CHECK OUT THE CUTE-UTE SMACKDOWN:
We get it already — fuel prices suck. And while we pity the poor sod who bought a new full-size SUV a few years ago and is now stuck with a fuel bill that has doubled and a vehicle whose residual value makes manure futures look appealing, everyone wants solutions. Sympathy won't heal a hemorrhaging wallet.
So what's a utility-lovin' small family to do? Downsize. Full-size SUVs provide unmatched capability but their thirst may make you reassess your needs. Think compact utility vehicle. Think crossover.
This doesn't mean you have to downsize your expectations, though. The three compact SUVs we've assembled here — the brand-new 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan and the 2008 Honda CR-V and 2008 Toyota RAV4 — are based on car platforms, a strategy that helps create an efficient utilization of interior space in a relatively lightweight, fuel-efficient package. Simply put, you can pack more stuff inside these compact SUVs than you might think.