GM’s Acadia hits the family sweet spot with 7- or 8-passenger seating, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive layout, and towing capacity of 5200 lb. The second-row Smart Slide system makes it easy to crawl in or out, and you don’t have to travel far down the option list to find a kid-friendly rear-seat entertainment system. Families who avoided the worst of the Great Recession’s carnage may want to examine the upscale Denali, which includes perforated leather seats with matching door trim, heated and cooled driver and passenger seats, a head-up display and Dual SkyScrape sunroof. GMC keeps things simple with a single powertrain configuration, a 288-bhp VVT V-6 with 6-speed automatic. For 2012, there are new colors and some formerly optional equipment is now standard.
The Yukon comes in three distinct flavors: a regular truck-based three-row SUV that's a Chevy Tahoe underneath the skin, complete with a 320-bhp 5.3- liter V-8; a 14-in.-longer version that's a Chevy Suburban underneath the skin; and an HD model with a stronger frame and a 352-bhp 6.0-liter V-8. There are also Denali models that feature a 403-bhp 6.2-liter V-8, as well as heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, retracting running boards and leather upholstery. The Denalis have a special sound-insulating package to make them quieter inside. These are not sissy trucks, though, since capable off-road packages are available with locking rear differentials, big tow hooks in the front and a front skid plate. The Hybrid Yukon and Denali get an impressive 20 mpg in the city.
The Honda Fit distinguishes itself from all other subcompacts with its impressive practicality thanks to four-door hatchback versatility and ingenious interior packaging.
The Fit offers five-passenger seating and a unique second-row "Magic Seat" that either folds flat with the cargo floor, or flips up to carry tall items behind the first row of seats. The Fit is available in two trim levels, base and Sport, both are powered by a 117-hp 1.5-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive and a choice of a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. The Sport gets steering wheel mounted paddle shifters when equipped with the automatic transmission. Standard safety features include six airbags, security system, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The Sport adds many niceties such as alloy wheels, fog lights, leather steering wheel, and keyless entry. A navigation system is optional on the Sport.
The Chevrolet Equinox is a competitively priced mid-sized SUV that offers exceptional versatility, distinctive design and a high-level of practicality.
The Equinox is available in four trim levels, LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ, and can be had in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The standard drivetrain is a 182-hp 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder and six-speed automatic transmission. A 301-hp 3.6-liter direct injection V6 is optional on the LT and LTZ trims. Both engines have E85 FlexFuel capability. Standard safety features include: four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability system, six airbags, tire pressure monitor, OnStar, security system and daytime running lights. Available high-tech features include remote vehicle starter, forward collision alert and lane departure warning, navigation system, rearview camera and a power liftgate.
For 2013, the Equinox receives a new 3.6-liter direct injection V6. Also, a color touch screen navigation system with Chevrolet MyLink is now available. Finally, new exterior colors are offered.
Without getting too technical, one of the things we like about small crossover SUVs is that they are so darn handy. Like Nissan's Rogue, which is a conveniently sized people-hauler and yet can be converted into a carry machine with 58 cu. ft. of cargo area. Having a 60/40 split rear seatback is a plus, as is the optional fold-down front passenger seat...all the better to carry long items. While the 170-bhp 2.5-liter four suits the bill for normal driving, we do wish there was a 6-speed alternative to the standard CVT. On the optional list is Intuitive All-Wheel drive. New for 2012 is a Sport mode switch for that CVT, redesigned 16- and 17-in. alloy wheels and the availability of Nissan's terrific Around View Monitor with its bird's-eye view of the vehicle when parking.