Buying Guides

The 7 Best Crossovers Under $50K

A truly hot segment with practicality and stunning design

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

When you get up around $50K you want a something that's well above average. You want something that offers better driving dynamics, a more comfortable interior and some of the best automotive features out there. The crossover market is booming right now and it's a good time to be a buyer. There's plenty of options to choose from. If $50,000 is your ceiling, you can really shop around. The options available come from premium brands and offer some of the best motoring enjoyment for the money. You might be paying a little more, but when you consider what you get, these rides are a bargain second to none.

2017 BMW X3

  • PROS: Silky smooth ride and power delivery, confidence inspiring steering and handling.
  • CONS: Infotainment controls can take some getting used to, stop/start function is annoyingly intrusive.

If you want driving dynamics that are close to the BMW 3-Series but need something that sits a little higher, the X3 ($39,250 base MSRP) base is a good option. The BMW X3 drives wonderfully and the base 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine puts out a respectable 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to quicken your pulse but it’s not going to scare you silly. Upgrade to the X3 xDrive 35i and you’ll still stay under $50K but get a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that punches out 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. It’s a little more exciting. Aside from the vehicle’s strong performance, you get an upscale interior with comfy seating, a decent-sized cargo area and a robust suite of technology options.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace


for the Driving Enthusiast

  • PROS: Seriously beautiful, very sporty driving dynamics, good head-up display, surprisingly good off-road capability.
  • CONS: Less than premium interior CUV, diesel has lousy throttle response, firmer ride than some people will want.

Jaguar’s F-Pace ($40,990 base MSRP) is a seriously good crossover. It makes all those CUV nay-sayers reconsider their opinions of the vehicle type. It features better driving dynamics than many sporty cars, a more attractive exterior than many of its competitors and a luxurious interior and smooth operating infotainment system. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder with 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. Diesel-phobic folks can opt for the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and enjoy a lot more power (340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque) but much less impressive fuel economy. There’s also an upgraded version of the 3.0-liter V6 that comes with a horsepower bump but that’ll put you over $50K and not really get you all that much more useable power.

2017 Audi Q5

  • PROS: Simple, attractive styling inside and out, fast, standard all-wheel drive.
  • CONS: Accident-avoidance technology missing from the options list, no USB port for charging mobile devices.

While many people may be waiting for the 2018 Audi Q5, which will be a new and improved model, the 2017 version of the Q5 ($40,900 base MSRP) is no joke. It’s sophisticated and stylish in an understated way. The cabin craftsmanship is top notch and interior materials of high quality, It also features strong performance from either the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with an output of 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque or a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that thrums out 272 hp 296 lb-ft of torque. While not quite as good to drive as some of its competitors, the Q5 still holds its own and the standard all-wheel drive is a serious boon for buyers at any price point.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300

  • PROS: Attractive exterior, extremely quiet cabin, comfortable and spacious.
  • CONS: Too much piano black plastic, confusing infotainment system.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300 ($39,150 base MSRP) is basically a C-class on stilts. It features similar but not quite as good performance as its car brethren and comes up a bit short in terms of driving dynamics in comparison with the Jag F-Pace or the BMW X3. Still, it offers a luxurious drive and few crossovers are as comfortable cruising down the highway. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offers impressive performance with 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Make no mistake, the GLC300 is a quick crossover. While you can’t chuck this thing into the turns with as much confidence as you can with the Jag or the BMW you probably won’t want to, you’ll be too busy enjoying the smooth ride and the serene silence the cabin provides.

2017 Lexus RX350


for the designer

  • PROS: Beautiful, roomy cabin design, comfortable seats, smooth ride, efficient.
  • CONS: Poor infotainment controls, polarizing exterior, not too quick.

The RX is Lexus’ best-selling model and for good reason. The interior of the car is superb, with the only major thing that’s not excellent being the wonky remote touch controller for the infotainment system. The RX350 ($43,020 base MSRP) is the base version of this model. Still, it’s a sight to behold and wonderful vehicle to drive. Upgrade to the RX350 F Sport and you get better suspension and handling but you also wind up with a high price tag and the all-wheel drive version of the F Sport vehicle nudges the price tag over $50K. Don’t worry, you can get the non-F Sport RX 350 with all-wheel drive for about $44K. The RX 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that pumps out 295 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to shoot this crossover around town with ease.

What Comes in a $50K Crossover?

  • The same level of luxury as sedan counterparts
  • The sheer variety of models is growing
  • Great interior design and high levels of comfort
  • Prestige brand cache

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