Since manufacturer’s decided to bring the size and scale of the SUV down slightly, the crossover SUV has become one of the most diverse vehicles in production today. There are some with power, some with space, some with gadgets, and some you could race. Well, before we get to be too Dr. Suess-ish, let’s take a look at a few of the categories that might interest you if you’re in the market for a crossover SUV. These are the areas that will help you choose the best crossover SUV for your needs.

Powertrain

A few of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself for this category are: Will you be towing anything? What do you want in terms of fuel efficiency? Will you be driving in inclement weather? Do you want economy or luxury? All of the features to handle these questions are available in crossover SUVs. Obviously if you’re in the need to tow or haul anything of any great size, you’re going to want a powerful engine like a strong V6 or V8. Remember to keep an eye on torque for your particular options. This is where you’ll find all the low-end power needed for hauling and towing.

Then there are the economical choices. Many of the crossover SUVs were built with the economically-driven in mind. Drivers wanted the spaciousness of SUVs but weren’t thrilled with the poor fuel efficiency. That’s why many now come equipped with more sensible four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines. Something in the range of 20 to 24 mpg city and 26 to 30 mpg highway is where you’ll likely find the most options. Those with larger engines are going to roam closer in the range of 15 to 19 mpg city and 21 to 24 mpg highway. Most crossovers come equipped with automatic transmissions but there are a select few sports models that offer a manual.

Front-wheel or All-wheel

Another big advantage to crossovers is the availability of four-wheel and all-wheel drive. If you don’t live in a severe climate and have no use for towing, a standard front-wheel drive crossover should suit your needs quite well. However, all-wheel drive can be priceless in snow and ice, not to mention those times when you need to get through a muddy area after a big rain. If this is going to be a handy addition for you, plan on adding a couple thousand to the MSRP. Remember, there are more mechanical features in the drivetrain of an all-wheel drive vehicle as well. That means there are more things that can break down, wear out, and give in, only to have you fed up. Always do your research on the reliability of certain drivetrains before your purchase. Edmunds (www.edmunds.com), Car and Driver (www.caranddriver.com), and Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org) are all good sources for these reviews, as well as the message boards here on iseecars.com.

3rd Row or Cargo

3rd-row seating in a crossover SUV almost seems like defeating the purpose of having a crossover. After all, they’re supposed to be smaller. If you wanted seven or eight seats, why not get a full-size? But then there’s the question of fuel efficiency. For that reason, the third-row seat is still available in crossovers. In most cases it is going to be built strictly for kids or smaller adults; legroom is not at a premium. The third-row seat can also take away space from the second-row seats, as well as the cargo space in the rear of the vehicle. This is another big question that needs answering – how much cargo area are you in need of? If you like having the convenience of being able to store things and not having to use your seating to do so, you may want to skip the optional third row. It will add to your rear cargo area. However, if you’d like the best of both worlds, try and find a crossover that has a removable third-row seat. Many of these are large and cumbersome, but if you’re willing to deal with this inconvenience you can have both pleasures at once.

Price

Crossovers can range in price from around $20K all the way to the six-figure range. If you’re looking for something really sporty, and really fast, you’re probably going to be closer to the six-figure area. However, if you’re only needs are economy and some decent space, then you can most likely get away under $30K. There are some luxury models that will have you feeling pampered to the hilt, but expect those to run just as much as a full-size luxury sedan or better.

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