How the 3 Types of Cars We Reviewed This Year Compare

One in three vehicles sold today is an SUV, but that doesn't mean you (necessarily) need one

Feb 28, 2013
Outside Magazine

   Photo: James Provost

CROSSOVERS: The fastest-growing niche in the automotive world. They're basically all-wheel-drive wagons and scaled-down SUVs, and the best offer the fuel efficiency and handling of a car with some of the off-road chops of a ute. They're a great compromise if you head into the mountains regularly and are willing to trade the rock-crawling capabilities of a Jeep for a car-like ride.

COMPACT ELECTRIC VEHICLES: As EVs have gotten bigger and more fun to drive, their batteries have gotten smaller and more efficient. That's the good news. The bad news is that range anxiety is still legit—charging stations remain rare, and most models go only about 80 miles on a tank. Some newer EVs have the oomph to climb mountain passes, but they're still best for city dwellers.

SUBCOMPACTS: Everyone likes to talk about how fuel efficient and environmentally friendly electric vehicles and hybrids are, but in some cases, like the Chevy Spark, subcompacts have better fuel economy. They might not be as fun to drive on the highway or as practical in the mountains, but these affordable cars get nearly 40 miles to the gallon and excel at zipping around town.

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