From most to least expensive, here’s a guide to what sport utility vehicles you can get on a budget
You wouldn’t be alone in the world if you were looking for a new car in the crossover or SUV segment of the automotive market. The popularity of vehicles like the Hyundai Kona, Ford EcoSport, and the Nissan Kicks here, has seen exponential growth in the USA over the last few years. The result is that many manufacturers have left smaller traditional cars, hatchbacks and sedans alike, by the wayside, in favor of the more versatile sport utility setup. So what exactly makes these vehicles so sought after? Here are some advantages and disadvantages of opting for a high-rider crossover SUV
- Practicality and versatility
- Lifted ride height for better driver visibility
- Space and comfort inside is often more than what a regular car could offer
- Luxury and comfort are prioritized
- Smooth, comfortable ride thanks to unibody frames
- Smaller SUVs are nimble and easy to park
- Some off-road ability, available AWD on some variants
- Variety of power trains options, from frugal to ultra-powerful for enhanced towing
- Third-row equipped SUVs may be cramped and cut down on cargo space
- In fact, cargo space is not always superior to what a hatchback would offer in the subcompact segment
- Larger SUVs can be ponderous to drive and not as easy to maneuver
- Less engaging to drive than regular cars
- Can be pricy, especially when opting for extras
Finding the right crossover for you could be an exercise in frustration if you aren’t prepared to wade through endless possibilities. And, with so much space to fill with creature comforts and conveniences, a truly luxurious, premium crossover or SUV could set you back by six figures. That being said, for those on a budget, here are seven options to consider, from small to large, for under $35,000.
Kia Soul – $17,490
With the lowest base price on this list, the eye-catching Kia Soul maxes out at an MSRP of $27,550 for its top-tier trim, making it the most affordable crossover on this list. And, the low price is not an indication of the vehicle’s excellence, because it is spacious, offers impressive fuel efficiency, has a choice between two powertrains, and the top-end models have a comprehensive consignment of convenience and safety features. And, the retro-cool styling deserves an honorable mention, too, as there isn’t anything on the road quite like this endearing little tyke.
Mazda CX-30 – $21,900
On the smaller end of the crossover/SUV spectrum, the CX-30 is a newer entrant to the segment. 2023 brought with it some exciting updates, including the popular turbocharged four-cylinder from the Mazda 3 on the new 2.5 Turbo trims. This is a good thing, since the standard mill was slightly underwhelming and many competitors had it beat in this regard. Still, for this really low price, the CX-30 offers excellent driving dynamics thanks to its slight size and nimble handling and has a really gorgeous exterior aesthetic to boot. There is more than enough space for cargo, too, and as any review of the fresh-faced little crossover will attest, it’s one of the best in the segment purely for how it feels to pilot.
Dodge Journey – $23,495
With a history of more than a decade on the US market, the Journey has not been comprehensively changed with only minor updates made over the years. Some feel that its rather unimpressive engine and budget materials and build quality really let it down, but the positives are worth noting, too: for its low base price, the Journey comes with seating for seven passengers, spacious first and second rows, and a very user-friendly infotainment setup. There’s also ample space behind the back row when the rear seats are folded down.
Honda CR-V – $25,350
With only a slight increase in base price over last year’s model, the CR-V is still affordable in its entry-level configuration. Even the hybrid configurations will set you back only $30,560 while saving on the gas bill. Overall the CR-V offers a frugal powertrain in either gas or hybridized version, and the cabin and trunk both offer great levels of spaciousness. The way Honda has put this family-hauler together is also impressive in terms of quality and a comprehensive list of safety features. Although it doesn’t offer incredible towing capacity, it handles with aplomb.
Toyota RAV4 – $26,050
Available in three flavors – standard gas-fed, hybrid, and plug-in – the RAV4’s standard variation is priced from $26,050, while the hybrid’s base model costs $28,500. The Plug-In derivative has an MSRP of $38,100, though, which doesn’t quite make it onto this list. Still, the first two options are both excellent, with the hybrid obviously boasting superior fuel economy. Gas mileage in the standard RAV4 is 28/35/30 mpg, with a good increase to 41/38/40 mpg for the hybrid version. Together with an extensive safety suite and high reliability ratings, it’s no wonder these are the best-selling cars in the States besides certain pickup trucks.
Subaru Outback – $26,795
A little out of the ordinary, the Outback’s looks are not all that convincing of its capabilities. Despite very subtle crossover styling, the Outback has a reputation for combining off-road prowess with family car traits that make it one of the highest-scoring all-rounders in the segment. And, with a redesign for 2023 under the belt, the Outback now boasts a large 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment setup, a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, and an updated CVT. The last point is one of the few drawbacks, with the CVT sometimes feeling a little lethargic and acceleration not being all that enthusiastic. Still, the whole package is superb, with a smooth ride, loads of cabin space, and numerous driver aids to list as advantages.
Kia Telluride – $31,990
One of the bigger and more expensive SUVs on this list, the Telluride made its debut Stateside in 2023, and has quickly established itself as a respected three-row family vehicle that handles like a car, but feels like the large eight-seater it is in terms of space and comfort. Not only is it as handsome as it is imposing to look at, but it also offers good cargo capacity, a long list of advanced safety aids, a respectable and efficient V6 powertrain, and a class-leading warranty plan. Additionally, the Telluride also gets top-notch safety ratings from both the NHTSA and IIHS.