Below is a list of the consumer top 10 rated affordable compact SUVs for the years 2016 and 2017. Our focus is mainly on 2017.
1. 2016 Honda CR-V: MSRP: $23,845 – $33,495- MPG: 26 City / 33 Hwy.The 2016
Honda CR-V is among the highest-ranking compact SUVs and SUVs with 2 rows. Our analysis of automotive writers’ reviews shows that they appreciate the CR-V’s excellent fuel economy and large cargo area. The CR-V also offers comfortable front seats and spacious rear seats. While the engine has adequate power, the CR-V isn’t as sporty as some competitors. Overall Score: 86%
Pros & Cons:
- Generous rear-seat legroom
- Abundant cargo space
- Very fuel efficient for the class
- Above-average predicted reliability
- Somewhat dull to drive
- 2. 2017 Ford Escape: MSRP: $23,600 – $30,850 –MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy. The 2017 Ford Escape enjoys a major refresh for this model year, and based on the reviews and data that drive our rankings, it sits with the leaders of our competitive compact SUV rankings. The Escape now boasts new and improved turbocharged engine options, advanced driver assistance technologies, and up-to-date infotainment and technology features.
The Escape doesn’t quite make it to the top of our rankings – its lackluster base engine doesn’t help, and while it’s fairly roomy, some rivals are roomier. However, it’s still a top contender and well worth your consideration. Overall Score: 85%
Pros and Cons:
- Lots of cool, user-friendly tech features
- Nimble handling
- Peppy and fuel-efficient turbocharged engine options
- Below-average fuel economy with base engine
2. 2016 Hyundai Tuscon: MSRP: $22,700 – $31,300– MPG: 23 City / 31 Hwy
Our review of the automotive press shows that the fully redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson earns its spot near the top of the class thanks to a roomy, incredibly quiet cabin and a generous list of standard and optional equipment. The Tucson also has a comfortable ride, poised handling, and a smooth powertrain. Additionally, the Tucson has fantastic safety scores and earns fairly good fuel economy.
While there are few complaints with the Tucson, there are some areas where rivals have an edge. For instance, several competitors offer more cargo space, nicer interior materials, and stronger engine options. With the best combination of positive reviews and long-term ownership costs in its class, the Hyundai Tucson is our 2016 Best Compact SUV for the Money. Overall Score: 85%
Pros & Cons:
- Silky powertrain
- Balanced handling
- Exceptional safety scores
- Unimpressive cabin materials
2. 2017 KIA Sportage: -MSRP: $22,990 – $34,000 -MPG: 22 City / 29 Hwy
Sport utility vehicles like the completely redesigned 2017 Kia Sportage have to be all things to all people, which is a hard task. Though it’s not 100 percent successful, the Sportage comes close.
It has a long warranty and an upscale, spacious interior with loads of features. It also strikes a commendable balance between ride comfort and agility. However, it disappoints in a few practical areas that most compact SUV buyers care about, specifically cargo space and fuel economy. Its engine power also isn’t particularly impressive, according to the expert reviews and data that drive our rankings.
All of that is not to say that the Sportage isn’t an excellent SUV. It is. However, these shortcomings keep it from outrunning the top dogs of the segment, namely the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5, and the Hyundai Tucson. Overall Score: 85%
Pros & Cons:
- Quiet, high-end interior
- Lots of available features
- User-friendly dashboard controls
- Spacious seats
- Great balance of ride comfort and sporty handling
- Long warranty
- So-so cargo space
- Mediocre fuel economy
- Unimpressive engine power, even from turbo
5. 2016 Mazda CX-5: MSRP: $21,795 – $29,870, MPG: 26 City / 35 Hwy
Based on the data and reviews that drive our rankings, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is a good choice for those who want to have some fun behind the wheel, as its athletic handling and precise steering make it a joy to drive on winding roads. That sports car agility doesn’t come with sports car power though, as its base four-cylinder engine could use a little more muscle. The available, larger four-cylinder provides more satisfying thrust. Inside, the CX-5 appeals with upscale materials and user-friendly technology. Overall Score: 84%
6. 2016 Nissan Rogue – Overall Score: 82%
- MSRP: $23,330 – $33,400
- MPG: 26 City / 33 Hwy
The 2016 Nissan Rogue is a solid option within the compact SUV class. It offers an elegant interior, impressive fuel economy estimates, and lots of cargo space. It’s a great vehicle for running errands or driving the daily commute. There are some similarly priced competitors that are worth a look before you head to the Nissan dealer, however. A few rivals, like the Mazda CX-5, offer a more engaging performance than the Rogue’s comfort-oriented suspension can deliver, while other competitors, like the Honda CR-V, match the Rogue’s roomy interior and cargo area and have more infotainment and safety features as well. One distinguishing feature of the Rogue compared to most other compact SUVs is the availability of third-row seating, though the third row is only suitable for small children.
