Buying Guides

The 7 Best Crossovers That Try to Do It All

The fastest growing segment's stars

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

These unibody, tall-standing vehicles are many buyers' first choice when it comes to a new vehicle. People like crossovers because they do exactly what the segment name suggests. They cross the lines between car and SUV. In many ways they're SUV-like but they offer a driving experience more like a car than a body-on-frame sport utility vehicle, which can be very truck-like. The CUV isn't just an automotive fad. It won't likely be fading away anytime soon. These vehicles offer everything that many buyers are looking for: high ride height, comfortable interior, plenty of technology and good driving dynamics. They're the do anything vehicle and that's what makes them such great vehicles to own.

2017 Porsche Macan


for the Driving Enthusiast

  • PROS: Confidence inspiring in just about any situation, attractive design and styling, killer performance for the segment.
  • CONS: Rear seating and cargo area are not wildly spacious, gas mileage isn’t great.

The Porsche Macan ($47,500 base MSRP) is one of the best and most fun-to-drive CUVs available today. It has sports-car-like handling characteristics, a premium, driver-focused interior and a powerful engine. The base engine is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that produces 340 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. If that isn’t enough, you can kick things up a notch with a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6. All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission come standard. Though the Macan lacks some of the space of its competitors, you won’t care because you’ll be enjoying driving it too much.

2016 Mazda CX-5

  • PROS: Good steering and handling, comfortable interior, fun and efficient powertrain and sleek curves.
  • CONS: Manual transmission only available with front-wheel drive, stereo system’s sound quality could be better.

The CX-5 ($21,795 base MSRP) is the CUV you want to get if you like to drive and can’t afford something like the Porsche Macan. Mazda's crossover is well-balanced all around and offers a lot of features for the money. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine pumps out 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. While that isn’t a crazy amount of power, it’s plenty to kick this CUV along at a good pace. The fact that it can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic doesn't hurt matters either. Aside from the powertrain, you also get a comfy, spacious interior with an easy-to-use infotainment system packed with features. The CX-5 is a good choice for any CUV shopper.

2017 Jeep Cherokee


for the Off-Roader

  • PROS: Smooth and quiet ride, plenty of interior space, awesome off-road equipment in Trailhawk trim.
  • CONS: Base engine is too wimpy, cargo space isn’t enormous, styling not for everyone.

The Jeep Cherokee ($23,395 base MSRP) is an oddly styled but well-designed CUV. It features good off-road and on-road performance, much like the rest of the vehicles in the Jeep lineup. The cabin is comfortable are spacious with relatively high-quality materials and an infotainment system that allows you to customize things for your preferences more so than some of the competition. You can drag apps to the bar at the bottom enabling quick access to your favorite features. While the interior is a high point, when equipped with the 3.2-liter V6 (271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque) the CUV has plenty of power. Drop down to the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder (184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque) and it gets a little sluggish but is still a sweet ride.

2017 BMW X3

  • PROS: Good steering and handling, potent V6 engine, silky smooth operation.
  • CONS: Stop/start system can be intrusive, brakes could be better.

The BMW X3 ($39,250 base MSRP) hit the stage as one of the first luxury crossovers in 2003, and it’s been a strong contender since then. It's a bit pricey, but not quite as expensive as the Porsche Macan. The X3 features an upscale interior, attractive styling inside and out and performance that sets the bar in many respects. Powered by either a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder that produces an impressive 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque or a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that punches out 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque the X3 can be plenty of fun when you push it. While the four pot engine is a fine piece of machinery, if you want to really enjoy yourself, go with the V6.

2016 Audi Q5

  • PROS: Sophisticated cabin design, spacious and comfortable interior, good driving dynamics, standard all-wheel drive.
  • CONS: Some will dislike the firm ride, no accident avoidance technology, no USB port.

Audi is known for subtle and sophisticated styling, comfortable interiors and strong performance. The Q5 ($40,900 base MSRP) has all of these things. It’s about as Audi as you can get. The Q5 comes with peppy engines, good steering and impressive handling capabilities. The cabin is luxuriously appointed and ergonomically pleasing. Both the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and the optional 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that churns out 372 hp and 295lb-ft of torque have plenty of get up and go to keep you ahead of the pack. Unfortunately, it’s lacking some of the advanced driver’s technology that other CUVs currently come with.

2017 Kia Sorento

  • PROS: Safe, easy to drive, easy-to-operate infotainment controls, available AWD, comfortable and well-priced.
  • CONS: Base engine is not very punchy, also not the most efficient, with third-row seating things are tight.

The Kia Sorento ($25,400 base MSRP) is a vehicle that tries hard to appeal to a wide variety of shoppers by offering what most two-row CUVs do as well as offering what many three-row crossovers and SUVs do. When judged against its two-row competition, it does wonderfully and offers great value. When judged against three-row vehicles, it doesn’t fare quite as well. That being said, the Sorento is a very good vehicle no matter how you outfit it. It comes with an easy to use infotainment system that packs in a lot of features. The three engine options aren’t the most potent in the segment but they do a good job. We’d suggest pairing the 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pops out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque with available all-wheel drive for the best mix of performance and efficiency.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

  • PROS: Plenty of cargo room, quiet and comfortable, plenty of infotainment and safety features, available AWD.
  • CONS: Fuel efficiency isn’t too impressive, base engine is wimpy, no V6 option.

The Santa Fe Sport, not to be confused with the regular Santa Fe which is larger, is an attractively styled, and comfortable crossover from Hyundai. The model comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as its base engine which puts out 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. Upgrade the power plant and you get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot with a more impressive 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Neither engine is wildly efficient nor excessively peppy, though both will get you where you’re going without issue. The “Sport” moniker for this vehicle isn’t very apt. It’s not all that sporty. What it is, is a great value. The Santa Fe Sport packs in a lot of features and creature comforts for the price and drives beautifully too. It’s not as good as some of the CUVs with premium brand badges on the grille, but it’s about half the price.

What Makes a Crossover Great

  • Comfortable interior packed with features, technology and ample cargo space
  • Good driving dynamics and power.
  • The sure-footedness of all-wheel drive
  • Plenty of safety technology and features
  • Attractive styling that isn't too polarizing

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