Best Deals on New SUVs, Crossovers and Minivans

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Making a smart decision on your vehicle purchase

Wandering through the choices of cars, suvs and minivans, it's difficult to find the best deals. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Buying a new vehicle is one of the biggest financial decisions most consumers make, second only to buying a new home. So, doesn't it make sense to do your research and to get the best deal out there?

I’ve revised our list of’s Best SUV Deals for the 2011 model year. In order to make the list, a vehicle must be a 2011 model. 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; Minivan; and Family Friendly.

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Full-Size: 2011 Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Last year's best deal, the Kia Borrego, has been discontinued, leaving the Chevy Suburban with the crown. Suburban hasn't changed much since a makeover in 2007, and that's a good thing. The 2011 Chevrolet Suburban comes in half-ton (starting at $40,925) and three quarter-ton (starting at $42,945) varieties, with seating capacity of up to 9 passengers. The EPA estimates gasoline fuel economy at 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway. The Suburban carries a 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.

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Mid-Size: 2011 Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Winner of this year's "Best New SUV," the 2011 Ford Explorer is a complete redesign of the venerable, highly successful model. The SUV has moved from a traditional body-on-frame design to a unibody (frameless) design, making it almost a crossover vehicle. Three row seating improves passenger handling, and a new V6 powertrain improves power, performance and fuel efficiency. The 2011 Ford Explorer carries base prices starting at $28,360 with a 3-year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway.

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Compact: 2011 Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Winner of the "Best New Crossover," the new Kia Sportage represents the third generation of Sportage, and a major improvement for the 16th year of the compact crossover vehicle. Available with a powerful and efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, the Sportage is poised to make a major move in the marketplace, especially as fuel prices continue to skyrocket. The 2011 Kia Sportage carries base prices from $18,295 to $24,795, including 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates from 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway (AWD AT) to 22 city/31 highway (FWD AT).

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Fuel-Efficient: 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid

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/31 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.

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Most reliable: 2011 Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V. Photo © Jason Fogelson

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 2011 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.

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Luxury: 2011 Infiniti FX35

Infiniti FX35. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Luxury is great, and it's even better when it comes wrapped around a vehicle with the ability of a sports car. The FX is a sports car in SUV clothing - two vehicles in one, and that's a deal right there. The 2011 Infiniti FX35 RWD carries a base price of $41,600 ($52,875 as tested) with a 4-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates of 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway.

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Minivan: 2011 Toyota Sienna

Toyota Sienna. Photo © Jason Fogelson

The Toyota Sienna is my benchmark minivan. It has the best combination of style, utility and drivability of any of the big minivans out there, along with a host of innovative features and clever uses of space. The 2011 Toyota Sienna carries base prices from $25,060 to $40,110, with a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates of 16 city/22 highway (V6)/19/24 (I4).

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Family Friendly: 2011 Mazda CX-9

Mazda CX-9. Photo © Mazda

If you regularly carry a full load of six or seven passengers, and you love to drive, CX-9 is your best choice. Your passengers will be comfortable, you'll be styling, and you'll get a pretty good bang for your buck in terms of luxury feel and features. You can save a bit if you can live with front-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive, and if you look to the aftermarket for your navigation, entertainment and sound needs. The 2011 Mazda CX-9 carries base prices starting from $29,135 to $34,535, a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and EPA fuel economy estimates of 16 city/22 highway (AWD) and 17/24 (FWD).