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SUV Recommendations?

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Nov 8, 2012
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Whelp, I guess this is what I'll be planning to look at based on what everyone here has recommended

Mazda CX-5
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Honda CR-V
Lexus UX 250h / NX 300h / RX 450h (Won't look at this new, but will keep my eyes out on autotrader if one comes up that is cheap enough)

Anything I'm missing from Kia/Hyundai that are similar size and reliability that you would definitely include?)
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
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I haven't driven these cars, so my opinion is as good as the next guy's. I have been researching compact SUVs for a while. Mazda CX5 gets high marks for drivability, and is in the upper quartile of reviewed cars in this class over the past few years.

I'm not a big fan of Lexus/Toyota styling, so I would personally choose CR-V (like I said, prior model RAV4 does not stack up well to any of the class leaders anyhow). CR-V has very good cargo room, if that matters to you. If you want Honda Sensing, you'll probably need a MY2018 EX. Note that nowadays Honda has what's considered average reliability. I would not be nervous about Hyundai/Kia reliability. On average, cars are much more reliable than ever; even if you get average or above average reliability, you're highly unlikely to get a clunker.

Narrow down your list to about 3 choices, and go test drive them.
The latest model RAV4 looks very nice though.
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
188
86
Whelp, I guess this is what I'll be planning to look at based on what everyone here has recommended

Mazda CX-5
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Honda CR-V
Lexus UX 250h / NX 300h / RX 450h (Won't look at this new, but will keep my eyes out on autotrader if one comes up that is cheap enough)

Anything I'm missing from Kia/Hyundai that are similar size and reliability that you would definitely include?)
My daughter has a Kia Sportage that is decent and has been reliable. Hyundai makes a similar model, I think it is the Santa Fe. They aren't class leading in any category, but dont have any glaring weaknesses either. Biggest advantage is the 5 year bumper to bumper and 100k powertrain warranty. Be sure to buy a CPO model if you get a used one. Otherwise you only get the basic warranty; the longer powertrain warranty does not carry over.
 
Nov 8, 2012
14,681
2,234
126
My daughter has a Kia Sportage that is decent and has been reliable. Hyundai makes a similar model, I think it is the Santa Fe. They aren't class leading in any category, but dont have any glaring weaknesses either. Biggest advantage is the 5 year bumper to bumper and 100k powertrain warranty. Be sure to buy a CPO model if you get a used one. Otherwise you only get the basic warranty; the longer powertrain warranty does not carry over.
Thanks, I'll consider those as well.

On the note of CPO (Certified Pre -owned) from the dealers... I've party heard those are ultimately BS programs where it's not much better than buying from a private seller.... They were trying to indicate that you're better off doing a private purchase and prior to buying it doing an inspection with a trusted mechanic rather than trusting an inspection that is done by the same dealership that is selling it to you.

On the part of the warranty though, that definitely makes sense.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,285
843
126
My understanding of it may be incorrect or inaccurate, but I thought that "crossovers" weren't built like true SUVs. An SUV is built on a truck frame. Vehicles like the Suburu Forester, the CR-V or RAV4 have a "uni-body" construction. Correct me if I'm wrong.

A very good mid-size SUV would be a Toyota 4Runner. Supposedly, and I think this is inaccurate, you "only need to change the oil". I don't believe that, though. You have to pay attention to replacement intervals for things like timing belts, brake pads, tires, air-filters, plugs and wires, etc.

That being said, if I either must or incline toward replacing my 95 Trooper, I'll get a 4Runner. Of course, I'm also looking at a Suburu Forester . . . with the idea that I no longer "need" a mid-size SUV.
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
188
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My understanding of it may be incorrect or inaccurate, but I thought that "crossovers" weren't built like true SUVs. An SUV is built on a truck frame. Vehicles like the Suburu Forester, the CR-V or RAV4 have a "uni-body" construction. Correct me if I'm wrong.

