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 7-seater SUV on a budget | 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander
MSRP: $21,995- $27,795
FUEL ECONOMY: 23/28 mpg
Lots of families want the convenience of a seven-seater crossover but don’t want to invest a lot of money for the two extra seats that won’t be used a majority of the time. With the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, you get seven-passenger capacity for the price of your average 5-seater, midsize SUV.
In addition to being one of the most affordable crossovers on the market, the Outlander is one of the most fuel-efficient. But that fuel savings comes at a cost: The Outlander is powered by a barely adequate 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine. The small engine coupled with a Continual Variable Transmission – a more fuel-efficient transmission that uses formulas to determine how much to power the engine – should use instead of traditional fixed gears delivers excellent fuel economy, but the combo will tame speed demons in the process.
The Outlander may not be the fastest crossover, but drivers used to being behind the wheel of a performance car will appreciate the vehicle’s sports car-like column-mounted paddle shifters that drivers can use to simulate gear-shift changes. Once you get going, the Outlander is one of the easiest 7-seaters to maneuver because it has the smallest turning diameter in its class.
One feature that sets the 2011 Outlander apart from other crossovers is the drop-down tailgate, which can support up to 400-lbs of weight and is useful if you’re loading bikes and skis on the roof or just hanging out at soccer games. Another mom-approved perk is the odor-defeating headliner.
SEATING + STORAGE
Passengers in the second row have a respectable amount of room, and depending on your car seats, you probably could fit three of them across. But the third row has less legroom than a couple of its close competitors. Of course, like most 5+2 vehicles, the third row isn’t meant for full-size adults; in fact, the seats are really built to only support a child of around 60 pounds. The Outlander won’t win any awards for its interior, but Mitsubishi keeps the price low and fuel economy high.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
The 2011 Outlander features an optional voice-activated navigation system that integrates mobile devices like iPods and iPhones. But if you’re in a congested commute corridor, you’ll appreciate the navigation system’s ability to show you the shortest, quickest route to the HOV lane. Like most midsize crossovers, a ceiling-mounted DVD entertainment system with video and audio inputs and a 110-volt outlet is available.