its sporty look and smaller frame may be more appealing.

But what do you look for when buying one? What kind of performance can you expect? How far can you go on a tank of gas? And, most importantly, can you afford the sticker price on a crossover SUV?

Bankrate breaks down the options in this class of car based on these critical questions and chooses the best three models in each criteria. It’s up to you to pick the crossover SUV that’s best for you.

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Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Starting MSRP: about $19,500

Mitsubishi’s new small crossover SUV, the Outlander Sport, is designed to be priced to attract entry-level buyers to the crossover segment. Featuring styling similar to its larger sibling, the Outlander, the Outlander Sport is about 14 inches shorter than the Outlander and seats five.

It is powered by a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that comes in a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, seven airbags, electronic stability control and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel with controls for the audio system.

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Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke

Starting MSRP: about $20,000

New for 2011, the Nissan Juke is a compact crossover SUV that features a comprehensive list of standard features and still ranks as one of the least expensive crossovers on the market. The five-seater is powered by a turbocharged, 180-horsepower, direct-injected, 1.6-liter four-cylinder and is available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Standard features include air conditioning, CD stereo with MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, six air bags, electronic stability control and active front head restraints that help reduce whiplash injury in a collision.

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Ford Edge

Ford Edge

Starting MSRP: about $27,200

For those looking for a larger crossover SUV, the redesigned Ford Edge is one of the best values in the segment. Changes include reduced road noise as well as improved handling and braking. While still seating five, the Edge has substantial cargo-carrying capacity and a long list of standard features.

Unique standard features include a capless, fuel-filler system and a programmable car key that allows for programming certain warnings, such as earlier low-fuel warnings, and restrictions like setting a top speed. When the new Ford Edge arrives this summer, it will be powered by a choice of a 285-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 or a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. Arriving later in the model year will be a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine featuring Ford’s EcoBoost technology, which Ford promises will offer a 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the 3.5-liter V-6 in the 2010 model while providing the performance of a six-cylinder engine.

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BMW X5 M

BMW X5 M

Specs: 555 horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8

The BMW X5, crossover SUV features revised styling for 2011 and now uses the same engines as its larger sibling, the X6. The high-performance model, the M, is equipped with a 555-horsepower, 4.4-liter, V-8 engine that will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to BMW.

All-wheel drive is standard and other high-performance features include a six-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s Dynamic Performance Control, which electronically allocates power from front-to-rear and side-to-side to improve performance and traction. With a starting price of around $85,500, the top-of-the-line X5 also has numerous standard features, including heated front sport seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone air conditioning, rain-detecting windshield wipers and a rear-seat entertainment system with a DVD player.

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Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Specs: 550 horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8

If you have six-figures to spend on a car and you want to drive a crossover SUV that feels like a rocket, you’ll love the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The Cayenne was redesigned for 2011, with new exterior and interior styling to give it a sleeker look.

Porsche says that the 550-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-8 in the Turbo model is now 20 percent more fuel efficient than last year’s model with the same engine, thanks in part to the new eight-speed automatic transmission and a decrease in overall vehicle weight.

To further enhance performance, the Cayenne Turbo features sport-tuned steering that is speed sensitive as well as suspension that electronically changes the stiffness to reduce body roll when cornering. Standard features on the Turbo include leather upholstery, a power lift gate, adaptive headlights that move to follow the road, front and rear parking sensors, a 14-speaker Bose audio system and a navigation system.

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Lincoln MKX

Lincoln MKX

Specs: 305 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6

While far less powerful than other crossover SUVs in this category, the redesigned Lincoln MKX is still strong in the performance department at a more reasonable starting price of about $39,000. This mid-sized crossover gets a new, more powerful 3.7-liter, V-6 engine that produces 305 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, yet it maintains good fuel economy.

A redesigned interior gives the MKX a more luxurious look while Lincoln says that reductions in road noise make the cabin as quiet as its Lexus or Audi competitors. Standard features include a push-button start, speed-sensitive wipers, voice-activated controls for communications and entertainment functions and a reverse sensing system that provides an audible alert to an object in the car’s path when backing up.

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Scion xB

Scion xB

Fuel economy: 22 city/28 highway mpg

The boxy Scion xB crossover SUV received some minor exterior styling changes for 2011, but it still remains one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers in the segment. It’s powered by a 158-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that gets 22 city/28 highway mpg when equipped with either the manual or automatic transmissions.

With a starting price of about $16,000, its boxy design offers terrific cargo space for a vehicle of this size, while rear passengers will love the roomy backseat. For 2011, the front seats have been redesigned to be more comfortable. Standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, electronic stability control, six air bags and antilock brakes.

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Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

Fuel economy: 21 city/29 highway mpg

With its redesign for 2011, the Kia Sorento moves from a truck-based SUV to a car-based crossover SUV, now seating up to seven in three rows. For the first time, Kia offers a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder that achieves 21 city/29 highway mpg on front-wheel-drive models equipped with the automatic transmission and 20 city/27 highway mpg when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. As a four-wheel-drive model, this four-cylinder crossover gets 21 city/27 highway mpg.

A 276-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 paired with an automatic transmission is also offered. It achieves 20 city/26 highway mpg for front-wheel-drive models, while four-wheel-drive models get 19 city/25 highway mpg. With a starting price of about $20,000, all Sorento models come equipped with air conditioning, a CD stereo with USB/MP3 connectivity and a second row that folds flat into the floor. The third row, which also folds flat, is offered in two luxury models, the LX and EX.

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Honda CR-V

Kia Sorento

Fuel economy: 21 city/28 highway mpg

A well-established vehicle in the crossover-SUV segment, the Honda CR-V has been on the market since 1997. It is powered by a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed automatic transmission that gets 21 city/28 highway mpg for front-wheel-drive models and 21 city/27 highway mpg for all-wheel-drive models.

With a starting price of about $21,600, this five-seater offers a choice of cloth or leather seats and generous cargo space behind the rear seats. Standard features include air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control, and side-impact and side-curtain air bags that protect the head from hitting the window or frame pillars in a side-impact collision.

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