Five to Drive: Fun and Safe Crossover SUVs

You don’t need to spend extra for a luxury brand to buy an entertaining and safe crossover SUV

Everybody wants a crossover SUV, except for driving enthusiasts because weight + taller center of gravity = sad face emoji.

If you like to drive, but daily life demands more space for passengers and cargo in a safe, all-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t worry. There are several crossover SUVs that meet the criteria without sucking all of the joy out of your commute.

Personally, my favorite is the 2017 Ford Edge Sport, equipped with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, available 21-inch wheels and performance tires, and a driving thrill unmatched by anything at its price. Unfortunately, it does not qualify as a “Top Safety Pick” according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), coming up short in the small overlap frontal-impact test.

The five vehicles that follow, however, do earn this crash protection designation. So if that’s your most important consideration, as it should be for any vehicle in which you’re planning to carry your family, check out one of these fun and safe crossover SUVs. They are listed in alphabetical order.

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2017 Infiniti QX50 Review: Better Than You’d Guess, Ancient Nonetheless

Infiniti’s geriatric quasi-crossover is a pleasant reminder of the good old days

A redesigned Infiniti QX50 is coming, and it will go grille-to-grille with compact luxury crossover SUVs like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. It can’t arrive fast enough to replace this, the old QX50, which originally debuted a decade ago as the 2008 EX35.

Things have changed since that first EX arrived. It got a bigger engine. It got a new name. It got a wheelbase stretch. It got a suspension lift. It even got updated safety and infotainment technologies. But there is no question that the 2017 Infiniti QX50 is ripe for replacement.

Normally, decade-old designs disappoint. In this case, because the QX50 is to the old G37 sports sedan what the Honda Crosstour was to the Accord family sedan, driving one is like jumping into the Wayback Machine for a thrilling ride down Memory Lane.

In fact, the 2017 Infiniti QX50 is enjoyable enough to drive that it almost makes up for its significant shortcomings.

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Are Third-Row Seats Safe for Children?

Consider rear-impact collisions before putting your kids, or anyone you love, in the third-row seat.

If you’ve overlooked the 2017 Kia Sorento in your quest for a new family-sized crossover SUV, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice.

It is a terrific vehicle, sized between the traditional compact and midsize SUV segments, stylish, comfortable, and enjoyable to drive. It meets a wide range of budget requirements, and when loaded with every option, could easily pass for a luxury SUV except for the Kia badge on the center of the steering wheel.

Plus, it gets the highest possible crash-protection ratings from the federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and for 2017 Kia further stepped up the Sorento’s game by installing an automatic emergency braking system on every trim level as standard or optional equipment.

This is an SUV I can easily recommend to families. But I have a concern, and that relates to the Sorento’s third-row seat design.

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Redesigned 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport Speeds to the Border of GTI Territory

Turbocharged engine, independent rear suspension, hundreds of Nurburgring development laps hold promise

Volkswagen is the undisputed king of Pocket Rocket Mountain, and it has been for decades. If you’ve driven a Golf GTI or Golf R, especially lately, you understand why. Still, that doesn’t prevent competing automakers from trying to decode VW’s recipe and improve upon the result (at best), or mimic it (at worst).

With the debut of the redesigned 2018 Elantra GT, it’s Hyundai’s turn at bat. This time around, the company fortifies the new Elantra GT Sport model with a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine making 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, a choice between a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and hundreds of laps of Germany’s Nurburgring Nordschleife to fine-tune the ride and handling.

Does this new Elantra GT Sport have what it takes? A drive will determine that. For now, all we’ve got is details.

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Dodge Brings More Power to More People with the 2018 Durango SRT

Meet the three-row SUV packing a 475-horsepower “Hemi” V8

Seeking speed? Meet the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, which takes just 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph and covers the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds flat. Don’t take my word for it. The National Hot Rod Association certified those numbers for Dodge.

Equipped with a 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter “Hemi” V8 engine, the Durango SRT supplies seating for six, up to 84.5 cubic-feet of cargo space, and delivers impressive muscle at a relative bargain compared to luxury-branded high-performance SUVs.

This is more than just a straight-line acceleration tool. Dodge fortifies the Durango SRT with an 8-speed automatic with downshift rev matching, a performance all-wheel-drive system, a launch control system, an adaptive damping suspension, and seven SRT-tuned driving modes including one labeled “Track.” Brembo brake calipers clamp oversized ventilated discs (slotted up front to better dissipate heat), and a performance exhaust bellows from 4-inch outlets tucked under the rear bumper.

Dodge even provides Durango SRT owners with a free one-day session at the fabled Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. You just need to get yourself to Phoenix.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? There’s just one problem.

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What is Speedy Daddy?

Speedy Daddy re-launches to inform and entertain parents who love to drive.

In 2010, while driving on Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu, California, I was listening to National Public Radio. The program showcased the history of the “Life is Good” brand, and, as a parent of four, I started thinking about ways to blend my enthusiasm for cars and love of driving, and my enthusiasm for parenting and my love for my children, into an expression of those passions that might resonate with car-enthusiast parents just like me.

Thus, the idea for Speedy Daddy was born.

I pitched Speedy Daddy to my friend, a fellow car enthusiast, automotive journalist, and parent of two, Michael Harley. An experienced entrepreneur with excellent gut instincts, Mike agreed that the concept had potential, and by January 2012, we had launched the original Speedy Daddy blog.

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