A very good mid-size SUV would be a Toyota 4Runner. Supposedly, and I think this is inaccurate, you "only need to change the oil". I don't believe that, though. You have to pay attention to replacement intervals for things like timing belts, brake pads, tires, air-filters, plugs and wires, etc.

That being said, if I either must or incline toward replacing my 95 Trooper, I'll get a 4Runner. Of course, I'm also looking at a Suburu Forester . . . with the idea that I no longer "need" a mid-size SUV.
Technically, you are correct in the nomenclature, although I think "SUV" has sort of come to be a generic term that includes both categories.

In any case, for most users, I feel the "cross overs" are a better solution than a truck based "SUV". They ride and handle better, get better fuel economy, are more maneuverable and easier to park, and have more than enough room for most users. Most also have awd of some sort for extra traction in slippery conditions and for light off roading. The larger truck based SUVs are better suited for heavy towing and hard core off roading, but otherwise a cross over is generally a better solution.
 
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Nov 8, 2012
14,681
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My understanding of it may be incorrect or inaccurate, but I thought that "crossovers" weren't built like true SUVs. An SUV is built on a truck frame. Vehicles like the Suburu Forester, the CR-V or RAV4 have a "uni-body" construction. Correct me if I'm wrong.

A very good mid-size SUV would be a Toyota 4Runner. Supposedly, and I think this is inaccurate, you "only need to change the oil". I don't believe that, though. You have to pay attention to replacement intervals for things like timing belts, brake pads, tires, air-filters, plugs and wires, etc.

That being said, if I either must or incline toward replacing my 95 Trooper, I'll get a 4Runner. Of course, I'm also looking at a Suburu Forester . . . with the idea that I no longer "need" a mid-size SUV.
Technically, you are correct in the nomenclature, although I think "SUV" has sort of come to be a generic term that includes both categories.

In any case, for most users, I feel the "cross overs" are a better solution than a truck based "SUV". They ride and handle better, get better fuel economy, are more maneuverable and easier to park, and have more than enough room for most users. Most also have awd of some sort for extra traction in slippery conditions and for light off roading. The larger truck based SUVs are better suited for heavy towing and hard core off roading, but otherwise a cross over is generally a better solution.
Yeah I think the main thing that was turning me away from the crossover was just overall space. With our current solution, we just found it hard to buy so much as an ikea shelf or 2, or something like a crib (boxed up, not put together) in our current cars. So I wanted to make sure that the SUV has the length, width, and height to generally support that.

On top of that, with 2 kids we now have a SHITLOAD more suitcases, carseats, strollers, breast pump, and other crap to bring that we have to stuff into the SUV more easily than our current bad solution. Obviously we aren't going to be towing a boat or anything substantial that requires massive power other than a wife with a heavy foot ;)


If you feel crossovers can accommodate that, then by all means...

But help me understand exactly what a crossover is exactly, are you saying a CR-V, RAV4, and a Mazda CX-5 would fall in that category?
 

ponyo

Lifer
Feb 14, 2002
16,858
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With your tight budget and large storage needs, minivan would be so much better than any crossover or small SUV. Seriously look at something like Toyota Sienna. I'm not fan of Honda glass transmission so I can't recommend Odyssey. I own 2003 Sienna. It's bulletproof.
 
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mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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The rav4 hybrid has pretty amazing mpg, but is a bit over budget. Honda is releasing a cr-v hybrid which is also a bit over budget.
I wasn't recommending a hybrid, not buying an older (to fit the budget) used model and then wanting DIY repairs.
Good to know, thanks!

Of the options you listed, who do you think has been keeping up well tech wise? One of the req features the wife wants is remote start with a smartphone... Namely because shes spoiled with her current BMW, and 2nd because she likes warming/cooling down her car ahead of time.
Remote start is a feature you can have added to anything for $200 (or less?), not a reason to pick a different vehicle.

Take your pick, do you want an older luxury vehicle needing more repairs, and more expensive repairs, to get tech within the same initial purchase price/budget, or not?

