For a long time, the subcompact SUVs have always been the optimal choice for families with reasonable prices. Therefore, the subcompact SUV that has exploded in popularity in recent years. What used to be a bit of a niche market with only a few options has grown to the point of almost every major automaker having their own offering of a pint-sized SUV with cute styling and reasonable pricing.
Here are the best subcompact SUVs for 2020.
1. Mazda CX-30 — 4.7/5 — $21,900
The Mazda CX-30 is a newcomer to this competitive segment and this rookie rightfully earns the top spot on this list. It has everything we love about Mazda SUVs in an affordable subcompact package. That means it delivers head-turning styling, a premium interior, and a fun-to-drive character that is uncommon in crossovers. It’s also quite comfortable for everything from running errands around town to highway cruising and its excellent safety scores make it a credible small family car. One of our very few gripes is that the infotainment controls have a bit of a learning curve.
2. Honda HR-V — 4.6/5 — $20,820
The Honda HR-V is one of the more practical entries in this segment with a very roomy and space-efficient interior. This crossover is one of the more family-friendly subcompact crossovers because of its strong safety rating and generous interior space for both passengers and cargo. The clever “Magic Seat” system allows you to customize the interior for optimal cargo space, passenger space, or any combination of the two. The HR-V also affordable and great on gas, but the sole engine option doesn’t have much muscle.
3. Subaru Crosstrek — 4.6/5 — $22,145
The Subaru Crosstrek is both rugged and cute in a way that few competitors can imitate. The Crosstrek has some real off-road chops thanks to standard all-wheel drive on every trim, generous ground clearance, and available X-Mode. The Crosstrek also has great road manners, but enthusiasts may be underwhelmed by the so-so engine performance, although it’s quite good on gas. Speaking of gas, there’s a plug-in hybrid option that retains all of the Crosstrek’s off-road capability while saving a good amount of fuel.
4. Hyundai Kona — 4.5/5 — $20,300
The Hyundai Kona is a small, stylish SUV with a lot going for it. On top of its head-turning good looks, it comes with generous standard technology like a seven-inch infotainment system, an upscale cabin, and confident handling. The base engine is good on gas, but we recommend upgrading to the more exciting available turbocharged engine if your budget allows it. The Kona has a lot of nice available features as you work your way up the model range like all-wheel drive, a locking center differential, and adaptive cruise control.
5. Hyundai Venue — 4.5/5 — $17,350
Even smaller and more affordable than the Kona is the Hyundai Venue which is an all-new crossover for 2020. The Venue has just as much visual character as the Kona, but in a totally different way with its boxy design that reminds us of a more premium British marque. The diminutive Venue is good on gas, it’s easily maneuverable, and it has one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems in the business. This Hyundai is the most affordable subcompact SUV on this list and it’s definitely worth consideration for drivers looking for a great value on a new crossover, but something to keep in mind is a lack of an AWD option.
6. Toyota C-HR — 4.4/5 — $21,295
The Toyota C-HR has a very funky look despite Toyota’s conservative reputation and there’s nothing else on the road quite like it. However, that unusual profile means sacrificing some space in the back seat area and the cargo hold so it’s not the most practical crossover in this class. That said, it delivers a composed ride and handling and it’s pretty generous with standard technology and safety features. For 2020, the C-HR got a slightly revised look and standard Android Auto on every trim.
7. Nissan Rogue Sport — 4.4/5 — $23,240
If you’re looking for something on the bigger side of the subcompact class, the Nissan Rogue Sport is an SUV that’s small, but not too small. Cargo space is generous for this class and you get tons of standard features. The Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assistance technologies is now standard for the 2020 model which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic rear braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warning. The sole engine option is a little weak, but if performance isn’t a big priority for you, then the Rogue Sport is worth a look.
8. Nissan Kicks — 4.4/5 — $18,870
Slotted below the Rogue Sport in size and price is the Nissan Kicks. Like the Rogue Sport, the Kicks added some newly standard safety features for 2020 including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring plus newly available driver drowsiness monitoring. The Kicks not only has an attractive starting price, but you can go to the top of the model range and get a ton of cool features like a surround-view camera and Bose premium audio while still keeping the price reasonable. Like the Rogue Sport, the engine in the Kicks is a bit lacking and we wish there was an AWD option.
