Middling options

with Sharon Peters

Q: Is there such a vehicle as a medium SUV? I’ve seen references made to small and large SUVs, but never medium SUVs. I have a Caravan and want to downsize a little. I need more cargo room than a small SUV offers; but, not as much as the Caravan. Also, I need better gas mileage, as I travel 28,000 miles a year. Suggestions? A:

There are, indeed, medium SUVs, generally referred to as “midsize SUVs.” The definition parameters are pretty mushy and some vehicles called midsize SUVs will be somewhat bigger or smaller than you want.

Moreover, there’s a category called “crossovers” (indicating the utility vehicle is built on a car platform rather than a truck platform), and some of those vehicles boast the cargo area you seek and also the size. Further, there are “wagons” with the size and cargo configuration you seek. Since it appears you have no high-clearance, hauling or off-roading needs, I suggest you check out vehicles in all three categories.

As you conduct your research, understand that not everyone has identical definitions of the pigeonholes in which they stick a particular vehicle, so a vehicle that’s classified by the manufacturer or by the dealership as a midsize SUV may be bigger than you want, or it may be called a wagon in some reviews but not others. That makes some car purists grumpy, but since what you care about is size, cargo space and mileage, we won’t get torqued up here about semantics.

I’m sure there are at least 20 vehicles that fit your needs. I suggest you start with KBB.com or Edmunds.com to peruse the vehicles listed in the SUV, crossover and wagon categories. You’ll encounter the classification overlap I mentioned: Subaru’s Forester and Tribeca are listed in the crossover category and also among SUVs, for example.

You can narrow the field by checking out various “best” lists online. KBB, for example, named the Ford Edge and Toyota’s FJ Cruiser and Highlander as the best 2012 midsize SUVs for resale. The Chicago Tribune’s list of best small and midsize 2012 SUVs included, among others, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Venza, Nissan Rogue, GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox. It’ll be a few months before the “best” lists for 2013 vehicles emerge.

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E-mail sharon@ctwfeatures.com.