Best Small Compact SUVs

By

Automotive Editor

Writing professionally since 1999, Matt Milano has covered the automotive industry extensively, writing about the latest technologies, makes and models the industry has to offer. 

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, Automotive Editor - March 18, 2013

SUVs have long been popular for their versatility, roominess and ability to traverse a variety of terrain and weather conditions. The one thing they have not always been known for, however, is economy. That's where the compact SUV comes in. Sharing many of the advantages of its big brother, the compact SUV trades some off- road capability for improved fuel efficiency. The end result is a vehicle that, for most people, is more well-rounded for meeting the needs of today's drivers. These five compact SUVs represent some of the standouts in this segment.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V has an established track records as one of the most compelling compact SUVs on the market. A complete redesign for the 2012 model year only increases its appeal. Buyers should appreciate a more refined cabin with features that make previous models look dated by comparison, including a decrease in road noise. Although the engine and transmission are the same as the 2011 model, the power output and fuel efficiency have both been improved. The front-wheel drive models gets 31 MPG, while even the all-wheel drive model achieves 30 MPG. A refined exterior and top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) round out this excellent choice.

Toyota RAV4

Toyota has long been known for building efficient, reliable vehicles. The 2012 RAV4 is no exception. According to the Polk U.S. Vehicles In Operation statistics, over 80% of all RAV4s sold in the last 15 years are still on the road. With 73 cubic feet of cargo space, available navigation system with voice recognition and an available multimedia system, the RAV4 is a practical option for today's drivers.

Subaru Forester

Few SUVs have done as much to help define the compact market as the Forester. One of its defining features is Subaru's all-wheel drive system, standard on all makes and models. Combined with its impressive clearance, this makes the Forester a capable off-road SUV, despite its “compact” status. A roomy interior, comfortable ride and respectable fuel economy make the 2012 Forester as solid a contender as it ever has been.

Kia Sportage

Unlike previous versions, the 2012 Sportage is a whole new beast...in a good way. Strong lines, upscale looks, a slew of standard features, impressive handling and a quiet cabin make this compact SUV a real head-turner. Add in affordable pricing and Kia's well-known warranty, and Kia has a real winner on their hands.

Ford Escape

The Ford Escape was already a popular model, and the 2013 redesign has only improved it. Gone is the square “truck look,” in favor of a sleeker design that borrows heavily from Ford's European Kuga crossover. When it comes to features, Ford threw everything short of the kitchen sink at the design, equipping the Escape with an impressive list of high tech options and refinements, including a class-exclusive hands-free liftgate. Combined with the available EcoBoost engine, the Escape is a unique SUV combining the best in performance, economy, features, size and refinement.

, Automotive Editor

Writing professionally since 1999, Matt Milano has covered the automotive industry extensively, writing about the latest technologies, makes and models the industry has to offer. 

Follow On: Twitter

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