Forget frumpy minivans. With record sales last month, crossovers and other haulers are as hot as Marvel’s Avengers. That’s due to super-low gas prices, some chiseled styling worthy of a sexy superhero and enough tech gadgetry to rival your smartphone.
Mpg: 20 city/29 highway
0-to-60 mph: 8 seconds
MKC…MKS…MKT…MKX…MKZ. Really, could Lincoln think of a more confusing way to name its vehicles? Luckily, some re-badging—i.e., bringing back the Continental nameplate—is in sight. But for now, crossover shoppers who can overlook this minor kerfuffle will find the compact MKC a fine ride. Lincoln now offers new-age styling and some Tony Stark-like features: there are shift buttons on the dash instead of the usual gear-shift near the center console, and a MyKey system lets parents set maximum speed, radio volume and other parameters for teenagers. The MyLincoln app gives you remote start, parking-meter timer and status checks for fuel, tire pressure, etc. There’s also an automated parallel-parking system and a hands-free, power liftgate with foot sensor to easily load/unload cargo. Another plus: The swanky cabin has ambient mood lighting and a jammin’ 14-speaker stereo—perfect for road trips.
Mpg: 23 city/28 highway
0-to-60 mph: 9 seconds
The Subaru Forester has a robust turbo engine, rugged all-wheel drive and roomy stowage area big enough for bikes and other large items. The snappy styling (updated last year) is aerodynamic, and the elevated seating means great visibility for the driver. With the exception of a rearview camera (now standard on all models), the base Forester is fairly barebones. But trade up to any other trim level, and there are gizmos galore: power liftgate, one-touch folding rear seatback, panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon audio and more. One downside: the touchscreen is subpar compared with more tech-savvy offerings from the competition. Along with a knee airbag (for the driver), lane-departure warning and a nifty collision-avoidance system that uses automatic braking, the Forester has high crash-test ratings.
VOLVO V60 T6 R-DESIGN
Mpg: 19 city/28 highway
0-to-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
From the land of Thor, the Volvo V60 wagon looks like a muscled crossover. The T6 R-Design—the high-performance model—is almost as fast a thunderbolt. There’s crisp steering, grippy tires and—hello, this is Volvo—tons of safety gear: active front head restraints, blind-spot monitoring (with rear cross-traffic alert), drowsy-driver warning and a front-end collision system that also can detect pedestrians and cyclists. To handle even the stormiest weather, there are heated front/rear seats, heated mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated windshield and heated windshield-washer nozzles. And because of the raised chassis, the V60 can handle a bit of off-roading.
VW TIGUAN SE 4MOTION
Mpg: 21 city/26 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Yes, the design is a bit dated, but why mess with success on a popular crossover? From the perky turbo and exciting Euro handling to the first-rate fit and finish, the Tiguan feels strong and solid. There are more standard features this year, including a rearview camera and VW’s CarNet app for emergency assistance, directions, verifying if your doors are locked, etc. And the leatherette (gussied-up vinyl) seating feels better than real leather. But VW needs to ditch the dinky five-inch touchscreen and replace it with a larger, user-friendly version. And stick-shift fans will mourn the loss of the optional manual transmission.