A V6 SUV is a versatile vehicle, as it’s owners can attest. Practical not only for the passenger transport capabilities, but within minutes of folding down a seat, has plenty of cargo space. The newest models resemble a cross between a mini-van and a car, and they come with front wheel or all wheel drive.

Still available but not as widely manufactured are SUV’s with off road capabilities, the traditional enclosed truck looking versions. Though they still have load hauling capacity; they contain more features to appeal to the passenger carrying side of their personalities.

More than ever there is a variety of models to choose from, in a variety of price ranges, and with a variety of safety and personal features.

Vehicles are rated for crash test safety by the government and the Insurance Institute of Safety. Interestingly enough the IIS has a higher standard of quality.

A V6 SUV given a 5 star crash rating by the government will not necessarily fair so high with the ISS. The Dodge Journey, Subaru Tribeca, Volvo XC60, Volvo XC90 and the GMC Terrain all received 5 star crash and 4 star rollover ratings by the ISS.

They all are equipped with front and side air bags, sturdier roofing structures and roof air bags are standard on some and optional on others. Price tags start at around $19,800 but gas mileage is nothing to brag about.

Lexus RX 450h

The best in class for mileage economy were the Lexus RX 450h which starts at $42,600, and the Mercury Mariner Hybrid which starts at $27,900. The Lexus claims to get 30 mpg city/ 28 mpg hwy.

The Mariner claims 30 mpg city/ 31 mpg hwy. Different reviews have similar ratings. These models are followed by the Toyota Highlander for $35,000 – 20/28 and the Toyota Rav4 at $27,900 – 19/26.

The much publicized problems with Toyota’s gas pedal dangers will cause consumers to shy away for awhile. Hybrids do not fair as well in safety ratings as their roof construction is not deemed as safe.

2010 Buick Enclave

The overall favorites are rated for handling ability, features and interior and exterior design. Number 1 on this list is the Buick Enclave. Starting at $34,600 this V6 SUV can carry up to 8 passengers or pull a 4500 pound load.

The interior boasts not only leather but burl wood trim. Features include a cell phone link, heated or cooled front seats, 6 speed automatic transmission and OnStar. All were impressed with the smooth, quiet and comfortable ride.

Tied for first was the Chevrolet Traverse starting at $28,700. Reviewers liked the spacious 3rd row seat and ample cargo space. Unique features include a rear view camera, DVD system, a navigation system and remote start. Gas mileage for either is around 17/24.

Nissan Murano

The Nissan Murano comes in third with a MSRP starting at $26,900. Mileage is around 18/23 and standard features on other models are optional here. Standard features include dual zone automatic temperature control, remote keyless entry, tilt telescoping steering column, and 6 CD changer with an audio input jack. Extras include leather interior, DVD entertainment system, 9.3 GB Music Box hard drive, voice recognition, push button ignition, or a navigation system. Roof mounted curtain airbags or a rear view monitor are also extra options.

Next in line is the Ford Flex which resembles a cross between an older model station wagon and a Surburban. Starting at $28,300 with mileage ratings of 17/24, prospective owners can choose from two rows of captain’s chairs or a traditional middle bench seat. The third row seat folds down electronically. Additional options include a DVD with an 8 inch screen, multi-panel roof, and a refrigerator.

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