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  • boomchek 07/20/09 3:46 pm PST

    All of the compact SUVs in the $21k-$25k will meet your criteria of good gas mileage (as long as it's a 4 cylinder version), good cargo space, and ability to fit in a child seat.

    Start with a Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester. They're all well rated.

  • morin2 07/20/09 3:52 pm PST

    The three that are most often suggested are the Toyota Rav-4, Honda CRV, Subaru Forester (I would include the Outback as well). A lower price possibility would be the Suzuki SX-4. If you have a child car seat now - take it with you when you look at these vehicles.

    Among small SUVs, the question is all-wheel drive(AWD) vs front-wheel drive (FWD). 4WD is a part-time selectable system used on trucks and rear-drive SUVs that go off-road. It is not intended to be used on dry pavement. AWD, as found on the small SUVs, helps in snow and slippery conditions, including wet roads.

    If you intend to drive in the winter in NY, AWD is a worthwhile option. All subarus are AWD while the others have AWD models available. Often, they are bundled with other features, but figure the AWD cost at about 1500-2000 more than the FWD version. If you never saw snow, it might not be worth it, but IMO, for NY and New England, its worth it.

    FWIW, my wife loves her 07 Subaru Forester, and I'm happy with my 09 Subaru Outback - but we are long past the child seat days. We routinely drive them 500 miles each way from MD to MA and they do fine. I got 32 mpg on the last long trip in my Outback - excellent for an AWD vehicle.

  • motorstreet 08/13/09 7:55 am PST

    The Subaru Forester is by far the best SUV in that price range.

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