Just like the age of the Dinosaur, the rule of humongous gas guzzling SUVs has passed away into history. And while no one is quite sure what killed the Dinosaurs, it is quite clear what killed these large and inefficient jacked up station wagons: Gas prices and the economy.
So if you need the utility of an SUV yet don’t want to go into serious debt at your local gas station, these are five terrific options priced under $25,000. They are superbly built, have terrific crash test ratings and have relatively low running costs. Plus, they offer plenty of room for the family. As long as there are no Dinosaurs in your family.
2010 Subaru Forester
(Starting at $20,295)-(20 city/27 highway)-(2.5 liter 170 horsepower 4 cylinder)
The ever popular Forester is the only one in this group that comes with full time all-wheel drive as standard. This gives it an advantage from a price perspective as ordering this feature can be costly with some of its rivals. Although the interior may not win any design awards, this is a robustly built and reliable workhorse. The Forester also boasts a “Top Safety Pick” rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety).
2010 Honda CR-V
(Starting at $21,545)-(21 city/28 highway)-(2.4 liter 180 horsepower 4 cylinder)
The CR-V is the go to compact SUV for people who want reliable, roomy and relatively fun to drive family transportation. The CR-V really has no flaws and that is why so many people drive them. In fact, that may be its only flaw.
2010 Toyota RAV4
(Starting at $21,645)-(22 city/28 highway)-(2.5 liter 179 horsepower 4 cylinder)
The RAV4 is the grandfather of the compact, affordable SUV segment. It has always been fuel efficient, reliable and ready for all the abuse you can throw its way. It also looks stylish in this current generation and is getting a slight interior refresh for the 2011 model year.
2010 Chevy Equinox
(Starting at $22,615)-(22 city/32 highway)-(2.4 liter 182 horsepower 4 cylinder)
The last generation Chevy Equinox was, to be kind, lacking when looked at side by side with the competition. But the all new for 2010 model now boasts class leading economy and space as well as a striking exterior design. This is Chevy’s best SUV ever bar none.
2011 Kia Sportage LX
(Starting at $20,295)-(22 city/31 highway)-(2.4 liter 176 horsepower 4 cylinder)
This may be Kia’s most forward thinking design statement yet as it rewrites the rulebook when it comes to how an affordable SUV should look. The 2011 Sportage is trickling into dealers now and features an interior that looks like it was lifted out of an Audi and you can even squeak under the $25,000 budget if you order your Sportage in LX trim with the navigation/convenience package.
Optioning your LX model Sportage this way gives you handsome alloy wheels, Bluetooth, USB-port, in dash navigation (obviously), a back-up warning system, a premium audio system and the peace of mind that comes with that 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. This SUV is going to be a monster hit for Kia.