You can find here 13 small SUVs and understand their place under the sun

Small SUVs barged into the market completely changing the automotive landscape and the expectations of fellow drivers. Suddenly, the performance and driving enjoyment that were rather high on the imaginary list of features that customers religiously craved for gave up place to cargo space and connectivity. Now, I am here to rank 13 small SUVs from worst to best. Trying to be as objective as possible, I have compared several main features trying to get a clearer picture. I am comparing the size, engine, cargo capacity, price, and connectivity. The 13 SUVs ranked here do make the bulk of all small SUV segment. Not one of them is longer than 177 inches, and all but one have a wheelbase shorter than 106 inches.

Interestingly enough, some of the most recognizable names that built up the small SUV kingdom aren’t here anymore. SUVs like the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, or the Mazda CX-5, somehow do not feel as little as they did a decade ago. Plus, all of them overshoot my length/wheelbase limit.

Nissan Rogue Sport

The 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport Is Semi-Autonomous But Still Only With An N/A Engine
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It is not that I do not like the Rogue Sport. Still, looking through the specs, it just feels that Nissan did not do any market research to offer anything meaningful for the U.S. small SUV market.

With a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine developing a dismal 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque, the Nissan Rogue Sport is the least potent small SUV on the list.

This is an SUV that needs 11 seconds to do a 0-60 mph run — not appealing at all.

There is a reason for it, however. The Rogue Sport is not the Rogue Sport, but the Qashqai. Completely adapted for the European market, the Nissan Qashqai is an Old Continent sweetheart. There, it is available with a multitude of different drivetrains. This only goes to show how specific the U.S. market really is. The Rogue Sport, as a fantastic car for Europe in its Qashqai guise, is one of the least appealing small SUVs on the U.S. market.

Nissan Rogue Sport specifications
Revealed: January 2017 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the Rogue Sport, and November 2013 in London as the Nissan Qashqai
Dimensions L/W/H: 172.4/72.3/62.5 inches
Wheelbase: 104.2 inches
Rear Leg Room: 33.4 inches
Cargo Capacity: 20/22.9 cubic feet
Towing Capacity: 1,100 pounds
Base Price: $22,340
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, gasoline engine
Horsepower and Torque: 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: XTronic CVT
0-60 mph: 11 seconds (est)
Combined mpg: 27
AWD option (price and availability): $1,350
Base infotainment and connectivity: NissanConnect 7-inch touch-screen display
Basic Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile basic coverage and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage

Read our full review on the 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport

Jeep Compass

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best High Resolution Exterior
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As the most affordable small SUV on the market, the Jeep Compass has a lot going for it. It debuted in 2016 – so, not that long ago. Plus, I’d say that its 2.4-liter engine can provide more thrust than you would get from the Hyundai Tucson 2.0, the Subaru Crosstrek Boxer, or even the Mitsubishi Eclipse 1.5 Turbo. Unlike the Nissan Rogue Sport that enters the market with the CVT, the Jeep Compass comes with a six-speed manual.

That is precisely what makes it the most affordable small SUV on the list. If you want an automatic, add $1,500 on top of the $21,057 sticker.

Its strong points seem to be the quite generous rear legroom and a standard Uconnect infotainment system.

Jeep Compass specifications
Revealed: November 2016 at the Los Angeles International Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 174/71.7/65.0 in
Wheelbase (in): 103.9
Rear Leg Room (in): 38.3
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 27.2
Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds
Base Price: $21,057
Base Engine: 2.4 liter, four-cylinder
Horsepower and Torque: 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
0-60 mph: 10.1 s
Combined mpg: 25
AWD option (price and availability): $1,356
Base infotainment and connectivity: Uconnect® 4 with 7-Inch Display
Basic Warranty: 3 yr./ 36000 mi.

Read our full review on the 2019 Jeep Compass

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best High Resolution Exterior
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Announced as a vehicle destined to change the Mitsubishi outlook on the car market, the Eclipse Cross hit the market following enormous expectations from SUV enthusiasts and customers alike. However, despite taking the name of one of the most recognized Japanese sports cars, the Eclipse Cross somehow feels like a letdown.

It is not the most powerful; it is not the one with the best comfort features, nor with the best engine. In everything it does, it is just average.

And to cite MotorTrend’s review title after its journalists drove the Eclipse Cross for the first time, it is „Meh.“

That is a significant problem for a small SUV that should, basically, save the brand. The one thing where the Eclipse Cross excels, however, is the basic warranty. It is one of the best on the market.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross specifications
Revealed: March 2017 at the Geneva International Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 173.4/71.1/66.3 in
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Rear Leg Room (in): 35.3
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 22.6
Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
Base Price: $22,845
Base Engine: 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged
Horsepower and Torque: 152 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: CVT
0-60 mph: 9 s
Combined mpg: 27
AWD option (price and availability): $1,600
Base infotainment and connectivity: 7-inch display
Basic Warranty: 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile vehicle warranty

Read our full review on the 2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Hyundai Tucson

2019 Hyundai Tucson Exterior
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Honestly, this does not seem fair for the Tucson. It ended up in the middle of the standard small SUVs list, but I feel that it is far better than that. Definitely a lot better than any of the small SUVs listed above.

