Looking for the best new SUVs under $30,000? We’ve got the inside scoop right here. Of course, things will change as the 2011 models launch, but for  now, you certainly can’t go wrong by selecting one or two from these compact and midsize SUV picks to take for a test-drive – and possibly buy.

Before a model makes our list, we first check out what the automotive experts have to say. We scour various sites for top 10 lists, look at what consumers have to say, and go with our gut. In the end, however, what’s right for you may be one of these, or something else entirely. In the interim, check out these picks for best new SUVs under $30,000:

  • 2010 Honda CR-VWith manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) under the $30,000 price bogey (even for top-level trims), the 2010 Honda CR-V compact crossover SUV is not only priced right, it’s an ideal vehicle for consumers looking for something fuel-efficient, safe, reliable, fun, and versatile. Kelley Blue Book hails it in its 2010 Best Resale Value Awards, saying: “Offering the utility and raised seating position of an SUV in a compact and fuel-efficient package, the Honda CR-V has yet again earned a spot on our list of residual standouts. As practical as a backpack, this benchmark crossover is a smart choice for new and used buyers alike.” Often cross-shopped and compared with the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V has a higher quality interior and much easier-to-use tailgate, say reviewers. Don’t look for a third-row seat on the CR-V however, not even as an option.
  • 2010 GMC TerrainBrand-new, along with its sibling Chevrolet Equinox, the 2010 GMC Terrain comes in under $30,000 for all but the all-wheel drive SLT-2 trim. It is priced higher than Equinox and, some say, higher than other competitors in its class, but Terrain more than makes up for it by offering as standard equipment such coveted features as rearview camera, satellite radio, and USB iPod interface. In addition, Terrain’s sliding rear seat makes this 5-passenger SUV more useful to consumers – and it’s not available on competitors such as the Ford Escape Hybrid. Popular Mechanics, among others, is impressed with the new General Motors offering: “Stalwarts like Cadillac and Corvette may hold the key to a company’s history, but if new models continued to be executed with the same thought and attention to detail as the GMC Terrain, GM should be able to forge ahead and recapture the respect it has fought so hard to earn in recent years.”
  • 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan With its high-quality cabin, sporty handling, and powerful turbocharged engine, the 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan is yet another compact SUV worthy of consumer attention. Its starting price is around $23,000 and escalates from there, but auto reviewers say Tiguan is one of the sportiest, fun-to-drive small SUVs currently available. Consumer Guide gives it a Best Buy accolade and comments: “Tiguan’s prices are higher than most compact sport utility competitors. Sporty-for-the-class road manners, a comfortable interior, and three years of no-cost scheduled maintenance offset the difference enough to make it worth a look. Don’t overlook the basic front-drive S model, which has the fewest frills but the lowest price.”
  • 2010 Nissan Murano A midsize crossover SUV that was redesigned in 2009, the 2010 Nissan Murano is available for under $30,000 in all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive S and front-wheel drive SL (other trims are higher). Edmunds says: “Among midsize crossovers, the Murano is easily the most involving and rewarding to drive…Sensible and stylish at once – now that is something different, and it’s why the 2010 Nissan Murano is one of our favorite crossover SUVs.” The 5-passenger SUV has less cargo space than rivals, and there’s no third-row seat, but the second row, which reclines and has height-adjustable seatbelts, is one of the most comfortable and spacious around.

Other contenders for best new SUVs under 30000 include the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex, and Hyundai Santa Fe.

To see all cars under $30,000click here.

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