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Hi. I have had a car for 12 years & now need you to help me to find the BEST SMALL SUV. Here is my situation: I live in New Orleans and drive (and parallel park) in the city, but need to do a fair amount of highway driving AND need to be able to haul stuff when we evacuate for hurricanes. Although I don’t drive off-road, New Orleans has beaucoup potholes and we often need to plow through rain-flooded streets with LOTS of high water. Since I’m old-fashioned, I like to hang on to my cars for over 10+ years and want a reliable car. Finally, I want an affordable one and used is more affordable than new.

My wish-list is: an affordable, low-mileage (used cream puff), fairly short SUV (Length about 180 inches or less), good ground clearance (can we do at least 7 inches or so?), decent MPG, strong engine (don’t have to haul a boat, but would like to move stuff easily), GREAT VISIBILITY (hate the tiny back windows that require cameras and such to parallel park and switch lanes), reliable. THANK YOU, FRIENDS!!

For high water, physically LOOK to see where the air intake duct goes, forward of the air filter .
Too many vehicles can get hydro-locked in what appears to be not-so-deep water that others are driving through.
You want to follow the air duct forward from the air cleaner and see where it goes to suck in fresh air. I’ve seen too many that go down by the front bumper to ingest fresh air. Down there is where it will also ingest water as well.
Some can be modified , at least up by the upper inner fender, and some really serious off roaders have a snorkel added to get fresh air from above the hood.

For visibility , you’re going to have to sit in each one. I absolutely hate the newer vehicles with the high belt line like the new Explorers.
My wife and I love our 06 Escape hybrid and loved our two 92 & 91 Explorers before that for visibility. My wife NEEDS good visibilty as she has just one eye and every little bit helps.
Be certain to try out the seat adjustments on each to see if you can attain the visibilty that the previous driver didn’t have it adjusted for.
– personally I love my 08 Expedition EL for visibility, hauling space, road clearence, and…
.oh wait…you want MPG too !..never mind.

Wes if you suggest a 1990 jeep cherokee so help me… lol

C’mon Wes do it, I dare ya !!!

Used car prices in my area are outrageous . If I had your requirements I would give the new base model Kia Soul a serious look. Decent fuel mileage and will hold a lot of stuff in the back.

The Nissan Xterra seems to meet most of your criteria with the possible exception of fuel mileage. The New ones are 178" in length and have the kind of clearance you want,designed for off road driving so the windows are a little bigger all around (you should look for yourself to see if it would work) or Possibly a Toyota 4runner. The Toyota looks to be much more reliable since according to CR the Xterra is a little hit and miss depending on year.

except for the decent MPGs, you’ve described my mazda cx-7 quite well.
I feel it has pretty good visibility all around, though I do love the backup camera that came with it. 8 inches of ground clearance with the air intake quite a ways up in the grille.

I was gonna, until they said “cream puff”, a Cherokee did fit all the other requirements…