Nevertheless, the Tucson feels to offer exactly the right amount of space, practicality, reasonability, and sense to be one of the best on the market. Plus, it looks rather nice.

The reason for its less than stellar place on the list lies under the bonnet. While perfectly fine and reliable, the 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated engine does not feel to be the right choice for the Tucson. This SUV needs something better, and that comes in shape of the 2.4-liter, naturally-aspirated engine that develops 181 horsepower. It is a $2,400 option that comes with the SEL trim. I highly recommend that upgrade. Heck, if I was building it for myself, I could not drive it off the car lot without the AWD setup. That’s a $1,400 option, mind you.

Hyundai Tucson specifications
Revealed: March 2015 at the Geneva Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 176.2/72.8/64.8
Wheelbase: 105.1
Rear Leg Room (in): 38.2
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 31
Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
Base Price: $21,850
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, gasoline engine
Horsepower and Torque: 161 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 10 s (est)
Combined mpg: 27
AWD option (price and availability): $1,400
Base infotainment and connectivity: 7-inch color touch-screen
Basic Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles and powertrain coverage: 10 years or 100,000 miles

Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Tucson

Kia Sportage

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best
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Built on the same chassis and platform as the Tucson, the Sportage feels to be its closest sibling, and its closest nemesis at the same time. For the U.S., it packs a bit more premium flavor compared to its Hyundai badged brother. Even in its entry-level form, it comes with the 2.4-liter engine, but you can also get the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine under the bonnet as well.

Considering that the Turbo is available only with the top trim, you'd better get ready to spend more than $33,000 on Kia's small SUV.

The thing is that I think it may be worth it. These vehicles proved to be reasonably reliable and offer rather good value for money. In this case, you get the automatic transmission, fine-looking SUV, and even some nice touches inside like the eight-inch touchscreen. I am tempted.

Kia Sportage specifications
Revealed: September 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 176.4/73/64.8
Wheelbase: 105.1
Rear Leg Room (in): 38.2
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 30.7
Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds
Base Price: $23,990
Base Engine: 2.4 Liter, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 9 s (est)
Combined mpg: 26
AWD option (price and availability): $1,500
Base infotainment and connectivity: 8-inch color touch-screen
Basic Warranty: 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and 5- year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty

Read our full review on the 2020 Kia Sportage

Subaru Crosstrek

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best
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The only reason why the Subaru Crosstrek did not reach the very top of this list is because of its painfully weak engine. Although better compared to the engine in the previous generation XV Crosstrek, the 152 horsepower, naturally aspirated boxer does not seem to be serious enough for the task. On the other hand, the Crosstrek is affordable, and it is the only small SUV with a standard Symmetrical AWD setup. That, in my book, makes it the only real small SUV here.

The problem, however, is that the Crosstrek is not exactly the biggest, the best equipped, or the most powerful.

Plus, you do not have any option whatsoever to increase the power. The only engine available is this 2.0i with 152 horsepower on tap. Not enough. The Hybrid option, while also available, isn’t exactly too impressive. Plus, you can have it only with the most expensive model that is almost $13k pricier compared to the base version. So, while the all-wheel-drive most certainly is one of its most essential features, the Crosstrek’s lackluster performance in other areas certainly curtail it of reaching the top spot on the list of best small SUVs.

Subaru Crosstrek specifications
Revealed: March 2017 at the Geneva Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 175.8/70.9/63.6
Wheelbase: 105.1
Rear Leg Room (in): 35.4
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 22.3
Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
Base Price: $21,895
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, boxer, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
0-60 mph: 10.3 s
Combined mpg: 26
AWD option (price and availability): Standard
Base infotainment and connectivity: Starlink with a 6.5-inch color display
Basic Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and 3-year/36,000-mile limited basic warranty

Read our full review on the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek

Volkswagen Tiguan

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best High Resolution Exterior
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However you may look at it, I feel that the Volkswagen Tiguan is the best small SUV. At least if you forget about the premium side of things. The Tiguan comes with a rather excellent 2.0-liter TSI engine good for 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It is easily the most powerful and the most fun small SUV on this list. Plus, it offers excellent interior quality, an advanced 8-speed automatic transmission, and you can get the 4Motion AWD system for only $1,300 more.

However, Volkswagen does not lowball its bread and butter small SUV.

