2012 Compact Crossovers: Five Under $25,000

December 31, 2011

As a follow-up to our earlier story Eleven 2012 Crossovers Under $25,000, here we take a closer look at the base models of five compact crossovers on that list.

Of importance to families, three of the five are Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): the 2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X, the 2012 Honda CR-V, and the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox.

But they’re all solid choices for small family vehicles, providing good value for the money, decent handling and plenty of storage and some surprising features even in base model form.

All have six standard airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes (ABS), power windows/locks/mirrors, air conditioning, intermittent wipers, rear window defroster, and 16-inch wheels. All except the 2012 Ford Escape XLS and Subaru Forester 2.5X have standard automatic transmissions.

2012 Subaru Forester

2012 Subaru Forester

2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X

Perhaps the biggest appeal of the 2012 Subaru Forester 2.5X small crossover is its standard all-wheel drive (AWD). Indeed, every Subaru has this family-friendly feature, and it’s a good one. Among the field of well-equipped compact crossovers under $25,000, the Forester is the least expensive model with AWD, starting at $20,595. Add in $775 destination charge and the net price for the Forester 2.5X is just $21,670.

As TheCarConnection notes in this review of the 2012 model, the Forester is “tough, all-weather capable, and one of the best-handling compact crossovers” and a “nearly ideal balance for Snow Belt small families.” A fold-flat back seat, low cargo floor, roomy interior and 8.7 inches of ground clearance are other strong selling points.

2012 Ford Escape

2012 Ford Escape


2012 Ford Escape XLS

No, this isn’t the all-new compact crossover from Ford. That comes out in 2012 as a 2013 model. But families looking for one of the best-selling small crossovers, and one that doesn’t break the budget, the 2012 Ford Escape in XLS base model form may just fill the bill. TheCarConnection hails the Escape’s decent headroom, given its tall and boxy body, and there’s also a sizeable cargo area of 67.2 cubic feet.

In addition, the rear seats fold down almost all the way, thus boosting storage capacity. Ford’s MyKey is standard, but SYNC is optional. Net price for the Escape XLS is $22,265 ($21,440 base and $825 destination charge).

2012 Honda CR-V - First Drive

2012 Honda CR-V - First Drive

2012 Honda CR-V LX

The redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V is, as our sister publication TheCarConnection observes in this review, “a great family vehicle, with a thoughtfully designed and comfortable interior, and improved refinement, but it lacks the confident, sprightly feel present in past CR-Vs.” Even in the base LX model, the seating is comfortable throughout, with one of the best one-pull rear seat folding arrangements in the compact segment.

The low cargo floor makes loading and unloading a breeze and the cargo capacity is an impressive 37.2 cubic feet behind the second row (and 70.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded). Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and Bluetooth streaming audio are standard. With a starting price of $22,295 and destination charge of $810, the out-the-door net price (minus any options, taxes, license, etc.) is $23,105.

Be sure to check out 2012 Honda CR-V: First Drive for more information on this family-friendly small crossover.


 

2012 Toyota RAV4

2012 Toyota RAV4

2012 Toyota RAV4

Slotting somewhere between a compact and a mid-size crossover, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 is also one of the few in the compact segment to offer a third row (although the option costs $800 extra in the base model). And that third row is really only kid-friendly, so families requiring fully-functional and adult-accommodating seating in a third row would be better served looking at a mid-size crossover or SUV with three-row seating.

In a review by TheCarConnection, editors give the 2012 Toyota RAV4 an overall 7 (out of 10) rating, saying the base 179-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is “smooth, responsive, and has enough power to keep most drivers happy.” The RAV4 also “handles surprisingly well, yet its ride is by no means harsh.” With a net price of $23,460 ($22,650 base plus $810 destination charge), the compact crossover is an affordable good choice for small families.

2012 Chevrolet Equinox

2012 Chevrolet Equinox

2012 Chevrolet Equinox LS

With a full redesign just two years ago, the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox still looks fresh, and, according to this review in TheCarConnection, it takes on the perennial best-selling Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 due to its “handling and fuel economy that are about on-par with a mid-size sedan, plus a taller body that brings more space and versatility.”

On the higher-end of the compact crossovers under $25,000, the base 2012 Chevy Equinox nets out at $24,260 ($23,450 base plus $810 destination charge). The fuel-efficient (EPA-rated 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway) 182-horsepower 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Ditto its corporate sibling, the 2012 GMC Terrain SLE-1, upfitted a bit more but also costing about two grand more with a net price of $26,290.

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