9. Mazda CX-3 — 4.2/5 — $20,640
The model range for the Mazda CX-3 is greatly simplified for 2020 offering just one trim with your choice of FWD or AWD. However, that’s not such a bad thing since it’s pretty well-appointed with standard features that include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus the i-Activsense safety tech suite. The CX-3 is one of the more athletic options in this segment with a lively engine and agile handling. The interior is also nicer than you might expect at this price point making the CX-3 an affordable small crossover that feels more expensive than it is. Unfortunately, the rear seats and cargo are are a bit cramped.
10. Jeep Renegade — 4.1/5 — $22,375
Unsurprisingly, the Jeep Renegade is one of the most competent off-roaders in this segment. The Renegade has a distinct style that makes it stand out from its peers and if you go with the rugged Trailhawk 4×4 trim, you might be surprised by the feats it can pull off when the pavement ends. This SUV is good on the road too with a comfortable ride aided by one of the most intuitive infotainment systems you’ll find anywhere. For all of its character and off-road grit, we wish the Renegade offered more standard features and better fuel economy, but if it’s great if you’re looking for something a little adventurous. Find a Jeep Renegade for sale
11. Chevrolet Trax — 3.9/5 — $21,300
The Chevy Trax sits towards the bottom of our list not because it’s bad, but because it simply doesn’t have much that sets it apart from its tough competitors. The Trax has many of the same virtues that come with most subcompact SUVs like city-friendly maneuverability and affordable pricing, but the interior quality is sub-par and the ride is a bit stiffer than we’d like. What is praiseworthy is the great infotainment system that’s been updated for 2020 and includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hotspot on every trim.
12. Ford EcoSport — 3.9/5 — $19,995
In much the same way its top domestic competitor from Chevy fails to stand out, there isn’t much that makes the Ford EcoSport easy to recommend when compared to class leaders. The EcoSport has an attractive base MSRP just under the $20k mark, but its value proposition is questionable since you don’t get a whole lot with the base trim. The ride is a bit firm and the engines are a bit noisy and this Ford is lacking in available safety technology. If you like the EcoSport, we recommend upgrading to the SE trim or higher so you get the great SYNC 3 infotainment system.
13. Fiat 500X — 3.8/5 — $24,590
The Fiat 500X is mechanically identical to the Jeep Renegade but sits lower on this list because of its higher price tag and lack of a true off-road trim like the Renegade Trailhawk. Part of the reason the Fiat is more expensive than the Jeep is that the 500X has standard AWD. The 500X isn’t lacking in style with a decidedly Euro look inside and out, but it’s lacking in interior space, the seats aren’t very comfortable, and fuel economy is just okay. If you like the 500X, you may want to consider a more affordable used model if you’re looking for more bang for your buck.
14. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport — 3.1/5 — $22,595
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport has some notable virtues like good cargo space and user-friendly infotainment system controls, but it doesn’t deliver on most of the things that are most important to drivers in the market for a subcompact crossover. The base engine is sluggish and noisy, the ride is firm, and the interior materials are unimpressive. The Outlander Sport adds an available 8-inch infotainment system for 2020, but that’s not quite enough to make this Mitsubishi a strong competitor in this popular segment.
15. Fiat 500L — 2.9/5 — $22,500
The Fiat 500L is pretty roomy thanks to its boxy shape and it’s certainly unconventional, but it simply doesn’t have much going for it compared to the best subcompact SUVs of 2020. The engine is decent, but this Fiat is a bit awkward to drive with its firm ride and lack of steering feedback. Fuel economy is unimpressive and the cabin materials leave a bit to be desired. If you’re captivated by Fiat styling, the 500X with standard AWD (not available on the 500L) is generally a better and more modern crossover than the 500L.
The above are 15 subcompact SUVs that are synthesized based on the user experience and the specifications of the car manufacturer. Hopefully with this information will help you choose the right car for you and your family in life.