People have fallen for SUVs because of their ride height, easy-access hatches and extra space for passengers and cargo. Small SUVs stuff these attributes into handy subcompact and compact packages. All-wheel drive (AWD), which improves traction, can be a great addition to a nimble, little SUV for people who face rain or snow in their daily commutes.
With that in mind, here are a dozen small all-wheel-drive SUVs that rate with us. All of them have a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price under $35,000 (before destination charges). Some are well below that figure, leaving room to add a cold-weather package, heated mirrors, heated seats or other hedges against rotten weather. Additionally, each has an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 25 mpg or better, which holds down ownership costs and benefits the environment, too. Because it's a mix of subcompact, compact and small SUVs, we've listed the cars alphabetically and numbered them for shopper convenience, not for rank.
As you shop, you will likely find better prices than those shown here, particularly if incentives are available. Another money-saving option is to check for Edmunds Price Promise® offers on these cars. Finally, you may want to consider buying winter tires, which will give you even more driving confidence when conditions are against you.
The completely redesigned 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i has strong acceleration and responsive handling, which are rare qualities in a small crossover SUV. It's the priciest vehicle on our list, though, with a starting MSRP of $34,800, and it's also not as spacious as many mainstream choices. But if you like luxury, the X1's premium vibe may be hard to resist. EPA fuel economy ratings stand at 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway), a laudable showing for an all-wheel-drive crossover with 228 horsepower.
Thanks to its quiet cabin, user-friendly technology features and truly compact size, the 2016 Buick Encore is worth a look if other crossover SUVs seem too large. However, the Encore's modest performance and interior space may give you pause. Starting MSRP with AWD is $25,565. The 2016 Buick Encore AWD gets 26 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway).
If you're looking for a compact SUV, the 2016 Honda CR-V is one of your best bets. A spacious, feature-packed cabin and ample cargo space outweigh the minor disappointment that the CR-V doesn't offer a more powerful engine. Starting MSRP with AWD is $25,045. The 2016 Honda CR-V AWD gets 27 mpg combined (25 city/31 highway).
Honda is renowned for producing efficient, fun-to-drive and fun-to-own vehicles at affordable price points. Based on the Fit hatchback, the subcompact 2016 HR-V pairs that model's exceptional space efficiency with cool crossover styling and a unique interior layout. Starting MSRP with AWD is $21,315. The EPA pegs the 2016 Honda HR-V AWD's fuel economy at 29 mpg combined (27 city/32 highway), though the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine delivers subpar and sometimes noisy acceleration.
With its head-turning style, modern technology and available turbocharged performance, the redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson is a desirable model in the compact crossover segment. Starting MSRP is $24,100 for the SE AWD trim level, but we're not fans of the sluggish 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that comes with it. You're better off stretching to the 2016 Hyundai Tucson Eco AWD, which starts at a reasonable $25,550 and upgrades to a peppy turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that gets 27 mpg combined (25 city/31 highway) to the SE AWD's 23 mpg combined (21/26).
The subcompact Jeep Renegade is ready to hit the trails when properly equipped, yet it's also a practical errand-runner that's right at home on the pavement. Starting MSRP with AWD is $19,995. With the base turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, the 2016 Jeep Renegade AWD gets 27 mpg combined (24 city/31 highway), but the only transmission is a six-speed manual. The optional 2.4-liter engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that we've found troublesome at times, and its fuel economy with AWD drops to 24 mpg (21/29).
Stylish, nimble and well-equipped, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is a standout among subcompact crossover SUVs. Starting MSRP with AWD is $21,210. The 2016 Mazda CX-3 AWD comes with a capable 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 29 mpg combined (27 city/32 highway).
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 brings an engaging driving experience, fuel-efficient engines and roomy, comfortable seating. Notable improvements this year include a welcome update to the infotainment interface and an available safety package that adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Starting MSRP with AWD is $24,445. The 2016 Mazda CX-5 AWD gets 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway).
It might not be love at first sight, but a drive in the subcompact 2016 Nissan Juke could have you seeing the inner beauty of Nissan's feisty hatchback/crossover creation. The MSRP for the base Juke S AWD trim level is $22,100, and that includes a 188-hp turbocharged engine with plenty of punch. Fuel economy is 28 mpg combined (26 city/31 highway), a very good result given the engine's elevated performance. On the downside, the Juke's cramped interior and firm ride narrow its appeal.
The all-wheel-drive 2016 Subaru Crosstrek is worth a look if you're seeking year-round versatility in a small package, although its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is relatively short on both zest and refinement. Essentially an Impreza hatchback with sturdier equipment and a higher ride, the Crosstrek's starting MSRP is $21,595 with a five-speed manual transmission that returns 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway). For an MSRP of $23,395, you can have a better-equipped Crosstrek with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which ups the fuel economy to 29 mpg combined (26 city/34 highway). We do not recommend the Crosstrek Hybrid, which received an Edmunds "C" rating for 2014 and hasn't changed much since.
The 2016 Subaru Forester's well-rounded nature makes it a solid choice in its class, though other small crossover SUVs may outdo it in individual areas. For an MSRP of $22,395, the 2016 Subaru Forester comes equipped with standard AWD, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. A CVT can be substituted for $1,000 more. Higher up the price ladder, there's a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that cranks out 250 hp. The base engine returns 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the CVT and a bit less with the manual, while the turbo holds its own at 25 mpg combined (23/28).
12. 2016 Toyota RAV4
Significantly updated this year, the 2016 Toyota RAV4 offers an appealing combination of features, passenger space and everyday utility, along with strong expected resale value. Starting MSRP with AWD is $25,750, and fuel economy checks in at 25 mpg combined (22 city/29 highway). If that doesn't impress you, the new 2016 RAV4 Hybrid gets a stellar 33 mpg combined (34 city/31 highway), though its starting MSRP rises to $28,370.