Crossover vehiclesShopping for cars isn't easy. While it's tempting to stick with a brand you're familiar with, I'd encourage you to go out and try a variety of cars from several different manufacturers. Be sure you're comparing "apples to apples" by staying in the same category whether that's compact, midsize, or SUV. You might be surprised by a brand you'd never considered.
In our recent review of 19 Crossover vehicles (small SUV's) we found what we think are the best after extensive testing. While we strongly recommend our top 6 picks listed below, take a look at the following checklist to clarify what's important before you make a purchase.
Size: Naturally, this is your first consideration. If you're looking at crossovers and small SUVs, you'll notice that most manufacturers make a small, medium, and large crossover. If you're young, don't have much to lug around, want a fun ride and good fuel economy stick to a small model like the VW Tiguan. If you have a moderate-sized family, consider a crossover with a 3 rd row or lots of trunk space.
Drivetrain: All crossovers have All-Wheel-Drive at least as an option. If you live in an area with rough winter weather this is definitely something you'll want even though it costs more and you sacrifice a few miles per gallon in fuel economy.
Fuel Economy: Some manufacturers do a bit better than others but there are design variables that always hold true. For example, you'll almost always get better mileage with a smaller car rather than a large one, manual transmission rather than automatic, two wheel drive instead of All-Wheel-Drive, and a 4 cylinder instead of a 6 cylinder. If you put in a lot of miles, fuel economy may be one of your most important concerns.
Safety Features: Check ratings from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Safety features worth paying extra for: a backup camera or blind spot indicator system.
Tech Features: If you live in a colder climate, you may consider a winter weather package that often includes heated seats and mirrors. If you're one to forget directions, a navigation system will come in handy, in addition to the LCD display which you can also control an iPod from. Hands free/Bluetooth voice-activated phone calling is becoming standard on most cars, and is a useful option if you take a lot of calls while you're driving.
Top Crossovers From Recent GHRI tests:
Best Overall: Ford Escape
Most Fuel Efficient: Mazda CX-5
Most Reliable: Subaru Forester
Best Interior Design: Honda CR-V
Best Family Car: Chevy Equinox
Most Fun To Drive: VW Tiguan
What's most important to you when you're looking to buy a new car? Let me know in the comments!
-By Erik Eibert
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