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Bigger adventures await you in these smaller SUVs. 

10 Best Compact SUVs Ranking | CarMax

Nothing says adventure like a weekend in your SUV. On the hunt for something a bit smaller? Consider a small SUV. It might be just right for your next road trip. While the best small SUV can blend a winning mix of power, maneuverability, and efficiency, not all SUVs are created equal.

There are plenty of excellent models out there, but we've noticed that some stand out from the rest. They’re listed below as a helpful small SUV comparison list. We built this top 10 best small SUV list using CarMax sales data between May 1, 2018, and October 31, 2018.

  1. Nissan Pathfinder
  2. Dodge Journey
  3. Toyota RAV4
  4. Kia Sorento
  5. Honda CR-V
  6. Ford Explorer
  7. Chevrolet Equinox
  8. Ford Escape
  9. Jeep Cherokee
  10. Nissan Rogue

10

Nissan Pathfinder

Best Compact SUVs: Nissan Pathfinder | CarMax

With seating for up to seven passengers, the Pathfinder has three rows of comfortable seating and plenty of leg/head room. In the 2016 Pathfinder, you'll find 16 cubic feet of trunk space that expands to a maximum of 79.8 cubic feet with second- and third-row seats folded down. The S trim on the 2016 Pathfinder offers standard features like 18-inch wheels, tri-zone climate control, a six-speaker sound system, and rear privacy glass. The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is available in four trim levels, and the Platinum trim comes with larger 20-inch wheels, a towing package, chrome exterior accents, forward-collision warning, emergency braking system, and more.

Read our full review of the Nissan Pathfinder.


09

Dodge Journey

Best Compact SUVs: Dodge Journey | CarMax

The Dodge Journey is a great option if you are looking for an SUV with a little more power behind the wheel. In the 2017 model, you’ll appreciate the impressive 3.6L V6 engine that comes standard on the 2017 top-tier GT trim. Standard features across all five trim levels in the 2017 Journey include convenient roof rails, keyless ignition/entry, comfortable reclining seats in the second row, and a 4.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Dodge Journey is also available with up to three rows of seating, depending on the trim level you select.


08

Toyota RAV4

Best Compact SUVs: Toyota RAV4 | CarMax

The Toyota RAV4 combines the capability of a conventional SUV with the maneuverability of a smaller vehicle. Despite its compact designation, it gives passengers a surprising amount of head and leg room —front-seaters in the 2017 Toyota RAV4 XLE have more than 42 inches of space to stretch out their legs.

Although handling is impressive for all Toyota RAV4 models, it particularly stands out on the 2017 Toyota RAV4 SE, which features sport-tuned suspension. Drivers looking to maximize fuel efficiency can look at RAV4 hybrids like the 2017 Toyota RAV4 XLE Hybrid. With AWD, this trim delivers an estimated 34 city/30 hwy mpg.1

Read our full review of the Toyota RAV4.


07

Kia Sorento

Best Compact SUVs: Kia Sorento | CarMax

The Kia Sorento is available in both five- and seven-passenger configurations to meet your cargo and space needs. The 2017 Sorento is offered in five trim levels, with a turbocharged engine available if you want some extra power. The interior of the Sorento really is filled with goodies, featuring quality and soft-touch materials. And with up to 73.5 cubic feet of total cargo space, this is a great option for hauling groceries, sports equipment, suitcases, and more.


06

Honda CR-V

Best Compact SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

You can really pick up the pace with the sporty Honda CR-V. The 2017 Honda CR-V EX-L has a turbocharged engine, which gives you some kicked-up acceleration and a more thrilling ride. You’ll love revving the engine, and you’ll look cool too. Sculpted body panels and dual chrome exhaust tips help you make a statement wherever you go.

Impressive fuel economy has always been a priority for Honda, and this best small SUV is no exception. With a 1.5L, turbocharged engine and AWD, the 2017 Honda CR-V EX can deliver an estimated 27 city/33 hwy mpg.1

Read our full review of the Honda CR-V.


