2010 Cars.com Best Bet SUVs

To qualify as a Cars.com Best Bet SUV, models must meet three quantified criteria: a Good rating in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, average or higher reliability ratings, and average or higher fuel mileage within their class. The SUV classes and mileage cutoffs are compact (21.3 mpg), midsize (18.6 mpg), full-size (16.7 mpg), luxury (16.7 mpg) and hybrid/diesel (23.7 mpg). All mileage citations are in EPA-estimated combined city/highway mileage.

2010 Best Bets: SUVs
SUVs are listed in alphabetical order by their class: compact, midsize, full-size, luxury and hybrid.
Compact SUVs
$21,020 - $27,375
The Ford Escape's maximum gas mileage rating, 24 mpg, makes it one of the most efficient Best Bet SUvs. Its reliability has been average.
  • New self-parking option
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Five-speed manual or six-speed automatic
  • FWD or AWD
  • Hybrid version available (covered separately)
$21,545 - $27,745
The CR-V's reliability is consistently much better than average, and its 24 mpg rating equals the best of the Best Bet SUVs.
  • 14 more horsepower
  • Mileage ratings up by 1 mpg
  • FWD or AWD
  • Standard stability system
$20,525 - $24,320
The unique Element has been rated much better than average for reliability for its entire history. Due to its heavier construction, its maximum combined mileage rating is among the lowest of the compact Best Bet SUVs at 22 mpg.
  • Roomy, functional interior
  • FWD or AWD
  • Sport-tuned SC variant
  • Optional navigation system
  • Optional backup camera
$20,405 - $28,915
A sibling to the Ford Escape, the Tribute shares similar attributes, including average reliability and a 24-mpg maximum mileage estimate.
  • Four-cylinder or V-6 engine
  • Six-speed automatic available
  • Rear window opens independent of liftgate
  • Hybrid version available (covered separately)
$23,560 - $27,380
Another sibling to the Ford Escape, the Mariner delivers average reliability. Because it comes only with an automatic transmission, its maximum mileage rating is 23 mpg.
  • FWD or AWD
  • Automatic transmission
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • New self-parking option
  • Hybrid version available (covered separately)
$20,840 - $29.250
The Outlander's 24-mpg maximum mileage puts it in league with the most efficient compact Best Bet SUVs. Its reliability has been above average.
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Available AWD
  • Available third-row seat
  • Liftgate/tailgate combo
  • Standard stability system
$20,340 - $25,140
The Rogue's mileage tops out at 24 mpg. Its reliability has been above average.
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission
  • 170-hp four-cylinder
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Standard side curtain airbags
  • Standard stability system
$20,295 - $28,495
Standard all-wheel drive lowers the Forester's mileage, but its most efficient version makes the cutoff at 22 mpg. It delivers much better than average reliability; the turbocharged version is merely average.
  • Standard AWD
  • Regular or turbocharged four-cylinder
  • High ground clearance
  • Manual or automatic
$21,675 - $27,985
The RAV4 remains at the top of the Best Bet heap with the Honda CR-V, boasting an estimated 24 mpg and top reliability. (Be sure recall work has been performed.)
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • FWD or AWD
  • Available third-row seat
  • Available backup camera

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Midsize SUVs
$27,420 - $35,770
The Edge carries a 20-mpg rating and above-average reliability with front-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive version gets 19 mpg and has been average in reliability.
  • Seats five
  • Gas mileage upgraded
  • Six-speed automatic
  • Power liftgate option
  • 22-inch wheel option
  • Sync system optional
$27,895 - $38,645
With a 19-mpg rating in the front-drive version, the Pilot makes the grade as a midsize SUV Best Bet. Its reliability has been above average.
  • Seats eight
  • V-6 with cylinder deactivation
  • Standard stability system
  • Slab-sided looks
$28,145 - $35,895
The Veracruz just makes the cut as a midsize SUV Best Bet with a 19-mpg rating and average reliability.
  • Seats seven
  • 260-hp V-6
  • Six-speed automatic
  • Standard stability system
  • Optional backseat entertainment system
$28,050 - $38,180
With front- or all-wheel drive, the Murano delivers an estimated 20 mpg and average reliability.
  • Seats five
  • Available power liftgate
  • Push-button start
  • Standard antilock brakes
  • Standard stability system
$25,855 - $34,670
Though its reliability has slipped from the highest rating in the past year or so, the Highlander is still above average — as high as any midsize Best Bet SUV achieves. Its mileage tops out at 22 mpg. (Be sure recall work has been performed.)
  • Seats five or seven
  • Base 187-hp four-cylinder
  • Available 270-hp V-6
  • FWD or AWD
  • Standard stability system
  • Low-cost backup camera
$26,275 - $29,550
A relatively new model, the Venza's wagonlike size and stance help deliver the top mileage of midsize Best Bet SUVs: 24 mpg with the four-cylinder, which is also much more reliable than average. The V-6 model is average. (Be sure recall work has been performed.)
  • Seats five
  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Seven airbags
  • Available automatic high-beam headlights
  • FWD or AWD

