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Best SUV Deals for 2010

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Many of our favorite SUVs have undergone makeovers and facelifts for 2010 in an attempt to lure new buyers, but prices have remained remarkably stable for new SUVs. In order to make the list, a vehicle must have current (as of December 2009) availability, opening the competition to 2010 and early 2011 models. Beyond that, the criteria are completely subjective – my assessment of price-to-value, vehicle quality, desirability and overall excellence. In the spirit of utility, the list is broken into segments: Full-Size; Mid-Size; Compact; Fuel-Efficient; Most Reliable; Luxury; and Family Friendly.

1. Full-Size: 2010 Kia Borrego

Photo © Jason Fogelson
The latest addition to Kia's lineup of SUVs, Borrego is a body-on-frame SUV with a ton of features. Borrego is available with two engine choices: a 3.8 liter V6 (276 hp/267 lb-ft of torque) and a 4.6 liter V8 (337 hp/323 lb-ft of torque). The V6 uses a five-speed automatic transmission; the V8 is hooked up to the same six-speed automatic that you'll find in the BMW X5. The 2010 Kia Borrego arrives in showrooms with base prices ranging from $26,245 to $32,995, a 5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 15 -- 17 mpg city/20 -- 22 mpg highway (depending on engine and drive choices).

2. Mid-Size: 2010 Chevrolet Traverse

Photo © Jason Fogelson
Traverse is the fourth seven-passenger crossover to ride on General Motors' Lambda platform, following the Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia. New for 2009, Chevy's version is a mechanical clone of the other GM offerings, with cosmetic differences and slightly different trim. Available with one engine and transmission package, a 3.6 liter V6 and a 6-speed automatic, Traverse arrives in two levels of tune: 281 hp/266 lb-ft of torque for LS and LT1; 288 hp/270 lb-ft of torque for LT2 models. Base prices start at $29,990 and go up to $42,750 plus options. EPA estimates for the front-wheel drive Traverse are 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway; 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive.

3. Compact: 2010 Mazda CX-7 Sport

Photo © Jason Fogelson
CX-7 underwent a redesign for 2010 which included a new engine choice. In addition to the 2.3 liter turbocharged I4 (244 hp/258 lb-ft of torque), a naturally-aspirated 2.5 liter I4 (161 hp/161 lb-ft of torque) is now available for Sport models, and it results in substantial weight and cost savings. Both engines produce the sporty performance that Mazda is famous for, but the added choice brings CX-7 into a new level of competition. Base prices start at $22,300 and go up to $31,935 plus options with a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates from 17 city/23 highway to 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway.

4. Fuel-Efficient: 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid

Photo © Jason Fogelson
When the most fuel-efficient SUV is also a very pleasant, well-designed vehicle, it ranks as a “Best Deal.” Escape Hybrid is rated to deliver 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway, according to the EPA, and arrives with a 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. Prices start at $29,785 for base models, $32,295 for Limited.

5. Most reliable: 2010 Honda CR-V

Photo © Thom Blackett
Honda’s CR-V has consistently turned up on top of reliability studies and lists, and I feel comfortable naming it “Most Reliable SUV Deal.” CR-V has also taken its place as best selling SUV in the US, so many people must agree. Every 2009 CR-V is backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5 years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage.Base prices start at $21,545 and go up to $29,745. The EPA rates CR-V to deliver 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway with four-wheel drive, and 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway with front-wheel drive.

6. Family Friendly: 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost

Photo © Ford Motor Company
The Flex is a seven-seater with Retrofuturist style. Sharing the three-bar grille design from the rest of the Ford SUV lineup and little else, Flex encases a flexible interior layout in a wagon-like exterior. Available with all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive and the familiar 3.5 liter V6 tuned to send 262 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque to a six-speed automatic transmission, Flex is rated by the EPA to travel 16 city/22 highway mpg in AWD; 17 city/24 highway in FWD trim with a 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. . Prices start at $28,495 and go up to $43,580 plus options.

7. Luxury: 2010 Land Rover LR4

Photo © Jason Fogelson
LR4 is the latest evolution of Land Rover's iconic Discovery series, and probably the most capable off-road vehicle in the lineup. Freshly revised for the 2010 model year, the Land Rover LR4 takes over from the LR3. LR4 is a seven-passenger SUV designed to compete with the Mercedes-Benz G-class, the HUMMER H2, the Infiniti QX56 and the Toyota Land Cruiser. The Land Rover LR4 carries a 5.0 liter V8 that pumps 375 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive with Land Rover's Terrain Response System is standard. EPA fuel economy estimates are 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway. Base prices start at $48,100, plus options.

Readers Choose the Best Deals on SUVs for 2010 - Share Your Picks for Best SUVS of 2010

Every year, I compile a list of the best deals on SUVs and crossover vehicles. In order to be considered, a vehicle must have current (as of December 2009) availability. Beyond that, the criteria are completely subjective -- my assessment of price-to-value, vehicle quality, desirability and overall excellence. In the spirit of utility, the list is broken into segments: Full-Size; Mid-Size; Compact; Fuel-Efficient; Most Reliable; Luxury; and Family Friendly.

Now it's your turn.

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