With seating for seven, top-notch crash-test ratings and an enviable 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander is ideal for families on a tight budget. One of the few compact SUVs available with a 3rd-row seat, the Outlander may be ordered with front- or all-wheel drive. The plug-in hybrid model continues in 2019, the only SUV in its class to offer such an electrified powertrain. Prices start just over $25,500 for a front-wheel-drive base ES model with a 166-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, and they rise to just over $34,000 for a V6-powered GT. Mitsubishi’s compact SUV competes with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Dodge Journey, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4. (The Outlander Sport, Mitsubishi’s smaller crossover SUV, is reviewed separately.)
The Nissan Kicks is entering its second model year in relatively unchanged fashion. This affordable subcompact-crossover SUV, a replacement of sorts for the discontinued Juke, is designed to meet the needs of singles or couples who are looking for expressive styling, abundant technology and advanced safety features. To that end, the 2019 Nissan Kicks is fitted with standard automatic emergency braking, and advanced available features such as rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree around-view camera. Perhaps most attractive, the Kicks S starts below $19,000. Unfortunately, all-wheel drive is not available. Nevertheless, the Kicks is a smart choice for youthful drivers or others on a budget, and it returns an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. Rivals include the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3.
Packing a V8 engine as standard is unusual for a half-ton pickup truck these days, but the 2019 Tundra in its basic form comes with a 4.6-liter unit developing 310 horsepower. Or there’s a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter version bringing the Tundra’s maximum towing ability up to an impressive 10,200 pounds. That’s probably sufficient for the majority of buyers, but the new Silverado can handle 12,200 pounds. The all-wheel-drive TRD Pro can also tackle challenging off-road conditions such as steep hills, fast-moving creeks and generally rough terrain, despite the unavailability of a mechanical locking rear differential. Yet the Tundra can also be quiet and pleasant on the tarmac, although versions with the 5.7 V8 have stiffer springs than those with the 4.6 because of that higher tow rating.
VW’s 2019 Tiguan’s excellent steering and pedal response -- expected attributes of any VW -- contribute to an overall driving feel that’s among the best in the segment. Highway ride is firmer than that of some other small SUVs, but excellent seats, a quiet cabin and superior steering feel qualify the new Tiguan as an excellent long-haul companion. While the Tiguan’s turbocharged engine generates impressive horsepower and torque, a base Tiguan is a whopping 450 pounds heavier than a base Honda CR-V. City scooting and highway cruising are barely impacted, but the added mass is evident in highway merging and passing situations. Although the Tiguan is a bit longer than most compact SUVs, good outward visibility and a decent turning diameter combine to make it a breeze in parking lots. The Tiguan also offers a host of available technologies that make parking maneuvers even easier. Rear Traffic Alert with Braking will warn you of cars coming down the aisle you’re backing into, and can automatically stop the car if necessary. The Overhead View Camera provides a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings, an increasingly common feature that remains among our favorites. Park Distance Control with Maneuver Braking incorporates front and rear parking sensors that warn you of close objects and can even stop the car if you’re about to back into something.