So you’re narrowing down your choices for your next vehicle, and you’ve landed on the compact SUV segment. Compact SUVs are popular for their versatile nature, delivering car-like handling with SUV-like capabilities. When your passenger needs rarely exceed seating for five, you can escape the higher price tag that comes with a larger SUV by opting for a compact. Their small dimensions make compact SUVs easy to park in tight spots, from competitive parallel street spots to overcrowded garages. Plus, compact SUVs have solid fuel economy while offering a bit more passenger and cargo room than subcompact models.
Most of the top manufacturers have an offering in the compact SUV segment. So whether you visit a Chevy Equinox dealer, a Ford Escape dealer, or another vendor, you’ll see that the most reputable names have small SUV options. The question is: which is right for you? Below, we’re going to highlight some of the more stand-out features of five compact SUVs from top names and hopefully help you decide which one fits your personality.
The Chevy Equinox
The Chevy Equinox is a stylish compact SUV known for its spacious rear seat room and excellent safety features. In fact, the 2023 model received five stars for overall safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With excellent fuel economy, switchable all-wheel drive, and configurable cargo space, it checks off all of the boxes that most compact SUV shoppers are looking for. But, what makes it stand out is its available special editions. The Chevy Equinox comes in two stunning special editions that bring a distinct style to this quality SUV.
The Midnight Edition
This edition adds urban flare to your Equinox, with blacked-out details all over. With it, you get 18-inch black gloss aluminum wheels and a black grille. It also has front and rear black bowtie emblems and body-color mirror caps. All in all, it looks sophisticated and cosmopolitan.
The Redline Edition
The Redline Edition has striking red and black details, including 19-inch black wheels with red accents and black center caps, black bowtie emblems, badges featuring red outlines, and Redline decals on the exterior mirrors. Unique redline details continue on the inside, with black ice accents. Like the Midnight, the Redline also gets a black grille. If you want to add sophisticated styling to your compact SUV, consider the Equinox with its attractive special editions.
The GMC Terrain
The GMC Terrain is a powerful compact SUV with front-wheel and all-wheel drive options and a slew of great technology features. However, what makes it particularly appealing to some is the luxury trim — the Denali. GMC offers the Denali on many of its models, including its pickups and larger SUVs. The Denali luxury trim has even brought the manufacturer home some awards on other vehicles. While it first appeared in larger models, GMC graciously added it to the compact Terrain, giving luxury lovers all they could ask for in a small package.
For the 2024 year, the Terrain Denali gets a premium suspension for an ultra-smooth ride. On the tech front, it enjoys a standard head-up display, putting vital information right where you want it. A premium Bose 7-speaker system might entice audiophiles, while the built-in Amazon Alexa is great for busy individuals who need to stay connected and on top of tasks on the road. In terms of comfort, Terrain Denali drivers will get a heated steering wheel as well as heated and ventilated front seats. Aesthetically, the Denali delivers striking aluminum accents and beautiful stitching in the upholstery. If you crave luxury in your compact SUV, check out the 2024 GMC Terrain Denali.
The Ford Escape
The Ford Escape is a fun, adventurous vehicle with a couple of peppy gas engine powertrains, large infotainment screens, and diverse trims. What makes it special amongst its competition, however, might be that it comes in a hybrid and plug-in hybrid variant.
Today, many drivers are taking an interest in ditching gas-engine vehicles. But they aren’t sure if they can afford to do so. Luckily, Ford offers the hybrid and PHEV variants at reasonable prices. Vincentric gave the 2023 Ford Escape PHEV the “Best Value in America” award. The hybrid combines a gas engine with a motor and recaptures energy through regenerative braking. The PHEV also captures battery power through regenerative braking but can additionally be plugged in to charge, like an electric vehicle.
Though official US Department of Energy figures aren’t yet out for the 2024 models, they retain the same powertrains as the 2023 ones. Based on 2023 EPA figures, one can assume the 2024 hybrid will get 42 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. The PHEV gets a combined 101 MPGe and 40 MPGe combined in gas-only mode. If you’re still getting to know the world of hybrid and PHEV vehicles and want the freedom to explore both in a vehicle, you might already know the 2024 Ford Escape is a terrific option.
The Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is a small SUV with big SUV energy. It’s popular among off-roaders thanks to its impressive ground clearance and available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive that helps drivers maintain traction on slippery roads. Since 1996, the RAV4 has given drivers the freedom that comes with a versatile vehicle; its small dimensions and fuel economy make it popular among commuters, while its rugged abilities create a world of weekend adventure possibilities.
One thing that stands out about the RAV4 and is in line with its adventurous nature is its towing ability. The 2024 RAV4 can tow up to 3,500 lbs. Many compact SUVs see towing figures in the range of just 1,000 to 3,000 lbs, so the RAV4 outshines the competition in this department. If you want the power to tow a decent-sized vessel out to your camping sites and beyond but don’t want a larger SUV, check out the RAV4.
The Volkswagen Tiguan
The Tiguan, like all Volkswagen models, boasts responsive handling and inspired performance. Volkswagen vehicles are simply a ton of fun to drive, and the Tiguan continues that legacy. The Tiguan also has great infotainment and tech, from available wireless charging and USB ports to remote engine start capability. The Tiguan offers narrow options in the trim department, but it makes up for that in a big way with something else that might surprise readers: it’s available in a two or three-row model.
Now, that’s something you don’t typically see in compact SUVs. Compact SUVs are, by nature, two-row vehicles. So being able to access all of the great features of the Tiguan, whether you need seating for five or seven, is pretty cool. Volkswagen smartly made the Tiguan’s potential shopper pool much larger by offering it in two sizes.
The World of Compact SUVs Is Anything but Small
Each of the manufacturers we covered today has done a solid job of differentiating their compact SUV offering from the competition. Many drivers want a small SUV and great fuel economy, but beyond that, everybody has different needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize performance, style, comfort, or rugged abilities, you should be able to find something to your liking on this list. Take some time to think about the experience you want to have and the capabilities you need before making your selection.