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We ranked the best compact SUVs based on performance, interior quality, technology, and overall value. Read on to see what tops our list.

Abundant Allrounders

The compact SUV, by sheer numbers, is about as ubiquitous as it gets on American roads. As tastes have shifted away from minivans and sedans, those seeking a blend of practicality and drivability have flocked to the smaller, more car-like version of the hulking SUV. And choices in the segment are diverse, from decent off-roaders to stylish canyon cravers to people-moving champions, there’s something here for every buyer. Compact SUVs excel at being the ultimate all-rounders, capable of serving as your weekend adventure vehicle and daily commuter, shipping kids to soccer or taking on the trails with equal aplomb.

10. Mitsubishi Outlander

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander - media.mitsubishicars.com
2022 Mitsubishi Outlander - media.mitsubishicars.com

The Breakdown

Best interior from Mitsubishi currently

Unique, eye-catching exterior

The available S-AWC is nice

Needs a better ride and handling

Easy to see Rogue parts throughout

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
7.6/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$25,795 - $31,945

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
22 City / 29 Hwy (MPG)

The Mitsubishi Outlander received a thorough redesign for the 2022 model year. Developed alongside the Nissan Rogue, the Mitsubishi Outlander shares the same basic architecture. The Outlander differs in two key areas: a nicer, more upscale interior and poorer gas mileage. In fact, at 22 city MPG, the Outlander lags much of the segment when it comes to efficiency. The base price is also on the higher end, but Mitsubishi graces the Outlander with a generous suite of advanced safety features as standard to help justify the sticker price. The Outlander comes with an available third row, a rarity for compact SUVs. The driving experience proved subpar in the Outlander. A tight suspension delivers jolts without any benefit to handling. Overall, the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander looks great, but still has room for improvements.

9. Ford Bronco Sport

2022 Ford Bronco Sport - ford.com
2022 Ford Bronco Sport - ford.com

The Breakdown

Real off-road abilities

Strong fuel economy from base engine

Loads of adventure-centric features

Big motor only on top trim

Tiresome daily driving ride quality

No packages on Base model

Please make a Raptor version

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
7.7/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$29,660 - $36,445

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
25 City / 28 Hwy (MPG)

The Ford Bronco Sport is the compact SUV version of the larger Bronco. As a result, the Bronco Sport offers the practicality of your average crossover while mixing in some above average off-road ability. A locking differential and 8.6 inches of ground clearance are just some of the off-road features that allow the Bronco Sport to excel once you’ve left pavement. It’s the Bronco Sport’s on-road behavior that disappoints. The off-road suspension tuning makes for a bouncy ride around town. The interior offers “adventure” oriented features, like plentiful storage and, in the Badlands trim, a rubberized floor for easy cleaning. But material quality and fit and finish are middling. Standard active safety features like blind spot detection are nice, but many of the most desirable ones, like adaptive cruise control, cost extra. And it’s the cost of the Bronco Sport that’s it’s biggest weakness. Starting at nearly $30,000, the Bronco Sport has one of the highest base prices of any vehicle on this list. If you’re serious about doing some off-roading with your compact SUV, the Bronco Sport is your best option, albeit a spendy one.

8. Volkswagen Tiguan

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan - media.vw.com

The Breakdown

Amped up exterior on R-Line models

High-end standard digital cockpit

Usable legroom in third row

Semi-autonomous driving capability

Needs an optional motor with more power

Crisp European looks add class to the segment

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
7.8/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$27,190 - $37,790

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
23 City / 30 Hwy (MPG)

The Volkswagen Tiguan provides one of the segment’s better interiors and a host of advanced driver assistance features. A composed ride and available third row round out a decent compact crossover. Interior design is on the conservative side, but material and build quality are high. The infotainment system is one weak point. From a smaller than average screen to a clunky interface, the Tiguan’s infotainment tech feels a bit dated, though the digital cockpit helps balance things out. The Tiguan could use a more potent engine option than the turbo four-cylinder it carries, the crossover doesn’t feel overly sluggish thanks to its smooth 8-speed automatic and well-tuned suspension. Fuel efficiency is acceptable, if not impressive. The third row is a nice option, but as you’d expect in a vehicle of this size, better for kids than full-grown adults. For one of the segment’s more refined interiors, the Volkswagen Tiguan is worthy of consideration.

