QOTD: Searching for Value Among the Utilities?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd searching for value among the utilities

Don’t let the title confuse you; we’re not discussing how to save money on your electric bill. Today’s QOTD hopes to find utility vehicles of value, in both the SUV and CUV categories. Put on your thinking caps.

We’re forever being told the utility vehicles of today are not good value. They’re more expensive to buy than their sedan, wagon, or hatchback counterparts, and not as “good” at doing utilitarian hauling duty as their truck cousins. And they fail on these fronts while using more fuel than necessary, due to their excessive weight and air-punching shape. Yet here we are — crossovers and SUVs are what most American consumers are buying and want to buy, as all those other body types (except trucks) fade ever closer into irrelevance.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t find the best of the bunch for getting some bang for your buck. Today we’ll take a look at three main categories of SUV and CUV; the easiest way to segment them seems to be by size.

  • Compact
  • Midsize
  • Large

We can further differentiate the segments by finding our value leaders in separate realms of truck-based and car-based utility vehicles. Then, we divide them up a bit further by coming up with recommendations for luxury and non-luxury marques. Of course, the true goal of a luxury vehicle is not kindness to the checking account, but perhaps there’s a way to have a luxury utility in your life without paying far too much to your local car dealer.

It seems simple enough to rack your brain for the lowest cost entry in each segment, but cheap doesn’t necessarily mean good value. They’re not all qualifiers for Ace of Base. Your selections must be available as new, here in 2019. And as an overarching rule today, if it doesn’t have four- or all-wheel drive available, it’s not a utility vehicle. Those are called hatchbacks. Sad!

Off to you.

[Image: Ford]

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4 of 64 comments
  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Jan 23, 2019

    I will toss my hat in the honda area , our Pilot has been great for us, 14 years , no major issue and really no minor ones either, it may not go to far into the woods or tow a ton, I will never use it for that, it has held up well inside and out, it will be handed down to our teenager when he gets his DL in a few months, I know plenty of folks who swear by their CRV's. really have no need for a BIG SUV but maybe a Lexus GX , maybe you could get a Land Crusier w more toys and get a better deal w the number of Lexus coming off lease vs a LC ?

    • See 1 previous
    • Tonycd Tonycd on Jan 24, 2019

      @burnbomber I believe the old Pilot held up well, although the 2nd gen was criminallly cheaped out inside. But as with other new Hondas, I don't entirely trust the more complex new engines and transmissions they're using, and recent Consumer Reports reliability data show a precipitous decline for most Honda models except the Fit (which lacks most of the tech).

  • Lie2me Lie2me on Jan 23, 2019

    (See top pic) I'm on my 2nd Escape and can't say enough good about them. Buy one slightly used for the best value

  • Rna65689660 Late last September US 2 from St. Ignace, MI to Everett, WA.
  • Tassos I find it ridiculous to call any of these later, less luxurious, less substsantial (compared to their 1940s-1960s glorious ancestors) Lincolns "rare rides".There was absolutely nothing rare about them. the roads were full of them then.
  • Tassos Highway 1 in CA, both ways (LA to SF)Rheinstrasse in Germany, with spectacular views of the castles distracting the driverAlmost all German Autobahns, over 2 3-day weekends, for a total of 6,000 KMMany European scenic coastal roads, some of them many many times every year (those near my summer home)
  • 6-speed Pomodoro Pikes Peak. Me and a car group arrived half hour before the gate opened so we could set our own pace. Everyone kept their foot on the gas like a gangster until the trees disappeared. Amazing trip.
  • Tassos In Japan any car the size of the Camry is very cumbersome and impractical.In the US those who buy the Camry, 99% of them don't give a rat's behind about driving enjoyment, they are not auto enthusiasts. I also recommend TOyotas to such people whenever they ask me, while I would absolutely never even consider one for me (except maybe a Lexus LS 600h when I turn 105 and probably have a chauffeur anyway)I find it an utterly ridiculous waste of billions of good $ to use the "camry" in any kind of racing, esp NASCAR.