5 Best SUVs Under $25,000

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PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- With as much white-hot hate as U.S. drivers grew to hold for hulking sport utility vehicles and their ridiculously poor mileage, it's surprising to see the current incarnation of the SUV getting so much love.

Total SUV sales are up 12.4% this year, according to MotorIntelligence, as the era of the crossover takes hold. By ditching the truck axles for car platforms, trimming fuel costs and giving U.S. drivers all of their space without all the added cost, the crossover won over a buyer base that the recession finally sent running from oversized SUVs.

Crossover sales alone are up 14% this year from last year, while small SUV sales have jumped 8.8%. The crossover's 2.5 million sales in the U.S. through September are even starting to challenge those of the venerable midsize sedan, which still holds the lead among vehicle categories with 2.8 million sold.

The problem is that SUVs still, largely, are not cheap automobiles. That $30,000 ceiling does a poor job of containing them, and prices that regularly soar above it have kept even crossover sales at bay.

However, there are a host of crossover SUVs out the that fall just below that mark. With help from Kelley Blue Book, we found five examples of quality SUVs selling for less than $25,000. Among them are vehicles that have earned so much good will for staying relatively affordable that they've found a place among the Top 10 best-selling vehicles in the country: