Crossovers Buying Guide
Crossovers From $25,000 - $30,000
What to expect in this price range:
- Lots of models to choose from
- More luxurious models from non-luxury brands
- Seating for up to eight passengers with three rows standard on more models
- More space for cargo
- Mostly six-cylinder with some four-cylinder engine options
- Fuel-saving hybrids
- Front-wheel drive standard on most models with all-wheel drive optional
At this price point, third rows go from being optional or available on some vehicles to standard on many. Of course, there are still some vehicles that forego utility for style with sloping rear windows that do not leave enough space for a third row. With larger, heavier vehicles than less expensive segments, V6s become the norm and fuel economy suffers, even if it typically bests traditional, similarly sized SUVs.
Ford, looking to rely less and less on sales of traditional pickup trucks and SUVs, has several crossovers starting in this price range, each with a different style and capability. The large, boxy Flex seats up to seven from $28,550, while the more rounded Edge, with just two rows of seating, begins at $26,635. Despite their differences in size, both get the same combined 19-mpg fuel economy rating from the EPA.
All new for 2009, the Chevrolet Traverse, from $29,215, could not come at a better time for Chevy as sales of its existing truck-based SUVs are in freefall, there is no longer a minivan in the showroom and yet customers still want lots of space for their families.
Like its little brother, the RAV4, the $25,705 Toyota Highlander has grown in its latest generation, adding a few inches in length and width, thus making the third row more comfortable for passengers. Engine options, too, have benefited from the re-design, with a 270 hp V6 now the top engine option and a four-cylinder back in the lineup for economy-minded buyers. A hybrid version returns as well, using Toyota’s tried and true gas/electric Synergy drive to improve city fuel consumption by nearly 60%.
For buyers looking for a more car-like crossover, 2009 also sees the debut of the $25,975 Toyota Venza, more a tall wagon than a small truck. But with a bit of added ground clearance and available all-wheel drive, the Venza plays the crossover tune just right.
When an all-new, second generation Nissan Murano debuted in 2008, the Japanese automaker made few outward changes to the very successful and curvaceous CUV. But the horsepower from Nissan’s award-winning 3.5-liter V6 was bumped up to 265 for this $27,680 CUV. Higher trim levels include a power-operated rear liftgate, xenon headlights and massive 20-inch wheels.
The Mazda CX-9 shares the Nissan Murano’s penchant for curved surfaces and is more fashionably styled than many other CUVs or SUVs. With room for up to seven passengers, the $29,820 crossover includes Bluetooth and three-zone climate control as standard equipment. All-wheel drive is optional, but the standard 273-hp V6 is more than enough to keep up with traffic and zoom along in the left lane.
Somewhat more squared-off than the competition from Mazda and Nissan, the Honda Pilot is all new for 2009. The $27,695 Pilot seats up to eight, offers front or all-wheel drive and is powered by a 250-hp V6 that will can shut down two or three cylinders when cruising on the highway to eke out a few more precious MPG when the situation permits.
The Subaru Tribeca barely makes it into this class at $29,995, but what you get for your money is standard all-wheel drive – optional on every other vehicle in this price range. The Tribeca’s 256-hp V6 puts it right in the middle of this class and gives it decent performance, but you won’t win any stoplight drags with it. And also, you may want to skip the optional third row, which is very tight and impedes on second-row legroom as well.
For fans of hybrid models, the Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid – triplets with different badges all assembled at the same Ford factory – fulfill the promise of being the most fuel-efficient CUVs or SUVs on the market. Priced from right around $29,000, these little crossovers can achieve as much as 34 mpg in the city for front-drive models. All-wheel drive models get just under 30 mpg according to the EPA.
- What Is A Crossover (CUV)?
- How To Shop For A Crossover (CUV)
- Notable Newcomers
- Crossovers Under $15,000
- Crossovers From $15,000 - $20,000
- Crossovers From $20,000 - $25,000
- Crossovers From $25,000 - $30,000
- Crossovers From $30,000 - $40,000
- Crossovers From $40,000 - $55,000
- Crossovers Over $55,000