A green 2023 BMW X3 is shown from the front after leaving a dealer that had a BMW X3 for sale.

Small and Spiffy: The 5 Best Compact Luxury SUVs

Demand has steadily increased for vehicles that go farther with less gas. One way to do this is to purchase a hybrid vehicle—or go completely gas-free with an EV—and another way is to simply buy a smaller car. “Compact” is a word we see more often attached to vehicles. There are compact versions of everything from sedans to pickup trucks, but one of the most popular options is the compact SUV, which offers the right blend of cargo space and fuel economy for many drivers.

With so many compact SUVs available, there’s room for specialization within the segment. Although luxury is typically associated with the large and the lavish, lately, the little guys are getting glam too. Both puny and posh, luxury compact SUVs were made for those who’ve got green and want to go green, too. Whether you are looking for a BMW X3 for sale or shopping for a Porsche Macan, fuel consumption is the only economical thing about these five luxury compact SUVs.

#1 – BMW X3

If you want seats that feel hand-crafted to your specific shape, start searching for a BMW X3. Power-adjustable sport seats are available on the high-performance M model, so the head, thighs, shoulders, and lower back can all be positioned just so. Available adjustments also include the power-operated side bolsters—a rarity, even amongst luxury vehicles—which allow the driver to adjust the width of the seat for that extra-squeezy feeling.

The interior has been refreshed for the 2023 model year. Depending on the model, it’s accented with dark oak wood, open-pored ash, aluminum, or carbon fiber. The upholstery is either durable Sensatec or genuine Vernasca leather. The beauty of symmetry is capitalized on with the infotainment touchscreen display and digital instrument cluster, both 12.3 inches.

Further tantalizing the senses is the X3’s sound system. At its worst, it’s an impressive 12-speaker setup. At its best, Harman Kardon contributes 16 speakers for a genuinely encompassing sound. The cabin can even be customized to best suit the mood with adjustable, multi-color ambient lighting.

A grey 2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo is shown from the front at an angle.

#2 – Mazda CX-30

X marks the spot yet again with the Mazda CX-30, which deserves an honorable mention. Its price point doesn’t put it in the luxury class, but everything else about this compact SUV does. It cuts a svelte figure with smooth lines and maintains a certain edginess with dark, metallic color options.

The CX-30’s luxury features are maxed out at the top of its trim lineup with the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. On top of the 250 hp turbocharged engine, it gets a 12-speaker sound system by Bose. The shift knob, steering wheel, and seats are wrapped in either black or white leather. That leather-wrapped steering wheel and the front seats are heated.

As far as tech goes, the CX-30 keeps it cutting edge with a number of features. A color driving display is projected on the windshield, complete with sign recognition, so your eyes need not stray from the road to see what speed you should be traveling. The rearview mirror is auto-dimming and also frameless for a refined look.

#3 – Mercedes-Benz GLA

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is available both as a standard compact SUV and a high-performing AMG version, which is powered by the most powerful four-cylinder engine in production at 382 hp. The AMG GLA gets a number of premium, sport-oriented upgrades, like fine-tuned transmission and suspension.

The seating options in the GLA cover a wide range of preferences, including racing seats and heated and ventilated seats. There’s also multi-contour functionality for a more pleasant sitting experience, and passengers in the back row can get comfortable, too, with reclining seats.

The compact SUV from Mercedes-Benz has ambient lighting in a full rainbow of colors. The vents, dash, doors, and center console can be accented with 64 different hues, from light pink to sunny yellow. The circular vents serve as a big focal point in the GLA’s otherwise minimalist interior, adding more distinction to the cabin.

#4 – Porsche Macan

The Macan may be a compact SUV, but Porsche has designed it with a sporting spirit in mind. It has a driver-centric cockpit with a tachometer front and center, so drivers can use the manual paddle shifters with ease. An analog clock in the middle of the dashboard adds a vintage touch, while touch-sensitive controls cascade from the 10.9-inch display down past either side of the shifter.

The ergonomic front seats can be adjusted up to 18 different ways, with stitching that can be matched to the exterior color for a seamless design. The sound system has varying levels of luxury, too, from the standard Sound Package Plus, which has 10 speakers, all the way up to Burmester High-End Surround Sound, which has 16 speakers and a subwoofer.

Sophisticated style adds to a vehicle’s luxury, and the Macan is pleasing to the eye from all vantage points with distinctive styling that can be traced along all Porsche models. The slope of the windshield into the hood is undeniably familiar, as are the headlamps and taillights. Of course, a car’s wheels are one of the first things to impress on the outside world. The Macan strives to make an ever-bold impression with large wheels ranging up to 21 inches, depending on the trim level.

An orange 2022 Porsche Macan is shown from a high angle while driving through an intersection.

#5 – Volvo XC40

The Volvo XC40 is all about smart cargo and cabin comfort. For passengers in the front, an ample 39 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom keep things spacious. Back-seat passengers get 39.1 inches of headroom and 36.1 inches of legroom. Cargo space goes from 16 cu.ft. with the rear seats up to 57.5 cu.ft. with the rear seats folded flat. There are also hooks positioned throughout the cabin to make storing bags and similar cargo even easier.

The tailgate shares the same thoughtful design as the XC40’s interior. It’s power-operated for ease of use and can be opened remotely or with an optional hands-free functionality, which simply requires kicking your foot under the tailgate to open it when your hands are full. The tailgate lifts high when fully opened, but if you’re working with a limited ceiling height in your garage, it can be programmed to open at a lower height.

Finally, information is made easily accessible with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and a nine-inch center display with a portrait orientation. The infotainment display can be customized to any driver’s liking, placing apps and information where it’s most convenient for you.

The Finer Things

These five vehicles prove that luxury comes in all kinds of different packages. On top of being more fuel efficient, these compact SUVs tend to be less expensive than their larger counterparts, meaning luxury can be accessed by more people. After all, what is luxury? To me, it designates a certain level of comfort and a high-quality product that provides value to the purchaser. Luxury is actually a pretty simple thing and one that shouldn’t necessarily come with a huge barrier to entry. Having different options at lower price points makes it easier for everyone to indulge in these finer things in life. We all deserve a little luxury sometimes.