- Suzuki Grand Vitara – The 2007 compact, 5-passenger SUV, sports extensive safety features that are, according to Edmunds, “advanced for a low-cost compact vehicle,” hauls up to 3,000 pounds, has a “refined cabin, competent all-around performance, well-equipped, long drivetrain warranty.” Cons include noisy V-6 engine, “mediocre” fuel economy, and lack of interior storage compartments. Still, says Edmunds, Grand Vitara, which was redesigned in 2006, “has enough positive attributes to make it one of the better small SUVs available.” Consumer Guide rates Grand Vitara one of its Best Buys, hailing the SUV’s controls, maneuverability, cargo room, and value within the class. CG editors comment that “Grand Vitara is one of the strongest values in the compact SUV class.”
- Lexus RX 350 – The entry-level, luxury midsize SUV – and best-selling vehicle for Lexus – RX 350 for 2007 has so much going for it that Edmunds says “For a midsize crossover luxury SUV, it doesn’t get much better than this.” With its “impressive combination of comfort, utility and technology,” blended with “superb levels of fit and finish,” 5-passenger RX 350 also boasts more zip in its 270-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine, excellent NHTSA crash test scores and IIHS “Good” rating. Consumer Guide says “This premium midsize SUV has many imitators, but none offer this Best Buy’s blend of comfort, refinement and build quality.” Pros include ride, quietness, passenger and cargo room, while cons include rear visibility and climate controls (with navigation system).
- Cadillac Escalade – Completely redesigned for 2007, full-size SUV boasts “slick interior design with outstanding ergonomics,” says Edmunds, along with powerful 403-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine, new 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. Edmunds editors also like Escalade’s “sweet road manners, tight turning circle [and] comfortable seats,” but pan “no fold-flat third row seat, a few low-grade plastics.” Consumer Guide, giving Escalade its Best Buy nod, hails the SUV’s ride quality, quietness, controls, room and comfort, cargo room, and value within the class.
Other good choices include the compact Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4. Premium midsize picks include Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz R-Class, Volvo XC90, and Acura MDX. Midsize choices: Mazda CX-7, Nissan Murano, Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. Also consider full-size Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban and GMC Yukon and Denali.
By Suzanne Kane
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