It’s no secret that SUVs are overtaking the market. Every major carmaker now has a couple of these in its lineup. This includes premium manufacturers as well, considering that we are seeing more and more luxury SUVs on the market every year.
However, most drivers still look at these vehicles through the aspect of practicality. Therefore, the main criterion is the balance between price and quality. Therefore, there is no place for premium carmakers on our list of best compact SUVs for the money in 2020.
All models in the list come from mainstream brands and all of them are pretty much familiar nameplates, present for, at least, several years, with established position on the market and great reputation.
Although there are some models that will come with changes, most compact SUVs will come without major changes, so making this list wasn’t that hard, as it largely relies on current-year models and their characteristics.
10. Jeep Cherokee
Jeep Cherokee seems like a great choice for more adventurous people. Compared to other models in the segment, this SUV offers superior off-road capabilities. Of course, a smooth and comfortable ride on pawn roads isn’t the only strong point of this model. It also offers one of the finest cabins in the class. Most materials are soft on touch, while the dashboard features pretty attractive lines.
The current generation has been around since 2014, but the model was recently updated with a new exterior look and several more features. Therefore, we don’t expect to see bigger changes for the 2020 Jeep Cherokee. One of these updates is a new, standard 7-inch touchscreen. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it is probably the only models in the class that comes with these things in most basic versions.
When it comes to engines, base models come with a familiar 2.4-liter four-cylinder, with 180 horsepower. There is also a well-known 3.2-liter V6 that delivers around 270 horsepower. Still, the recently-introduced 2.0-liter turbo-four is definitely the best choice, as it delivers the same amount of power as the V6, but much more torque.
Of course, the Cherokee has week points as well. Most rivals feature better on-road driving characteristics, while the fuel economy is below-average. Also, most compact SUVs have more cargo space.
9. Subaru Forester
After the recent redesign, the 2020 Subaru Forester is expected to carry on in the same way. The new generation is strong in many aspects. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Subaru’s excellent AWD system, but the new generation also came with significant improvement in terms of ride quality, while mpg ratings are also pretty amazing.
The interior quality is very good and the new Forester definitely features some of the finest cabins in the class. It looks great, but it is also functional, as legroom and cargo capacity are pretty decent. Typically for Subaru models, there is a long list of safety features. Things like a rearview camera, pre-collision braking system, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control is standard in all models.
The only major complaint goes to the powertrain. With the new generation, a turbo version has been discontinued. Currently, the only engine in the offer is a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated unit, which definitely lacks power. Various reports are suggesting a new turbo engine for the 2020 Subaru Forester, though we are still waiting for the official confirmation. If this happens, the Forester will be ranked much higher on this list.
8. Chevrolet Equinox
Although the current generation of this crossover makes some pretty decent sales results, the company has decided for a relatively quick refresh. Therefore, the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox is about to receive a major update and to come with lots of interesting novelties.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is styling. Considering the camouflage, it looks we will see massive changes on both ends. Of course, the front will suffer mode and we count on a completely new design language, based on the recently launched Blazer.
Another interesting change to come is a new engine. GM engineers will rework the current 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, and we now expect to see higher mpg ratings, more power and better overall fuel economy. Speaking of the fuel economy, the Equinox is in a great advantage compared to rivals, as it comes with a diesel engine in the offer as well, which ensures quite impressive 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway.
Finally, we expect to see some updates on the inside. The current model features pretty disappointing interior quality, so we hope Chevy will do something about that.
7. VW Tiguan
The Tiguan is the second best-selling compact crossover in the world and that is for a number of good reasons. This crossover offers an upscale cabin, as well as plenty of cargo space. Moreover, the ride quality is amazing, while the handling is perfect for a crossover.
Latest reports are suggesting that we will have to wait for another year to see some changes. The current generation has been around for less than three years, so it seems too early for a major refresh. This also means it will continue with a couple of drawbacks.
The biggest one is definitely under the hood, as the North American model comes with just one engine in the offer. That would be a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, which delivers around 185 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. As you can see, the engine isn’t too powerful but isn’t economic either. Moreover, mpg ratings are pretty low for the class, as you can count on just 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
We also hope that the company will offer more standard safety systems in the future, as a rearview camera is currently the only standard feature in base models.
6. Nissan Rogue
The Rogue is one of the oldest models in the class, as the current generation is present since 2014. However, it still has a lot of great things to offer, so its position on the list is relatively high. However, there is also a couple of big drawbacks, which would probably make you consider other models in the class as well.
The first one that comes to mind is the engine. It definitely lacks power, as it delivers only 170 hp and it isn’t very generous in terms of torque. Therefore, be ready for lackluster acceleration and troubles on the highway. Also, it features an older-generation CVT gearbox, which can be pretty noisy.