Tech is not cheap or easy to repair, even DIY, many modules are dealer only and premium priced, unless you get lucky and find things in a junkyard.

I mentioned RAV4 earlier, then someone threw in "hybrid". No, I wouldn't necessarily get a used hybrid. New yes, but not so much a hybrid after the most reliable years are over given that you express an interest in DIY repairs, unless you do an extreme amount of city driving so you expect to recoup the fuel savings sooner rather than later, considering that fuel prices are so low now. Maybe fuel will go back up, I'm sure it will but my crystal ball doesn't work today... What isn't left to speculation about the future is that a non-hybrid is mechanically and electrically simplier and less expensive, These are guarantees.
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,285
843
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With your tight budget and large storage needs, minivan would be so much better than any crossover or small SUV. Seriously look at something like Toyota Sienna. I'm not fan of Honda glass transmission so I can't recommend Odyssey. I own 2003 Sienna. It's bulletproof.
That also sounds like a good idea.

Of course, I remember the old VW van -- very versatile -- still a sought-after item.

But back in the late '90s, a friend and car fanatic acquired a used Toyota minivan, which had the lines and size of the classic VW. I was impressed. And I could imagine good fuel economy on a similar vehicle of more recent vintage.

The reason I'm still stuck on a mid-size SUV like my Trooper derives from the sense of driving a luxury tank. Many of those vehicles are built to last, and they're solid. You pay for it, however, with fuel expense.
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
188
86
Yeah I think the main thing that was turning me away from the crossover was just overall space. With our current solution, we just found it hard to buy so much as an ikea shelf or 2, or something like a crib (boxed up, not put together) in our current cars. So I wanted to make sure that the SUV has the length, width, and height to generally support that.

On top of that, with 2 kids we now have a SHITLOAD more suitcases, carseats, strollers, breast pump, and other crap to bring that we have to stuff into the SUV more easily than our current bad solution. Obviously we aren't going to be towing a boat or anything substantial that requires massive power other than a wife with a heavy foot ;)


If you feel crossovers can accommodate that, then by all means...

But help me understand exactly what a crossover is exactly, are you saying a CR-V, RAV4, and a Mazda CX-5 would fall in that category?
Those 3 are all crossovers. Generally, "crossover" means based on a car platform (unibody), although with some newer models a single platform is used for multiple vehicles. Truck based "SUVs" body on frame construction and are quite rare these days I think. Some examples are the Chevy Suburban, Ford Expedition, Lexus LX, and others. Just google "truck based suv" and you can get a complete list.
 

Scarpozzi

Lifer
Jun 13, 2000
23,750
383
126
My 2011 4Runner has been great. 18mpg city and not many problems.... deceptively small interior though. (Probably same as the Lexus)

I still don't trust Hyundai...general QC. My exgf got a 2002 Sonata brand new...I enjoyed driving that thing. Was a really nice ride and fun to drive...but had one a few years later as a rental and I got to see they didn't hold up well under abuse like some cars do. More recently, I had a Hyundai rental the I drove 500 miles in 2 days....weird noises came from that car's frame under the shifter while driving. It only had 5k miles and was literally falling apart...Elantra I think? Low-end sedan....but very spacious...but was junky.