The Tiguan S, although the least expensive Tiguan available, is still the most costly small SUV on the list of non-premium small SUVs. Again, it undercuts the price of premium offerings by a good eight grand.

Volkswagen Tiguan specifications
Revealed: September 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 176.6/72.4/65.9
Wheelbase: 105.6
Rear Leg Room (in): 36.6
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 37.6
Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
Base Price: $24,945
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 8.6 s (tested)
Combined mpg: 25
AWD option (price and availability): $1,300
Base infotainment and connectivity: 6.5-inch color display
Basic Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile

Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan

PREMIUM SMALL SUVs

It is hard to compare the premium side of things with the standard, generic small SUVs listed above. In that regard, I came up with a list of six rather sweet small premium SUV offerings. Even the least expensive of them is almost $10k more compared to the most expensive non-premium small SUV. I am not sure if you do get that much more gear for your money, but, as you know, no one can put a price on the value of a brand.
Here, you can expect some finer things in life – nicer materials, more powerful engines, and state of the art tech. Some seriously powerful brand names, as well. This list as well shows small SUVs ranked from worst to best.

Mazda CX-30

Small 2019 SUVs Ranked From Worst to Best
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Ok, do not hate me. I did not make a mistake. Mazda always wanted to flirt with the premium side of things, and in this one case, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Just zoom through their cars – they all seem to provide just that much more style and sophistication compared to non-premium competitors.

It is the same case with the brand’s latest small SUV offering – the Mazda CX-30. Sure, it looks much the same as the CX-3 or the CX-5, but size-wise, it falls directly between these two and competes with other small SUVs on this list. So, what makes it more premium than the others?

First of all, it has a fine 2.5-liter engine with 186 horsepower (more than any SUV above).

Second of all, it comes as standard with the MZD Connect setup and an 8.8-inch widescreen center display. And third of all, it looks kinda dashing - far more sophisticated compared to any other non-premium small SUV. So, while I feel that it may be the best of the non-premium SUVs out there, I also feel that it is the worst compared to the premium ones. All in all, the Mazda CX-30 could be the perfect balance between the two groups.

Mazda CX-30 specifications
Revealed: March 2019 at the Geneva Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 173/70.7/60.6
Wheelbase: 104.5
Rear Leg Room (in): 36.3
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 15.2 (up to shelf)
Towing Capacity: 1,322 pounds
Base Price: TBA ($23,000 est.)
Base Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 186 horsepower and 158 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
0-60 mph: sub 9 s (est)
Combined mpg: 28 (est)
AWD option (price and availability): TBA
Base infotainment and connectivity: MZD Connect with an 8.8-inch wide-screen center display
Basic Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, 5-year/60,000 miles

Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda CX-30

Lexus UX

2019 Lexus UX Exterior
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The Lexus UX is one of the latest offerings in this niche premium small SUV segment. While a perfectly lovely SUV, I feel that it is the least attractive and the least unique of all premium SUVs on the list.

Plus, it does not flaunt with power or performance.

With the naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter engine that develops 169 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque, it is the least powerful. Sure, it may be the cleanest of the bunch, and the most efficient, but I do not think that that is enough. The AWD option is available, but only for the UX 250h hybrid.

Mazda CX-30 specifications
Revealed: March 2019 at the Geneva Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 173/70.7/60.6
Wheelbase: 104.5
Rear Leg Room (in): 36.3
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 15.2 (up to shelf)
Towing Capacity: 1,322 pounds
Base Price: TBA ($23,000 est.)
Base Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 186 horsepower and 158 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
0-60 mph: sub 9 s (est)
Combined mpg: 28 (est)
AWD option (price and availability): TBA
Base infotainment and connectivity: MZD Connect with an 8.8-inch wide-screen center display
Basic Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile warranty, 5-year/60,000 miles

Read our full review on the 2019 Lexus UX

Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace
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Jaguar was never really into SUVs. Within the JLR world, the Land Rover should have kept all the SUV fun for them. However, the market wanted Jaguar to create something. After the larger F-Pace, the Brits revealed the E-Pace – a small premium SUV that comes to the U.S. market with a 2.0-liter, 246 horsepower gasoline engine.

As a rather fine looking vehicle, the Jaguar F-Pace can provide some serious, hot-hatch worthy straight-line performance.

It needs only 6.7 seconds to do 60 mph from a standstill. Pretty good. Also, it comes as standard with all-wheel-drive. I find it rather refreshing on this heavily saturated market but it is rather expensive.

Jaguar E-Pace specifications
Revealed: July 2017 in London
Dimensions L/W/H: 173.7/78.1/64.9
Wheelbase: 105.6
Rear Leg Room (in): 35.1
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 24.2
Towing Capacity: 1,653 pounds
Base Price: $39.950
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 6.7 s
Combined mpg: 24
AWD option (price and availability): Standard
Base infotainment and connectivity: TouchPro 10-inch touch-screen
Basic Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile

Read our full review on the 2019 Jaguar E-Pace

Range Rover Evoque

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
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Honestly, I do not know how to measure the goodness of the Range Rover Evoque against the rest of the small premium SUV list.