7. Kia Sportage

2022 Kia Sportage - kiamedia.com
2022 Kia Sportage - kiamedia.com

The Breakdown

Appreciate Kia’s powertrain warranty

Turbocharged engine adds serious pep

Smartphone mirroring software is standard

AWD is an option on all trim levels

Nearly $35K for top trim is steep

A well-rounded SUV that’ll only improve

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.2/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$24,090 - $33,750

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
23 City / 30 Hwy (MPG)

The playing field evens out once we move to the Kia Sportage. It and most of the crossovers that follow in our rankings offer a great balance of features and affordability. For the Kia Sportage’s part, there’s a lot to like. An optional 2.0L turbocharged engine makes 240 horsepower, for added kick if you need it, but at a cost to fuel economy. The alternative is the Sportage Hybrid, with 43 combined MPG. Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a welcomed bonus to an already impressive infotainment system. The Sportage’s interior is well-wrought and roomy, with plenty of space for rear seat passengers and cargo alike. The 2022 is the last model year prior to a next generation update for 2023. Some may be tempted to wait, but we’d remind shoppers that later gen vehicles tend to be well sorted from an engineering perspective. Couple that with one of the industry’s strongest warranties at 10 years / 100,000 miles and the 2022 Kia Sportage looks like a strong long-term vehicle.

6. Nissan Rogue

2022 Nissan Rogue - nissanusa.com
2022 Nissan Rogue - nissanusa.com

The Breakdown

Impressive fuel economy

New (and better) powertrain

Long list of standard safety features

Comfortable ride

AWD available on all trim levels

Good space in cargo area

Just one powertrain option across lineup

Wireless charging only for top trim

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.3/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$26,850 - $36,630

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
28 City / 35 Hwy (MPG)

The Nissan Rogue makes it case based on an improved powertrain, roomy interior, and well-equipped base trim level. A new 1.5L three-cylinder engine grants the Rogue with some of the best non-hybrid fuel economy in the class. And while handling is good, the new engine’s fuel sipping makes for lackluster acceleration. A smooth ride and optional all-wheel drive at all trim levels help round things out. The Rogue’s interior is well-designed and material choice is of a high quality. The cabin is spacious with some of the best cargo capacity you’ll find in a compact SUV. A higher-than-average starting price, at $26,850, is balanced by the generous number of standard features and the latest in safety tech. Comfortable and efficient, the Nissan Rogue demands consideration.

5. Hyundai Tucson

2022 Hyundai Tucson - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Tucson - hyundaiusa.com

The Breakdown

The new design looks great

Its update interior is a plus

Updated technology and features

It offers a nice controlled ride

The powertrain is weak

Possibly a sport-oriented option

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.3/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$26,135 - $35,885

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
26 City / 33 Hwy (MPG)

The Hyundai Tucson is a badge-swapped twin to the Kia Sportage, but good looks both inside and out help it pull slightly ahead of its sibling. The Tucson’s interior is one of the best in the segment with a smart and modern design and quality materials. The base engine offers good fuel economy, but like the Sportage, is a little slow off the line. To compensate, there’s the Tucson Hybrid with 226 horsepower and an excellent 43 MPG combined. The infotainment system is quick to respond and intuitive to use. Our one gripe was the lack of physical buttons for things like volume and HVAC controls. For a good dose of both style and substance, the Hyundai Tucson is a great option.

4. Subaru Forester

2022 Subaru Forester - subaru.com
2022 Subaru Forester - subaru.com

The Breakdown

Impressive off-road chops

Stand out styling

Highly configurable design

Lack-luster engine available

Lazy continuously variable transmission

We miss the Forester XT

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.5/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$25,795 - $36,995

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
26 City / 33 Hwy (MPG)

The Subaru Forester, like the rest of Subaru’s lineup, leans hard on its standard all-wheel drive and improved interior. The Forester features an airy greenhouse with stellar outward visibility and loads of room for passengers both front and back. We also admired the Forester’s good looks and stylish interior finish. Tech is good, with a responsive infotainment system and standard Subaru EyeSight driver assist technology. Our biggest gripe was with the powertrain. Fuel economy is good, but we’re surprised there’s no hybrid. The lack of a turbocharged option, which the Outback gets, leaves the Forester the slower of the two Subarus. But with a segment-leading 8.7 inches of ground clearance and that standard all-wheel drive, the Forster largely lives up to the marketing hype as an excellent outdoorsy option in a segment dominated by grocery getters.

