Best Car To Buy: The Crossover Nominees

December 5, 2012
The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2013

The Car Connection Best Car To Buy 2013

Family vehicles have been taking a new shape over the past decade, and that shape is the crossover. Effectively combining the versatility of a hatchback, minivan, or wagon with the ride comfort of a sedan, and some of the toughness and go-anywhere attitude of an SUV, they’re increasingly the modern family cars of choice.

We’re here to help you make the best choice in a new vehicle, and among the many entries this year that are all-new, we’re singling out some of our top-rated crossovers. These models earn an Overall Rating of more than 8 out of 10 (taking into account Styling, Performance, Comfort, Safety, and Features), and they start at less than $50,000—qualifying them as nominees for The Car Connection’s 2013 Best Car To Buy.

Just as we did earlier this week with sedans, and then again yesterday with trucks and sports coupes, we’re outlining these high achievers as nominees. Then next week, on Monday, December 10, we’ll be announcing one winner.

Take a look at the entire nominees list with this short Best Car To Buy video of the nominees, then click through the following pages to see our crossover shortlist.


Audi Allroad
Overall Rating: 8.4
Bottom Line: A perky turbo four, composed all-wheel-drive handling, and a high-quality cabin make the Audi Allroad the best A4 you can buy.

There’s so much to love about the new Audi Allroad. Its rakish sport-wagon stance are matched with just the right amount of brawn (with 7.1 inches of ground clearance and added skid plates). Flat handling, a composed ride, all-wheel-drive tractability, and a perky turbocharged four-cylinder engine—and decent gas mileage—all add up to an appealing-to-drive, yet responsible everyday wagon. Factor in the high-quality luxury-car cabin and options such as Bang & Olufsen sound and things like well-integrated Google Earth and Google Street View maps, and this Allroad is a very smart move for both Audi and for upmarket American families.


Ford Escape
Overall Rating: 8.0
Bottom Line: After eleven years, a change-up: the 2013 Ford Escape drops the faux-SUV pitch and reels off authentically athletic looks and performance.

Change had to happen eventually for the Ford Escape, but we’re still getting used to the idea of just how radically different the 2013 Ford Escape is. For the most part, the rakish new design has hints of sport wagon within it and is a world away from the very boxy, upright look of its predecessor. Its taut handling and quick steering work well with the 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, and the entire lineup (free of V-6s now) gets impressive mileage. Good safety ratings also gave its review score a boost, while its tech-rich feature set is as good as many luxury-brand vehicles. On the other hand, the Escape is just a bit smaller inside than many of its competitors, and we’re still not big fans of the tall-Focus front-end styling.


Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Overall Rating: 8.0
Bottom Line: The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe splits its identity in two: the three-row ute goes V-6 only, while the five-passenger Sport leans on turbo power, a flexible second-row seat and a cushy ride to make its best case ever.

Hyundai’s Santa Fe now includes two different body styles—the two-row Santa Fe Sport, and the three-row Santa Fe—which means that its competition now spans a wide range, from the likes of the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V all the way up to models like the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer. It’s more mature and more upscale in look and feel, inside and out, and there’s a new lineup of direct-injection four-cylinder, turbo four, and V-6 engines. And whether you go for the Sport or the standard Santa Fe, reconfigurability and versatility are top-notch. We haven’t yet driven the Santa Fe, but we’re impressed by the Santa Fe Sport’s refined powertrains and excellent fuel economy—as well as the straightforward infotainment system across the model line.


Nissan Pathfinder
Overall Rating: 8.0
Bottom Line: The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is in a new place that's just right for families who want a big, comfortable, sensible wagon, but it's given up some of its path-finding heritage to get there.

The Nissan Pathfinder is an iconic SUV that became even more truck-like with its last redesign for 2005; so it was naturally a bit surprising that Nissan has completely recast it in the crossover mold for 2013—and actually, as one of the softer, more wagon-like ones. Nissan let go of nearly all the rock-scrambling trail toughness—that’s still there if you want it in the Xterra—and focused on families for this Pathfinder. And while the new Pathfinder doesn’t shine in any one particular area, it excels in everything passenger-related and includes an especially roomy third row. On the road, the Pathfinder drives exactly as it should—as a softly-sprung sedan, not a truck—and it doesn’t have the nagging sense of heft that’s ever-present in other models like GM’s large crossovers; we really like its nicely weighted steering compared to other models in this class. There’s not much ground clearance, but thanks to a new chain-driven CVT the Pathfinder can tow up to 5,000 pounds.


Subaru XV Crosstrek
Overall Rating: 8.2
Bottom Line: The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek aims to provide the kind of trail ability and space for gear that weekend adventurer types need; but it also looks like a great value for Snow Belt commuters and small families -- and an alternative to bulkier crossover utilities.

The Subaru XV Crosstrek is essentially a Subaru Impreza five-door hatchback. But it boasts several key differences that set it apart, and make it less of an all-wheel-drive passenger car and more of a tough utility vehicle. With a lifted suspension, for up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance—more than many brawnier-looking SUVs—along with structural reinforcements, improved engine cooling, and special front fenders and body cladding, the XV Crosstrek can power through snow, or negotiate narrow forest trails with ease. For an affordable starting price of around $22k, you get a good list of features, in a roomy interior that’s perfectly laid out for active types (with a rubberized cargo tray and flip-down seatbacks); and a strong, 150-pound roof rack is standard. Now for the bad? That’s mostly a matter of the 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine, which is barely strong enough for the Crosstrek, and a little too noisy for the mission.

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