Best of

Top 11 CUVs You Need to Drive for $35,000

Picking the right crossover can be a challenge
Evan Williams

The number of crossover offerings has exploded over the past few years. Drivers are moving to the taller vehicles because they offer improved forward visibility, extra cargo space, and a step-in height that makes it easier to get in and out compared with a low-slung sedan. But with all those choices, picking the right crossover can be a challenge. So we’ve done some of the legwork for you. These are what we think are the top 11 CUVs you need to check out for your $35,000 budget.


GMC Terrain

picking the right crossover

For this price point, the GMC Terrain SLE offers an eight-way power driver seat, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, dual-zone climate, heated front seats, remote start, and remote vehicle diagnostics. It also gives you two powertrain choices. A 1.5L turbocharged four with 170 hp and all-wheel drive, or a unique to the segment 1.6L diesel with front-wheel drive that returns impressive fuel economy. The Terrain’s push-button gear shift opens up a wide centre console for the vehicle size.


Mazda CX-5

picking the right crossover

The driver’s choice in the compact SUV segment is the CX-5. The 2.5L four delivers 187 hp, and it’s connected to a quick-shifting six-speed auto. The G-Vectoring Control adjusts the throttle to improve turn in and the i-Activ all-wheel drive sends power to all four wheels. The GS offers amenities like an optional sunroof, heated steering wheel, LED headlights, four USB ports, and heated leatherette seats with classy-looking (and feeling) suede inserts. Add the i-Activsense package and you get a load of active safety features and will still stay under budget.


Subaru Forester

picking the right crossover

The Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring comes with a 170 hp flat-four and all-wheel drive. It offers a 6.2-inch infotainment system, power adjustable driver seat with heat in the front row. It also has Subaru’s EyeSight active safety package with pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings as well as automatic reverse braking to help you avoid collisions when you’re backing up. We called the Forester a “just right blend of size, manoeuvrability, performance, comfort and utility.”


Honda CR-V

picking the right crossover

Honda’s CR-V is one of the originators of the compact crossover segment. It offers a step-in height that manages to be perfect for a surprisingly wide variety of drivers. The latest model offers impressive cargo space for the footprint, a premium look and feel, and a 1.5L turbo four that has 190 hp. The EX model has heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system, 12-way power driver seat, dual-zone climate control, remote start, moonroof, and 18-inch alloys. It also offers Honda’s LaneWatch blind spot display, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise, and lane keeping assist.


Volkswagen Tiguan

picking the right crossover

The Tiguan might not offer much space in that third row, but Volkswagen’s smallest crossover does offer an interior style and driving feel that is unique to the brand. For $35,000 you can get a Comfortline trim that offers dual-zone climate, heated and leatherette-trimmed front seats, and safety features that include blind spot detection and cross traffic alert. It uses a new 2.0L turbo four that’s tuned to save fuel over snapping heads. We said that while the exterior styling might not be the flashiest, “open the door and the Tiguan takes on a whole new feeling.”


Hyundai Santa Fe XL

picking the right crossover

Hyundai’s Santa Fe XL offers a well laid out and well-finished interior, with plenty of room in the first and second rows. The XL gains a third row to allow seating for seven, but passengers will find it tough to climb back there and fit once they make the climb. The Santa Fe XL AWD does offer lots of standard features, like 18-inch alloys, all-wheel drive, heated front seats, and a sliding second row. We said that we admire “Hyundai’s dedication to dollar value. There’s a lot of content here for the price.”


Ford Flex

picking the right crossover

Ford’s boxy looking Flex is one of the only vehicles at this price point that offers room for seven full-size passengers. Or fold the seats down and you’ll find class-leading cargo space. A 287 hp 3.5L V6 is standard, along with a six-speed automatic and 17-inch alloys. The Flex gives passengers their own climate control settings, and even this base SE model has Ford’s Sync voice-activated connectivity system. Even if it isn’t the latest version found in the SEL and above. We said that “it has great road manners, it’s deliciously comfortable, and it holds a lot of stuff.”


Audi Q3

picking the right crossover

There are bigger options for your $35,000, but if you want a premium badge, then Audi is the only automaker to give you one here. Despite the small size, the Q3 offers a 200 hp, 2.0L turbocharged engine. It only drives the front wheels, but a good set of winter tires is all you’re likely to need anyway. The Q3 Komfort offers 18-inch alloys, xenon headlights, a panoramic roof, and leather seating. It also comes with a 10-speaker audio system that uses a 6.5-inch colour display.


Jeep Compass

picking the right crossover

Jeep completely revised the Compass for 2018, and the only thing it shares with the old one is the name. It’s now a competent and modern subcompact crossover that offers the on-road feel and off-road prowess that only Jeep offers. The Limited version offers leather seating and an 8.4-inch infotainment system that uses FCA’s excellent Uconnect system. It has Jeep Active Drive 4×4 that offers more rough-terrain capability than you’d expect from a vehicle in this class. We said that “combined with traditional compact SUV benefits and Jeep off-road capability, the Compass offers a compelling value proposition.”


Toyota RAV4

picking the right crossover

Toyota offers the only hybrid model to make it on the list. Toyota’s hybrid system offers an impressive 7.3 L/100 km combined along with 194 hp. The all-wheel drive system uses an electric motor on the rear axle instead of a driveshaft moving power to the back. It works well in slippery conditions and handles with more verve than you would expect from a hybrid. The LE comes well equipped with heated front seats, adaptive cruise, lane departure assist, and pedestrian detection. We praised the seamless operation of the electric transition.


Kia Sportage

picking the right crossover

The Sportage does an excellent job of showcasing just how far Kia has come in a short time. You might recall the bayou-inspired ads for the first-generation. The fourth-generation is no laughing matter. The EX Premium offers a 2.4L four-cylinder, six-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive. It also boasts heated leather seats and a heated steering wheel. Plus a power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, and active safety features like autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, and lane departure warnings. The Sportage offers a buttoned-down, quiet and grown-up ride.


Follow on

Instagram #wheelsca
Show Comments