If you think there aren’t any cheap midsize SUVs among the 2010 offerings from automakers, think again. By cheap, however, we mean least expensive, since these three top picks have lots to offer consumers in the way of style, performance, handling, comfort and amenities. Sure, you can load them up with optional equipment and really shoot up the price tag – but you really don’t have to.

Our top choices for the most inexpensive midsize SUVs are just that: they’re the cheapest base price models available for 2010. In fact, these Cheap Midsize SUVs are great bargains right out of the showroom just as they are. Take a look.

  • Dodge JourneyWith a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $20,490 for the base model, the 2010 Dodge Journey leads the pack of value-priced midsize SUVs. Even the highest-priced Journey begins at $28,545 – well below the starting base price for many midsize SUVs. Roomy and pleasant, the 7-passenger Journey is overflowing with innovative storage solutions (and an optional third row) and is a good family vehicle alternative to a minivan. Kelley Blue Book comments: “The Journey compares favorably with the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota RAV4, and it’s especially ideal for those with families, or those looking to start new families, as it offers different trim levels with a choice of seating configurations and amenities that should suit a variety of needs and budgets.”
  • Mazda CX-7Next up is the 2010 Mazda CX-7 with a beginning base MSRP of $21,550 – $2,350 less than the 2009 base price. Opt for the uplevel model, however, and it’ll set you back $32,885 to start. Another reason to consider CX-7: Of the three top picks, the Mazda midsize SUV gets the best EPA-estimated fuel economy at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway. Though it only seats five, CX-7 is a zippy performer with a new base engine, has great styling, sporty handling and excellent crash test scores. Consumer Guide observes: “CX-7 emphasizes sport over utility and ride comfort to stand out in a crowded market.
  • Hyundai Santa FeReviewers praise the 5-passenger 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe for many reasons and not the least of which is the $21,695 base MSRP. Top end models begin at a $30,295 MSRP. Though it no longer offers an optional third row, Santa Fe receives freshened exterior styling for 2010 and boasts a high-quality interior – a rarity for such an affordable midsize SUV. It also gets near best-in-class EPA-estimated fuel economy of 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway in the new-for-2010 175-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Another strong selling point is Hyundai’s 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty. Edmunds says, “Highlighted by its contemporary appearance and upscale and roomy interior design, the current model is one of the better values in the $20,000-$30,000 price bracket of the midsize crossover SUV class.”

No other contenders come close to the low starting base prices of these Cheap Midsize SUVs, but up the ante a little and there are a slew of them in the $26,000-$29,000 starting MSRPs: Kia Borrego, Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder, Mercury Mountaineer and Ford Explorer.

See the top 10 least expensive or cheapest SUVs

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