Just because you utterly lack even the clever self-determination of your average garden snail doesn’t mean that you can’t live at least part of your life outside the box. We, as humans, are boxed in everywhere we go from family functions to the long hours you work at the office. Do what you’re told or there will be consequences, our parents all once told us.
But guess what if I told you there weren’t really any repercussions. You are the head of a family now so you are the one handing out time-outs to screaming short people. So this means if you really don’t want to then you really don’t have to buy an SUV or a crossover. And as even crossovers still guzzle gas what is the point?
For your reading pleasure, and yours only, here are the five most fuel efficient 2010 SUV alternatives. Not only are these vehicles efficient but they are also inexpensive to buy, own, operate, insure and maintain. Because when it comes down to it every man should drive a station wagon once in his life.
Honda Fit: (28 city/35 highway)—(Starting under $15,000)—Even if you are on a serious budget you can still afford the best engineering ideas Honda has to offer. If you “think” the Fit is too small for your needs do go down to a Honda dealer and test drive one. The amount of cargo space is perfect for a mom of one or two and her strollers, diaper bags and endless clobber. The 1.5 liter 117 horsepower 4-cylinder may not have lots of leftover power but any uphill sluggishness can be overcome by the gloriously fun manual transmission.
Hyundai Elantra Touring: (23 city/31 highway)—The Elantra Touring is the first Hyundai that I ever got really excited about and there are very good reasons I still love it, none of which have anything to do with the price or the warranty. For 2010 Hyundai released a stripped out entry level version of the Touring because some consumers felt the $18,995 very well equipped SE model was too expensive (the GLS starts at $15,995).
I am sorry but I cannot live without my steering wheel audio controls, powered and heated seats, cool looking 17 inch alloys, sunroof and I want all the seats covered in soft, durable fabrics. This is so when in 20 years I am using this Elantra Touring to sell knick-knacks at a flea market from the cargo hatch I won’t be embarrassed by a shabby interior.
Although I still have yet only driven an automatic equipped version, I have heard the cream of the litter is the Elantra Touring with a manual transmission. I sat in one once and got a sense of the linkage and it felt far tighter and more controlled than earlier units in Hyundai products. An automatic is optionally available if you can’t shift yourself. But let me tell you, if I can learn you can.
Audi A4 Avant 2.0T: (22 city/30 highway)—Starting at $35,350, the 2010 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro with a six speed tiptronic auto is not that expensive considering the caliber of auto manufacturer we are talking about here. If you want the utmost in style, sure footed full-time 4-wheel drive and a healthy feeling of superiority the Audi A4 Avant is a smart choice. Honestly, this engine can get over 30 miles per gallon highway, the turning radius of a go-cart and an engine note that literally screams. Your mom’s wagon was never this fun or cool looking.
Kia Rondo: (20 city/27 highway)—Starting at $17,495, the Kia Rondo is your least expensive means of finding a 7-passenger vehicle. Not quite an SUV, not quite a station wagon, not quite a crossover but quite possibly related to a Pumpkin. It is an odd looking car on the outside but the interior is easy to understand and the materials sturdy, as they should be in cars like this.
A V6 engine is available on the Rondo that makes a few more horsepower than the 4 cylinder but it is not preferable thanks to that fact that it makes so many unrefined noises and feels gutless. The 4-cylinder works much like any modern 4 and suits the Rondo. Also, be aware there are many used Rondos as some spent time as rentals. Be careful if you buy an ex-rental and be careful that you are aware when you buy a used Kia the 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty drops to 5 years/60,000.
Subaru Outback with CVT: (22 city/29 highway)—All new for model year 2010, Subaru really improved the fuel economy ratings of its full-time 4 wheel drive Outback by adding a state of the art CVT automatic transmission. It has no real “gears” and is similar to the automatics used in hybrids or many Nissan products. The Subaru also really stands out for having a positively huge cargo area along with a smartly styled if somewhat utilitarian interior. This car is a great buy for anyone who needs 4 wheel drive but likes their vehicles to still maintain a high level of that elusive “fun to drive” character.