7. 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – Overall Score: 81%
- MSRP: $28,370 – $33,610
- MPG: 34 City / 31 Hwy
f you’re looking for a hybrid compact SUV with impressive fuel economy and excellent cargo space, albeit with a high price tag, the 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid makes a great choice in the long run. In the city, it’s a star when it comes to fuel economy. However, on the highway, even some of its non-hybrid class rivals best its miles per gallon. The RAV4 Hybrid’s strong suit is comfort. It offers a pleasant, spacious interior with lots of padded surfaces. The ride is smooth and cushioned. There are hybrid and non-hybrid class competitors that are more fun to drive and have zippier acceleration. The RAV4 Hybrid’s long-term ownership costs are low, however. That fact, coupled with automotive reviewers’ praise, earned the RAV4 Hybrid our 2016 Best Hybrid SUV for the Money award.
8. 2017 GMC Terrain: Overall Score: 80%
- MSRP: $24,070 – $36,025
- MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
Based on our analysis of professional reviews and data, the 2017 GMC Terrain comes in at the top half of our compact SUV rankings. Critics like the Terrain’s powerful available V6 engine, though it’s not terribly fuel-efficient. The interior feels especially upscale for a car in this price range, but the base engine is underpowered, and many class rivals offer more athletic handling.
The Terrain is one of the most expensive SUVs in the class, carrying a starting price of just over $24,000. The base trim has very few available features, so you’ll likely want to step up your trim level to get some of the better offerings. Those features will cost you, though, as many are part of option packages. The high-end Denali trim includes almost every feature, but you’ll pay for it. A fully loaded Terrain Denali will cost you in the low $40,000s, which is an awful lot of money for a compact SUV.
8. 2016 Subaru Forester. Overall Score: 80%
- MSRP: $22,395 – $33,795
- MPG: 22 City / 29 Hwy
For one of the most affordable compact SUVs with all-wheel drive, look no further than the 2016 Subaru Forester. While many of its competitors charge extra for this feature, all Forester models come standard with it. The Forester’s cabin is more utilitarian than chic, with a simple design and durable materials. Both rows of seats are spacious, especially the rear row, which has plenty of legroom. The Forester has more cargo room than nearly every rival, so it’s a great choice if you need a vehicle for hauling.
The Forester’s base engine should be sufficient for most drivers, though you may want to consider the optional turbocharged engine for its extra punch. The Forester stays smooth and composed over bumpy roads, though it does tend to lean a bit around corners, as it isn’t designed with agility in mind. You’ll save money at the pump thanks to the Forester’s excellent fuel economy. However, you may spend more money and time at the mechanic than with other compact SUVs, as the Forester’s predicted reliability rating is below-average for the class.
10. 2017 Chevrolet Equinox: Overall Score: 79%
- MSRP: $23,100 – $31,790
- MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
According to the reviews and data that drive our rankings, the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox is all about comfort – from its incredibly spacious interior to its soft ride. Keep in mind, however, that although the Equinox has a competitive starting price, its lower trims come with few features. Purchasing option packages quickly brings its price closer to that of a luxury SUV.
The Equinox’s seats are some of the roomiest in the class and provide great head- and legroom in both rows. The second-row seats also slide and recline for additional versatility and comfort. Because of the Equinox’s large cabin space, however, cargo room is compromised. While the Equinox’s cargo capacity is just above average for the class, many rivals, like the Ford Escape, offer more, as well as some convenient cargo features like a hands-free liftgate.
When it comes to performance, the Equinox’s dull handling and imprecise steering make for a boring drive. Although it’s not surprising that a compact SUV doesn’t perform like a sports car, there are a few competitors, like the Mazda CX-5, that are agile enough to satisfy a driving enthusiast who wants a practical, affordable family vehicle. The Equinox also loses performance points with its base engine, which has decent power for daily driving but feels labored when pushed on the highway. The available V6 engine makes acceleration a bit livelier, but not enough to justify its additional cost or toll on fuel economy.
Therefore, run for your money and buy the other best compact affordable SUVs listed above.