Small SUVs is a term used to describe a group of small crossover utility vehicles aimed at the niche market of urban families who don’t need four-wheel-drive. These small SUVs have also been referred to as subcompact SUVs, compact crossovers and subcompact crossovers, although these labels can be confusing because many of the vehicles are not technically either a compact SUV or a subcompact crossover.
These small SUVs have ride characteristics that are somewhere in between SUVs and passenger cars. They have more cargo space than a traditional passenger car, but less cargo space than a mid-size SUV.
In this article we will look at the most popular small SUVs currently available.
Types of Small SUVs
The HR-V is the smallest and most affordable in Honda’s growing lineup of CR-V derivatives. The HR-V comes with impressive standard features such as an anti-lock braking system (ABS), dual-stage front airbags and an active headrest system.
The HR-V is available in either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission, although the CVT isn’t always a great match for the vehicle’s brisk acceleration. There are three trims to choose from – the LX, EX and EX-L. All trims come standard with a rearview camera, but the EX-L adds a proximity key and push-button start, leather seats, heated front seats, satellite navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen display. The top trim also gets 17-inch alloy wheels as well as foglights and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The HR-V is a fairly compact vehicle that has plenty of room even for taller adults and ample cargo space.
The Hyundai Kona small SUV offers good fuel economy and solid performance for a subcompact crossover. It comes with standard equipment such as LED daytime running lights, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and leather seats. The Kona also has Hyundai’s Blue Link system which allows owners to remotely access their vehicle via mobile phone apps.
There are two engine available – a 1.6-litre four-cylinder that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that kicks out 175 hp and 195 lb-ft. The smaller engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the larger engine comes with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The smaller engine is front-wheel drive while the bigger engine can be fitted with either front or all-wheel drive (if equipped).
The Jeep Renegade small SUV is a budget-friendly alternative to the larger and more expensive models. It offers standard equipment such as an 8-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry, heated front seats and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Renegade also comes with advanced safety features such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.
The Renegade is available with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder that delivers 173 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Both engines can be mated to either a 9-speed automatic or manual transmission. The 2.4 is only available with front-wheel drive, while the 1.4 can come equipped with either front or all-wheel drive (if equipped).
The little crossover has a lot of luxury features, although it doesn’t always handle as well as one might expect for an SUV. The Renegade is also noisy at highway speeds, but it has a fairly comfortable ride for an SUV of its size.
The Toyota C-HR is the cheapest vehicle in Toyota’s lineup of small SUVs. It doesn’t have as much cargo space as some of its competitors, but it does offer a roomy interior and a well-equipped interior for the price. The C-HR comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense package which adds forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist and automatic high beams.
The C-HR is available in three trims – the L, XLE and Limited. All trims come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a backup camera and keyless entry. The XLE adds heated front seats, a 7-inch touchscreen display with satellite navigation, dual zone automatic climate control and SofTex upholstery. The Limited adds 18-inch alloy wheels along with push-button start, leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
The C-HR may be small, but it doesn’t feel like it. The ride is fairly comfortable, while the cabin is well kept and quiet at highway speeds. The turbocharged engine makes for good performance while providing ample fuel economy in the city or on the highway.
The Kia Seltos is a stylish and affordable option in the small SUV segment. It offers a lot of cargo space and an upscale interior for a reasonable price.
The Seltos is available with two different engines – a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 177 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, or a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that offers 192 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Both engines can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The 2.0 is only available with front-wheel drive, while the 1.6 can come equipped with either front or all-wheel drive (if equipped).
The Seltos has a large interior that is well laid out and easy to use. It also offers good fuel economy along with lots of equipment as standard – including 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, a 7-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry and LED headlights.
Kia Seltos also offers a UVO eServices option that allows owners to monitor the vehicle with their smartphones and control functions such as climate control and charging through an app.
The Volkswagen Tiguan small SUV comes with standard equipment such as an 8-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry, automatic climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. It is available in either a 2.0 or 2.0 turbocharged litre four-cylinder engine, both of which are mated to either a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission or 6-speed manual. The 2.0t can be purchased with front or all-wheel drive (if equipped).
