Everybody likes choices ó and the 2012 Dodge Journey delivers.

The affordable mid-size crossover offers a wide variety in a stylish, nicely equipped package.

For starters, the 2012 Journey is available in 5- or 7-passenger configurations. If you want the third row seating, itís available.

Perhaps the biggest option is under the hood.

In addition to a 3.6-liter V6 engine (283 horsepower, 260 lbs.-ft. torque), Journey buyers also have the option of a 2.4-liter I-4 engine that delivers 19 mpg city, 25 mpg on the highway using regular unleaded gasoline.

For a mid-size crossover, thatís outstanding fuel economy numbers.

You also have the choice of front- or all-wheel drive and with a base price starting below $19,000, buyers also have the choice of six trim levels ó AVP, SE, SXT, Crew and R/T.

There are a lot of things to like about the Journey.†

Although officially designated as a crossover utility vehicle, it looks, rides and does just about everything that an SUV will do.†

While there are some trade offs (most notably in terms of towing capability and ground clearance), the main advantages of crossovers are improved fuel economy and better ride comfort and handling capability on the road.

With escalating fuel prices during the past few years, fuel economy has become a primary factor for consumers when purchasing a new vehicle.†

Itís not surprising that small cars, along with crossovers, are gaining significant market share.

For crossover buyers, itís really the best of both worlds ó SUV versatility and capability, but with a lot better fuel economy.

What makes the Journey stand out in the growing field of crossovers ó aside from providing buyers with lots of options ó is that it delivers a lot of bang for the buck.

My test vehicle this week was the 2012 Journey SXT front-wheel drive and I was impressed with the level of equipment and features.

With a base price of $24,495, the Journey SXT test vehicle came standard with the V-6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, power locks, remote proximity keyless entry, cruise control, premium audio system with Uconnect Touch (with satellite radio/CD player and MP3) as well as audio jack input for mobile devices, dual zone climate control system, second row in-floor storage bins, power windows, tilt and telescoping steering column, illuminated cup holders and 12-volt front and rear power outlets, to name a few.

Standard safety features include six airbags, active head restraints, child seat anchor system, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program, electronic roll mitigation, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and variable intermittent windshield wipers.

The Journey has also received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safetyís Top Safety Pick for the past four consecutive years.

Optional equipment on the test vehicle included the popular equipment group ($995) and voice command with Bluetooth system ($395), bringing the total sticker price to $26,785.

The Journey is a very nice vehicle that delivers excellent fuel economy and features at a very affordable price.

I highly recommend it for a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.