The Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV for short) class is for shoppers who are looking for flexible cargo options and capacity, but who want the improved fuel economy that a sedan offers in comparison to a mid-size SUV. It's been 20 years since the Ford Explorer debuted and changed the automotive landscape forever. However, strict new requirements for fuel efficiency have been mandated, leading to the spawning of this brand-new class. In the past several years, Crossovers have has grown in popularity and are expected to triple its sales by 2012. By no means "hardened off-road vehicles," they provide slightly more ground clearance than their 4-door sedan stablemates. In addition, thanks to their smaller overall dimensions, CUVs are more reliable, easier to maneuver, and more fuel efficient than larger SUVs. Ideal for a small family or the outdoor/adventurous type, the CUV class provides a wide range of choices to choose from. Moreover, they manage to provide a similar of the road when compared to standard SUVs.
Price Range: $15,365 - $59,000
For 2011, the compact SUV owner has even more options in 2011. Below you'll find a few of the 74 CUVs currently on the market.
New for 2011 is the Nissan Juke. The Juke's heart lies in the form of a fuel-effecient direct-injected 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque and mated to Nissan's ultra-smooth CVT automatic transmission. The combination helps the Juke to achieve a solid 27 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway, all for an affordable starting price of $19,340.
Also new for 2011 is the MINI Countryman, which features a bevy of safety features and second-to-none styling sourced from the ultra-popular MINI Cooper. The Countryman comes standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine which produces 121 horsepower and helps it achieve a very respectable 27 mpg in the city and a whopping 35 mpg on the highway. The MSRP for the Countryman is $21,650. A lot of car for the money, no doubt.
The Honda CR-V, a carryover from 2011, comes with bulletproof reliability and bold styling. Power comes from Honda's 166hp 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, a 10hp increase from the previous model. MSN Autos calls the new CR-V, "Evolutionary and revolutionary, with advanced styling that makes a statement."
The Mitsubishi Outlander, which looks very similar to the Toyota RAV4, is also available to the CUV owner who wants the best possible handling performance while still being able to haul cargo. Driving performance is where the Outlander shines and it offers the best car-like handling and ride in the class.
The Scion xB and Kia Souloffer the best value in the CUV class. The xB comes standard with a stout 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 158hp while mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission (or a 5-speed manual), stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The xB also gets 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The Soul comes with a slighly less powerful 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine which produces 122 horsepower (26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway). Kia also offers a larger, more robust 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 142 horsepower without sacrificing too much fuel economy (24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway).
As gas prices have skyrocketed and hybrid sedans have sold well, manufacturers have begun to outfit other classes of vehicles with Hybrid technology. One such segment has been the compact SUV class.
The Ford Escape Hybridremains largely unchanged for 2011. It has a 133 HP 2.3L I-4 and gets 36/31 mpg. TheMercury Mariner Hybrid is based off the Ford Escape and also remains largely unchanged. It uses a continuously variable transmission and can travel up to 25 mph on battery power alone for a short period of time. Car and Driver says, "The Mariner is an SUV that drives much like a car. Strong and lightweight unibody construction, as well as a tuned four-wheel independent suspension, gives a supple ride while providing the proper control in emergency maneuvers."
Compact SUV Safety Guide
When vehicles are launched or redesigned, it's becoming common to equip them with extensive safety features, many of which were only available on luxury cars just a few years ago. Besides antilock brakes(ABS) and side airbags, compact SUVs are beginning to come standard with features such as side curtain airbags and traction control. In some cases, advanced safety technology may only be available as costly options, if at all, so it's important to do your research if safety is important to you.