These SUVs won't make you feel like you've given up on life.
You've got kids on the way, your spouse is forcing you to get rid of the two-seater sports car in favor of something "more practical" that will probably suck your soul away. You look at a list of crossovers and SUVs that make you feel like you will have to give up on being an automotive enthusiast. Don't fret, because we've got your back. We've compiled a list of five fun-to-drive SUVs and crossovers that all cost under $50,000. These models won't sacrifice fun for practicality and are all reasonably affordable.
The F-Pace has been a huge sales success for Jaguar. Not only is the F-Pace a great looking SUV, it also has a reasonable starting price of $43,390 for the 35t model. This model gets a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 340 hp. Even the most basic Porsche Macan costs $47,500 and only comes with a disappointing 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 252 hp. We wanted to include the Macan on this list, but the Jaguar F-Pace represents much better value than the Porsche. If we had a budget of under $50,000, the F-Pace is the SUV that we'd recommend above all others.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of the most surprisingly good SUVs in the reasonably priced segment. This SUV starts out at just over $24,000 at tops out at around $29,000 for the Ground Touring model. All CX-5 models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 187 hp. Unfortunately Mazda no longer offers this SUV with a six-speed manual transmission, which is a bit of a shame. We still love the CX-5 for its wonderful driving dynamics that are characteristic of the brand right now. The interior feels remarkably luxurious given the price, and this SUV is very fun to drive even compared to more expensive German models.
The Nissan Juke Nismo is the compact crossover that not enough enthusiasts have taken notice of. This may be because Richard Hammond has publicly mocked the Juke's looks in the past, which may have put a few enthusiasts off. What Hammond may not know is that Nissan sells a 188-hp Nismo version of the Juke with an available six-speed manual. There is also a Nismo RS version that ups the power to 215 hp and includes a limited-slip differential and racing Recaro seats from the 370Z Nismo. Unfortunately AWD models are only available with a CVT, but we still love this quirky crossover.
The Infiniti QX30 is a Mercedes GLA 250 at its core. Infiniti took the smallest Mercedes crossover and actually made it look even nicer. We spent a week with the sportiest QX30 S model and learned that Infiniti tuned this crossover to be fun to drive. The QX30 has a 2.0-liter with 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque going out to FWD or AWD through a seven-speed dual-clutch. Infiniti made the QX30 a great value option with a starting price of just under $30,000, which is great for a luxury crossover. We would love to see Infiniti do a version of the QX30 with the AMG 45 engine, but the normal version will have to suffice.
It's a bit difficult to classify the jeep Wrangler, but we'd call it an SUV. The Wrangler starts at just under $24,000, but can become wildly expensive when optioned out and customized. It may not be very sporty, but the Wrangler is fun in a different way. Very few SUVs at the price can keep up with the Wrangler off-road. The Wrangler also has the additional fun of being able to remove the roof and the doors. This may not be a replacement for a sports car, but the Wrangler is a great SUV for a family guy that doesn't want to be boring.