The Freestyle has slipped into Ford's lineup almost unnoticed in the shadow of the ho-hum Five Hundred. It's so unassuming that you hear people in the automotive press question themselves for liking it. Yes, guys, it really is that good. After filling U.S. highways with Explorers and Expeditions, Ford has switched gears and nailed the crossover SUV. Sure, we'd like more power, but the three-row seating, entry/egress, ride, handling, visibility, cargo space, and safety package are spot-on. This is where mainstream SUVs are headed.
Engine: 3.0L V-6, 203 hp
Looking for a family SUV? Honda makes it easy. The Pilot offers seating for seven, side-curtain air bags, and on-demand four-wheel drive-all standard. Lightweight (relatively) unibody construction enables the 255-hp V-6 to deliver both peppy acceleration and reasonable fuel economy. The Pilot's robust build quality keeps hassles to a minimum, and its glacial depreciation even makes saying good-bye less painful. If only all the members of your family were so easy to live with.
Engine: 3.5L V-6, 255 hp
Land Rover Range Rover
Today, sport-utility vehicles are fully accepted as luxury transport, and the Range Rover is the chief reason. True, some celebrities have embraced such arrivistes as the Lincoln Navigator and the Cadillac Escalade, but the Range Rover remains the most convincing luxury SUV. For 2006, a new 400-hp supercharged V-8 will add effortless acceleration to the Range Rover's portfolio of superlatives, alongside exemplary on-road demeanor, unstoppable off-road ability, and the most beautiful interior this side of a five-star hotel.
Engine: 4.4L V-8, 282 hp