3. Honda CR-V

2022 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2022 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com

The Breakdown

Peppy performance

Endlessly practical storage space

Classy interior

Not the best at any one thing

Drab styling

LX trim is too spartan

Can we have a modern infotainment system, please?

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.5/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$25,750 - $35,550

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
28 City / 34 Hwy (MPG)

Speaking of roomy, high-quality interiors, those are just some of Honda CR-V’s strong suits. A modest 1.5L four-cylinder makes 190 horsepower, but the it’s the CR-V’s handling that shines. An excellent chassis and well-tuned suspension mean the CR-V handles impressively, especially considering the segment it occupies. For maximum fuel economy, the hybrid version gets 40 city / 35 highway MPG. A rather conservative exterior design is contrasted with a lovely interior that perfectly marries form and function. But it’s spaciousness that earns the CR-V its highest marks, with 39.2 cu-ft behind the rear seats and over 75 cu-ft with them folded down. All your expected options and modern tech features are here, though more than we’d like are excluded from the base model. The Honda CR-V needs to be on your short list thanks to its all-roundness and solid build quality.

2. Toyota RAV4

2022 Toyota RAV4 - toyota.com
2022 Toyota RAV4 - toyota.com

The Breakdown

Plug-in hybrid is an efficiency champ

TRD makes the most of a square-jawed design

6 standard driver-aid systems

Fancy digital rearview mirror

$44K for a RAV4?

A compact crossover with everything

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.6/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$27,440 - $44,340

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
27 City / 35 Hwy (MPG)

There are good reasons the Toyota RAV4 is American’s top-selling SUV. Toyota’s reputation for quality and reliability combines with a generous standard trim and a host of powertrain options for one of the best compact SUVs around. Long gone are the days of boring Toyota designs. Today’s RAV4 is about as bold as they come in the segment, especially the rugged TRD-Pro trim. One of the RAV4’s strongest attributes is its list of available powertrains. The standard 2.5L inline-four is joined by a hybrid that adds an electric motor for 39 MPG combined as well as a plug-in hybrid version, the RAV4 Prime, that offers 302 horsepower, brisk acceleration, and 42 miles of electric only range. A smooth and comfortable ride is the consolation for a somewhat dull driving experience. The RAV4’s interior leans more toward function that stylishness. Materials are of a high quality and evidently durable, but design isn’t as aggressive inside as it is outside. Infotainment is decent if a bit slow compared to rivals, and there’s always the RAV4’s standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as an alternative. The Toyota RAV4 does so many things right, it’s easy to overlook its few shortcomings.

1. Mazda CX-5

2022 Mazda CX-5 - mazdausa.com
2022 Mazda CX-5 - mazdausa.com

The Breakdown

Amplified luxury looks on Turbo Signature

Plenty of oomph from the turbo motor

Standard 10.25″ infotainment display

Standard AWD only $530 above base price

Smaller cargo space than most competitors

A sharp-dressed crossover at a reasonable price

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CARSFORSALE.COM SCORE
8.7/10

How Do We Score?

CarsForSale.com takes into account key metrics to compile an aggregate score. Click to learn more.

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MSRP
$27,125 - $39,875

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BEST FUEL ECONOMY
24 City / 30 Hwy (MPG)

It should come as no surprise that the company that brought you the Miata offers the very best driving compact SUV in the segment. The Mazda CX-5 is stylish, sophisticated, fun to drive, and affordable. The combination of these qualities put it at the top of our list. Foremost is the distinguished driving experience. The CX-5 starts with a decent 2.5L inline-four as it’s base engine. But once turbocharged, horsepower climbs to 225 and the fun really starts. To compliment the added power, the CX-5’s suspension is expertly tuned and perfectly compensates for the taller vehicle by minimizing body lean and providing nimble cornering. Fuel economy isn’t stellar, however, and we felt a hybrid option might be a nice addition. Inside, the CX-5 rivals many luxury-level crossovers. From material choice to design to comfort, the CX-5 is a class above its segment peers. Infotainment is responsive and intuitively designed, and Mazda’s safety suite of driver assist features comes standard. One of the CX-5’s few weaknesses is in cargo capacity, at just 59.3 cu-ft, it’s well below average. This and the entry price for the turbocharged engine, at $37,625, are all we can find to complain about. Great looks and an enjoyable drive make the Mazda CX-5 a standout in a crowded and competitive segment.

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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