Babble Best Picks:
Best Crossovers for the Family
With winter right around the corner and dealers clearing out the lots to make room for next year's models, now is a great time to take advantage of dealer and manufacturer incentives and shop for a new SUV. To help consumers make sense of the increasingly crowded crossover market, I examined the most popular models on the market under $35,000 and chose the best SUVs for families based on price, cargo capacity, safety, features, and fuel economy. Read More »
There are a lot of options to choose from, and many vehicles are very evenly matched. When there was a tough call in deciding which vehicle was best for the category, I took the uncertain economy and the ever-changing price fuel into consideration and gave the top spot to the less-expensive vehicle that got better gas mileage.
Safety is also a big consideration when selecting a vehicle. New car stickers have the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 5-star safety ratings on them, so here we listed the more stringent crash test scores given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To cross-check our results, we also listed the Consumer Reports vehicle score and provided their Consumer Satisfaction rating when available.
We hope you find this information helpful in your search for a family crossover. Don't see your favorite vehicle on the list? Nominate it here! - Liane Yvkoff
Best SUV for active families | 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
FUEL ECONOMY: 16/23
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the stalwart of crossovers, and one of the few with true off-roading capabilities. The SUV is all new this year, and to help it compete with other vehicles in its class, Jeep focused on making the Cherokee less truck-like and more comfortable for the daily driver with better fuel economy, without compromising the robust architecture that makes it a favorite with active families.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is self-described and self-certified as “trail rated,” which means it can handle a variety of terrains and conditions. It has a new, stiffer frame and almost 9″ of ground clearance for off-road trails, but the degree of off-road capability will depend largely on the drivetrain and powertrain combination you choose.
Jeep lets buyers choose from two engines and three 4X4 drivetrain systems. Buyers can select either a 290-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine that gets 16/23 mpg or a 360-horsepower, 5.7L V8 that gets 14/20 mpg. Its 4WD options range from basic support for winter conditions to advanced capabilities that help the vehicle traverse extremely steep or uneven off-road paths. It’s also available with hill descent that will creep you down a hill at a low speed so you don’t even need to touch the gas pedal – only steer. Other crossovers offer a version of this feature, but Grand Cherokee may be the only one that works at up to 60 percent hill grades and in reverse.
The Grand Cherokee can tow up to 5,000 or 7,400 lbs. depending on the engine size. To put that tow capacity to work, Jeep’s accessory supplier offers an off-road-capable, Jeep-branded and -styled camper trailer. The trailer is roomy enough for four adults and features a queen-size bed, sofa, stowable table, built-in aluminum cabinet, a 110-volt power supply, and a premium canvas enclosure for about $10 grand.
And if your activities often include long-distance driving, the SUV is available with adaptive cruise control that will keep pace with the vehicle ahead of it. It also offers advanced safety features, such as Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross-path detection systems. A 115-volt outlet will help run appliances in a pinch on camping trips.
SEATING + STORAGE
With one of the widest second-row bench seats in its class, the 5-seater Cherokee allows you to accommodate some car seats three-across.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
You can add on a ceiling-mounted DVD entertainment system with optional SIRIUS Backseat TV subscription, which gives passengers satellite TV with three channels: Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network.