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Every New Compact SUV Ranked from Worst to Best

Hyundai Nexo

The Hyundai Nexo is certainly something different, but is that a good thing? Depends on what you need and where you live. The Nexo is the only hydrogen fuel-cell SUV sold in the United States, which means you’ll have a tough time finding stations – they’re only in California. Considering you’re already shelling out $53,300, that’s a pretty big consideration.

As for other aspects of the SUV, it has an impressive cruising range that’s much better than electric vehicles. You can expect to get around 380 miles, depending on your driving habits. It also has a pretty spacious interior. Since the Nexo is made well but expensive, and fuel can be challenging, we’ll have to put it at the bottom.

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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a new compact SUV that hit the market in 2018. It hasn’t had many changes, naturally, despite competitors offering something better. While it’s one of the company’s most polished vehicles, it lacks a lot of features that come standard in other makes of the same size.

First, there aren’t any safety features like blind-spot warnings, forward collision mitigation, or lane departure warnings. One bonus of the Eclipse Cross is that it’s surprisingly quiet in the interior, making it a great SUV to drive around town. However, if you hop on the highway, you’ll find that the design doesn’t seem as practical. Basically, the Eclipse Cross is fine – just fine. The MSRP for the basic trim is $22,995.

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Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass looks much better than other Jeep SUVs that are on the market. On top of that, it’s also a lot easier to maneuver compared to models like the Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Cherokee. Regardless, the Compass still has a four-cylinder engine, making it feel underpowered compared to even some sedans.

The Compass has a few pluses, like the excellent infotainment system and useful cargo space. A lot of the effort was put into its off-road capabilities, which makes it somewhat unique. However, the best thing about this compact is its price –$22,105 starting MSRP. It’s satisfying and recognizable but falls behind many of the top SUVs on the market.

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Nissan Rogue

The Nissan Rogue is a well-known compact SUV at this point, and it’s one of the best-selling crossovers on the market. The Rogue has a solid mix of stylish design and comfortable features. The interior is pretty comfortable and quiet as you drive around. The Rogue is also more fuel-efficient compared to other compact SUVs on the market with 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Still, it isn’t perfect. The Rogue feels dull for those that want a little jazz in their drive. That’s mostly thanks to the four-cylinder engine, which feels heavy-handed at best. The infotainment system is also in sore need of an update, especially considering how fast technology is improving. The Rogue is flashy in some ways, but it reflects that in the price, with a starting MSRP of $25,300.

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GMC Terrain

Getting in the GMC Terrain will feel like a luxury version of the Chevy Equinox, but we assure you that it doesn’t come with the same price. The starting MSRP for this compact SUV is $25,000, but we do have to say that it’s a little much for a compact SUV. The GMC Terrain has quite a bit of space, which only grows larger with standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats and fold-flat front seat.

The Terrain doesn’t perform in a few areas. First of all, the interior materials feel cheap. It also has a few complicated controls in the center console that can be difficult to find without directly looking down at them – something you don’t want to do in the middle of driving. The Terrain does have one rare option that may interest some: a diesel option. 

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Jeep Cherokee

If you want off-road capabilities, then look no further; the Cherokee is one of the top compact SUVs This SUV also has a pretty impressive towing capacity as long as you configure it properly. For those that want a day-to-day vehicle that drives around the city and on the highway, we can say that the Cherokee provides a quality ride. It’s smooth and handles pretty well.

Unfortunately, the fuel economy leaves much to be desired (21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway), and the cargo space is “eh” at best. Couple that with the fact you have to pay $27,435 to get four-wheel drive, it may not be the best value for those that don’t go off-road often.

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Ford Escape

The 2020 Ford Escape was redesigned, which was a great decision. The new Ford Escape is slightly longer, wider, and lower than the previous model and has a lower beltline, so the windows are larger. This provides excellent visibility for all passengers and driver. Even though it got bigger, the new Escape also got lighter, which means better driving and better gas mileage (44 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway).

The Escape isn’t perfect, but there aren’t many complaints. The interior can feel a little cheap, and in some ways, it can feel a little unrefined. That being said, it’s not a bad SUV for a starting MSRP of $24,885.

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Jeep Wrangler

Believe it or not, the Jeep Wrangler is considered a compact SUV, and it’s the model that will forever define the Jeep. The 2020 model is getting back to its roots by having a style that’s more reminiscent of the original WWII-era military vehicle. Of course, the Jeep Wrangler has some of the best off-road capabilities of any vehicle out there. Also, we do want to mention you can take off the doors and roof.

The Wrangler has some drawbacks that ticks off some points. The worst is that it isn’t the type of vehicle for someone running day-to-day errands. The cabin is smaller than rivals, and there’s a ton of noise while driving around. It feels much more like a truck than it does typical compact SUVs. For those that want off-road, however, you can’t do better. The starting MSRP is $28,295.

