Maybe you’re adding a new member to your family, or perhaps you’re tired of cramming your jogging stroller into a trunk already brimming with kid gear, but let’s face it — you’ve reached the crossover tipping point.
The crossover tipping point is the phenomena where your lifestyle no longer fits inside the sleek sedan or sexy sports car you used to drive before you had children, pets, and the unspeakable amount of injection molded plastics to haul around. You know you’ve reached it when the number of carseats you need outnumbers the adults, you’d seriously consider transporting the dog in the trunk if it weren’t full of sports equipment, and other parents give you the cold shoulder because you can never carpool. The prognosis: You need a bigger vehicle.
Purchasing a new vehicle is one of the most important — and expensive — decisions a family will make. To help simplify the buying process, Babble waded through the crowded crossover segment to find the best CUV for any driving need. We examined new and best-selling vehicles on the market, but limited our budget to $35,000. That price ceiling quickly eliminated many vehicles from our shopping list, but the selection of economical crossovers is still considerable. To help narrow the list even further, we focused on fuel economy, safety, and parent-friendly features. When crossovers were fairly evenly matched, we gave preference to vehicles that had better fuel economy, price, or were a previous Babble favorite. — Liane Yvkoff
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Top small SUV | 2013 Mazda CX-5
MSRP: $20,695 – $28,295
FUEL ECONOMY: 26/35 mpg
There’s no shortage of options when it comes to the compact crossover, but the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a welcome addition to the segment for its combination of fuel efficiency, price, and driving dynamics in a small footprint.
Powering the CX-5 is Mazda’s new 155-horsepower Skyactiv engine. Compared to other vehicles in its class, 155-hp may not seem like enough, but it’s adequate to move the 5-seater, and it gives the crossover its best-in-class fuel economy. At 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel-drive model, the CX-5 offers the highest fuel economy of all vehicles in the crossover segment. Also notable is that it’s one of the few CUVs that is still available with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
SEATING + STORAGE
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 seats up to five, and offers 34.1-cu. ft. of cargo capacity. But what sets this small CUV apart from other competitors is a unique second row bench on the Touring model. Unlike many vehicles which offer only a 60:40 split of the second row, the 2013 Mazda CX-5’s second row folds-flat in a three-way 40:20:40 split. This means that the middle seat of the second row folds forward to accommodate long items, such as skis, without sacrificing the more spacious outboard seats.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
The base audio system on the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is fairly standard, but it includes a USB outlet for charging mobile devices. The entertainment system in the Touring model includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone with audio connectivity and a 5.8-inch in-dash color information touch-screen display, iPod integration, and HD-radio for audiophiles. Optional is a robust in-dash traffic and navigation system powered by TomTom. Other notable available technology features include a rear-view backup camera and blind-spot monitoring system.
IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Consumer Reports gave the 2013 Mazda CX-5 a score of 75 points out of 100.
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