Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Are there still Fast and Affordable SUVs?

Like asemaster said, it’s almost impossible to use BOTH words in the same sentence.
Do you want cheap ?
or do you want fast ?
pick one.
My 08 Expedition is fast, if it wasn’t governed at 100 mph I could tell you its top speed in two miles.
but it aint cheap…to buy or operate.
Its size is decieving.
If you were to cover the speedometer with a piece of paper …pull out onto the freeway to a speed you swear is safe, sensible and logical…then uncover the speedo ?’re already going 85.

@ken green: it might be difficult to find, hence why I’m here looking for help. The Rav4 used to be perfectly fast and priced, but is now obsolete.

Subaru looks like the best suggestion so far. The Venza is slower and too station-wagon-esque for me.

As far as usage is concerned - I drive fast and accelerate fast because its the way I like to drive.

As far as buying SUV versus car, I like to have the option to not be limited to roads. Often when someone is taking a left turn and it would be a long wait, I have to drive two wheels up on the curb to get around, or sometimes there is no curb and I have to drive two wheels off through small holes and ditches on the side. I go camping often and the ability to drive through mud is important. I don’t tow anything; the biggest / heaviest thing I move would be a canoe tied to the roof.

You do in deed sound like my friend. ;=)
"it’s all about cubic inches"
In the modern motor, low rpm torque is much less important then greater actual torque at ANY usable given rpm. Today’s modern transmissions do a much better job when matched to the motor, of delivering what is really important, torque at the wheels. If what you say is true, then any old motor with more cubic inches with a matched transmission would out perform any smaller motor. It just doesn’t happen. The ability to breath air more efficiently over time delivers more torque. It’s that simple. More cubes, more air yes at bery low rpm if you restrict the smaller motor but modern cars don’t start accelerating with their motors running at 0 rpm…lor even 1500 rpm. But delivering more air over time at higher rpms results in more torque at higher rpms, which can be utilize efficiently by modern transmissions. That’s what makes modern car motors both more efficient with better acceleration…,given the same weight. More actual torque at the wheels with better transmissions with with smaller motors.
A cvt transmission will allow a small motor to wind up to 4k or higher where the small motor’s maximum torque is, keep it there while it out accelerates a bigger motor with less torque or the same torque at a lower rpm with it’s inefficient transmission. Happens all the time. Turbos really enhance that capability. Just one example;

150 ci Subaru Turbo…244 ft lbs torque
250 ci Chevy 6 cylinder 235 ft lbs of torque

shadowfax wrote:
BTW, @lion9car the X1 starts at just over 30 grand before you start adding options to it (and at BMW, damn near everything is an option). Plan on at least 5k more for a modestly appointed one, and then you have a BMW, which is going to be an electrical pain in the butt its whole life.

I agree that the base car will be quite stripped-down. I’d never go for such a car personally (which I probably should have clarified), but perhaps the OP doesn’t care.


I worry a little about the reliability of these turbo fours because they are more complex, but the turbochargers themselves have become quite reliable. As others have noted, you can get plenty of torque out of a small engine with forced induction. One of the most impressive features of these turbo fours is that there is nearly maximum torque available at surprisingly low rpms. Turbo lag can be an issue, but even that doean’t seem to be as much of an issue as it was. The biggest problem right now is that they aren’t showing much improvement in gas mileage over the bigger engines they’re replacing. What you want is the power of a six and the efficiency of a four, but it isn’t happening yet. Not enough, at least.

You want fast? What about a Subaru WRX STi hatchback? It has AWD (of course) and the 0 to 60 time was 4.8 seconds in 2012 and I’m sure it is similar with the new ones. If the ride is too harsh, you could get the WRX with a 0 to 60 time of 5.2 seconds. They aren’t SUVs, but they are quick. If you want a quick SUV, you could look at a Cayenne, but even the V8 is more than a second slower to 60 than the WRX.

“A cvt transmission will allow a small motor to wind up to 4k or higher where the small motor’s maximum torque is, keep it there…”

For maximum acceleration, a CVT holds the engine at maximum power.

@jtsanders I looked at the WRX but I don’t think it has enough ground clearance.

High ground clearance will get the center of gravity up. Mix that with exceptional quickness, and there is a much higher chance getting yourself into trouble.

That said, a 2008/2010 Porsche Cayenne S will go 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds. You can get one of those for around $30,000 (2008) and between $35,000 to $40,000 for a 2010.

@dagosa: Yes, you can move weight with an enigne that doesn’t come into it’s own until well after 2,000 RPM…but you’ll be buying clutches by the 12-pack! (Now, if you have one of ‘em high-falutin’ thingamajobs where the vehicle shifts itself, then…:wink:

There’s a reason that vehicles that move WEIGHT come into their powerband before 1,000 RPM. A big block Chevy can make class-8 HP, but not class-8 torque, and would be ill-fitted in a semi. Also, having a engine need to rev way up into it’s powerband to make enough power to keep moving would get worse MPG laden than a stump-puller, even if runs MPG circles around the stump-puller empty.

High-revving VVTs are optimized for an environment where they loaf at ~20% of rated HP or less mostly, with intermittent full-throttle runs of limited duration. Great for passenger cars, lousy for trucks, passable for SUVs that aren’t frequently called upon to function as trucks.

“150 ci Subaru Turbo…244 ft lbs torque”
“250 ci Chevy 6 cylinder 235 ft lbs of torque”


But I want to know one thing

Subaru . . . 244 ft-lbs at how many rpms?

Chevy . . . 235 ft-lbs at how many rpms?

That makes little difference. It might if the Subaru motor were hooked to two speed power glide. But I have said, with today’s transmission, 6 speed manuals , you rev it up to short of maximum torque and shift to keep it at or about there with the computer controlled auto doing a better job still. . Actually, the linearity of the torque is more important which is the advantage of the electric motors. VVT and other technologies along with computer enhancement does a great job in that respect and completely mitigates any advantage a low rpm limited band high cube motor might be revered to have.

I had an 09 RAV-4 with the V-6. Going to he REALLY hard to find anything in a small SUV that is much quicker then one of those!

The Forrester Turbo.

According to my simple google search…

The Forrester is more then a second slower then the Rav4. In racing terms…that’s a LOT.

No mike, looks like the forrester fits the bill.

2006 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4WD (V6) 0-60 mph 6.2 Quarter mile 14.7
2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Turbo 0-60 mph 6.1 Quarter Mile 14.5


That’s a big difference in the numbers I found.

The Forester XT was 7.6

And you can get it for under $30k.

Obviously results depend on how far above sea level you are, tires and who us driving it. That’s a big plus for a turbo at higher altitudes. So, if you live in Denver, the Forester is the one to have. But, the Venza though over 30k, still has 8 inches of clearance , goes 0 to 60 in under 7 seconds and is head and shoulders better equipped and ride comfort then a small SUV. Huge back seat and many lux features standard. It took the place of the RAV v6. And would much rather this then a Forrester as it tows 3500 lbs when equipped with package.