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Shopping for family SUV - Nissan, Toyota, or Honda?

My wife and I are expecting our first child and we’re looking to replace a beat up 2000 Ford Escape for a newer, better, safer vehicle to haul our first child, groceries and drive to work.

Right now, our top three picks are the Honda CRV, Toyota RAV 4 and the Nissan Rogue. All have 4 or 5 star crash safety ratings and all have AWD or 4WD (a must for our New England weather). I’m torn between these three, and whether we should go the New or Used route! Any advice, tips or thoughts are greatly appreciated!

You have some pretty solid choices here…

Have you test driven all of them? Take each one for a nice long test drive.

With a new car comes depreciation and finance expense, but you do get a warranty. With a used car comes the hassle of finding one that has been maintained properly. Even something with “low miles” can develop expensive problems later if the maintenance was neglected for the first 0-30k miles. Either way you pay, it’s up to you.

BTW: Based on a quick look at the April issue of consumer reports (33-34) the RAV 4 has the best “overall” road test score of 82. The CR-V weighs in at 74 and the Rogue at 73. They’re all in the top 30% of their class either way. Maybe that will get you started.

Not a bad choice among them. Take test drives, I’d particularly look at visibility, the Rogue is pretty poor, I seem to remember. That would bug me. And all are “AWD”, even though some label themselves “4WD”. If you’re looking at these, I’d actually prefer a Forester. Give it a look.

I’d add the Subaru Forester and/or Outback to the list. Their AWD system is among the best.

I suggest you both take LONG test drives in all three, then buy the one your wife prefers.

I prefer buying used cars rather than accepting that big first year depreciation hit, but that’s a personal choice.

A new car warranty is hard to argue with.

Good list. I second the Subaru Outback/Forester suggestion and would add Hyundai Tuscon and Santa Fe to the list.


test drive each and try out car seat in each…convenient to get in/out??..etc…after that go for best deal

HLDI shows average insurance payouts for a variety of issues. Medical Payout is a good indicator of injuries in your car. Of the SUVs you mention, the best is the CR-V (71), then the RAV4 (85), and last is the Rogue (105); average is 100, and lower is better. The 3 best in that size range are the Jeep Wrangler (55), the Chevy Equinox (66) and the Subaru Forester (68). Since this a is real-world rating, it involves drivers as well as the vehicle. An added bonus is that your insurer will charge less for a SUV with substantially better ratings. You can check out these ratings here:

You should get the Toyota RAV. i got one and i am very pleased with it. it is fuel efficient and it had a good rating in Consumer Reports Magazine

I agree…you really can’t go wrong with CRV/RAV/Forester/Rogue by personal choice. Choose what suits you and don’t look back. I would let the dealer I may choose to deal with if I were using them for service be a big factor in my choice.

Mazda CX-7 has 5 star front and side crash ratings and a 4 star rollover rating. Used ones are only available with the 2.3L turbo 4. New models have a 2.5L i-4 and the 2.3L turbo 4. Only bad thing is if you want AWD, you’ll need to get the 2.3L one, if you don’t mind FWD, the 2.5L will give you nearly 30mpg highway(20/28 2,5L, 18/25 turbo fwd 17/23 awd turbo). One more thing it has going for it is that several owners, including myself, have had their cars mistaken for a more expensive brand(Lexus).

The particular benefit of the RAV4 is that it’s the ‘sports car’ of the group with the V6, with very little penalty to mpgs. Just make sure you can live with spare tire blocking part of your view.