Comparison shopping for automobiles is a very quantitative exercise. So many people and experts alike review specifications, and check online, go and see the vehicle and test drive them, and then provide the rest of the world with their learned experience.
The apparent best in 2012 for the combination of all three criteria” gas mileage, mid-sized SUV, and a third row for seating is the 2012 Mazda CX-9. This Mazda has received the best overall ratings for an automobile for all three criteria. It ranked first out of 23 comparable SUVs for 2012. “U.S. News Best Car” gave the CX-9 its highest award for “2012 Best Affordable Three-Row SUV for the Money”. The third row is said to be comfortable in comparison to most other SUVs. It has style, decent power, family oriented seating and amenities. Its drawback seems to be that many of its options can often be found a standard features on its competitors, as well as not having some options that others offer.
As shoppers often do when faced with one overall best in all criteria, they begin to compare within the various criteria to see what differences and comparisons can be made. This is often either a pure money situation or for quality. In evaluating each of the three criteria stated, here is what was found.
… for third row seating, the best seemed to be …
(Sixth of 23 compared) The Ford Flex carries a third row seating that is better size-wise for older, bigger children and for taller adults that might sit back there, as compared to the one in the CX-9. Test drivers also felt that the Flex is fairly sporty as well, though not as sporty as the CX-9. The Ford Flex is in the same price range as the Mazda CX-9, but also offers many more family-friendly features that the CX-9 does not have, or has as options, such as an optional refrigerated console and a power-folding third row.
… for the best gas mileage overall in the compared mid-size SUVs …
(14th of 23) The 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (Crossover) shows the best mileage, with an estimated rating of 28 city and 28 highway. Its drawback is a lack of feeling in the steering, and a lot of body roll, a long standing drawback in this series. The Mazda CX-9 has a decent, yet typical estimated rating of 17 city, 24 highway, not being a hybrid. With an estimated rating of 19 city and 27 highway, the Ford Edge is a little better than the CX-9, but, it only has two rows of seating, not the three being sought.
… for the best cost overall in the compared mid-size SUVs …
For a less expensive option, take a look at the Kia Sorento. Test drivers liked its base trim package, comparing well with its standard s and features versus what the CX-9 offers as options even on its best package level, such as Bluetooth audio streaming. While its optional third-row seats are not nearly as comfortable as the Mazda’s are, if you squeeze adults into the third row, the Kia’s cost savings might be worth it. The Sorento is also a lot less than the CX-9.
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