Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to read an article about the ‘top crossovers’ in the automotive market. Why? Because this category did not exist.

As automotive transportation has developed and evolved to meet the needs of consumers, the crossover category has emerged as one of the most popular options on the market.

Crossovers blend the best of a large SUV with some of the characteristics of a sedan. They tend to get excellent gas mileage – which is definitely not something you can say about a big seven-seat SUV – while also having enough room for the whole family. On top of it all, they look great and are often fun to drive. It doesn’t take an automotive expert to figure out why these vehicles are quickly taking over the roads.

If you are in the market for a crossover in 2017, you are going to have plenty of options to pick from. But which one is best? Well, that’s where it gets a bit tricky.

The Contenders

At this point, complete information about all of the 2017 crossover models is not yet available, but we do have a good idea of which models will be near the top of the class when all is said and done. To be sure, any 2017 crossover shopping experience will not be complete without a closer look at each of the following –

  • Mazda CX-5
  • Ford Escape
  • Kia Sportage
  • Honda HR-V
  • Audi Q3

That list is certainly not exhaustive by any means, but it is a good starting point in your search. Of course, there is a little bit of ‘wiggle room’ when it comes to what is considered a crossover, so there may be other models from the same maker that you could include in this conversation as well.

Value

If it’s value that you are looking for first and foremost, your search is likely going to begin with the Kia Sportage. Kia is an automaker that has long been associated with value, as their cars tend to be some of the lowest-priced on the market. However, with quality improvements in recent years, a low price does not necessarily indicate a low-end experience. The base Kia Sportage has an MSRP of just $22,990, making it one of the least expensive crossovers available.

Speaking of value, you can also find it from another name on the list above – the Honda HR-V. This vehicle really lives up to the name of a crossover, as it looks more like a sedan than it does an SUV. The MSRP for the HR-V actually comes in below $20,000 for the base model, so this really is an opportunity to get value – especially from a carmaker with a reputation for quality. However, the HR-V is limited on space, so it isn’t going to work for those who put a premium on having ample passenger and storage capacity.

Driving Experience

While the main reason to purchase a crossover is for utility, you can still think a little bit about the fun you would like to have out on the road. If you enjoy driving and you appreciate a car that gives the feedback you are looking for, it is the Mazda CX-5 that should grab your attention.

Mazda is known for creating vehicles which are both practical and fun to drive, and the CX-5 carries that torch nicely. You will feel like you are driving something closer to a sports car rather than an SUV when behind the wheel of this popular model. Precise details for the 2017 model are not yet available, but this crossover does tend to be a bit more expensive than options such as the Kia or Honda.

All-Around Performer

Ford is one of the iconic names in the automotive world, and they continue to produce great models like the Ford Escape year after year. It is hard to pin down one specific thing that you can point to as the strength of the Ford Escape – which is actually a compliment. It fares well in fuel efficiency, cabin space, design, and just about any other category you would like to include. Sure, the price is a bit higher than many of the other crossover options, but this is a model that lands further on the SUV side of the scale than some others in this segment.

You might not wind up settling on the Ford for your purchase, but it would be a mistake to not at least take a test drive as part of the process.

A Luxury Play

If it is luxury that you are looking for, and you don’t mind spending significantly more for that experience, the Audi Q3 is a safe bet. Audi has a long-standing reputation for quality high-end vehicles, and that reputation certainly extends to the Q3.

This model has plenty of power under the hood for the driver who likes to feel some spirited acceleration while out on the road. It also fares pretty well in the gas mileage category, and it has the luxury look that you would expect from an MSRP north of $30,000. This is not a model that will fit in everyone’s budget, but it can be the perfect fit for a certain slice of the market.

The Bottom Line

The hardest thing about buying a crossover these days is likely the sheer number of options that you will need to consider. For a segment that didn’t even exist a few short years ago, there are now numerous vehicles in this market that are worthy of your attention.

Personal preference is going to play a big part of this decision, as there isn’t a significant difference between the specs of most of these models. As long as you take the time to test drive at least a few different crossovers, and you stick to a budget range that you are comfortable with, you are almost sure to come away with a great vehicle.