Recommend a good small SUV?

I’m in the market for a new vehicle. I’ve got a cross country move coming up in several months, and I want something that I can pack a decent among of my stuff into (selling the big things before moving, but room for a few boxes of books, knick knacks, and other must-keeps would be nice), in the smallest reasonable vehicle. I’ve heard good things about the RAV4, and it’s about the size I’m looking for, but I don’t know much about what’s out there in that size range.

I doubt I’ll be buying new, so my options will be limited by what’s out there, but I’d love to hear some first hand recommendations on what to look for in a not-too-big vehicle with good storage.

My wife has a RAV4, I like it. It’s a nice middle point between a Corrola/Camery and a bigger SUV. Take a look at a Highlander as well.

I have a Ford Escape and have used it several times to help move house. You can fit a lot in there!

I’ve had it for 4 years (a 2004 model, bought in 2003) and so far it’s been great. I am not a huge fan of the factory tires, and I had a little trouble with the ABS but it has been quite reliable, roomy, and badass.

It is Ford’s smallest SUV.

I have a 1997 Honda CRV with 230k miles on it … biggest problem it ever had was a worn-out ignition switch. With the back seat folded down, I’ve carried a clothes washer in the back. Gets about 25 mpg – I think the newer ones do a bit better than that.

You might want to also check out a Nissan Pathfinder.

I have a Kia Sportage. (My husband wanted it; I, however, end up being the one who drives it.)

Actually it’s not a bad little car. Gets great mileage for an SUV and handles very nicely. I have packed a lot of stuff into it, but I have not tried to load it up to the max. We did take a bunch of stuff cross-country to my son and there was plenty of room to stow his boxes plus our suitcases with three people (one of whom is on the small side, being a kid) riding in comfort. And there’s a rack on the top so even more stuff could be added.

My wife has a Toyota Highlander 4 cyl. The 4 cyl engines are made in Japan, and I am pretty happy with how solid it is. It gets pretty great mileage too, and pretty roomy inside. 4 wheel drive to boot. Certainly worth a look.

I am not sure if you are have kids, but if you do, I would recommend the Nissan Xterra. It rides high, it is fun to drive, it’s cargo area is pretty decent, and the roof rack is useful and beefy. It is a cool Dad’s SUV without having to go too big (I wouldn’t want to drive a huge Suburban). It’s downsides are that it rides like a truck, not a car (some people don’t like that) and it’s gas mileage is kinda crappy. In 5 years I have had to fix an AC hose, and that is about it.

Check out for a ton of reviews, too (on every car, not just the Ford Escape).

The very best is likely the Subaru Outback, assuming you need AWD.

I like the Saturn Vue.

If you buy the Rav from a Toyota Dealer you will get taken in the deal.

Honda Element is bigger than the CRV, but both are rather pricey.

But do you need a SUV? I mean the PT Cruiser has as much space and is cheaper.

If you have kids, get something safer than a SUV. Contrary to the CW, they are *less *safe than a passenger car of the same general size. “It rides high” = “it rolls over and kills the passengers”. :frowning:

I’ve got a Ford Escape - a 2003 model. I bought it new, and after four years not a thing has gone wrong with it. I’ve replaced the brakes and done the scheduled maintenance, and that’s it. It still looks and drives like it just came off the showroom floor. Great little SUV.

While vehicle shopping a couple of years ago, I was astounded by the lack of storage space in most SUVs, really, many of them don’t have more storage than a station wagon. If storage is what you need, I’d look at a minivan.

Seconded. We bought our first minivan (Chrysler T&C) about two years ago, and we’re already planning our next one. You can really pack a ton of crap into those things. The functionality of ‘stow and go’ seating is simply awesome. And the newest: Swivel and go seating (with table!) Pure genius.

[sub]Yes, my transformation to total nerd is complete. I’m excited about ‘swivel and go’ seating. With table.[/sub]

I’ve got a Subaru Forester and it’s got plenty of room inside, without being a behemoth.

I’ve been ecstatically happy with the Honda Element I bought last year. The rear seats fold up, giving me enough room inside that I can stand two bikes up without taking their front wheels off- it’s also very comfortable for camping. I tend to get around 23 mpg, and the all-wheel drive handles snow like it’s not even there. It’s the best vehicle I’ve ever owned.

I got the top of the line model, with quite a few add-ons, for right around $20k. Their resale value is pretty impressive, as well.

The Missus likes her Hyundai Tucson.

I adore my 2006 Ford Escape. It’s fabulous for moving (driver, 3 cat carriers, assorted houseplants, the “gotta have tonight” box, cooler and suitcases fit comfortably), car pooling, and big shopping trips. It’s not too tippy, easy to park, and gets decent gas mileage.

Your first stop should be “Consumer Reports” to see how the various makes and models tested. IIRC the top ones in your category were the Subaru Forester and Hyundai Santa Fe. Personally, I am leaning towards the Santa Fe as my next car.

Not sure if it falls into the SUV category, but have you looked at the Buick Rendezvous? You can get one that seats 8, but the back row of seats fold up easily and create a good amount of storage space. They get an average of 25 mpg, and they’re not long enough to be awkward to park. I don’t own one, but I’ve driven them (my husband works at a dealership) and they might be our next family car.

I have a Jeep Liberty, and I absolutely love it. I think it will be roomy enough for what you need it for…it’s probably about the size of the Rav4. We got ours for two purposes, one, because my husband does a lot of renovation work on our house, and he needed to be able to haul stuff from Home Depot, and two, my back was killing me getting the baby in and out of my Ford Focus. We needed a relatively small SUV, because we have a small garage and because I commute to work in it, so we didn’t want a gas guzzler. The Liberty seemed to be a reasonable compromise on all of that, and you can take it off-roading, which we like to do up in Michigan. It’s actually the same overall length as my Focus was, so my husband sometimes has trouble hauling long pieces of wood & stuff like that, but with the seats down, you can fit a lot of stuff in the cargo area.

I am realizing that my next car may have to be a mini-van, as much as I hate the thought, because the main problem with the small SUV is that you can’t fit any more people in them than you can with a regular car. When the kids are older, car pooling and such will become an issue. But for your purposes, I think it would work out well.

I like the looks of it, too…it’s nice and sporty/rugged looking.