Crossovers with the Best Utility

US News

Crossovers are great utilitarian vehicles. They can seat five to eight people, and most manage to hold your stuff and seat passengers comfortably. Of course, some crossovers are more practical than others. We’ve provided you with a few guidelines that will help you pick the most practical crossover for your budget.

Crossover Passenger Space

With the exception of the Mini Cooper Countryman, which seats four, most crossovers seat five to eight people, but not all of them do so comfortably. If you have a small family, take the kids along -- and their car seats -- to see if the kids can sit in the back comfortably. While you’re getting the kids situated in the back seat, see if there are enough cubbies and pockets for books and snacks. Can the kids reach food and toys on their own? Hop in the back yourself and see if the rear row is comfortable for adults. As you test different crossovers, you’ll find that many have tight back seats. The Toyota RAV4 and Ford Flex, however, have spacious seating for adults. The Flex even has a third row that’s roomy enough for adults, which ups seating capacity to a total of seven.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) connectors are required by law, but when you check out crossovers, make sure the model meets two requirements: the Anchors and Tethers are easy to access and that they have the number of connectors you need. Take car seats to the dealership and install them. Is it easy to do, or do you have a hard time?

Crossover Cargo Space

One of the most important characteristics of any crossover is how much space it has in the back. No matter what you’re shopping for, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to pick a crossover that has the most cargo space with the rear seats in use. The GMC Acadia and Honda Pilot, for example, can seat eight, and of the two, the Honda Pilot has the most cargo space overall: 87 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. The Fold Flex, however, has 20 cubic feet with the third row in use, while the Pilot has 18.

A lot of automakers say they have easy folding seats, but always test these claims by folding the seats at the dealership. If you struggle with the second and third rows, try different models until you’re satisfied.

Next, check cargo storage. A lot of crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 have under-floor storage bins. Generally, these areas aren’t very large, but they can be pretty helpful. Also, some models have helpful details in cargo areas. The Honda Pilot and Ford Flex have cargo area bag hooks. Most crossovers have useful storage accessories like cargo mats, totes and nets.

Crossover Small-Item Storage

Most crossovers come standard with map pockets, side-door pockets, a center console, 12-volt power outlets and a glove compartment. Sometimes features like a center arm rest aren’t standard, but depending on the size of the vehicle, you may be able to get two center arm rests. The GMC Acadia, for example, has an optional one for the second row.

Automakers add their own utility-focused features to interiors, so it’s a good idea to survey the competition before settling on a particular model. Open compartments and decide if they’re useful. For example, bring your iPod along and hook it into the USB port. Are the plugs easy to access? Is the cord long enough? Are the ports in open places so that you have to hide electronics before you leave the car?

When it comes to small storage spaces, the Honda CR-V has a lot of nice touches. It has an upper and lower glove compartment, a retractable tray table, a conversation mirror and an under-seat storage bin.

The Most Utilitarian Crossovers


Honda CR-V

Toyota RAV4

Ford Flex

Honda Pilot

GMC Acadia







Max. Seats






Cargo Capacity in Cubic feet













1 standard, 2 optional

2 in front, 1 in cargo area

1 (optional)


Optional three-prong household outlet

Standard Interior Features

Upper and lower glove compartments, eight cup holders, under-seat storage bin, center retractable tray table, conversation mirror with sunglasses holder, cargo area tie down anchors

Multi-function center console with cup holders, cell phone pocket, and covered center console, dual glovebox, cargo area under-floor storage compartment

Center arm rest with storage, rear pull-out drawer with cup holders and storage, 10 cup holders, cargo area grocery bag hooks, overhead console with sunglasses holder

10 cup holders, cargo area tie-down anchors, cargo area bag hooks

Front console and overhead console

Optional Interior Features

Dual deck storage shelf, Bluetooth

Bluetooth hands-free phone controls, cargo cover

Refrigerated second-row console 

Conversation mirror with sunglasses holder

Second-row center console

Optional Exterior Features

Short roof box, roof rack, skateboard, ski, surfboard, bike and kayak attachment


Roof racks and carriers, power-liftgate

Roof rack, ski, snowboard, surfboard, bike and kayak attachments, soft roof cargo bag, hitch mount bike attachment

Roof rack and cargo box, Hitch mount ski carrier

View Comments