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Moving On Up: 10 Crossover and SUV Haulers for Every Price Range

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
August 30, 2011
6 min. Reading Time

There are crossovers and SUVs out there aimed at a surprisingly wide range of budgets and driving needs. Whether you are looking for an inexpensive family hauler to help ease the burden of squeezing all of the kids in and out of a sedan on a daily basis, or whether you want a comfortable and spacious ride that offers a serious amount of luxury to complement its practicality, the modern crossover and SUV segment is brimming with appealing options.

Moving from most affordable to most decadent, let’s take a look at 10 crossover and SUV haulers for every price range.

01. 2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara – MSRP $19,299

Despite its compact classification, the 2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara provides seating for five passengers and as much as 69 cubic feet of total cargo storage. The Suzuki Grand Vitara also offers an impressive list of standard features for such an affordable vehicle, including automatic climate control, power windows and door locks and even a Garmin navigation system.

Under the hood, a four-cylinder engine pulls duty in every edition of the 2011 Suzuki Grand Vitara. The 2.4-liter unit is good for 166 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and it can be matched with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Four-wheel drive can also be added to the Grand Vitara as an option, and its small size and low-range gearing help to make the compact SUV a genuinely capable off-road vehicle. Fuel mileage for the Suzuki is rated at 19-mpg city and 25-mpg highway.

02. 2011 Honda CR-V – MSRP $21,895

The 2011 Honda CR-V has long been one of the compact crossover market’s mainstays, and its large passenger compartment (up to five occupants) and generous cargo area (73 cubic feet) help to explain why. The Honda CR-V is also a comfortable cruiser, providing sedan-like handling and very reasonable fuel economy of 21-mpg city and 28-mpg on the highway.

The 2011 Honda CR-V’s fuel sipping habits are the direct consequence of the thrifty, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that it counts as its only available power plant. With 180 horses and 161 lb-ft of torque on tap, the motor offers more than enough power for the average driver, and available all-wheel drive (which steps in once wheel spin is detected) adds an extra degree of safety to the mix. All Honda CR-Vs come with a five-speed automatic transmission.

03. 2011 Chevrolet Equinox – MSRP $22,995

The 2011 Chevrolet Equinox provides an interesting counterpoint to the Honda CR-V, and for not much more money. The Chevrolet Equinox offers two rows of seating, suitable for five passengers in total, as well as up to 63.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front two positions. Where the Equinox really pulls ahead, however, is in the engine department.

Initially, the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox is outfitted with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mill that generates 182 horses and 172 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage for this motor checks in at a healthy 22-mpg around town and 32-mpg on the highway, placing it near the top of its class. The crossover’s optional V-6 engine significantly ups the ante through the introduction of 264 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque, although it does lower fuel economy to 17-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. Each engine comes with a six-speed automatic transmission and the option of all-wheel drive.

04. 2011 Dodge Durango – MSRP $29,195

The 2011 Dodge Durango is a full-size hauler that straddles the line between crossover and SUV. All-new for the current model year, the Dodge Durango’s rear-wheel drive, unibody platform gives it both the stability required to tow a heavy load (up to 7,400 lbs) as well as the comfort that was missing in the previous, truck-based edition of the vehicle. The Durango also features seven passenger seating as well as a maximum cargo capacity of 84.5 cubic feet.

The 2011 Dodge Durango is also fairly gifted in terms of its available engine choices. The crossover starts out with a 3.6-liter V-6 that offers up 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, along with fuel economy of 16-mpg in city driving and 22-mpg on the highway. A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is also available, and it puts out 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy remains decent, showing as 14-mpg city and 20-mpg highway. Both versions of the Durango come with a five-speed auto gearbox, but while the V-6 edition features an available all-wheel drive system, the V-8 model comes instead with a low-range four-wheel drive system.

05. 2011 Ford Flex – MSRP $29,355

The 2011 Ford Flex provides the same seven-passenger seating as the Durango and it also provides 83 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear rows out of the picture. The Ford Flex is more reminiscent of a tall wagon, however, than an SUV, and its slab sides and flat roof give it a styling advantage that helps it to stand out from the crowd.

