Trucks and SUVs

All-in-one Fun

Most folks who buy a shiny new crossover do nothing with it except for commute to work or drive the kids to school.

But, we wonder, who needs back-seat Blu-ray and enough cargo space for four mountain bikes when the most you’re asking of your car is that it successfully transport arugula from Whole Foods to your fridge? Sport utility is all about having a blast in both the city and the backcountry, hauling whatever you need wherever you need it.

So when you’re finished shopping and carting the kids around, consider taking a weekend trip — on-road or off — in one of today’s many sporty utilities.

Fun and functional

Consider the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, the first convertible crossover and a perfect companion for open-air adventure. This four-seat beauty rolls on 20-inch wheels, packs a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and comes outfitted with high-end standard features such as Nissan Hard-Drive Navigation and a premium Bose audio system.

And the nifty Toyota Tacoma X-Runner: It’s not quite a crossover, but the X-Runner merits mention here because it’s one of the last built-for-fun compact pickups on the market. With its muscular, sporty look, low-to-the-ground profile and six-speed manual transmission, it’s definitely designed with more than a nod toward serious street style — not to mention street performance.

Family matters

Practical with a distinctly cool cachet, the Lincoln MKT wraps up performance and versatility in a muscular luxury package, with three rows of leather seating for the whole tribe. The all-wheel-drive MKT can easily negotiate all manner of driving conditions with its adaptable electromechanical handling.

The stylishly urban Ford Flex takes family roadtrips to a new level, offering sleek sedan-like design and handling to go with a ton of extras, including an on-board refrigerator and a Vista Roof for wide-angle scenery. An available 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine packs V-8 power in a more fuel-efficient V-6 engine.

Get dirty

Looking to leave the road behind? The redesigned 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a luxury beauty that loves to get dirty; a simple Selec-Terrain feature makes it easy to navigate all sorts of challenging conditions. Four engines are available, including a 6.4-liter 470-horsepower V-8 in the Grand Cherokee SRT that goes from zero to 60 in less than five seconds, aided by a special pro-style launch button.

“Jeep vehicles have long been known for their off-road capability,” said Mike Manley, president and CEO, Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group. “The Grand Cherokee SRT takes capability to a new level by giving driving enthusiasts extreme performance for the street and track.”

Robert Young, Brand Publishing Writer

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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