The Tiguan comes with Volkswagen’s Safety and Driver Assistance tech package as standard. It includes pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning and automatic high beams. The vehicle also comes with a tire pressure monitor system, which is less common in small SUVs.
The Tiguan is a comfortable vehicle, but it isn’t the most fun SUV to drive. It’s quick off the line, although it doesn’t handle as well as one would expect for an SUV. There’s plenty of cargo space on offer for this class of small vehicles, while the cabin can seat up to five people comfortably. The climate control system is also good at keeping the cabin cool and comfortable.
The Chevy Trax small SUV offers a unique design. It doesn’t have the best performance or features, but it gets decent fuel economy for an SUV of its size and comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment.
The Trax comes with an equally unique interior design, which may or may not be for you. The vehicle is offered in either a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 2.0 diesel engine, both of which are mated to either 6-speed automatic transmission or 7-speed dual clutch automatic. The Trax is capable of seating up to five adults comfortably. There’s a lot of cargo room available as well, and it can be increased further if you fold the rear seats down.
The Mazda CX-3 is a stylishly designed small SUV that comes standard with several features including a 7-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry and automatic climate control.
It’s available with two different engines – 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 186 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. Both engines can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission that manages the power very well for a vehicle in this class.
The CX-3 has plenty of cargo room, and the rear seats can fold down if you need even more space.
The Audi Q2 offers a sleek design that’s made to look like an A3 hatchback from the outside, but it offers car-like driving dynamics and lots of features as standard equipment – including a 7-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry and automatic climate control.
It’s available in two different engine options – a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 170 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, or a 2.0 litre turbocharged four cylinder producing 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque mated to a 7-speed S tronic transmission.
It isn’t the most fun SUV to drive, but it’s comfortable and comes with tons of safety features such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision warning.
The BMW X1 is one of the best small SUVs. It has a sporty design, comes standard with several features you won’t find in other vehicles, and handles very well for an SUV. It also has a lot of safety features that aren’t available in other vehicles in this class, even more affordable ones – including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning.
The new generation X1 is available with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 231 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque mated to either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s also offered as an xDrive28i model, which comes with all wheel drive instead of front wheel drive, while the other trim levels are rear wheel drive only.
The X1 handles very well and has impressive acceleration, despite its four-cylinder engines. It can get decent fuel economy for an SUV in this class too.
The Cadillac XT5 is a beautifully designed SUV that offers tons of features as standard equipment and it drives extremely well. It isn’t the roomiest SUV in this class, but it does have enough space for luggage and storage.
If you need additional cargo capacity, the XT5 can be ordered with a third row of seats that folds flat into the floor when not in use. The second row of seats can also fold down if you need even more space than that.
The XT5 comes standard with several features including a 10.2-inch touchscreen display, keyless entry and automatic climate control. It also comes with a powerful V6 engine that can tow up to 4500 pounds when properly equipped.
Citroen C4 Cactus
The Citroen C4 Cactus is a unique design and it’s able to drive very nicely. It’s fun to drive, roomy, reliable and fun when equipped with the turbocharged engine.
The engine can be mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, and the C4 Cactus is offered with either front wheel drive or optional all wheel drive.
It comes standard with several features including parking sensors, cruise control and an 8-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth technology. The exterior design is unique too, giving it a unique personality.
The Subaru Crosstrek is an extremely practical vehicle that has a lot of cargo room for its size. It can be equipped with all wheel drive if you live in areas where it snows a lot, and the engine comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT automatic transmission.
The Crosstrek is equipped with a 1.6-litre boxer-four engine that produces 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, mated to either transmission. It also has standard body side cladding that gives it a rugged appearance, regardless of what color you choose for your vehicle.
The Nissan Qashqai is a very popular small SUV. It’s one of the most affordable vehicles in this class, but it has a very nice exterior design and comes with plenty of standard features.
It comes with a 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 187 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a 7-speed automatic CVT or 6-speed manual transmission. It’s also available with all wheel drive for added safety in bad weather.
The Qashqai has a roomy interior, lots of cargo space and it’s very easy to drive. The only downside is that there isn’t a lot of legroom in the rear seats.