This is an expensive small SUV that starts at almost $43,000.

Sure, for that, you do get the Range Rover name, an SUV that can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 7 seconds, all-wheel drive, and a lot of displays inside. Still, I am not convinced that all of that is really worth that much. See, the Jaguar E-Pace shares the same tech and features with the Evoque, but it is almost three grand cheaper.

Range Rover Evoque specifications
Revealed: November 2018 in London
Dimensions L/W/H: 172.1/75/64.9
Wheelbase: 105.6
Rear Leg Room (in): 33.8
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 21.5
Towing Capacity: 1,653 pounds
Base Price: $42.650
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 7.0 s
Combined mpg: 23
AWD option (price and availability): Standard
Base infotainment and connectivity: two 10-inch high-definition touch-screens
Basic Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile

Read our full review on the 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q3 Exterior
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The second generation of the Audi Q3 considerably grew in size. Now, this is a small SUV sized basically as the Volkswagen Tiguan. It shares its wheelbase, basic construction, and even some of the features.

While it does have some of that Volkswagen schmeck, the Q3 offers a nicer interior, and it is not as expensive as some of its closest competitors from Britain.

That is important, because, price-wise, performance-wise, and tech-wise, the Audi Q3 seems like a perfect competitor to the Volvo XC40. That is the small SUV that won this list. Now, while I did place the XC40 in a better position compared to the latest Audi Q3, I am not sure that that’s fair. The only thing that made me do it is the extra 20 horsepower offered by the Volvo T5 engine.

Audi Q3 specifications
Revealed: July 2018 at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Dimensions L/W/H: 176.6/73.1/62.4
Wheelbase: 105.5
Rear Leg Room (in): 36.1
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 23.7
Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds
Base Price: $34,700
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic transmission
0-60 mph: 7.0 s
Combined mpg: 22
AWD option (price and availability): Standard (Quattro)
Base infotainment and connectivity: 10.25" digital instrument cluster and MMI® touch response with 8.8" center display
Basic Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi Q3

Volvo XC40

2018 Volvo XC40
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The Volvo XC40 is the first Volvo vehicle created on the novel compact modular platform. And it is a good one. With the longest wheelbase of all small SUVs on this list, the XC40 feels like a perfectly packed small SUV that ticks all the right boxes – the tech, the style, the size, the comfort. The only box the entry-level car does not tick is the AWD one.

However, that is precisely why the Volvo XC40 may be the best car on this list.

If you do want the small premium SUV with AWD, a good brand name, and a lot of power, you have to buy the XC40 T5 Momentum. The least expensive model is the Volvo XC40 T4 powered by an 187-horsepower turbocharged engine. You cannot have the AWD with that one. However, add $2,000 and apart from an AWD you also get the T5, 248-horsepower unit as well. Now, that is something I find fantastic.

Volvo XC40 specifications
Revealed: September 2017 in Milan
Dimensions L/W/H: 174.2/73.3/65
Wheelbase: 106.4
Rear Leg Room (in): 36.1
Cargo Capacity (ft3): 20.7
Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds (braked)
Base Price: $34,345
Base Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower and Torque: 187 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
0-60 mph: 7.8 s
Combined mpg: 27 (est)
AWD option (price and availability): $2,000 (with 284-horsepower T5 engine)
Base infotainment and connectivity: Sensus 9-inch touch-screen
Basic Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile warranty

Read our full review on the 2019 Volvo XC40

The Curious Case of the BMW X2, Toyota C-HR, and Mercedes-Benz GLA

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA High Resolution Exterior
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Somehow, at least in my mind, these three simply cannot reach the list I compiled here. At 58.8 inches of height, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is too low, while, at 171.7 inches in length, the X2, and the C-HR, are just too short. Sure, you may include them in the list with regard to their wheelbase length (X2-105.1 in, C-HR-103.9 in, GLA-106.3 in), but I feel they are better suited for a lower segment.

Read our full reviews on the BMW X2, Toyota C-HR, and Mercedes-Benz GLA

Where are the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and others?

2019 Toyota RAV4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Sure, only some time ago, if someone mentioned any of these names, you would immediately think - small SUVs. However, they are not that anymore. With a length of 181 inches, the latest Toyota RAV4 isn’t small. At all! Heck, since its first appearance in 1994, it grew in size by precisely 17.5 inches. That is humongous. The Honda CR-V, on the other hand, grew by three inches since 1995, while the Rogue always played its part among slightly bigger SUVs compared to any listed in this article.

Read our full review on the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue.

Safet Satara
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