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$20,000 price range limiting for safe, efficient crossovers

2012 Hyundai Tuscon

2012 Hyundai Tuscon (Credit: Handout)

Q: Which $20,000 crossover is safe and fuel efficient and will fit my family? I am a soon-to-be father of twins, and I am looking for an SUV/crossover that will fit me (I am 6 feet, 3 inches) along with my wife and two rear-facing car seats. I am looking for something under $20,000 that is safe with decent fuel economy. What types of vehicles should I look at?

A: You deserve a gold star for looking for a crossover SUV that is safe and economical, but unfortunately your price range leaves you with limited options.

Among the few SUVs that start under $20,000 and get more than 30 mpg on the highway are the Hyundai Tucson GL ($19,145) and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES ($18,795), and in both cases that is for a front-wheel-drive model with a manual transmission. Add $1,000 to the Tucson or the Outlander Sport for automatic transmission, plus an $825 destination charge for the Tucson and $810 for the Outlander Sport. Moreover, we're not sure how well your 6-foot-3 frame will fit, so you should find that out for yourself.

If you can live with a highway rating below 30 mpg, the Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Patriot, Kia Sportage and Suzuki Grand Vitara also start at less than $20,000. The Journey and Sportage finished second and third in the $29,000 SUV Shootout, and the Chevrolet Equinox won this comparison test, but the models tested were priced above $25,000.

The Tucson, Patriot, Sportage, Outlander Sport, Equinox and Journey are Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety based on crash tests.

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