The Best of 2007's Midsize SUVs:
More Fuel Efficient, Powerful and Spacious
by Martha Hindes
Isn't it ironic? Just as fuel prices have been inching ever upward, some automakers are launching the latest versions of their midsize sport utility vehicles, those multi-talented, climb-over-rocks haulers that can often traverse fields, streams, freeways and elementary school parking lots with equal determination.
Many of these are the grunt runners, with more truck frames and 4X4 underpinnings than their refined crossover sisters and brothers that undoubtedly get better gas mileage. As purpose-built vehicles, these SUVs -- especially the frame-based truck kind -- sometimes bear a mileage penalty to do the jobs they've been assigned. (It can be hard to pull a dinghy with a four-banger under the hood.)
But this year's crop of SUVs often tow the line with fuel economy, excluding some higher powered sport models. That's been a growing concern for the companies that make them, and efforts are ongoing to eke out better mileage that can help the environment and, of course, quell criticism. While less consumptive than their full-size kin, they still have plenty of adaptability for the job at hand.
And refinements aren't forgotten. To qualify as a "must have," they can't have bare bone interiors or ho-hum looks. Fat chance an SUV shopper would waste a second glance without the handsome exterior, leather appointments, heated seats, navigation systems and state-of-the-art safety systems that are becoming mandatory these days. Same for comfortable ride and easy handling.
For RTM's latest top choices, we suggest you follow the trail...