We refuse to buy a huge SUV that sucks the gas and handles like a Radio Flyer. And until now, the options out there for a smaller SUV didn't do much for us. The all-new 2006 RAV4 (starting at $20,300) looks to be the answer. It has a larger body with 40% more cargo space than the previous model, and it's more responsive and bunches more stylish. As a bonus, the new RAV gets 24 MPG around town and 30 on the highway — crazy for something that can actually haul a good bit of stuff.
Even though there will always be people to buy big SUVs, we feel a bit sorry for Jeep for coming out with the Commander (starting at $28,200) right now with the crazy price of gas. Nevertheless, it's one tough hombre that we wouldn't mind having. In addition to a rugged exterior, it features 3-row stadium seating, dual skylights, a 5.7 HEMI V8, and Quadra-Drive II 4-wheel drive. The Commander also offers 3-zone climate control, available GPS navigation, DVD system, and the ability to go just about anywhere.
Although the Element has been around for a while, Honda just wised up this year and decided to actually paint the entire vehicle (yeah, what a concept). The new EX-P Models (starting at $20,125) are the first Elements to come with painted body panels and body-colored door handles, something potential buyers have been complaining about since the SUV debuted. Like previous Elements, the new models have tons of cargo room, a versatile interior, available 4 wheel drive, and an ample 156-hp i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine. The Element is perfect for any weekend trek, and can haul just about anything you'll ever buy at the mall.