Crossover SUVs combine the best of passenger cars and sport utility vehicles. The best ride more like a car and have the versatility and capability of an SUV – or truck, for that matter, since many are built on truck platforms. The trick, as always, is to finesse the attributes so that the crossover buyer doesn’t experience any noticeable difference. Not too stiff on the open road, yet capable of moderate off-road touring as well.

Choosing from the crop of used crossover SUVs available today is a good news/bad news equation – mostly good news. There are many models to choose from, and quite a few model years. The bad news is that, with any good deals, used vehicle prices for the more in-demand ones may be a bit higher. That said, this list of the Top 3 Best Used Crossover SUVs – 2 small and 1 mid-size – takes into account top ratings from Consumer Reports, as well as reviews/ratings from U.S. News & World Report, Edmunds, Automobile, Car and Driver, crash test ratings from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Toyota RAV4 (2006-2009) – Consumer Reports names RAV4 its Best of the Best used vehicles in Small SUVs. Introduced in toyota-rav4 1996, it wasn’t until the 2001 makeover that RAV4 found its footing with consumers, offering more power and roominess. In 2004, electronic stability control (ESC) arrived, and an optional third-row seat was added in 2006, its third-generation model. As always, Toyota’s stellar reliability makes RAV4 an excellent used crossover SUV. Edmunds says RAV4 is “hard to beat for families… [needing] plenty of space, power, features and value.” Pros include superb power/fuel economy with optional V-6 engine, roominess, seating for seven, handling, and top NHTSA and IIHS crash test scores. Cons include budget-feeling interior, kid-only optional third-row seat.
  • Honda CR-V (2006-2009) – Consumer Reports adds CR-V to the “Other good choices” list for small SUVs. Edmunds says CR-V, with seating for five, is “one of the best choices available in the all-important areas of on-road drivability and practicality.” Pros include interior layout, cargo capacity, handling and excellent NHTSA and IIHS crashworthiness. Cons include underpowered 4-cylinder engine, road noise and no transmission manual mode.
  • Acura MDX (2006-2009) – Sibling to the mid-size Honda Pilot – but a bit more expensive – Acura MDX is among Consumer Reports’ “Other good choices.” For its comfort, versatility and refinement, MDX is “an exciting SUV that can easily be mentioned in the same sentence as BMW’s new X5 or the Porsche Cayenne,” says Edmunds. Pros include 7-passenger capability, affordable price and top NHTSA and IIHS crash test scores. Cons include low tow rating, image (relative to BMW/Porsche competitors), and ho-hum interior.

Other crossover SUVs worth a look include the Honda Element and Pilot, Ford Edge and Escape, Mazda Tribute, Mercury Mariner, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Murano and Rogue, Subaru Forester and Tribeca, Saturn Vue and Volkswagen Tiguan. No bad choices here.

By Suzanne Kane

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