Vehicle Name Sorted Alphabetically Kelley Blue Book Sorted by Pricing
2006 Acura MDX

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best overall near-luxury SUV: Among fierce competition, the reliable MDX offers the most of the most. The Lexus RX 330 mostly goes toe-to-toe, but it has only five seats and lesser handling. The base MDX seats seven people without compromising cargo space, and the changes instituted in 2003 also make it better to drive. The Volvo XC90 costs far more for seven seats and all-wheel drive, and doesn't handle as well. As for safety, the MDX's crash-test ratings are closer to Volvo's than you think.
$12,200 – $14,400

2006 Chevrolet Suburban 1500

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best people-mover SUV(s): I'm the first to point out when people don't need an SUV — let alone a truck-based or full-size one. But here the Suburban fills an important role, accomplishing something that no other model or body style can do: accommodate as many as nine occupants and their luggage. For people space, vehicles like the Honda Pilot SUV and virtually any minivan do the trick, and do so with greater fuel- and space-efficiency. But once they're packed with humans, the remaining space for cargo is negligible.
2006 Chevrolet Suburban 2500

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best people-mover SUV(s): I'm the first to point out when people don't need an SUV — let alone a truck-based or full-size one. But here the Suburban fills an important role, accomplishing something that no other model or body style can do: accommodate as many as nine occupants and their luggage. For people space, vehicles like the Honda Pilot SUV and virtually any minivan do the trick, and do so with greater fuel- and space-efficiency. But once they're packed with humans, the remaining space for cargo is negligible.
2006 GMC Yukon XL 1500

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best people-mover SUV(s): I'm the first to point out when people don't need an SUV — let alone a truck-based or full-size one. But here the Yukon XL fills an important role, accomplishing something that no other model or body style can do: accommodate as many as nine occupants and their luggage. For people space, vehicles like the Honda Pilot SUV and virtually any minivan do the trick, and do so with greater fuel- and space-efficiency. But once they're packed with humans, the remaining space for cargo is negligible.
2006 GMC Yukon XL 2500

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best people-mover SUV(s): I'm the first to point out when people don't need an SUV — let alone a truck-based or full-size one. But here the Yukon XL fills an important role, accomplishing something that no other model or body style can do: accommodate as many as nine occupants and their luggage. For people space, vehicles like the Honda Pilot SUV and virtually any minivan do the trick, and do so with greater fuel- and space-efficiency. But once they're packed with humans, the remaining space for cargo is negligible.
2006 Honda Pilot

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best overall midsize SUV: The Pilot accommodates eight people in comfort that rivals or bests that of full-size SUVs while burning less gas. Throw in Honda's storied reliability, emissions performance and crash-test ratings, and you have the best model for the way most people truly use their SUVs. If towing or off-roading is in your plans, a variety of truck-based models surpass the Pilot. If not, they're overkill.
$10,500 – $14,000

2006 Hummer H2 SUV

Joe Wiesenfelder says: SUV you hate to love: The H2 is the SUV a lot of people love to hate — or just plain hate. And why not? It's gigantic, it's not commensurately accommodating inside, it sucks gas, and it's built to do something not nearly enough people will do to justify its purchase or even its manufacture. So why do I like it so much? How does it do that?! I hate to love it, but I do.
2006 Hyundai Tucson

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best new SUV model: This SUV is exactly what we need at this point in U.S. history. It's small, efficient, drivable, packed with standard features — including high-ticket safety items — yet it's value priced, too. The standard four-cylinder engine delivers estimated fuel economy of 22/27 mpg (city/highway) with both the manual and the automatic transmission.
Caveat: The safety-conscious may want to wait until the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests this model. So far the Tucson has earned a double-five-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's frontal crash tests (we discount NHTSA's side-impact tests).
$6,150 – $8,275

2006 Infiniti FX45

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best sportiness for the buck: How much would you pay to look better and go faster than a Porsche? How about more than $7,000 under what you'd pay for the Porsche Cayenne S? Rear-biased all-wheel drive, a 320-horsepower, 4.5-liter V-8 and a firm suspension make the FX45 go like a shot and corner flatter than flat. Unlike Porsche, Infiniti wasted no weight or cost making its SUV an off-roader. Its 20-inch wheels are meant for pavement and do a great job of sticking you there. The Cadillac SRX, which is lighter, somehow feels heavier to me, with slower acceleration and comparative front-end heaviness.
$17,450 – $17,450

2006 Kia Sportage

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best new SUV model: This SUV is exactly what we need at this point in U.S. history. It's small, efficient, drivable, packed with standard features — including high-ticket safety items — yet it's value priced, too. The standard four-cylinder engine delivers estimated fuel economy of 22/27 mpg (city/highway) with both the manual and the automatic transmission.
Caveat: The safety-conscious may want to wait until the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests this model.
$7,975 – $9,025

2006 Land Rover Range Rover

Joe Wiesenfelder says: The ultimate luxury SUV: Reengineered by BMW when it owned the Rover Group briefly at the end of the 20th century, the Range Rover is every bit as technologically advanced and capable off-road as anything from Hummer or Jeep, and far more luxurious, refined and comfortable. It's a lot of the things for which people hate SUVs ... and the Range Rover makes it very difficult to care.
Caveat: This citation doesn't include the Range Rover Sport.
$17,900 – $24,100

2006 Porsche Cayenne

Joe Wiesenfelder says: The ultimate luxury SUV: Why Porsche made the Cayenne fully offroad capable (a claim I haven't tested) is a mystery. The added weight means it's not as quick as it could be. Still, the Cayenne Turbo — the model with a 450-hp twin-turbocharged V-8 — overcomes the heft. It's the sportiest SUV out there, and very much a Porsche. Considering that the Infiniti FX45 is quicker, the Cayenne S doesn't deserve the same praise even if it does bear the badge. As for the new version powered by a Volkswagen V-6 ... don't get me started.
$16,050 – $35,900

2006 Subaru Forester

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best overall compact SUV: Truth be told, the wagonlike Forester could be aging better. The 2006 update was an opportunity to address some of the quirks and shortcomings — lacking interior lighting in the front of the cabin, chronically rough idle in turbo versions, and tires with poor dry-surface grip, to name a few. Regardless, the Forester is so strong in so many ways that it's still the best overall. It's the only compact to sweep IIHS crash tests with Good scores for all three tests. The turbocharged engine in the 2.5 XT trim level does wonders for driving enjoyment, while the more modest drivetrains preserve admirable fuel economy. Reliability is above average. For optimal sporty performance, choose the 2.5 XT — but forget the optional automatic transmission and upgrade the tires.
$9,600 – $15,250

2006 Volvo XC90

Joe Wiesenfelder says: Best safety equipment: The XC90's so-so driving characteristics, below-average reliability and high price rule it out of the best-overall contest, but it deserves the nod for safety equipment. It's difficult to quantify the real-world safety of one model with good crash-test scores compared to another with good crash-test scores. But when it comes to the effort — the emphasis on safe engineering and safety features — the XC90 is unmatched. It was the first vehicle with side curtain-type airbags for all three rows of seats and the first with a rollover-avoidance system, now shared with some Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. Whereas most vehicles have front seat belt pretensioners, the XC90 has them for each seat. No matter your criterion, it's a safe bet.
$10,650 – $16,150