The immense changes in the economy (we're all broke!) and the environment (we're all doomed!) have shifted what we want in a car. Translation: It's time to get over our passion for large, spacious SUVs and embrace the more practical Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV). Here are a few of the most promising new crossover vehicles.
Toyota Venza: The Toyota Venza is built around a jacked-up hatchback profile with impressive cargo space and room for up to five people. But as practical as it aims to be, the Venza is still a sharp car with an imposing front grille, cool taillights, and a solid list of standard features. One of the cooler optional features is the automatic high-beam system that switches to regular when it detects on-coming headlights, and then switches back.
Our big tip: Upgrade the 182 horsepower
4-cylinder engine for the V6 option that kicks out 268 horsepower and 246 ft-lb of torque. The bigger engine still gets respectable mileage ratings of 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on highways.
Ford Edge: Now entering its third season, the Edge is one of the best Ford vehicles in years. This year, Ford added a new Sport model of the Edge with an eight-piece body kit, including everything from dual chrome exhaust to 22-inch rims and an optional two-panel sunroof and sport-tuned suspension. The standard 265 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 stands up well to the performance engineering of the Sport edition, making it quick with long-haul stamina and delivering a fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The practical magic of the Edge is the roomy five-person seating and massive 32 cubic feet of cargo storage you get when the backseats are folded down. Ford makes some of the most teched-out vehicles around, thanks to their Microsoft Sync system, which is an integrated voice command Bluetooth communications and audio system that lets you dial calls and cue up music through voice commands.
Chevrolet Traverse: The Chevrolet Traverse, a well-built, slick-looking, and functional vehicle, proved that Detroit still had a few moves left. Slightly bigger than other crossovers, it is still more practical than any SUV, with fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway from a 281 horsepower V6. The cabin area is roomy and the interior is available in cloth or leather, with optional heated seats and navigation system. The Traverse is big enough that drivers should check out the optional proximity sensors and rear-back camera.
Though the CUV tag suggests that the Traverse is built with off-road intentions, the independent four-wheel suspension system is definitely designed for on-road comfort. Stay out of the mud bogs!