Our favorite small SUVs

If there is 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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Honda
1
of 31

Steven Ewing's pick: Subaru Crosstrek

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. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Subaru

Steven Ewing's pick: Subaru Crosstrek

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Emme Hall/Roadshow

Steven Ewing's pick: Subaru Crosstrek

Equipped with the continuously variable transmission, the Crosstrek is pretty darn efficient, returning 27 miles per gallon city and 33 mpg highway.

Published:Caption:Photo:Subaru

Chris Paukert's pick: Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Starting at $49,900, the Velar is clearly not cheap. However, this compact SUV feels far more expensive than it really is.

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Chris Paukert's pick: Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Its minimalist design inside and out makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing vehicles on the road.

Published:Caption:Photo:Land Rover

Chris Paukert's pick: Land Rover Range Rover Velar

The Velar delivers a comfortable, quiet ride with reasonable athleticism and more off-road ability than any owner will ever ask of it.

Published:Caption:Photo:Land Rover

Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche Macan GTS

The Macan does the small-sporty-SUV thing better than pretty much anything else. It's handsome, spacious and super-fun to drive.

Published:Caption:Photo:Porsche

Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche Macan GTS

Like Porsche's other GTS models, this Macan is the perfect middle ground between the base and Turbo models. It's expensive, but still the best value among Macans.

Published:Caption:Photo:Porsche

Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche Macan GTS

That Porsche badge ain't for nothin' -- the Macan GTS will out-drive any other sporty crossover on the road today.

Published:Caption:

Jon Wong's pick: Honda CR-V

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Honda

Jon Wong's pick: Honda CR-V

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Honda

Jon Wong's pick: Honda CR-V

The CR-V provides a well-damped ride quality, while also being competent through corners.

Published:Caption:Photo:Honda

Antuan Goodwin's pick: Volkswagen Tiguan

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Antuan Goodwin's pick: Volkswagen Tiguan

VW's Car-Net and Digital Cockpit are basically scaled-down versions of the amazing Audi tech we've been raving about for years.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Antuan Goodwin's pick: Volkswagen Tiguan

A rare thing among compact SUVs, the Tiggy can actually be optioned with a third row of seats.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Jake Holmes' pick: Mazda CX-5

Starting at under $25,000, the Mazda CX-5 offers tons of style, inside and out.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Jake Holmes' pick: Mazda CX-5

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

Jake Holmes' pick: Mazda CX-5

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. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

Emme Hall's pick: Mazda CX-3

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:MazdaRead the article
20
of 31

Emme Hall's pick: Mazda CX-3

The rear glass is thicker, which should result in a quieter cabin. The LED taillights out back get a new design as well. 

Published:Caption:Photo:MazdaRead the article
21
of 31

Emme Hall's pick: Mazda CX-3

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:MazdaRead the article
22
of 31

Andrew Krok's pick: Volvo XC40

A brand-new Volvo for $32,000? Sign me up.

Published:Caption:Photo:Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Andrew Krok's pick: Volvo XC40

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Andrew Krok's pick: Volvo XC40

Not only does it look good, the XC40 drives really well, too. Fuel economy isn't the best, but life is full of tradeoffs. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Manuel Carrillo III's pick: Nissan Kicks

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Emme Hall/RoadshowRead the article
26
of 31

Manuel Carrillo III's pick: Nissan Kicks

The Kicks is a great, honest little crossover -- and it's not too shabby to drive, either.

Published:Caption:Photo:Emme Hall/RoadshowRead the article
27
of 31

Manuel Carrillo III's pick: Nissan Kicks

Aside from moderate noise over bumps, this budget crossover is a lot quieter than many of its competitors.

Published:Caption:Photo:NissanRead the article
28
of 31

Tim Stevens' pick: Subaru Forester

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 $22,795.

Published:Caption:Photo:SubaruRead the article
29
of 31

Tim Stevens' pick: Subaru Forester

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 in my book.

Published:Caption:Photo:SubaruRead the article
30
of 31

Tim Stevens' pick: Subaru Forester

A number of 2019 model-year upgrades should make the Forester an even better offering in the compact SUV space.

Published:Caption:Photo:SubaruRead the article
31
of 31
Up Next

2019 Subaru Ascent is a well-rounded family hauler