Best SUVs and Crossover SUVs of 2011: Page 2

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2011

Alternatives to our Best SUVs and Crossover SUVs of 2011 abound, particularly if you want to fill a specific need, like the best SUV for city driving or for towing. Check out these worthy alternatives to our Best SUVs and Crossovers of 2011:

The best small SUV of 2011 is the Subaru Forester. It occupies no more room on the road than a compact car yet this handsome crossover carries four adults in uncommon comfort and embarrasses many midsize SUVs by swallowing 68 cubic feet of cargo. There’s rare harmony in the way it drives, too. The 224-horsepower turbo models are fast, lower priced 170-horse versions are no slouches, and every Forester comes with Subaru’s superior AWD system. Base-price range: $21,220-$30,720.

The best midsize SUV of 2011 is the Ford Explorer.  All-new for model-year 2011 and the better for it, the once SUV-sales king dumps body-on-frame construction to become a fine midsize crossover. Seating for seven is standard – and the third row is no penalty box. Handling is responsive and AWD with terrain-sensing electronics augments front-wheel drive. The 290-horsepower V-6 gets a turbo-four companion in model-year 2012. Base price range: $28,995-$39,995.

The best large SUV of 2011 is the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. It’s a full-size crossover that does most everything a big-ol’ body-on-frame SUV can do, just with more finesse and, given its price, more finery. The GL-Class has commodious seating for seven, 83 cubic feet of cargo volume, confidence-inspiring road manners, and standard AWD. There’s a choice of two strong V-8s or a stout diesel V-6 rated a palatable 17/21 mpg; all tow up to 7,500 pounds. Base-price range: $61,825-$85,325.

The best city SUV of 2011 is the Volvo XC60. Spacious inside, modestly sized outside, easy to maneuver and see out of, this is an urbane crossover that’s dressed to impress. Available AWD conquers the unplowed avenues standard front-wheel drive can’t. And if the base 240-horsepower V-6 can’t keep you ahead of the taxi herd, go for the 300-horse turbo version. The XC60 can even stop itself if you’re about to rear-end a car ahead. Base price range: $33,250-$42,400.

The best family SUV of 2011 is the Chevrolet Traverse.  No one mistakes this roomy crossover for a minivan, but that’s the role it plays. Traverse holds four adults and four kids and handles well doing it. Interior plastics disappoint, but cargo room is good and the sole engine is a well-matched 281-horsepower V-6 working with front- or all-wheel drive. Factory incentives are frequent and the powertrain warranty is a generous 5 years/100,000 miles. Base price range: $29,999-$40,750.

The best fuel-efficient SUV of 2011 is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid: We’re not talking the SUV with the best fuel economy but the best SUV that’s fuel-efficient. With an EPA rating of 28/28 mpg city/highway, that would be the gas-electric version of a seven-passenger midsize crossover that’s already good-looking, comfortable, and thoughtfully designed.  The Highlander Hybrid has standard AWD, 280 horsepower, and doesn’t need plug-in charging. Base-price range: $38,100-$43,755.

The best off-road SUV of 2011 is the Jeep Wrangler. Electronic-traction tricks make contenders like the Land Rover LR4, Toyota 4Runner, and Jeep Grand Cherokee uncannily effective. But would you subject a $45,000-plus SUV to true off-road punishment? The paramilitary Wrangler isn’t so particular and even the base $26,370 four-wheel-drive version will get you through some serious shineola. On-road refinement isn’t Wrangler’s game. So what. Base-price range: $26,370-$33,570.

The best luxury SUV of 2011 is the Land Rover Range Rover. If luxury means not having to explain to chums why a Lexus LX570 costs $78,630 or that you believe a Cadillac Escalade isn’t gauche, you’ll understand the allure of this modern classic. Luxury oozes from every stitch of its leather upholstery, every fiber of its wood cabin trim. The base V-8 has 375 horsepower, the supercharged iteration 510. Oh, it’s unstoppable off-road, too.  Base price range: $79,685-$95,465.

The best inexpensive SUV of 2011 is the Hyundai Tucson. The styling is daring or dopy. And refinement isn’t a strong suite. But there’s no denying this compact crossover’s value for the money.  It comes with many features rivals charge extra for and has a 5-year/60,000 basic warranty and 10/100,000 powertrain coverage. Four-cylinder engines of 165 and 172 horsepower are available and fuel economy tops out at 23/31 mpg. Base-price range: $19,540-$26,990.

The best towing SUV of 2011 is the Ford Expedition. This is a job for a full-size body-on-frame SUV with a big V-8. Think Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, Toyota Sequoia, and Nissan Armada. Depending on model, these bruisers can tow trailers of 8,200-9,600 pounds (need to pull more? Get a diesel pickup truck). We pick the Expedition because it comes with Ford’s safety-enhancing trailer sway control, which automatically corrects wayward motions via the vehicle’s antiskid system. Expedition’s maximum tow range is 8,700--9,200 pounds. Base-price range: $37,585-$52,615.