Best SUVs of 2007

SUV sales are struggling, but if you’re in the market for one, these are the SUVs to buy.

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1. Full Size Luxury SUV

Mercedes-Benz GL450
Price: $55,675
Power: 4.6-liter V8, 335 hp
Fuel: 14/18 mpg

Mercedes unleashes its first hulk-size SUV, at the seemingly worst time possible. But, by executive calculations, Cadillac and Lincoln have had the turf to themselves all too long. The GL450 wants in.

2. Entry Level Premium SUV

Acura RDX
Price: $32,995
Power: 2.3-liter turbo inline-4, 240 hp
Fuel: 19/23 mpg

Honda’s Acura division is busily expanding its offerings with several new or significantly redesigned vehicles this year. Though it features many of the trappings of its larger and more luxurious brand mates, the RDX’s entry price is designed to compete.

3. Affordable, Fun-to-Drive

Mazda CX-7
Price: $24,345
Power: 2.3-liter 4-cylinder, 244 hp
Fuel: 19/24 mpg

Mazda has managed to carve out a profitable niche for itself in an increasingly crowded class of low-cost, high-value imports. Its zoom-zoom campaign foregrounds fun-to-drive values above all else, creating high expectations for its first of two crossovers, the CX-7.

4. Hybrid

Saturn Vue Green Line
Price: $22,995
Power: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, 170 hp
Fuel: 27/32 mpg

Saturn’s initial foray into hybrid territory is unlikely to wow any diehard environmentalists, especially compared with the positively dromedary Toyota Prius. However, the Green Line version of the Vue does improve fuel economy over its conventionally powered equivalent by about 20%.

5. Low-cost, 7 seats

Hyundai Santa Fe
Price: $20,945
Power: 2.7-liter V6, 185 hp
Fuel: 21/26 mpg

First impressions may be similar: “That’s a Hyundai?!” No doubt about it, the Santa Fe has definitely come out the other end of the makeover treatment looking a lot better than ever before.

6. Fuel Economy

Honda CR-V
Price: TBD — about $20,395
Power: 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, 166 hp
Fuel: 23/30 mpg

It’s not a hybrid, but the CR-V has the best gas mileage of any regular SUV. Redesigning it for 2007, Honda chose to improve cautiously rather than break away from such a hit model. The CR-V’s success has been largely based on bulletproof reliability in a utilitarian package.

7. Muscle SUV

Dodge Nitro
Price: $19,885
Power: 3.6-liter V6, 210 hp
Fuel: 18/24 mpg

Dodge doesn’t explicitly call the new Nitro a muscle car, but just look at it. The company has taken all the swagger and toughness of its muscle cars and wrapped it around this entry-level package.

8. Dream Diesel

Audi Q7 TDI
Price: NA
Power: Diesel-powered, twin-turbo V12, 500 hp
Fuel: About 20 mpg

A descendent of the shockwave-creating R10 Le Mans race car built by Audi, this V12 diesel pumps out a reported 500 horses. That, Audi says, makes this version of the Q7 the world’s most powerful diesel passenger car.

9. American Crossover

TIE: Ford Edge/GMC Acadia (plus variants)
Edge Price: Under $26,000*
Edge Power: 3.5-liter V6, 265 hp
Edge Fuel: Est. mid-20s mpg

Both Ford and GM are pinning hopes to a new crop of crossovers intended to alleviate the financial woes of consumers bailing on gas-guzzling SUVs. Ford will offer at least three variants; the Ford Edge is shown here.

*According to Ford Motor

TIE: Ford Edge/GMC Acadia (plus variants)
Acadia Price: TBD
Acadia Power: 3.6-liter V6, 275 hp
Acadia Fuel: 17/25 mpg

GM will also offer at least three versions of its crossover; the GMC Acadia is shown here. The stakes are equally high for both companies as financial pictures darken. And, until consumers begin getting their hands on the models, they’re tied.

10. Real Off-Roader

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Price: 3.8-liter V6, 202 hp
Power: $20,410
Fuel: 17/22 mpg

Jeep answered fanboy prayers everywhere when it gave the green light for this extended four-door version of the classic 4×4. But one has to wonder if, with high fuel costs and growing environmental concerns, we really live in “unlimited” times.

11. Large SUV

Ford Expedition
Price: $29,995
Power: 5.4-liter V8, 300 hp
Fuel: 14/19 mpg

Ford is hoping an aggressive new price — under $30,000 — will help relieve some of the bleeding from its larger SUVs. It remains to be seen how the strategy will fare.

By Matt Vella

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