UNDER $35KWinner: Jeep Grand Cherokee
We've arbitrarily designated SUVs with a wheelbase over 106 (actually 106.3) inches as midsize SUVs, which makes this the largest chart we've ever assembled. In fact, there are so many entries, we've chopped this category into three separate winners, with the Jeep Grand Cherokee walking away with the prize for the Under-$35K designation. We like that it has five different engine choices, the coolest of which is the Mercedes-sourced 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel that puts out almost 400 pound-feet of torque. If fact, you can order a 4WD turbodiesel and still keep the price under $35,000.
Over $35KWinner: Toyota Land Cruiser
We expect this to become a shrinking segment. Fuel prices continue to rise and manufacturers are racking their brains on how to get their overall CAFEs to 35 mpg by the end of next year. In the meantime, we still have some solid midsize choices, if you don't mind heavy construction, a true four-wheel-drive system, and probably more capability than you need. We consider that "just in case" insurance. We've always liked the Land Cruiser and this new one is even more impressive with its new body and frame, redesigned interior, and yet another use for the Tundra-sourced 5.7-liter V-8. Still, it sure would be nice if this thirsty motor had cylinder deactivation.
OverallWinner: Land Rover LR3
When we look for an overall winner from this large field, it has to offer a lot of technology, capability, and function for the money. As those prices have climbed over the last several years, so has the technology, capability, and function. Case in point: The Land Rover LR3 still has our judges impressed with its clever seven-passenger seating, tremendous four-wheel-drive system, and clean good looks. Yes it's pricey, listing at $49,000 base, but this is an example where you really do get what you pay for.