Couple shopping for an SUV at dealership.

Image source: Getty Images. 

It's no secret that SUVs, particularly car-based "crossover" SUVs, are hot. The latest crossover models are roomier than their sedan counterparts, with similar fuel economy and handling -- and buyers are snapping them up in droves.

That trend is making the automakers (and their shareholders) happy, too: Crossovers generally have higher prices and fatter profit margins than their sedan-based counterparts. The trend toward crossovers has driven the average transaction price of a new vehicle in the U.S. to steep levels: $33,131 in March, according to TrueCar.

But you definitely don't have to spend a fortune to put a nice crossover SUV in your driveway. Here are six strong entries that can each be had for less than that average new-vehicle selling price.

A gold Forester SUV on a hilly road

The 2017 Subaru Forester. Image source: Subaru Corporation.

Subaru Forester

No automaker is more committed to the idea of an affordable crossover than Subaru Corporation (NASDAQOTH:FUJHY), which practically invented the concept. All of Subaru's models start at well below our price limit, but the pick is probably its best-selling Forester. A favorite of both Consumer Reports and value-minded snow-country dwellers, the five-passenger Forester comes with all-wheel drive (AWD) standard. The 2.5i Limited model adds features like leather seats and a moonroof, and you can even select a navigation system and premium audio and still keep the price just under our limit.

A red Chevy Equinox crossover in a sunny outdoors setting

The all-new 2018 Chevrolet Equinox is already available at dealers. Image source: General Motors.

Chevrolet Equinox

The five-passenger Chevrolet Equinox is all-new for 2018, and it's a big step forward from its (well-regarded) predecessor. General Motors' (NYSE:GM) advanced "mixed-materials" construction means the new Equinox is both lighter (by about 400 pounds) and roomier than the model it replaces. A nicely equipped Equinox LT with all-wheel drive should come in right under our price limit. If you don't need all-wheel drive, step up to the top-tier Premier model with front-wheel drive for just under $32,000.

A red Honda CR-V SUV parked near a golf course

The 2017 Honda CR-V. Image source: Honda Motor Company.

Honda CR-V

Quick: Not counting full-sized pickups from Detroit, what's America's best-selling vehicle so far this year? If you guessed Honda's (NYSE:HMC) compact CR-V, you'd be right. Demand for the CR-V has been so high that Honda recently rearranged its factory production lines to make more. Why so popular? It's a reliable, comfortable vehicle that offers a lot at a good price. The CR-V starts at just $24,000, and you have to go all the way to a loaded, top-of-the-line Touring model with all-wheel drive (about $34,000) to exceed our limit.

A white Explorer SUV on a hillside

With Ford's current discounts, the 2017 Explorer XLT can be had for under $33,000. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

Ford Explorer

Need to seat seven? On a budget? Don't dismiss Ford Motor Company's (NYSE:F) popular Explorer. While Ford sells a lot of Explorers at well above our price limit, the Blue Oval is offering some discounts on 2017 models that bring an Explorer XLT down to about $30,500. Don't need three rows? Ford's one-size-down Edge is a nice alternative -- and you might find a loaded Titanium model discounted to just under our limit.

A white RAV4 SUV in a hilly outdoors setting

The 2017 Toyota RAV4. Image source: Toyota Motor Corporation.

Toyota RAV4

Right behind the CR-V on the U.S. sales charts is its longtime archrival, Toyota's (NYSE:TM) RAV4. Like the CR-V, the RAV4 has always offered good value for money. The latest model is quieter than its predecessors, with a smoother ride and a generous helping of advanced safety features. The RAV4 starts at about $24,500, with the well-equipped SE model with AWD coming in at about $32,500. A RAV4 with Toyota's well-regarded hybrid drivetrain is also available, starting around $29,000.

An orange Rogue SUV in a tropical waterfront setting

The 2017 Nissan Rogue.

Nissan Rogue

If it seems like Nissan's (NASDAQOTH:NSANY) compact Rogue crossover is suddenly showing up everywhere these days, there's a good reason: Nissan has priced it aggressively and sales are high. There's more than a good price to like, though: The five-passenger Rogue has a nicely trimmed, roomy interior, and it's quieter on the road than many rivals. The Rogue starts around $24,000, with the top-trim SL model coming in just over $31,000 with all-wheel drive. There's also a Rogue Hybrid, priced at about $32,500 in SL trim with AWD.

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Ford. The Motley Fool recommends TrueCar. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.