NEWS: The Six Best Sport-Utes for 2005

April 25, 2005
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0505 Favsuv Freestyle 445
Ford Freestyle
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.

Price: $25,670-$31,070
Engine: 3.0L V-6, 203 hp
Passengers: 7
0505 Favsuv Pilot 445
Honda Pilot
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.

Price: $28,065-$34,835
Engine: 3.5L V-6, 255 hp
Passengers: 8
0505 Favsuv Range 445
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.

Price: $73,750-$86,000
Engine: 4.4L V-8, 282 hp
Passenger: 5
0505 Favsuv Wrangler 445
Jeep Wrangler
It's easy to forget that driving off-road was the SUV's original reason for being. Those who actually do venture off-road usually drive Jeep Wranglers. Far simpler than its would-be challengers, the Wrangler nonetheless is incredibly effective, particularly in Rubicon form. The Jeep's tidy size makes it nimble on the trail, a vast aftermarket industry can bolster its abilities still further, and it enjoys the support of a huge enthusiast community. Those people know that a Wrangler is the best SUV for off-road or no road.

Price: $18,580-$28,975
Engine: 2.4L I-4, 147 hp
Passengers: 4
0505 Favsuv Srx 445
Cadillac SRXWe don't like to make compromises to drive an SUV, and with the Cadillac SRX, we don't have to. The SRX's Magnetic Ride Control provides nimble handling without a punishing ride, its DOHC V-6 and Northstar V-8 give it brisk acceleration without extreme thirst, and its smart packaging makes for a comfortable cabin without grotesque proportions. A near-perfect blend of luxury, performance, and utility, the SRX has been Automobile Magazine's obvious choice as an All-Star two years in a row.

Price: $39,035-$50,830
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 255 hp
Passengers: 5-7
0505 Favsuv Suburban 445
Chevrolet Suburban
When there's really big hauling to be done, a Chevrolet Suburban is the one. (OK, a GMC Yukon XL or a Cadillac Escalade ESV is essentially the same truck, but we'll stick with the nameplate with the sixty-plus-year history.) A Suburban is big, but it's bigness with a purpose. It tows as much as six tons, carries 132 cubic feet of stuff, and seats nine (while still carrying 46 cubic feet of stuff). Once you have a Suburban, you wonder how you got along without it. No wonder repeat buyers-including the current and former editors-in-chief of this magazine-form such a large percentage of Suburban owners.

Price: $39,615-$43,690
Engine: 5.3L V-8, 295 hp
Passengers: 6-9

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2006 Honda Pilot

LX 2WD 4-Dr Sport Utility V6
starting at (MSRP)
$26,995
Engine
3.5L V6
Fuel Economy
18 City 24 Hwy
2006 Honda Pilot