If there's one thing we've learned over the past few years, it's that Americans love their SUVs. And these days, compact offerings seem to be all the rage. To that end, we've gathered up some of our favorite small-ish utility vehicles that hit all the sweet spots, from utility, efficiency, luxury and yes, even sportiness.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek starts at $21,895, offers standard all-wheel drive, and hey -- you can even get it with a six-speed manual transmission. Equipped with the continuously variable transmission, the Crosstrek is pretty darn efficient, returning 27 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway.
The 2019 Crosstrek now comes with automatic emergency braking on all models, as well as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across all trims.
Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Starting at $49,950, the 2019 Velar is clearly not cheap. But this compact SUV feels far more expensive than it really is. Its minimalist design inside and out makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing vehicles on the road.
The Velar delivers a comfortable, quiet ride with reasonable athleticism and more off-road ability than any owner will ever ask of it.
The Macan does the small-sporty-SUV thing better than pretty much any of its rivals. It's handsome, spacious and super fun to drive. Plus, that Porsche badge ain't for nothin' -- the Macan will outdrive any other sporty crossover on the road today.
For 2019, the Macan S got a brand-new turbocharged V6 engine, and some slightly refreshed style. It's an SUV we'd love to drive every day -- and on some of our favorite roads, too.
The latest-generation CR-V features a lot more style, has a roomier backseat, boats class-leading cargo space, and starts at a reasonable $25,000.
A strong engine lineup includes a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated base engine with 180 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, or a punchy 1.5-liter turbo with 190 horses and 179 pound-feet. The good thing about the turbocharged engine is that peak torque is available from just 2,000 rpm.
The CR-V provides a well-damped ride quality, while also being competent through corners.
The Tiguan is softer than it used to be, but it's also much more spacious, comfortable and quiet than the previous generation. The new look is bold, but also very classic VW.
VW's Car-Net and Digital Cockpit are basically scaled-down versions of the amazing Audi tech we've been raving about for years.
A rare thing among compact SUVs, the Tiggy can actually be optioned with a third row of seats.
Starting at under $25,000, the Mazda CX-5 offers tons of style, inside and out.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine offers 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Whether in all-wheel or front-wheel-drive guise, the Mazda serves up genuine driving fun and excitement behind the wheel.
The post-refresh model is now considerably quieter and better riding than earlier models, with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert standard across all trim lines.
The smaller Mazda CX-3 can be had starting at $20,390. While it's been updated for 2019, Mazda didn't mess with the good stuff. The same 2.0-liter engine is under the hood as last year, though power and torque have increased just slightly.
The rear glass is thicker, which should result in a quieter cabin. The LED taillights out back get a new design as well.
Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on all trims. The base Sport model can be had with an i-ActivSense Package, including such active driving aids as full-range adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and rain-sensing wipers.
A brand-new Volvo for $32,000? Sign us up.
The XC40 doesn't scrimp on kit, even though it's the cheapest Volvo, coming standard with the Sensus Connect infotainment system and the always-great "Thor's Hammer" LED headlights.
Not only does it look good, the XC40 drives really well, too. Fuel economy isn't the best, but life is full of tradeoffs.
Starting at just under $18,000, the Nissan Kicks is a lot of car for the money, and can be had with a truly outstanding Bose Personal Plus audio system.
The Kicks is a great, honest little crossover -- and it's not too shabby to drive, either.
Aside from moderate noise over bumps, this budget crossover is a lot quieter than many of its competitors.
The Forester still has enough of its tall-wagon DNA to make it enjoyable to drive, yet it offers all the practicality of an SUV, starting at $24,295.
Subaru's EyeSight driver-assistance package is among the best available in this category, and while the rest of the Forester's in-cabin tech is a little tame, support for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mostly mitigates that.
A number of 2019 model-year upgrades make the Forester an even better offering in the compact SUV space.