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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 small SUV on a budget | 2011 Kia Sportage

Best Crossovers for the Family: 2011 Kia Sportage

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MSRP: $18,295- $27,295

FUEL ECONOMY: 22/31

The 2011 Kia Sportage saw big changes this year, with a curvier body, more powerful engine options, and new tech features that give drivers a lot of bang for their buck.

The new 176-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission that gets 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, or a 6-speed automatic that gets an impressive 22 (city)/31 (highway) mpg. Even if you opt for the more powerful 260-horsepower, 2.0L turbo engine, at 22/27 mpg, gas mileage won’t take that much of a hit, and it makes the vehicle a lot more fun to drive.

FEATURES

The Sportage is really about the packaging and value. A sloping roofline gives the crossover a less-boxy look, which appeals to women. With an optional leather interior and uncluttered dash, the crossover has the look and feel of a sports car. The only downside is that you can’t exactly drive it like one. It seems nimble enough on the road, but driving dynamics don’t really hold up at higher speeds around curves. Then again, crossovers aren’t really meant to corner.

Consumer Reports isn’t a fan of the Sportage’s high beltline created by its small windows, which reduce the driver’s visibility. But using less glass is how the carmaker cut weight to increase its fuel economy. That tradeoff can be mitigated by an available rear-view camera with parking sensors – if you opt for the navigation package, that is. Earning points with families is the air-conditioned box in the dash that can keep bottles and snacks cool.

SEATING + STORAGE

The new 2011 Sportage is longer and wider, but it still doesn’t offer as much cargo capacity, legroom, or hip room as some of its competitors. Despite that drawback, it offers a highly styled package, great fuel economy, and a lot of tech features at a surprisingly low price.

ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION

The Kia’s touch-screen navigation is bigger than several competitors, and it integrates nicely with iPods. It’s also available with the brand’s new UVO hands-free infotainment system, with which you can control the audio system through voice commands and make hands-free phone calls with a Bluetooth phone. Another perk of the UVO system is that it can read text messages out loud and lets you respond with preset messages.

RATINGS

  • IIHS Top Safety Pick. Good performance in front, side, rollover, and rear tests and standard electronic stability control.
  • Consumer Reports gave the 2011 Kia Sportage a score of 70 out of 100 points. No owner satisfaction score was available.

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