Maybe you’re adding a new member to your family, or perhaps you’re tired of cramming your jogging stroller into a trunk already brimming with kid gear, but let’s face it — you’ve reached the crossover tipping point.
The crossover tipping point is the phenomena where your lifestyle no longer fits inside the sleek sedan or sexy sports car you used to drive before you had children, pets, and the unspeakable amount of injection molded plastics to haul around. You know you’ve reached it when the number of carseats you need outnumbers the adults, you’d seriously consider transporting the dog in the trunk if it weren’t full of sports equipment, and other parents give you the cold shoulder because you can never carpool. The prognosis: You need a bigger vehicle.
Purchasing a new vehicle is one of the most important — and expensive — decisions a family will make. To help simplify the buying process, Babble waded through the crowded crossover segment to find the best CUV for any driving need. We examined new and best-selling vehicles on the market, but limited our budget to $35,000. That price ceiling quickly eliminated many vehicles from our shopping list, but the selection of economical crossovers is still considerable. To help narrow the list even further, we focused on fuel economy, safety, and parent-friendly features. When crossovers were fairly evenly matched, we gave preference to vehicles that had better fuel economy, price, or were a previous Babble favorite. — Liane Yvkoff
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Top SUV for “green” families | Ford Escape Ecoboost
MSRP: $22,470 – $30,370
FUEL ECONOMY: 23/33 mpg
Ford has phased out the hybrid version of its 5-seater crossover, but in its place is an all-new model of the Escape with a choice of fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines. Compared to the outgoing hybrid model, the 2013 Ford Escape has taken a slight dip in fuel economy to 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway when equipped with the 178-horsepower, 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. It now offers 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway when paired with the 240-hp, 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
Although it’s no longer the class leader when it comes to gas mileage, it still has a lot of environmentally friendly credentials, specifically its use of green materials inside the vehicle, from post-industrial recycled seating material to post-consumer recycled resin products, like plastic detergent bottles and tires.
In addition to the lower carbon footprint, parents will also appreciate the hands-free power liftgate that they can open by waving a foot near the rear bumper with the key fob in close proximity. The 2013 Ford Escape now also offers safety features formerly found only on the flagship Explorer, such as the Blind-Spot Information System, which alerts drivers to vehicles in their blind spot or approaching vehicles when backing out of parking spaces. Also available is the active park assist feature, which will parallel park the vehicle for the driver with the push of a button.
Parents of teens will want to opt for the MyKey option, which is a special key that electronically limits the top speed to 80 mph. It also will chime at 45, 55, and 65 mph to keep young drivers aware of their speed at all times.
SEATING + STORAGE
With only 49 inches of hip room in the second row and 66.4 cu. ft. of cargo space, the Ford Escape doesn’t have as much carrying capacity as other crossovers in its class. But the floor space in the cargo area is more than enough for strollers and groceries, and the second row seats fold flat for more cargo room.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
There are two varieties of Sync available with the Ford Escape: Sync with MyFord and Sync with MyFord Touch. Sync with MyFord offers the services that make the infotainment system popular, including voice-activated calling, entertainment, turn-by-turn directions, and emergency services. The hands-free service is free for the first three years, and then $60 per year. The upgraded Sync with MyFord Touch introduces a touch-screen interface, integrated navigation, WiFi hotspot capability, and a laundry list of additional features. Both systems work with AppLink, Ford’s downloadable software that integrates smartphone entertainment apps with the vehicle’s infotainment system.
IIHS Top Safety Pick
Consumer Reports gave the Ford Escape a score of 75 points out of 100. No owner satisfaction score is available.