On the other side, the 2020 Nissan Rogue is still an amazing daily driver. The things that you’ll probably like most about this crossover are massive and comfortable seats, upscale cabin, spacious cargo area and a long list of safety features. Finally, the fuel economy is pretty good as well.
The current generation is expected to carry on for a year or so, so it might be better to wait for a new model. In any case, you won’t go wrong with this one.
5. Toyota RAV4
There is no need for a special introduction of the world’s best-selling SUV. The RAV4 holds leading positions for a reason. We saw a redesign last year, so the 2020-year model should be pretty much a carryover.
The list of pros is pretty long, so we will mention just the highlights. The first thing that comes to mind is the model’s amazing reputation and predicted reliability ratings. Also, this SUV is characterized by a long list of standard features and amazing fuel economy. The latter one particularly refers to the hybrid version, which returns pretty impressive 41 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Things are even better when you hit the gas pedal. The whole systems come with plenty of power and torque, so you can count on strong acceleration as well.
The gasoline version is also pretty good, though it isn’t as peppy as some turbocharged rivals. Therefore, various reports are suggesting that the 2020 Toyota RAV4 could come with a 2.0-liter turbo-four in the offer, though we still haven’t heard anything from the officials. Other than that, things should remain pretty much the same.
4. Hyundai Tucson
The recent update was pretty big, so we are pretty sure that the 2020 Hyundai Tucson won’t feature too many notable changes. The 2019 facelift included changes in various aspects. Of course, we saw a fine amount of exterior novelties, including a new grille, new headlights, taillights etc.
However, changes on the inside were far more interesting. The Tucson received a completely new dashboard design, which looks far more attractive than before. Most of the changes were made at the center stack, where you can easily notice a new, tablet-like, instead of an older-generation integrated touchscreen.
Another notable change is that a turbo-four engine has been discontinued. The new model now comes with only two naturally-aspirated engines, with 2.0 and 2.4 liters in displacement and 160 and 180 horsepower, respectively.
Given all these novelties, the 2020 Hyundai Tucson is expected to come without more important changes. Still, it will remain a highly competitive SUV, with nice ride quality, good interior quality and decent reliability ratings. On the other side, a relatively small cargo area remains as one of the major drawbacks.
3. Ford Escape
This is probably the most anticipated model on the list, as it is coming completely redesigned for the next year. The new generation of this dynamic crossover is about to come with a lot of improvements. We are about to see a new platform and design, heavily based on the new-generation Focus. We expect from the new model to be traditionally strong in aspects such as driving dynamics, handling and overall driving experience.
Of course, this redesign will bring completely new aesthetics as well. We expect the implementation of Ford’s latest design language, which means we won’t see too many dramatic changes. The overall layout will remain pretty similar, though we could see a slight increase in size.
The cabin should be pretty similar to the new Focus, which means it will keep a lot of analog instruments and physical controls.
Under the hood, count on a palette of Ford’s familiar EcoBoost unit, including the potent 2.0-liter turbo-four, which should be reserved for hi-performance versions. The new model is expected to hit the market sometime in the third quarter of the year.
2. Mazda CX-5
Unlike most compact SUVs, the CX-5 focuses rather on style and performances, than on practicality. Therefore, don’t count on spacious rear seats and cargo area with this one.
Those would be the only major drawbacks of this crossover. Other aspects are simply amazing. First of all, this model is arguably the most stylish compact crossover around. In addition to splendid aesthetics, it also delivers spectacular performances. Typically for Mazda, handling and overall driving dynamics are amazing. In addition, Mazda recently introduced an optional turbo-four engine, which delivers 227 horsepower on regular and 250 horsepower on premium fuel. With such amount of power, the CX-5 is on par with every premium crossover on the market in terms of performances.
Another strong point of this crossover is an upscale cabin, which is full of hi-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and beautiful aesthetical solutions.
For those who want to enjoy the ride, Mazda CX-5 is an obvious choice.
The next year shouldn’t bring any important changes, the current generation has been around for less than two years, so it seems too early for some bigger changes at the moment.
1. Honda CR-V
For most experts, the CR-V is an obvious winner when it comes to the balance between price and quality. Simply, this one has the biggest number of good things in the class. Compared to its runner-up, it is a complete opposite. It is neither too much pretty nor offers some spectacular handling and steering. On the other side, it is the most practical compact SUV you can find.
First of all, it is one of the biggest models in the class, so it’s no wonder it offers a generous cargo volume, while there is a lot of legroom as well. The overall ride quality is amazing. The cabin is quiet, while both engines in the offer have enough power for decent acceleration.
In addition, the fuel economy is pretty amazing and goes up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
Of course, there are some weak points as well, but actually just one major drawback. It goes for the number of standard safety features. Base models come with a rearview camera only, which is pretty untypical for a modern crossover. Still, things are much better in higher trims, in which you can get pretty much everything of advanced driver aids and safety systems.
The CR-V has been updated recently, so we don’t expect from 2020-year model to feature any notable novelty.