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Full-size SUVs
$29,224 - $39,985
The Traverse exhibits average reliability and combined mileage of 19 mpg with either front- or all-wheel drive.
  • Seats seven or eight
  • Malibu-inspired styling
  • Standard 281-hp V-6
  • FWD or AWD
  • Related to GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave
$28,950 - $42,465
The Flex has a history of average reliability. With a 20-mpg estimate in its most efficient model, the Flex has the highest mileage of any full-size Best Bet SUV.
  • Seats six or seven
  • New 355-hp EcoBoost V-6
  • Optional onboard refrigerator
  • White or silver roof available
  • Available AWD
$28,635 - $34,045
The sport-oriented CX-9's 18 mpg is the lowest combined mileage of our full-size Best Bet SUVs, but it makes the grade with room to spare. Its reliability has been average.
  • Seats seven
  • Restyled for 2010
  • Interior upgrades for 2010
  • Enlarged side mirrors
  • Electronic stability system with Roll Stability Control
  • Optional blind spot warning system

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Luxury SUVs
$42,230 - $51,855
The MDX offers above-average reliability and 18 mpg in a good-sized SUV.
  • Seats seven
  • Revised styling for 2010
  • New six-speed automatic
  • Additional tech features
  • Standard all-wheel drive
$32,520 - $34,520
The RDX's reliability has been above average, and a new front-drive model raises the maximum mileage estimate to 21 — the top bracket for luxury Best Bet SUVs.
  • Seats five
  • Smaller than MDX
  • Exterior refreshed for 2010
  • 240-hp turbocharged engine
  • FWD or AWD
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
$33,800 - $37,400
The EX35's sporty nature costs it in mileage, an estimated 19 mpg despite the EX's small size. Its reliability has been above average.
  • Seats five
  • 297-hp V-6
  • RWD or AWD
  • Optional Around View Monitor
$37,625 - $39,025
One of the earliest SUVs on the market, and the first luxury one, the RX continues to offer top-notch reliability as well as unbeaten mileage of 21 mpg.
  • Seats five
  • Redesigned for 2010
  • FWD or AWD
  • Optional wide-view side monitor
  • Optional head-up display
  • Optional Pre-Collision System

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Hybrid SUVs
$29,860 - $34,120
The first hybrid SUV continues to be the most efficient, with a combined 32 mpg in the front-drive version. Its reliability has been above average.
  • New self-parking option
  • Can run on electric power alone
  • Standard stability system
  • Optional customizable ambient lighting
  • Optional navigation system with hybrid-drive readouts
$42,685 - $44,275
The hybrid version of Lexus' RX has the top-rated reliability in the overwhelmingly reliable class of hybrid SUVs. Its mileage is 30 mpg with front-wheel drive.
  • Seats five
  • Redesigned for 2010
  • FWD or AWD
  • Optional wide-view side monitor
  • Optional head-up display
  • Optional Pre-Collision System
TBA
Based on the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Tribute Hybrid also gets an estimated 32 mpg with front-wheel drive. However, its reliability has been average, rather than above average as in the related Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid.
  • Mazda's first hybrid
  • Only available in California
  • Same rugged styling as gas counterpart
  • Standard side curtain airbags
  • Rear window opens independent of liftgate
$30,105 - $31,855
Like its sibling, the Ford Escape Hybrid, the Mariner Hybrid has above-average reliability and an estimated 32 mpg with front-wheel drive.
  • 153-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Hybrid-electric drivetrain with CVT
  • Electric-only mode
  • Acceleration equivalent to V-6 Mariner
$34,900 - $41,220
The Highlander's 26 mpg is the lowest of our Best Bet Hybrid SUVs, but it still qualifies with plenty of room to spare. Its reliability history is above average.
  • Seats five or seven
  • Electric-only mode
  • Standard AWD
  • Center Stow seat
  • Standard backup camera

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