I can't comment on Kia other than my cousin had a Sportage. It seemed like a nice ride. Finish inside was more refined than I expected. It's obvious the Korean companies are pushing to compete with Japan.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
15,928
219
106
My daughter has a Kia Sportage that is decent and has been reliable. Hyundai makes a similar model, I think it is the Santa Fe. They aren't class leading in any category, but dont have any glaring weaknesses either. Biggest advantage is the 5 year bumper to bumper and 100k powertrain warranty. Be sure to buy a CPO model if you get a used one. Otherwise you only get the basic warranty; the longer powertrain warranty does not carry over.
My wife has a 2011 Sportage which has over 150k. The thing is bulletproof! She says she's keeping it until it hits 200k, but I don't buy it.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
99,572
2,423
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Those 3 are all crossovers. Generally, "crossover" means based on a car platform (unibody), although with some newer models a single platform is used for multiple vehicles. Truck based "SUVs" body on frame construction and are quite rare these days I think. Some examples are the Chevy Suburban, Ford Expedition, Lexus LX, and others. Just google "truck based suv" and you can get a complete list.
The only thing that makes an SUV an SUV is the availability of 4LO. No 4LO, no SUV. It's something else. Either station wagon, hatchback, or minivan.
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
188
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The only thing that makes an SUV an SUV is the availability of 4LO. No 4LO, no SUV. It's something else. Either station wagon, hatchback, or minivan.
Well, then about 90% of the people who think they are driving an "SUV" are fooling themselves.
I know that was the original definition, but I dont see the problem with expanding it to include crossovers.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
99,572
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Well, then about 90% of the people who think they are driving an "SUV" are fooling themselves.
exactly. we love lying to ourselves. "if i don't call this a minivan i don't have to acknowledge that i'm not a rugged outdoorsman or that i have children"
I know that was the original definition, but I dont see the problem with expanding it to include crossovers.
i refuse to use that term. a friend of mine did as well and the car sales dork kept trying to correct her when she called the rogue we were looking at a wagon.
 
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ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
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Well, dont really want to get into an argument with you, but even Consumer Reports now calls everything from the Crosstrek/Kona/HR-V to the Suburban/Expedition/Armada "Sport Utility Vehicles".
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
99,572
2,423
126
Whelp, I guess this is what I'll be planning to look at based on what everyone here has recommended

Mazda CX-5
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Honda CR-V
Lexus UX 250h / NX 300h / RX 450h (Won't look at this new, but will keep my eyes out on autotrader if one comes up that is cheap enough)

Anything I'm missing from Kia/Hyundai that are similar size and reliability that you would definitely include?)
that feels like basically the list. nissan rogue is in there too somewhere. if you go driving, a (used) CX-5 has two engine choices, the 2.0L and 2.5L, and the 2.0 is really slow. for only 1 more hwy mpg. they don't sell that one anymore. there's now a turbodiesel but i'm not sure they've actually brought one over from japan yet.
 

kornphlake

Golden Member
Dec 30, 2003
1,563
7
81
Chevy Suburbans are a body on frame but available with a RWD drivetrain, the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) had a unibody but had a real 4x4 transfer case (also available as RWD). I don't think anybody would argue a Suburban or Cherokee isn't an SUV. I believe Ford currently considers the Explorer a SUV but it has a unibody and no selectable 4x4 transfer case.

I see 2 problems with trying to define what is a SUV and what is a crossover. First there isn't any one feature that absolutely defines a vehicle as an SUV or not, second it doesn't really matter to anybody but a salesman and the chump who think a label makes one vehicle better than another.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,285
843
126
Chevy Suburbans are a body on frame but available with a RWD drivetrain, the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) had a unibody but had a real 4x4 transfer case (also available as RWD). I don't think anybody would argue a Suburban or Cherokee isn't an SUV. I believe Ford currently considers the Explorer a SUV but it has a unibody and no selectable 4x4 transfer case.

I see 2 problems with trying to define what is a SUV and what is a crossover. First there isn't any one feature that absolutely defines a vehicle as an SUV or not, second it doesn't really matter to anybody but a salesman and the chump who think a label makes one vehicle better than another.
Well, I have 4LO, 4Hi and 2Hi. My Trooper-pooper is based on truck design.

I'm not eager to replace it for many reasons, one of which is a concern about the wisdom of continuing with IC engine technology. Oh, I suppose something like a Forester that gets close to 30 mpg would be better, but it's powered by . . . in-ternal combustion . . .

I heard that Suburu was finally going to make an electric or hybrid vehicle. I'll have to bone up on the latest developments in that regard . . .

