3 Best Low Cost SUVs


Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

, Automotive Editor - October 4, 2012

Buyers shopping for a well-priced vehicle with a high amount of versatility typically search for a low cost SUV. Many benefits exist to purchasing an SUV, especially for consumers with families or specific needs that a car simply cannot meet. Among them, SUVs typically give their owners more cargo and passenger room. Plus, many people feel safer in an SUV because it is larger and higher off the ground than most cars and minivans. Of course, these benefits come at the cost of reduced gas mileage and generally higher insurance premiums.

Most of the lowest-cost SUVs are generally smaller in size, falling into the "compact SUV" market segment. Additionally, the lowest costs are typically found on SUVs lacking a significant amount of optional luxuries. Nowadays, most vehicles have a fairly comprehensive standard features list, making many of the available options a frivolous expense in the eyes of some consumers. As such, the following are a few of the best brand new, low cost compact SUVs that have an entry-level "base" model option:

Honda CR-V

Honda's CR-V is the brand's entry in the compact SUV field, and is one of the most popular options in the segment. In LX form, it comes standard with features such as a 180-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, a 5-speed automatic transmission and 100,000 miles between required tune-ups. Additionally, it has such creature comforts as remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a steering column that both tilts and telescopes, and a full complement of power accessories. Finally, standard safety equipment includes dual front, front side, and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and stability control. The cost of entry into a 2012 CR-V LX starts at just over $21,000. Information can be found on Honda's website.

Toyota RAV-4

Similar to the CR-V, the RAV-4 is Toyota's compact SUV. Starting at $21,675, the 2012 RAV-4 Base has a standard equipment list that includes a 179-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Interior amenities include standard air conditioning, an auxiliary audio input jack, a tilt and telescoping steering column, and power accessories with keyless entry. A multitude of airbags, active front head restraints and a tire pressure monitoring system are examples of the standard safety equipment. Consumers can learn more on Toyota's website.

Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet redesigned the Equinox for model year 2012, increasing both its functionality and style quotients. With a starting price of $22,615, Chevrolet packages the Equinox LS with standard features that include a 6-speed automatic transmission, a 182-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, the Equinox boasts air conditioning, power windows and locks, and an in-dash CD stereo that has an auxiliary audio input jack and is XM Radio-ready (a free 3-month XM trial membership is also included). As far as safety equipment, a complement of airbags, daytime running lamps, 4-wheel ABS, and a traction control system all come standard. Finally, the Equinox is equipped with a free 1-year membership to GM's legendary Onstar system. More information can be found on Chevrolet's website.

Packaged as a "base" model, each of the aforementioned vehicles are solid choices for buyers wanting a low cost SUV. Certainly, other excellent options exist, too. Consumers can research all compact SUVs on the CarsDirect website.

Related Questions and Answers

What are the Trim Levels for the Chevrolet Equinox?

The trim levels for a new Chevrolet Equinox include the following: LS, 1LT, 2LT, and LTZ. For the most part, the Chevy Equinox is available for purchase, ranging anywhere from $22,615-$29,970 on the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. The price range on the dealer invoice ranges from $21,484-$28,472. The various trim levels for the Chevy Equinox also come in front wheel or all wheel drive. The vehicles have a 2.4 liter direct injection, which is the standard drivetrain for all the models of the Chevy Equinox. They also feature four cylinders and six speed automatic transmissions at all trim levels.

What is Meant By a Compact SUV?

A compact SUV is an SUV definition not as large as a regular SUV, and not as small as a mini SUV. This type of SUV measures at 4.25 to 4.60 meters in length, which translates to 167 to 181 inches. The very first modern compact SUV models were introduced in 1983. The first of those being the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer from General Motors. The next compact SUV to be released, in mid-1983, was the Ford Bronco II. The first compact SUV with four doors was the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) and was produced almost unchanged through the 2001 model year.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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