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Need a fuel-efficient, reliable and fun SUV

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


My wife and I are looking for a Small to Midsized SUV or Crossover to replace my newly compacted compact car. Things we're looking for:

  1. Something from the more recent model years. 2014 onward would be preferable, but we could handle something a little older if it still had good gas mileage and lower odometer miles.
  2. Good gas mileage and engine performance without feeling underpowerd or with erratic shifting (see CVT). Smooth and quiet ride in the city and on the highway. Transmission reliablilty would also be big for us
  3. Comfortable interior with sensible layout. We would be spending a lot of time in the vehicle so it would be nice if the interior didn't feel too cheap, had good features like a well designed front console and comfortable seats, plenty of front and rear legroom, Bluetooth campatability etc
  4. Optional/Standard AWD or 4WD. We don't know a lot about it but it would be nice for occasional snow and ice and snowboarding trips. Neither of us can drive a Manual.
  5. Safe and comfortable for kids between newborn and 10 years old.

We really love the exterior and interior styling of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude but are disappointed with the MANY reports of transmission problems stemming from the new 9-speed automatic transmission. That really kills it for us in terms of reliability. We also would like something with a little more gas mileage and maybe slightly more cargo space.

We've also researched the 2014 year models of the Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5 but have yet to test drive any of them. None of the reviews we've read for these models really seem to make one stand out as a good fit for our needs. Maybe we're missing some sort of outstanding feature or something on one of these models? Or maybe we just need to bite the bullet and pick one that is only okay? Suggestions would be appreciated!

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Interior styling / Handling / Price or payments

Car Needs: Family transporter / Daily commuter / Errands about town / Long trips

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 15000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 28000

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Response from mkaresh

8:59 pm October 23, 2014

Thanks for posting such a detailed car search question.

Given your priorities, the Mazda CX-5 is probably the best bet, followed by the Escape (where long-term reliability is a little more questionable but interior materials are a little better and a more powerful engine is available).

I imagine you've written off the Subaru Forester owing to its CVT, but I'd drive one to make sure its really objectionable. I didn't mind the CVT myself. But will the CVT prove reliable? Too soon to say, unfortunately. The oldest Subarus with them are just now turning five.

VWs have improved to where they're often reliable for four to six years, so the Tiguan might also be a viable alternative.

The Honda CR-V is much less fun to drive than most others, with the Toyota RAV4 doesn't ride well and has a subpar interior.


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Mazda CX-5
Ford Escape
Subaru Forester
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