The Ford Puma is based on the Fiesta platform. It drives extremely well and has plenty of space for luggage in the rear hatch area. It’s a very roomy vehicle for its size, and it comes with lots of standard features as well.
The Puma is available with a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces 134 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque coupled to either a six speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. It also comes with a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen display and keyless entry.
The Volvo XC40 is a very well built vehicle that drives extremely well. It offers tons of features and it comes with all wheel drive as an option. It’s very comfortable to drive and it has a modern interior with lots of storage space.
It’s equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and you can choose between front wheel drive or optional all wheel drive, depending on your preferences and driving conditions.
The Porsche Macan is an extremely sporty vehicle that drives very well. It’s the performance of a sports car combined with the space and practicality of a small SUV, so it’s great for going on long road trips.
The Macan has a lot of trunk space and can be equipped with all wheel drive or optional air suspension to improve handling in bad weather.
The engine can be mated to either a manual or automatic transmission, but it’s equipped with a V6 that produces 340 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque. It’s also available as an S model, which ups the ante with more power and lots of extra features.
The Lincoln Corsair is the brand’s first attempt in a long time at building a vehicle based on its own platform. It also has one of the most stylish and modern designs out there, at least when it comes to small SUVs.
It offers an extremely roomy interior with plenty of cargo space for your luggage and other items. The engine can be mated to either a 6-speed auto or 7-speed turbocharged manual transmission, and it’s front wheel drive by default.
The cabin is very modern and comfortable, with soft leather seats that offer plenty of room for the driver and passengers. The only downside is that it has a very low ground clearance, so if you live in an area with hilly terrain it’s not the best choice.
What makes small SUVs so unique?
Small SUVs are a great combination of size, power and off-road ability. They usually offer 4×4 capabilities, making them excellent vehicles to drive in all kinds of conditions, from snowy winter roads to unpaved forest trails. They have plenty of space for luggage and several people can fit inside comfortably.
Most of them offer very good gas mileage for a vehicle in this class, somewhere around 20 mpg combined, which is much better than the usual large SUVs that get around 15 mpg when you drive economically and around 18 mpg otherwise. There are fuel efficient models out there that get as high as 23 mpg on the highway.
What do I need to know about small SUVs if I want one?
There are a few things you should consider before purchasing a mini-SUV or choosing between the available models. First of all, most cars in this segment don’t have very much ground clearance as they are based on compact car platforms and their suspensions are tuned for comfort over off-road performance.
Therefore, if you live in an area that has lots of unpaved roads and dirt trails it may not be the best choice. However, most models offer optional all wheel drive to remedy this problem, so make sure your model offers it. Another important thing to remember is that small SUVs tend to sit higher than regular cars, so if you’re a shorter person it can make pulling your knees up to the steering wheel difficult.
Small SUV’s can also be used as work vehicles when properly equipped and they are very practical for families because of their size and versatility. Your options range from roomy minivans like the Nissan Quest to small workhorse trucks that are great for hauling heavy loads.
Are small SUVs comfortable?
When it comes to comfort, small SUVs have a lot of space and usually offer very nice seats that hug the driver when in corners or on bumpy roads. They also have automatic climate control systems, so you don’t need to worry about adjusting them yourself when the weather changes.
Are small SUVs versatile?
The versatility of the small SUV category is what makes it so popular and successful, even at very modest pricing. Some models are very basic utilitarian vehicles meant for off-roading and harsh conditions, while other models offer luxury features like heated leather seats, GPS navigation and Bluetooth connectivity with your iPhone or Android device. They can be used for family vacations and transporting cargo, but also for towing a trailer or boat in the summer.
For those looking for a new vehicle that is safe, versatile and efficient; the small SUV class offers very attractive options. Most of them also offer some level of off-road capability and work well in most conditions due to their engineering. If you’re looking for a new vehicle, be sure to check out the small SUV class for something that can do it all and is just as comfortable as your everyday sedan, but more efficient and versatile too.
Hopefully, now that you’ve read my article, you have a good idea of where to start looking for your dream vehicle.