[AFTER POKING AROUND THE WEB A BIT . . . ] It appears that the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid could be a winner, for me, anyway. Well above 25 mpg, all the other features, AWD if you want to pay for it. The price seems right on a new one . . . I might be interested in a used 2020 Hybrid in about 3 years . . . "New" is feasible. We'll see if I'm alive and properly vaccinated by next year, house paid for, money piling up in a savings account . . .
 
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ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
99,572
2,423
126
Chevy Suburbans are a body on frame but available with a RWD drivetrain, the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) had a unibody but had a real 4x4 transfer case (also available as RWD). I don't think anybody would argue a Suburban or Cherokee isn't an SUV. I believe Ford currently considers the Explorer a SUV but it has a unibody and no selectable 4x4 transfer case.

I see 2 problems with trying to define what is a SUV and what is a crossover. First there isn't any one feature that absolutely defines a vehicle as an SUV or not, second it doesn't really matter to anybody but a salesman and the chump who think a label makes one vehicle better than another.
my other definition of whether it's an SUV is whether i can see over it. if i can, not an SUV. it's *at least* as rigorous a definition as the carmakers use.

the suburban is a station wagon body on a truck frame. and that's what it was called before marketing assholes invented the term SUV in 1988 for the XJ cherokee.


edit: can and can't aren't the same word
 
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manly

Diamond Member
Jan 25, 2000
8,071
92
91
Thanks, I'll consider those as well.

On the note of CPO (Certified Pre -owned) from the dealers... I've party heard those are ultimately BS programs where it's not much better than buying from a private seller.... They were trying to indicate that you're better off doing a private purchase and prior to buying it doing an inspection with a trusted mechanic rather than trusting an inspection that is done by the same dealership that is selling it to you.

On the part of the warranty though, that definitely makes sense.
CPO quality can vary. I think the horror stories are overblown, but it comes down to how the CPO inspection is conducted. CPO programs also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

If you're aiming for a 3 year old car, this hits the sweet spot of CPO inventory from lease returns. People worry that lease returns were beat up by the lessees, but I doubt that this is commonplace. Another advantage of CPO is that the dealer can show you the maintenance history of the car, so at least you'll know it's had regular oil changes. If you're buying off a different brand's dealership, CarFax may not have this detailed info.

I would recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection even if you're buying off a dealer lot, and even if the car is CPO. For a $25k expenditure, the cost of a PPI is well worth it. You could just bring a good car guru with you, if you know what to look for but you'll still be a little limited unless you get the car up onto a lift for a closer look.

An alternative to CPO is to pocket the savings, and to either "self-insure" against future repairs or to get a Route 66 service plan from a credit union.

Finally, it appears to us that you're shopping for a compact SUV/CUV. But there's a lot of variety in this car class. I would never consider a Lexus NX because it has very poor cargo room. OTOH, the Honda CR-V has class-leading cargo room with the rear seats up or down.
 

ondma

Senior member
Mar 18, 2018
920
188
86
There is also a
that feels like basically the list. nissan rogue is in there too somewhere. if you go driving, a (used) CX-5 has two engine choices, the 2.0L and 2.5L, and the 2.0 is really slow. for only 1 more hwy mpg. they don't sell that one anymore. there's now a turbodiesel but i'm not sure they've actually brought one over from japan yet.
The CX-5 also has a 2.5L turbo with 240 or so horsepower, but it is only available in the higher trim levels.
 

kt

Diamond Member
Apr 1, 2000
5,117
36
91
Whelp, I guess this is what I'll be planning to look at based on what everyone here has recommended

Mazda CX-5
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Honda CR-V
Lexus UX 250h / NX 300h / RX 450h (Won't look at this new, but will keep my eyes out on autotrader if one comes up that is cheap enough)

Anything I'm missing from Kia/Hyundai that are similar size and reliability that you would definitely include?)
I am surprised there's no mention of Subaru Forester. It checks all your boxes. We love how the AWD just hugs the road.

In your price range, you could probably get 2016-2018 model. They have a turbo (2.0XT) and non-turbo (2.5i) version of the engine, I would recommend the XT models.
 

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