SUV Challenge: Family Lauds Hyundai, Scorns Honda

3RowSUVFamily

By Chris Woodyard, USA Today

He focuses on technology, acceleration and steering. She looks for style and practicality.

Together, Ed and LadyAnn Sabalburo, along with daughter LeaRose, 2, covered the bases when it came to evaluating the seven candidates in the Cars.com/USA TODAY/MotorWeek $40,000 Three-row SUV Challenge.

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000

Together, the pair went over every detail of the crossovers SUVs lined up in a hotel parking lot while LeaRose happily scampered through their respective cabins. Then, Ed took each for a test drive.

The Sabalburos, from nearby Baldwin Park, east of Los Angeles, are casually looking for new family hauler that might replace LadyAnn's 2008 Acura MDX. They have another baby on the way.

By David Thomas | April 28, 2014 | Comments (7)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: Squeezing Into the Third Row

Third-row-main

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY

Let's face it: Most of us older than 10 will never ride in the third row of a three-row crossover SUV.

Why would you? First, it requires a lesson in how to move the second-row seats out of the way in order to clamber back there. Usually done in frustration, you just wriggle and crawl to the third row.

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000

Then there is the seat itself: less legroom than on the worst airline. Your knees almost reach mid-chest. You're so far removed from the driver that one model tested, the Toyota Highlander, had an intercom for the driver. Yes, an intercom.

For the Cars.com/USA Today/"MotorWeek" $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, your reporter, all six-feet-two, took each test drive in each SUV from the third row. Here are my notes:

By David Thomas | April 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Most-Watched Videos of the Week

Debuting at No. 1 this week on our list of most-watched videos is our overview of the Cars.com $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. Watch as expert judges from Cars.com, "MotorWeek" and USA Today, along with a real-life family, rank their favorites among the contenders. Filling out the middle of the list are a trio of videos from "MotorWeek," including list newcomers the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI and 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S. Check out what else was popular.

1. $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
2. 2014 Audi Q5 TDI ("MotorWeek")
3. 2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S ("MotorWeek")
4. 2014 Nissan Rogue ("MotorWeek")
5. 2014 Honda Ridgeline

By Matt Schmitz | April 12, 2014 | Comments (2)

What's the Best 3-Row SUV for $40,000?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Family-friendly SUVs are still a big business: There are plenty of kids to cart around, groceries and sports equipment for kids of all ages to carry.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Drive

We focused this Challenge on three-row SUVs that cost less than $40,000, including a destination charge, and achieved at least 19 mpg in EPA combined city/highway fuel-economy ratings. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for SUVs that came with the features we know are popular with families. After four days of testing by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (21)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge: What the Judges Said

Chris Woodyard and Joe Bruzek

Here are our judges for this Challenge:

  • Joe Bruzek, Road Test Editor, Cars.com
  • Jennifer Geiger, Assistant Managing Editor, Cars.com
  • Kelsey Mays, Consumer Affairs Editor, Cars.com
  • Chris Woodyard, L.A. Bureau Chief, USA Today
  • Brian Robinson, Producer, "MotorWeek"
  • LadyAnn and Ed Sabalburo, a Southern California couple with a young daughter and a second child on the way; they own an Acura MDX currently and are thinking about moving up to a bigger SUV.

We set a maximum price of $40,000, including a destination charge, and a minimum EPA combined city/highway mileage rating of 19 mpg. There were eight SUVs that met our criteria:

By Patrick Olsen | April 6, 2014 | Comments (18)

Which 3-Row SUV Gets the Best Mileage?

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge Mileage Results

Squeezing fuel economy out of the three-row SUVs tested for Cars.com's $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge is no easy task for automakers. Large people-and-cargo haulers capable of carrying eight and towing up to 5,000 pounds or more aren't really conducive for saving gas.

$40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge
Index | ResultsWhat the Judges Said

Efforts to raise fuel-economy numbers mean there are a variety of fuel-saving technologies in the seven SUVs we tested. Our mileage drive put these features — including efficient transmissions, cylinder deactivation, Eco modes, sleek aerodynamics and weight savings — to the test.

By Joe Bruzek | April 6, 2014 | Comments (3)

2014 Toyota Highlander Photo Gallery

Toyota_open

The 2014 Toyota Highlander finished third in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "The Highlander pairs a handsome cabin with good technology, but that third row is a joke," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Highlander's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Mazda CX-9 Photo Gallery

Mazda_open

The 2014 Mazda CX-9 finished fifth in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "True to the zoom-zoom marketing gimmick, it was the best handling vehicle in the bunch," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the CX-9's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Chevrolet Traverse Photo Gallery

2014ChevroletTraverse

The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse finished seventh in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "It handles like a truck, and parking lots are not its friend," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Traverse's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Dodge Durango Photo Gallery

2014DodgeDurango

The 2014 Dodge Durango finished second in our $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge. "The Durango combines brash styling with an entertaining ride-handling mix and the best multimedia setup in this group," said one of our judges. Check out our gallery below to inspect the Durango's styling, interior and family-friendliness.

By David Thomas | April 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

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