The 2011 Ford Flex provides a 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the base model that produces 262 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The vehicle also comes in EcoBoost trim, which slaps on a pair of turbochargers and churns out 355 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque from the same size V-6. All-wheel drive is standard on the EcoBoost version of the Flex, optional with the naturally-aspirated V-6, and both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for each motor is surprisingly similar, with the base Flex pulling ahead by a nose thanks to its 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway rating.

06. 2011 Toyota 4Runner – MSRP $30,305

The 2011 Toyota 4Runner is the first “true” truck on this list, a body-on-frame SUV that can handle hardcore off-road driving conditions with relative ease. The Toyota 4Runner is also a civilized commuter, and with its optional third row of seating installed it can handle as many as seven adults. Nix the third – and the second – rows, and the SUV is capable of hauling a hefty 90 cubic feet of gear.

The 2011 Toyota 4Runner’s sole engine choice is a 4.0-liter V-6 that has been rated at 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. All versions of the 4Runner come with a five-speed automatic transmission, but two different four-wheel drive systems are available to improve on the traction offered by the vehicle’s standard rear-wheel drive layout. Fuel economy for the 4Runner shows as 17-mpg in stop and go driving and 23-mpg on the highway.

07. 2011 Audi Q5 – MSRP $35,600

The 2011 Audi Q5 provides mid-size luxury crossover buyers with the high end features, exquisite interior styling and impressive technology options that they prize. Items such a as leather seats, three zones of climate control and the Audi MMI vehicle interface are standard on the Audi Q5, and the vehicle can seat five passengers and accommodate 57 cubic feet of luggage with the rear row folded down.

The 2011 Audi Q5 features quattro all-wheel drive on each and every model. The entry-level edition of the Q5 is equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and posts an EPA rating of 20-mpg in city driving and 27-mpg on the highway. The Q5 can also be ordered with a 3.2-liter V-6 that brings 270 horses and 243 lb-ft of twist into the picture. The turbo four is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 (which offers fuel mileage of 18-mpg city and 23-mpg highway) is paired with a six-speed auto gearbox.

08. 2011 BMW X3 – MSRP $36,750

The 2011 BMW X3 aims to provide compact SUV fans with a legitimately sporty premium ride. The redesigned BMW X3 is a five-seater that features a tight chassis, playful suspension system and a much roomier interior than was found on the model it replaces. It also comes with 63.3 cubic feet of total cargo space.

The 2011 BMW X3 xDrive28i offers standard all-wheel drive and a 240 horsepower, 3.0-liter, inline-six cylinder engine that also generates 221 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the xDrive28i, and fuel economy for this model shows as 19-mpg city and 25-mpg highway. The xDrive35i edition of the X3 turbocharges the same engine to the tune of 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, while actually improving fuel mileage to 19-mpg city and 26-mpg highway. An eight-speed automatic remains the transmission of choice for the xDrive35i.

09. 2011 Acura MDX – MSRP $42,930

The 2011 Acura MDX is a solid choice for families seeking a comfortable daily driver that can swallow kids, adults, camping gear and groceries while still offering excellent driving dynamics and top drawer features and options. The luxurious mid-size Acura MDX is a three-row crossover that offers seating for seven along with 83.5 cubic feet of storage space that is accessible when moving gear takes priority over moving people.

The 2011 Acura MDX is sold exclusively with a 3.7-liter, 300 horsepower V-6. This unit also grinds out 270 lb-ft of torque, and comes with Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. SH-AWD is notable for its torque vectoring system that automatically manages engine output in order to dramatically improve handling, even in dry road conditions. A six-speed automatic transmission is included with each and every MDX, and fuel economy for the crossover is rated at 16-mpg city and 21-mpg highway.

10. 2011 Cadillac Escalade – MSRP $63,455

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade is a formidable luxury SUV. Its imposing exterior dimensions are a fair indication of just how big the Cadillac Escalade really is inside, and with room for as many as eight passengers or 108.9 cubic feet of total cargo space the sport-utility vehicle is as useful as it is decadent. In addition to its extensive list of standard features, almost every conceivable premium option can be installed in the Cadillac.

The 2011 Cadillac Escalade is blessed with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that pushes out 403 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the full-size SUV, and buyers can selection from either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive editions. Fuel economy for the Escalade checks in at 14-mpg city and 18-mpg highway.


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