Carz4Girlz Review: 2008 KIA SPORTAGE, FORD ESCAPE HYBRID, HONDA CR-V


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2008 Ford Escape Hybrid

MAKING A CASE TO YOUR PARENTS FOR AN SUV? HERE'S THREE FUN, USER-FRIENDLY & AFFORDABLE VEHICLES

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By Ilyse Gordon and Friends

Owning an SUV isn't all about guzzling gas. That will be the first roadblock your parents will pull out if you're planning on going to battle for a small-to-mid-size SUV or CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle – come on girls, you NEED to know this!) as your first vehicle purchase.

In fact, there's a lot of cool technology going on (can you say Hybrid or smaller engine?) that make a few SUVs and CUVs as standout choices over small economy cars. Especially when you're taking about SAFETY FACTORS and MONEY (two things moms and dads freak out about)

When parents hear SUV, they're thinking Hummer and Land Rover. You've got to show them that you mean efficient (not bad MPG), safe (look at those crash ratings Mom) cool looking and practacal off-road ( well maybe not really off road Dad) utility examples, such as the Kia Sportage, the Ford Escape Hybrid, and the Honda CR-V.

KIA SPORTAGE: UNDER $25k (AND ALL THE TRIMMINGS INCLUDED)

For under $25k, the Kia Sportage with 4-wheel drive is a reliable deal and a lot classier than you'd think. The Kia Sportage fell into the crossover vehicle market (CUV) in 1995 and has grown more impressive in the last couple of years, being a 2008 Consumer Reports recommended vehicle and all for its roomy interior, secure handling, and long warranty. The Kia's 4-wheel drive components are simple to use. The 2.7-liter V6 engine does the job – but still only gets you 17-mpg city and 21-mpg highway. Pretty typical stuff …

However, the folded seats get you get 66.6 cubic feet of cargo space for moving or laundry hauling or whatever is needed as your interests grow (Biking? Camping? Drumming?). Plus, the sunroof, power windows, heated outside mirrors, trip computer, roof rack and keyless entry do not come as extra costs. And the Sportage earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-star crash safety rating in all four categories, mostly due to the fact the safety features six airbags, anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control.

FORD ESCAPE HYBRID: CAN YOU SAY 32-MPG & RECYCLED MATERIAL?

The Ford Escape is definitely our beefier suggestion if you love that traditional SUV look. The Escape made its debut in 2000 and in 2004 we got the Escape Hybrid, the world’s first hybrid-electric SUV. The all-new interior features the industry’s first fabric seating surfaces made from 100 percent recycled material.

You can go luxury and get a 2008 Ford Escape Limited 4x4 with a 3.0-liter V6 engine for $33,280. The base price is at $25,520; so do the math and figure that $7,095 goes to above-and-beyond options like Limited Luxury Package (auto climate control, dual heated seats, rear electronic parking aid); Rear Cargo Convenience Group (retractable cargo cover, locking storage); Chrome Appearance Package (chrome grille, chrome garnishes); the Navigation System; SIRIUS radio; 17-inch chrome Alloy wheels. Stuff that’s nice but you don't HAVE to have …

The best part is the gas mileage at approximately 22-mpg city and 28-mpg highway driving – this puts it beyond what the average compact SUV with a V6 engine gets. This Escape model achieves up to an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous model because the engine system uses an electric motor rather than the engine’s accessory drive. The vehicle also uses a speed-sensitive Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) to correct road irregularities and improves overall steering feel.

HONDA CR-V: LOOKS LIKE A BMW X5, FEELS LIKE A ROOMY MINI-VAN

Consumer Reports is always in love with the Honda CR-V and has been awarded Best (Small SUV) Vehicle Under $25,000. The 2008 model is highly recommended for its reliability, customer satisfaction, and overall owner cost.

The taillights make it look a lot like a BMW X5, but it kind of feels like a mini-van inside – it's just ROOMY, people! So you get style and space with this vehicle that feels more like a CUV than SUV. The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System features more than 6 million points of interest and the voice recognition is capable of recognizing and inputting numbers, street names and cities, along with controlling the audio system.

The 166-horsepower 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine gets 21-mpg gallon and it's not a hybrid. The engine is solid but not a heavy hitter during high-speed hill acceleration – but that's what small engines are like. No V6 engine is offered.

The CR-V has what is called a Real Time™ 4-wheel drive. The system is designed to handle realistic bad-weather encounters. The Real Time 4WD system is fully automatic. It’s going to take care of straightening you out whether you know it or not. Nice! A car that thinks for you!

THE WRAP UP:

Three great SUVs, but truth be told, if parental supervision (and wallets) are involved, your most realistic choice is a Honda CR-V. It has the right price (under $25,000), the right history (number one most reliable car maker in Consumer Report's opinion), and has style with tons of interior space.

Be ready to present your case with stats and info from The Auto Channel New Car Buyers Guide, your parents aren't going to take your word for it alone, so you'd better bombard their email In Box with our links to exactly why these SUVz are recommended as Carz For Girlz!

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Carz4Girlz - Because Girlz are Car CraZy Too!

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More to come, I promise.

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