Crossover Utility Vehicles have actually been around for a long time. (The difference between a CUV and an SUV isn’t size, it’s what’s underneath the sheet metal; CUVs are built on car platforms, SUVs on truck chassis.) But their popularity as a market segment is relatively recent. Which makes sense; crossover vehicles are bigger than most cars and are comfy on long commutes, but tend to guzzle less $4 gas than SUVs. And since they’re built more like cars, they ride and handle more like wagons than like bulkier SUVs. And that’s a big reason why these crossover vehicles are so much fun to drive.
2013 MAZDA CX-5 | $20,695
The all-new CX-5 is affordable and practical, plus it manages to get an impressive 35 mpg on the highway (with manual transmission). And while those features make it a great choice for the budget-minded, the CUV also has balls — in fact, it drives sort of like the Mazda3 hatch … except on stilts. And unlike the 3, the CX-5 has a perfectly adult-friendly back seat, available all-wheel drive, and up to 65.4 cubic feet of cargo space. So it’s practical, affordable, and fun. It’s like the girl you hope you marry, in CUV form.