Crossover SUVs are growing in popularity every year. They provide lots of interior space, an easy-to-drive demeanor and optional all-wheel drive for enhanced traction in poor road conditions. They're also available with all of the latest safety tech and infotainment systems. But which one should you get if you've got a modest budget?
We picked four SUVs — three new and one used — that you can get for less than $30,000. These are top-rated by Edmunds, boast respectable fuel economy and get high safety scores from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Each one also has a particular mix of attributes that you might find appealing.
2018 Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V deserves its popularity. It's comfortable and enjoyable to drive whether you're commuting to work or headed out of town on a long road trip. It's also exceptionally roomy for a small SUV. The rear seat can fit adults or bulky child safety seats with ease, and the cargo area is one of the biggest you'll find.
For a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $29,445, including destination fee, you can get the EX trim level with all-wheel drive. It offers all of the CR-V's standard equipment plus the optional 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, which provides a desirable boost in power and fuel economy. Expect 29 mpg in combined driving (27 city/33 highway). The EX also comes with features such as dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a suite of advanced driver safety aids.
2018 Mazda CX-5
If you're looking for a stylish and sporty small crossover without having to buy a luxury model, the Mazda CX-5 should be right at the top of your list. The CX-5 outshines many rivals thanks to an easy-to-use infotainment screen, high-end cabin materials and stylish looks. It also steers and handles very well for its class, so it's worth a closer look for shoppers who want an engaging driving experience.
The midlevel Touring trim level with all-wheel drive ($28,490 MSRP, including destination fee) gets advanced driver safety features along with heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Estimated fuel economy for the AWD CX-5 is a respectable 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway). If you want a sleek crossover that can fit five, test-drive the CX-5.
2019 Subaru Outback
Escaping the urban jungle in a crossover SUV doesn't get much easier than in the midsize Subaru Outback. Its lifted stance helps with ground clearance on dirt trails, and integrated cross rails for the roof rack ease the process of loading bikes, kayaks and the like. But even if your adventuring is limited to going to the outlet mall, this Subaru is still satisfying.
A new Outback will likely be within your budget. Edmunds' recommended trim level is the 2.5i Premium ($29,420, including destination fee). Like all Outbacks, it comes standard with all-wheel drive. For that price, you also get equipment such as foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen display and Subaru's suite of advanced safety features. The Outback also has impressive fuel economy for its size, checking in with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway).
2016 Ford Explorer
Bigger three-row crossover SUVs typically exceed a $30,000 budget, but there are plenty of used choices. Our pick here is the Ford Explorer. An available turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the fuel miser of the Explorer's lineup, providing 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway). To make the most of the Explorer, though, look for a Sport or Platinum trim level. Both come with a 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 that provides brisk acceleration and plenty of pulling power for towing.
Even if you don't get the Sport or Platinum, there's a lot to like. Ford's Sync 3 infotainment system is easy to use, and available power-adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control and power-folding third-row seats add to the family-friendly credentials.
EDMUNDS SAYS: Several top-notch family-size crossovers are available for less than $30,000. Shop wisely to get the best mix of interior space and high-tech features for a reasonable price.