Midsize SUV UNDER $35K
Winner: Toyota 4Runner
So, what qualifies as a midsize SUV, anyway? For the purposes of Best in Class, we've defined it as having a wheelbase longer than 106 inches. And even drawing the line there, this is still a huge category. This year's best midsize SUV under $35K is the new-for-2010 Toyota 4Runner. It starts at less than $29,000, with a fuel-efficient four-cylinder plus the option of a 270-horsepower V-6. There's also a cool sliding tray in the cargo area, making it easy to store gear--or use at a tailgrate party. And the new Trail Teams edition offers excellent off-road capability yet the ride is surprisingly good on the highway and on canyon roads.
Midsize SUV Over $35K
Winner: Volkswagen Touareg 2
Despite the fact that Volkswagen discontinued the V-8 option in this vehicle, the Touareg 2 is our over $35,000 selection. How is it that we like a vehicle that weighs over 5000 pounds, yet comes only with a choice of two V-6 engines? Well, when one of those engines is a turbodiesel with more than 400 pound-feet of torque (and 25 mpg on the highway), it's hard to resist. Not only that, but the Touareg is terrific off-road, comfortable on the highway, and can tow more than 7700 pounds. The price of admission can get a little steep, but for everything this vehicle has to offer, it's worth it.
Midsize SUV Overall
Winner: Land Rover LR4
Our 2005 Sport/Utility of the Year returned for 2010 with a new engine, new interior, and a new name--LR4. Land Rover built on the already impressive platform, making this evolution of the vehicle even better than it was before. Terrain Response is such an iconic and intuitive system to use off-road that other companies are offering their own versions. The LR4 offers more room than you'd think for seven adults, and tows more than 7000 pounds. It starts just under $50K, but there's actually a lot of value at that price.
Don't agree with our winner? Then which vehicle would you've picked as the 2010 Best in Class Midsize SUV? Please post your picks in the comment box below.