Top-Rated 2012 Crossover SUVs: Performance & Design

To learn more about how satisfied consumers are with their new vehicles, J.D. Power conducts an annual Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL). The APEAL Study gathers data from thousands of new-vehicle buyers who have owned their new car, truck, van or SUV for at least 90 days, and asks questions pertaining to vehicle performance, design, comfort, interior layout, standard and optional features, and more.

Below, listed in alphabetical order, are the three crossover SUV models that achieved the highest ratings based on the results of the J.D. Power 2012 APEAL Study.SM


2012 Ford Flex

The Ford Flex is a 3-row, 7-passenger crossover SUV equipped with boxy styling and unique design details. Sold in SE, SEL, Limited, and Titanium trim levels, the 2012 Ford Flex sees few changes in advance of a thorough refresh for the 2013 model year.

A 262-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is standard equipment, generating 248 lb.-ft. of torque and driving the front wheels (FWD) or all four wheels (AWD). A twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine is available for the Limited and Titanium trim levels, generating 355 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. With the EcoBoost engine, AWD is standard, and the 6-speed automatic transmission gains paddle shifters. Fuel-economy ratings range from 16 mpg for the EcoBoost V-6 to 24 mpg on the highway with the standard V-6 and FWD.

The 2012 Ford Flex is a "Top Safety Pick" according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This crossover SUV will carry 20 cubic feet of cargo behind its third-row seat. Fold that seat down, and the Flex contains room for 5 people plus 43.2 cubic feet of cargo. Maximum cargo capacity measures 83.2 cubic feet.

2012 Mini Cooper Countryman

About as small as they come, the 2012 Mini Cooper Countryman is a compact 5-door crossover SUV with seating for 4 or 5 passengers, depending on configuration. This Mini carries up to 41.3 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seat folded down, and is called a "Top Safety Pick" by the IIHS.

A 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Cooper Countryman, while the Cooper S Countryman is equipped with a turbocharged version of that engine making 181 horsepower and plenty of additional torque across a much broader rev range. Fuel-economy estimates vary between 23 mpg in the city for the Cooper S Countryman with ALL4 all-wheel drive and 32 mpg on the highway with the standard engine, front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

For 2012, the Mini Cooper Countryman is offered with a rear bench seat for the first time, and a new Technology package groups Bluetooth, Mini Connected smartphone pairing, and a premium sound system with a handful of other items. Smoked headlight covers and a new auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass are new options, and various extra-cost packages have been modified for 2012.

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

A 5-passenger compact crossover SUV, the 2012 Tiguan is refreshed with updated styling front and rear, and the top trim level, the SEL, adds active bi-xenon headlights and offers a new 19-inch aluminum wheel design. The Tiguan can carry 23.8 cubic feet of cargo while simultaneously carrying five passengers. Fold the back seat down, and this crossover supplies 56.1 cubic feet of cargo space. Additionally, the IIHS has named the 2012 Tiguan a "Top Safety Pick."

The turbocharged, 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the Tiguan carries over from last year, but is rated to get better highway fuel economy. For 2012, the Tiguan's gas mileage estimates range from 18 mpg in the city with the manual transmission to 27 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission. Volkswagen provides 3 years or 36,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance with every Tiguan lease or purchase.