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Chevrolet Equinox

The Chevy Equinox has some definite strengths for those that want a vehicle to drive around for errands but going off-road and power isn’t this SUV’s main goal. As far as pros, the Equinox gets good gas mileage at 26 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway – not top of the line, but good. It also is an easy vehicle to drive.

The cons are that the base engine is underwhelming, which sucks because the 2020 models got rid of the diesel engine option. The Equinox has less passenger and cargo space than many competitors, although it still easily sits five. We think this one is good for new drivers or those that just need to drive around town. The starting MSRP is $23,800.

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Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai is one of the better SUVs to buy, but a lot of that is due to the fact that it’s built really well and has a long warranty. Anyone purchasing a Tucson knows that it’ll last a while. It also has a pretty relaxing ride without too many issues as you increase speeds. Finally, the standard technology is decent enough to please pretty much anyone.

The biggest problem with the Tucson is that the engine options are lacking in speed and power, if that’s important to you. What Hyundai offers doesn’t provide great gas mileage, either – up to 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. It also has below-average cargo space. The Tucson has a starting MSRP of $21,800.

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Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a top contender for the #1 spot. For years, it’s been one of the top SUVs you can buy, and it’s obvious why. The Forester has tons of space despite being a compact SUV, whether you want passenger space or cargo room. It also gets pretty good fuel economy with 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

One of the highlights is that all-wheel drive is standard, as well as rear-seat reminders. Overall, the ride is smooth and quiet, whether you’re driving around town or on the highway. The only negative thing we can say is that the acceleration could be better, but that’s a small complaint. The starting MSRP for the Forester is $24,495.

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Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen has always been the brand you get if you want a smooth ride, but not quite the one you’d choose for power in towing or hauling. The Tiguan excels in ride-quality by providing a refined experience, but that isn’t what we want to focus on. What’s best about the Tiguan is that it has an available third row.

Talk about space – the Tiguan can fit a total of seven people, which is rare for a compact SUV. In addition to this, it also gets great gas mileage at 32 mpg on the highway, according to Car and Driver. That’s not bad considering its borderline mid-size at this point. The Tiguan is great, but it isn’t as quick as other SUVs on the list, so take that as you will. The MSRP of the Tiguan starts at $24,945.

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Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is consistently one of the top compact SUVs on the market. Actually, it’s just one of the top SUVs on the market period. The RAV4 appeals to a lot of people, whether they want something rugged or stylish. One thing we love about Toyota is that there are tons of safety features standard, which (for some reason) can be difficult in other vehicles.

Additionally, the Toyota RAV4 comes with a hybrid model, if that’s your thing. For some, the RAV4 can feel a little too rough, especially since the engine is a bit louder than some other SUVs. Sometimes, it also feels a little less responsive than people want, but you can’t complain about 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Regardless, the RAV4 is a great option for pretty much anyone. The starting MSRP is $25,850.

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Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage is a top buy for many, and for good reason. They’re comfortable, easy to drive, and has quality safety features. The 2020 Kia Sportage isn’t any different. It has a comfortable ride with a nice, quiet interior while also being easy to drive. The infotainment system is also pretty easy to use, and the buttons are arranged intuitively. The cabin is also super roomy for passengers.

That brings us to one of the few drawbacks – there’s a little less cargo than rivals. It also gets below-average fuel economy at 23 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. That being said, we can look past it since safety features, such as driver condition monitor and forward-collision warnings with pedestrian detection, are now standard. The MSRP of the Sportage starts at $23,990.

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Mazda CX-5

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 certainly costs a bit more than other SUVs (starting MSRP $26,490), but it’s worth the price. The CX-5 delivers a high-end experience, making it a little surprising that it doesn’t cost more. For those looking for something that’s fun to drive, Mazda is usually a good choice. The CX-5 has great steering and super responsive driving dynamics, so it makes you feel comfortable while driving.

The only thing to keep in mind is that the Mazda CX-5 has less cargo space than rivals, and some of the tech can feel a little outdated. Those are small things to trade for a quality, fun-to-drive SUV. If Cargo is your main goal, the CR-V may be your best bet.

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Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is an industry leader, so this one ranking so high isn’t much of a surprise. The CR-V has always had a comfortable, quiet ride, and it gets excellent fuel economy with 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The cabin is also super roomy for passengers, and the cargo hold has tons of room.

There are a few downsides, but they honestly don’t outweigh the benefits. Still, we want to bring them up. First, there aren’t a lot of tech features in the base trim, so you’ll likely want to upgrade. Second, the controls can feel a little confusing or frustrating, and it takes some time to get used to them. However, with Honda Sensing safety suite features now standard, this SUV is a great buy. The MSRP is $25,050

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