I want fold-flat seats, lots of cargo room, available third-row seat, rear air vents in the ceiling and fully loaded.
Among larger SUVs, the diesel-powered 2010 BMW X5 xDrive35d has impressive mileage ratings of 19/26 mpg city/highway with standard all-wheel drive. Starting at $51,200, an available third row is best suited for small adults or children, but does fold flat, as does the second-row. The available rear climate control has rear-facing vents located between the front driver and passenger seats.
Your 25 mpg requirement is a bit optimistic for most larger, gasoline-powered SUVs. Crossovers like the 2010 Ford Flex ($28,550) or 2010 Buick Enclave ($35,165) outdo the X5’s cargo room but have highway ratings that max out at 24 mpg in front-wheel drive configuration. If you want all-wheel drive, highway ratings drop to low 20s on these crossovers. These are estimates, however, so you may be able to squeeze better mileage out of your SUV depending on driving style and environment.
If by “fully loaded” you mean luxurious, then the BMW fills that requirement, but the Enclave and Flex definitely have a premium feel to them. For 2009, the Flex was Cars.com’s Family Car of the Year for its real-world gas mileage and spacious seating. The Flex also has a standard rear climate control system. The Enclave also has a standard rear climate system and offers the most cargo room at 115 cubic feet, followed by the Flex at 83.2 cubic feet and X5 at 61.8 cubic feet.
While not fully loaded, the 2010 Toyota Highlander with four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive ($25,705) can be optioned with a third row and climate control for less than $30,000. Its mileage ratings are 20/27 mpg and its maximum cargo volume is 95.4 cubic feet, but four-wheel drive isn’t available with the four-cylinder.
For a complete list of full-size crossover SUVs, see our Crossover Buying Guide, here.
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