Best Small SUVs

The Top-Rated Subcompact and Compact SUVs for 2021
February 9th, 2021

Best Small SUVs

Small SUVs have exploded in popularity over the past few years, even though they are usually more expensive than comparable hatchbacks or sedans. It's easy to see why, considering that small SUVs provide a commanding view of the road ahead and a more spacious cargo area than traditional cars, as well as available all-wheel drive. This irresistible blend of visibility and utility, with a little rugged styling thrown in, makes compact and subcompact SUVs appealing to a wide range of new-car shoppers.

Determining which small SUV is right for you can be tough since there are dozens of models to consider. That's why the Edmunds experts rate and review every SUV on the market — so you don't have to. Based on our own vehicle testing, we've put together this guide to help you narrow down your search for the best small SUV.

What is a subcompact SUV?

A larger compact SUV may make sense for families or people who frequently travel with friends, but you'll pay more for the added utility, and you'll also have a harder time parking the thing. If you don't need all that space or you just want to save a few bucks (who doesn't?), consider a smaller subcompact SUV instead. You still get the elevated ride height and useful cargo bay of a crossover, but you'll enjoy easier parking and likely better fuel efficiency too.

What is a compact SUV?

If a subcompact SUV just doesn't work for you — whether you require extra room, a nicer interior, better ride quality or more power — it's time to try the next size up. Compact crossovers have been around for decades and are certainly more practical as long as you don't mind driving a larger vehicle. They're typically more expensive than subcompacts, but many shoppers will find the upgrades to be worth the premium.


Best Subcompact SUVs

Starting price (including destination fee):
$23,000
Fuel economy:
25-28 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
45.2 cubic feet

2021 Mazda CX-30

Starting price (including destination fee):
$25,195
Fuel economy:
28-31 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
50.2 cubic feet

2021 Buick Encore GX

Starting price (including destination fee):
$21,685
Fuel economy:
27-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
45.8 cubic feet

2021 Hyundai Kona

Starting price (including destination fee):
$22,395
Fuel economy:
28-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
58.8 cubic feet

2021 Honda HR-V

Starting price (including destination fee):
$18,765
Fuel economy:
27-31 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
62.1 cubic feet

2021 Kia Soul

Starting price (including destination fee):
$23,295
Fuel economy:
25-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
55.3 cubic feet

2021 Subaru Crosstrek


Best Compact SUVs

Starting price (including destination fee):
$26,525
Fuel economy:
29-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
75.8 cubic feet

2021 Honda CR-V

Starting price (including destination fee):
$26,745
Fuel economy:
28-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
74.1 cubic feet

2021 Nissan Rogue

Starting price (including destination fee):
$26,370
Fuel economy:
24-28 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
59.6 cubic feet

2021 Mazda CX-5

Starting price (including destination fee):
$25,845
Fuel economy:
29 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
76.1 cubic feet

2021 Subaru Forester

Starting price (including destination fee):
$24,885
Fuel economy:
23-25 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity:
61.9 cubic feet

2021 Hyundai Tucson


Choosing the best small SUV for you

Choosing between a subcompact and compact crossover is a personal decision. On the one hand, subcompacts are less expensive both up front and over time since they are typically more fuel-efficient than compact crossovers. On the other hand, many prefer the additional interior space, improved ride quality, more upscale cabin and expanded features list of a compact, even though these models cost a bit more.

Before you head to your nearest dealer, we recommend assessing your needs to decide which vehicle type is best for you. From there, read Edmunds' expert reviews of specific vehicles to narrow down the field of subcompact or compact SUVs. With impressions from behind the wheel and a comprehensive breakdown of trim levels, these reviews can be invaluable in your shopping journey.

Next steps

While this list highlights some of the best small crossovers, it is by no means a comprehensive list of all subcompact and compact SUVs. Be sure to check out our SUV Rankings to find the most up-to-date information. And once you've picked out your perfect car, use Edmunds' inventory search tools to find a match at a dealership in your area.


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The Best SUVs for 2020 & 2021 — The Top-Rated Small, Midsize, Large, Luxury SUVs and Crossovers

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