Shopping for a
It's important to evaluate your needs before shopping for an SUV. Think
about the type of driving you do, how much power you need, how often you carry
cargo or pull a trailer and how many passengers you're likely to carry. Will
you ever go off road? The following is what experts recommend shoppers consider
when checking out midsize SUVs:
SUVs attempt to balance cargo capacity, passenger space and fuel economy. Most
of the vehicles in this class can carry at least five people comfortably --many
three-row models fit seven passengers, or even eight -- and still have adequate
cargo space, but not quite as much as a full-size SUV. Fuel economy and
handling are usually better than for larger SUVs.
- SUVs are
not as nimble as cars. A higher driving position and heavier weight
generally mean that an SUV's performance, fuel economy and handling are not as
good as a typical passenger sedan or station wagon's. As always, some models
perform better than others when it comes to handling, accelerating and braking.
midsize SUVs are crossovers. When SUVs first became popular, almost all
were based on traditional body-on-frame truck platforms. Now, most are based on
unibody passenger-car architecture, which puts them into the crossover class.
Performance and handling of these models are better than older truck-based
engine options typically provide adequate power and better fuel efficiency. Recent redesigns often include 4-cylinder engine options. Reviewers at
enthusiast publications find these less exciting, but often conclude that they
are more than adequate for typical buyers and increase fuel efficiency.
midsize SUVs are typically better at off-road and towing situations, but this
is no longer the rule. Truck-based SUVs used to have the advantage when it
came to hauling trailers and rock crawling, but many new car-based SUVs have
closed this gap. Truck-based SUVs tend to be heavier and have more cumbersome
handling, but these are no longer the norm; most mainstream SUVs are now
family-friendly crossovers. For even towing capability, look at full-size SUVs,
which we cover in a separate report on large SUVs.
- A minivan
may be a more practical, comfortable solution. For maximum passenger and
cargo space, the best vehicle may be a minivan, if you don't mind the suburban
family image that comes with it. However, most minivans do not offer all-wheel
drive (the Toyota Sienna is the sole exception), or much towing capacity.
in the third row varies. Some midsize SUVs and crossovers have easy access
to the third row (if so equipped), but kids will probably be more comfortable
back there than teens or adults. Full-size three-row SUVs are roomier, but no SUVs
have the kind of third-row comfort typically found in a minivan.
- Some SUVs
are two-wheel-drive, which is sufficient for many owners' needs. Crossovers
are often front-wheel-drive-based vehicles, while truck-based SUVs are usually
based on rear-wheel-drive architecture. All brands offer four-wheel drive or
all-wheel drive as standard or optional features. AWD vehicles automatically
distribute power to the wheels with the best traction. Four-wheel-drive
vehicles allow the driver to engage all four wheels on demand. Low-range
gearing is designed for off-road use. Front-wheel-drive powertrains are usually
more fuel efficient.
crossovers aren't meant for serious off-roading. This is due to designs
that focus on on-road drivability and comfort. But considering that fewer than
5 percent of SUV owners regularly take their vehicles off road, a crossover's
more nimble handling and car-like ride may be an advantage over the heavier
chassis of a truck-based SUV.