5 Best American SUVs and Crossovers

Honoring the United States' 236th Birthday

Once upon a time, American automotive products dominated the domestic landscape. The oddball foreign car or exotic automobile might show up in the local parking lot, but for the most part, we all drove Detroit Iron. Some folks believe that this country would be better off today if more Americans bought and drove American cars. In this age of globalization, it's difficult to know whether or not that's true. It's actually kind of difficult to determine what an American car is, to tell the truth. But let's not get sidetracked with geopolitical arguments -- for the purposes of this list, we're only considering SUVs and crossovers from the Big Three: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

To honor the 236th birthday of these United States of America, here's a list of the 5 Best American SUVs and Crossover Vehicles of 2012 (in democratically arranged alphabetical order).

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2012 Cadillac SRX. Photo © Aaron Gold

When Aaron reviewed the 2012 Cadillac SRX, he praised it for being "completely different." Bringing Cadillac's version of American luxury to a mid-sized crossover has been a challenge, but it seems as it Cadillac got it right this time.

2012 Cadillac SRX base price: $35,185

Major Standard Features:

  • Automatic Transmission
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 3.6-liter direct injection V6 engine
  • 308 hp/265 lb-ft of torque

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2012 Chevrolet Suburban. Photo © General Motors

The 2012 Chevrolet Suburban is still the best way to move a big group of people and their luggage from Point A to Point B in comfort and style, and with a reasonable level of efficiency.

2012 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 base price: $42,220

Major Standard Features:

  • Automatic Transmission
  • Rear-Wheel Drive or Four-Wheel Drive
  • 5.3-liter V8 engine
  • 320 hp/335 lb-ft of torque

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2012 Ford Explorer. Photo © Jason Fogelson

Ford completely revamped the Explorer for the 2011 model year, rethinking the traditional body-on-frame design as a unibody, and moving from rugged SUV to sleek urban crossover vehicle, with great results.

2012 Ford Explorer base price: $28,870

Major Standard Features:

  • Automatic Transmission
  • Front-Wheel Drive or All-Wheel Drive
  • 3.5-liter V6; 2.0-liter I-4 EcoBoost; or 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine (available for 2013)
  • 290 hp/255 lb-ft of torque; 240/270; TBD

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2012 Jeep Patriot. Photo © Jason Fogelson

If the Jeep Patriot looks familiar, that's because it was designed that way, hailing back to the popular Jeep Cherokee design of the late 1990s. The Patriot hits a sweet spot of capability, style and bargain pricing, delivering the best bang for the buck of any American SUV.

2012 Jeep Patriot base price: $15,995

Major Standard Features:

  • Five-Speed Manual Transmission or CVT with AutoStick
  • Front-Wheel Drive
  • 2.0-liter in-line 4-cylinder engine
  • 141 hp/158 lb-ft of torque

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2012 Jeep Wrangler. Photo © Jason Fogelson

The Jeep Wrangler is quite simply the best off-road vehicle from any major auto manufacturer anywhere on the planet. With the change to the Pentastar V6 engine for 2012, Wrangler's on-road performance has finally reached the point where it is acceptable as a daily driver as well.

2012 Jeep Wrangler base price: $22,045

Major Standard Features:

  • 6-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Four-Wheel Drive
  • 3.6-liter V6 engine
  • 285 hp/260 lb-ft of torque