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05

Ford Explorer

Best Compact SUVs: Ford Explorer | CarMax

For those of you seeking adventure in a capable, comfortable SUV, check out the Ford Explorer. Drivers enjoy the Explorer for its smooth handling, comfortable seating, and all of the classic trim levels you've come to expect. In the 2018 model, you’ll have the option of three different engine choices. The interior construction is designed to help bring you the quietest experience possible at all times. With seating for up to seven and a huge amount of cargo space, you can also enjoy voice-control, USB and Bluetooth® connectivity, a powerful six-speaker audio system, and so much more.

Read our full review of the Ford Explorer.


04

Chevrolet Equinox

Best Compact SUVs: Chevrolet Equinox | CarMax

The family-friendly Chevrolet Equinox could quickly become your go-to road trip vehicle. The AWD 2017 Chevrolet Equinox LS has a standard 2.4L engine that provides plenty of power, and also gives you an estimated 20 city/28 hwy mpg on the highway.1

Any ride in the Chevrolet Equinox is a delight due to the vehicle's interior comfort and range of audio options. Audiophiles who love taking their music on the go will want to opt for the technology package available on the 2017 Chevrolet Equinox LT, which features a premium Pioneer® eight-speaker sounder system as well as MyLink® radio.

Read our full review of the Chevrolet Equinox.


03

Ford Escape

Best Compact SUVs: Ford Escape | CarMax

Precise handling and an undeniably athletic exterior set the Ford Escape apart in a category that’s chock full of compact vehicles. The available 1.5L EcoBoost® engine on the front-wheel drive 2017 Ford Escape SE is turbocharged and gives you 179 hp, plus a respectable estimated 23 city / 30 hwy mpg.1

Available leather trim on the 2017 Ford Escape Titanium gives a luxurious feel to everyday commutes. In 2016, the Ford Escape added SYNC® systems for all models to provide a user-friendly, touchscreen experience. With the SYNC 3 system on the 2017 Ford Escape SE and Titanium trims, you can easily pinpoint top restaurants near you and learn about local traffic conditions — all while keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.

In our Ford Escape small SUV review, we called out the 2017 Escape Titanium’s powered liftgate, its Intelligent 4WD, and its ability to tow up to 3,500 lbs when properly equipped.2

Read our full review of the Ford Escape.


02

Jeep Cherokee

Best Compact SUVs: Jeep Cherokee | CarMax

If you admire the Jeep Grand Cherokee but don't need a particularly large SUV, the Jeep Cherokee is a solid alternative as a small SUV. Fully equipped for adventure, the rugged Cherokee can get you to some pretty isolated outdoor destinations.

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk will please most adventurous drivers; it includes tow hooks, skid plates, and other unique features intended for trail-riding fun. This trim comes with a 271-hp V6 for plenty of power, whether you’re on or off the road.

Secure storage is a safe bet in the Cherokee, too; the Jeep Cargo Management System (standard on trims like the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Sport) makes it easy to tie down everything from groceries to athletic equipment.

Read our full review of the Jeep Cherokee.


01

Nissan Rogue

Best Compact SUVs: Nissan Rogue | CarMax

The Nissan Rogue is more spacious than you might assume at first glance. If you intend to pack lots of cargo, no worries — with the rear seats folded down, the 2017 Nissan Rogue gives you a roomy 70 cubic feet of storage space. This small SUV gives you plenty of room for your golf clubs and an ice chest as you prepare to hit the green.

You might add a third-row seat in the back, which is great for families. This is a feature that can be found in the 2017 Nissan Rogue SV that you won’t find in lots of compact SUVs from other manufacturers in this market. In terms of passenger and cabin comfort, the Rogue is nicely situated for its class.

Given its impressive interior space, you might not expect the Nissan Rogue to stand out in terms of fuel economy. Looks can be deceiving; with the 2.5L, four-cylinder engine, the 2017 Nissan Rogue S (with front-wheel drive and a continuously-variable transmission) delivers an estimated 26 city/33 hwy mpg.1

Read our full review of the Nissan Rogue.


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Looking for additional information on SUV rankings, small SUV ratings and articles where you’ll find a small SUV review? Browse these related small SUV comparison articles:

1Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
2Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.