Finding the Best SUV for the Money

Finding the Best SUV for the Money

Today’s savvy consumers are not just looking for a cheap vehicle with low monthly payments; they want the best SUV for the money. The 2011 U.S. News Best Car for the Money award winners listed here are vehicles that offer all the important features you are looking for, yet cost less over the lifetime of the vehicle than similar models, making them the best rated SUV for all of your transportation needs.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – Best Compact SUV Crossover for the Money

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – Best Compact SUV Crossover for the Money

The 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has been rated one of the best small SUV contenders for the price (under $20,000 in most areas). While the “Sport” designation does not seem to fit with the less-than brisk handling and lack of overall power, reviewers like this vehicle for its edgy design and roomy interior.

Base Features:

•    2.0L 4-cyl. engine
•    Continuously variable transmission
•    Up to 24 cty/31 hwy mpg
•    Bluetooth
•    MP3 Player
•    Side/Curtain Airbags
•    Stability Control
•    Traction Control
•    Navigation System (Optional)

Pros:
Cool styling, quiet ride, roomy cargo space and excellent fuel economy make this smaller SUV a good choice for getting around town.  The standard voice activation was a strong selling point with some of our reviewers.

Cons:
Our reviewers found the Outlander Sport to be underpowered and lacking in responsiveness; this compact SUV also demonstrated longer breaking distances than its competitors.

Other compact SUVs to consider:
If you are looking for a bit more in the way of power, the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are both equipped with more powerful engines and handle more like a “sport” SUV. For style, nothing can beat the 2011 MINI Cooper, which also features a more powerful 181-HP engine.

With the compact SUV market expected to increase rapidly over the next several years, you should see plenty of other options open up for you; in the meantime, the Outlander Sport promises to be an economical value over the long term.

2011 Chevrolet Traverse – Best Midsize SUV for the Money 

2011 Chevrolet Traverse – Best Midsize SUV for the Money

The 2011 Chevy Traverse is perfect for families who hate the idea of a minivan, but need plenty of passenger space and room for extra cargo. With its stylish new look, carlike handling, and reasonable fuel economy, the Traverse has a lot to offer.

Base Features:

•  3.6L V6 engine
•  Automatic transmission
•  Up to 17 cty/24 hwy mpg
•  All-wheel drive
•  MP3 Player
•  Satellite radio
•  Side/Curtain Airbags
•  Stability Control
•  Third row seats
•  Traction Control

Pros:
The 2011 model is beautifully styled and has plenty of cabin room, even for adult passengers. In addition, it has plenty of cargo space and gets great gas mileage for a vehicle of its size. We like the split-folding third row seating and car-like feel; with top safety ratings for its class, the Traverse is one of our favorites for this model year.

Cons:
One of the main problems with the 2011 Traverse is the poor outward visibility; in addition, in spite of the classy exterior, some of the cabin fixtures are cheap-looking. Although this SUV feels like a car on the road, its larger size makes handling a bit of a chore.

Other Midsize SUVs to consider:
If you are looking for power in addition to cabin comfort and style, the 2011 Ford Flex gives the Traverse a stiff run for its money. For those looking for something more upscale and luxurious, you may want to consider the Buick Enclave; budget-minded consumers get plenty of cabin space and comfort with the third-row-seating Honda Pilot.

2011 Chevrolet Tahoe – the Best Full-Size Crossover SUV 

2011 Chevrolet Tahoe – the Best Full-Size Crossover SUV

Chevrolet makes our list again with the 2011 Tahoe – the best SUV for the money if you are looking for great value in a full-size, family friendly vehicle.

Base Features:

•    5.3L V8 flex-fuel engine
•    Automatic transmission
•    Up to 15 cty/21 hwy mpg
•    4-wheel drive
•    Bluetooth
•    iPod input
•    Satellite radio
•    Side/Curtain Airbags
•    Stability Control
•    Third row seats
•    Traction Control

Pros:
We love the rugged look and powerful towing capacity of the 2011 Tahoe. With its generous list of standard features, seating for nine, and smooth ride, the Chevy Tahoe is at the top of most reviewers’ lists for this model year.

Cons:
While there is little to complain about with this year’s Chevy Tahoe, this vehicle is best suited for those who need extra power to tow a boat or trailer. Families who are looking for a larger vehicle just for getting around town may want to consider something a bit smaller.

Other full-size SUVs to consider:
For a smaller and more economical crossover, we recommend the Ford Flex. If you are looking for a vehicle with the towing capacity and ruggedness of the Tahoe and don’t mind paying a few thousand dollars more, you may want to consider the Toyota Sequoia.

If you are looking for the best SUV for the money, it is important to comparison shop to make sure that the vehicle you end up purchasing has the features you want at a price you are comfortable paying. The 2011 model year has plenty of great options, and we are also looking forward to the upcoming 2012 model year.