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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 they 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.

Best Subcompact SUVs

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. Here are some of the best small crossovers.

2018 Mazda CX-3

Edmunds Rating

What's the fun in having a small, light crossover if it doesn't get your heart pounding every once in a while? The Mazda CX-3 is the driver's choice in the subcompact SUV category, with excellent handling characteristics and acceleration that's quick for the class. The CX-3 also delivers impressive fuel economy estimates given how well it accelerates. The trade-offs for this athletic prowess are a cramped back seat and a smallish, though still hatchback-handy, cargo area. Notably, Mazda promises a quieter, more comfortable ride for 2018 with a retuned suspension and additional sound-deadening material. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $21,085
Fuel economy: 29-31 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 44.5 cubic feet

2018 Mazda CX-3 Overview and Pricing

2018 Honda HR-V

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The Honda HR-V is one of the heavy hitters in terms of sales numbers, and with good reason. Along with top fuel-economy ratings and a roomy interior, the HR-V is known for its innovative cargo configurations. The rear seat bottoms can fold up if you want to transport a tall item behind the front seats, such as a bicycle, or you can fold the rear seatbacks down for a totally flat cargo area. The front passenger seat even reclines all the way down so you can load long items. Just make sure you're OK with the rather leisurely acceleration because no engine upgrade is available. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $20,645
Fuel economy: 28-31 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 58.8 cubic feet

2018 Honda HR-V Overview and Pricing

2018 Jeep Renegade

Edmunds Rating

The Renegade's strengths really manifest when you get off the proverbial beaten path. Unlike other small crossovers, the Renegade offers a four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing in Trailhawk trim, so it's a legitimate off-roader if that's what you're into. For those who prefer staying on pavement, the Renegade is pretty nice to drive when you're just tooling around town. Like the CX-3, however, the Renegade has a small cargo area and not much legroom in the back for adults. We're also not stoked about the nine-speed automatic transmission's manners or the Renegade's fuel economy in general. Still, there's plenty of upside with this Jeep. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $19,540
Fuel economy: 24-26 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 50.8 cubic feet

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Jeep Renegade

2018 Jeep Renegade Overview and Pricing

2018 Toyota C-HR

Edmunds Rating

The new Toyota C-HR follows in the footsteps of the Nissan Juke and the Kia Soul, blurring the line between hatchback and crossover while prioritizing style over utility. Its sharp exterior design makes an immediate impression, with eye-catching curves and diamond-shaped elements that are echoed inside. On the road, the C-HR provides unusually sporty handling, thanks to a suspension that Toyota tuned on Germany's famous Nürburgring racetrack. Ultimately, the C-HR's underwhelming engine makes it less fun than the CX-3, while cargo room and tech features are also somewhat lacking. We should also point out that all-wheel drive is not available, which limits the C-HR's appeal in snowy climes. Still, this Toyota is a compelling choice for those looking for a little extra panache in their subcompact SUV. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $23,545
Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 36.4 cubic feet

2018 Toyota C-HR Overview and Pricing

Compare the Best Subcompact SUVs

Best Compact SUVs

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.

2018 Honda CR-V

Edmunds Rating

Popularity isn't always an indicator of quality, but a strong case can be made for the top-selling Honda CR-V. A comprehensive redesign for 2017 restored its status as one of the best compact crossovers. The CR-V's spacious interior provides plenty of room for passengers and cargo alike, while the fuel-sipping turbocharged four-cylinder (standard from the EX model on up) whisks you along with ease. All the latest driver aids and tech features are available, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen interface isn't the most intuitive or attractive system out there, but the CR-V excels in virtually every other category. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $25,125
Fuel economy: 27-30 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 75.8 cubic feet

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Honda CR-V

2018 Honda CR-V Overview and Pricing

2018 Mazda CX-5

Edmunds Rating

As good as the CR-V is, it might be tough finding yours when there are 20 others like it in the Costco parking lot. But it's easy to pick a Mazda CX-5 out of the crowd. Also redesigned just last year, the CX-5 is notable for its striking appearance, inside and out (especially if you order the marvelous Soul Red Crystal exterior paint). Cabin materials feel luxurious — a rarity in this segment — and there's just a sense of occasion with the CX-5 that's typically missing from mainstream crossovers. Additionally, the CX-5's unusually composed handling makes it ideal for those who need an SUV but also want something that's rewarding to drive. Notably, we also chose the 2018 Mazda CX-5 as one of Edmunds' Best Family SUVs. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $25,125
Fuel economy: 26-28 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 59.6 cubic feet

2018 Mazda CX-5 Overview and Pricing

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Edmunds Rating

After a staggering eight years without a full redesign, the Chevrolet Equinox finally gets an overhaul for 2018. Notable characteristics include plenty of interior space, remarkable ride quality and possibly the most user-friendly touchscreen interface in the group. Three engines are available, from a fuel-efficient diesel to a hot-rod, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Although it still seats four adults comfortably, the Equinox is smaller than the previous model. You don't really feel the pinch in the cabin, but put an Equinox next to a CR-V and the Honda's cargo-carrying superiority will be apparent. We'd also note that the Equinox can be significantly more expensive than competing crossovers when you start adding options. Nonetheless, 2018 marks a return to full competitiveness for Chevy's compact SUV. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $24,575
Fuel economy: 24-32 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 63.5 cubic feet

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Overview and Pricing

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen Tiguan, also new for 2018, pulls a reverse Equinox. It's more than 10 inches longer than last year's Tiguan, freeing up additional legroom in the second row and even allowing for a third row for the kiddos. In typical Volkswagen fashion, the cabin design is upscale yet understated. Infotainment is enhanced by standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the top trim gets a nifty digital instrument panel borrowed from Audi. Advanced driver safety aids are standard on most models and available even on the base S trim. The engine isn't much to write home about — it's not as powerful or fuel-efficient as similar turbocharged motors — but the Tiguan is a strong choice for buyers looking for something a little different. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $26,095
Fuel economy: 22-24 mpg combined
Maximum cargo capacity: 65.7 cubic feet

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan Overview and Pricing

Compare the Best Compact SUVs

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Choosing the Best Small SUV for You

Choosing between a subcompact and compact crossover is a personal decision. On one hand, subcompacts are less expensive both upfront and over time since they are typically more fuel-efficient than compact crossovers. On the other hand, many prefer 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 the Edmunds SUV Center 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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