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TOP 5 SUVs $35,000 to $60,000 

The Top 5 SUVs between $30,000 to &60,00: Comfortable, Safe, Reliable & Affordable Transportaion for Families
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AUDI Q5

The Q5 is a hot-selling product in the hot-selling luxury compact crossover segment – and with good reason. Based on the Audi A4 sedan, it offers the slightly taller ride height and five-door utility customers are looking for today, but with few driving compromises.

Well-equipped, five-passenger Q5s can be had for $43,500. A 270 hp V6, six-speed autobox with all-wheel-drive is the lone drivetrain option. Check all the boxes, and a loaded version tallies to $54,950.

You get the same gorgeous interior as you would in any Audi these days. And there’s decent rear-seat room. The best part of the Q5 is the way it drives. Especially if you pop for the $2,500 Audi Drive Select, which varies the suspension, throttle, transmission and steering settings.

Depending if you’re on the way to meet friends for a caffè macchiato at the local coffee house, or engaged in a spirited ride home from a ski weekend away, the Q5 can deliver a variety of driving experiences in a comfortable and refined manner.

FORD FLEX

Relative to mid-size crossover rivals that look like the box they were shipped in (see Honda Pilot), the Flex offers a bit of style in this class.

With a 262 hp V6, front-drive Flex SELs start at $35,499. A top-line $46,599 Limited, though, offers all-wheel-drive, a 355 hp turbocharged engine, and luxury features like Ford’s hands-free Sync, navigation, and audio/DVD entertainment systems to keep the crew entertained.

The six- or seven-passenger Ford’s biggest advantage over its competition is its cabin. There’s generous passenger room (especially in the second row), with upscale materials nicely put together.

On the road, the Flex is a master of the road trip. Its six-speed, automatic transmission has been tuned for soft shifts. And “soft” is also the adjective here when it comes to how the Flex responds as a driver’s car – both on and off the road. But compared to more expensive people movers (like its Lincoln MXT sibling), the Flex offers real value.

HONDA PILOT

Function over form seems to be the Pilot’s design brief. Not only can the mid-size crossover seat up to eight passengers and go down the highway like a big luxury car, it also has the stuff to handle off-pavement driving adventures.

Front-drive Pilot LXs start at $36,820. Top-line, fully equipped (AWD, nav, rearview camera, upgraded audio, rear entertainment system, etc.) touring models are $13,600 more. All Pilots get a 250 hp V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

There’s as much second-row rear legroom as in the Flex. However, the Pilot offers more shoulder and hip room. Its extra width means three can sit relatively conformably in both back rows. Plus there’s a bit more cargo room than the Ford.

What really separates the Pilot from its rivals is its outstanding off-road capabilities.

Features normally found on vehicles with Land Rover badges – like hill-start assist (which sends maximum torque to the rear wheels at speeds up to 30 km/h), four-wheel-lock, and shorter front and rear overhangs – means the Pilot isn’t afraid to go off the beaten track.

MAZDA CX-9

The CX-9 offers a nice blend of stylish looks and room for seven. But it also delivers a refined driving experience normally found in more expensive luxury brand offerings, like a $54,200 Audi’s Q7 3.6 or $58,800 BMW xDrive 30i.

A base model, front-drive CX-9 GS starts at $37,995. Loaded (AWD, leather, DVD, nav) CX-9 GTs starts at $47,450. Whatever CX-9 you’re interested in, it’s powered by a 273 hp V6 hooked up to a six-speed automatic.

On the road, the CX-9’s steering is accurate, definitive and linear. Its ride is well controlled, without the floatiness you get in a Flex or Pilot. The Mazda’s first two rows will fit five and their gear.

TOYOTA SEQUOIA

Car-based crossovers can do most of the things that most customers want out of a utility vehicle – most of the time. But if you have to tow something larger than a pop-up camping trailer or a Sea-Doo, sometimes an old-fashioned, body-on-frame SUV can pass muster. My favourite is the Toyota Sequoia.

Base model $48,320 Sequoia SR5 models get a new 310 hp, 4.6-litre V8. But push the pricing envelope of our criteria, and a loaded $57,235 Sequoia Limited offers a 381 hp, 5.7-litre V8.

Properly equipped, the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup-based Sequoia can tow more than twice that of most mid-sized crossovers – up to 3,990 kg – can carry seven or eight passengers and their stuff, and offer a bit of off-road potential with standard all-wheel-drive.

On the road, the Sequoia’s independent rear-suspension – unique for this class – absorbs bumps extremely well, and keeps the big SUV’s body-motions in check.

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