QOTD: Searching for Value Among the Utilities?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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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

  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.
  • 28-Cars-Later WSJ blurb in Think or Swim:Workers at Volkswagen's Tennessee factory voted to join the United Auto Workers, marking a historic win for the 89- year-old union that is seeking to expand where it has struggled before, with foreign-owned factories in the South.The vote is a breakthrough for the UAW, whose membership has shrunk by about three-quarters since the 1970s, to less than 400,000 workers last year.UAW leaders have hitched their growth ambitions to organizing nonunion auto factories, many of which are in southern states where the Detroit-based labor group has failed several times and antiunion sentiment abounds."People are ready for change," said Kelcey Smith, 48, who has worked in the VW plant's paint shop for about a year, after leaving his job at an Amazon.com warehouse in town. "We look forward to making history and bringing change throughout the entire South."   ...Start the clock on a Chattanooga shutdown.