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Best crossover SUVs: New car rankings

Top SUVs: Buyer's guide to the best crossover SUVs of the year, including the Chevy Equinox and the Mazda CX-5.

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When you are looking for the best crossover SUVs, it's useful to know the difference between a crossover and a sports utility vehicle. A traditional SUV is built on a truck platform and is targeted at people who need a rugged off-road vehicle or who tow large loads. There are many models on the market, including the top-ranked Chevrolet Tahoe. However, the truck base generally means these vehicles have lower fuel efficiency and are not as smooth riding or comfortable as cars and minivans.

Car manufacturers saw a new market segment and introduced the crossover SUV: a rugged family vehicle, more practical than a sedan and more attractive than a minivan. Built on a car platform, the crossover retains the best features of an SUV but provides more passenger comfort. Today the crossover SUV makes up the bulk of sales in the SUV market in America.

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When ranking vehicles, buyer's guides generally look at:

  • Cost, including base price, price with options and cost to own.

  • Performance features such as miles per gallon, horsepower, handling and type of powertrain.

  • Safety as scored by leading safety-rating bodies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

  • Styling and build quality, including interior and exterior styling and finishes, passenger comfort, entertainment features and cargo capacity.

  • Reliability and resale value, based on sources such as J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability

Study and Initial Quality Study.Crossovers are generally divided into two size categories: compact and midsize. Compacts have less cargo and passenger space and smaller engines than the midsize crossovers.

Car rankings of crossover SUVs for 2013, based on car-buying guides and reviews, indicate that the best affordable compact models are:

  • Best crossover SUVs: 2013 Ford EscapeThe Ford Escape, which has been redesigned for this year. Reviewers rave about its new look and performance. It has good fuel economy and comfortable seats five people.
  • The Mazda CX-5, which is thought to be the best-handling compact crossover. For its small size, it has good cargo and passenger space.
  • The Chevrolet Equinox, which has some small design changes for this year. Reviewers laud its comfortable ride and cabin.The best-ranked affordable midsize models are:
  • 2013 Mazda CXThe Mazda CX-9, which has a new sleek design for this year. It features lots of cargo and passenger space as well as sporty performance.
  • The Buick Enclave, which can seat eight people comfortably and still has lots of cargo space. Reviewers also liked its handling and ride.
  • The Toyota Highlander, which has a reputation for being a well-built, reliable crossover SUV. The Highlander Hybrid ranks as one of the top hybrid SUVs.

Depending on your needs and your budget, there is likely to be a crossover SUV that will suit you and your family perfectly. When you're weighing the pros and cons of the various new models, use Reply! to help you decide which crossover SUV is the best for you.

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