01

Space for the family and fun for the road. 

Best Compact SUVs | CarMax

Compact SUVs can often give you the space and comfort of a full-size SUV without sacrificing the car-like driving dynamics you might enjoy with smaller vehicles. Small SUVs are often available in all-wheel drive, giving you some basic off-road driving capability as well. You'll get more cargo space and passenger room, too.

There are a lot of small SUVs to choose from with great features. Because there are so many models to choose from, we've compiled a list of the 10 best small and compact SUVs for 2020 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from May 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019. You can use this list to help narrow your search for the ideal small or compact SUV.

  1. Jeep Patriot
  2. Jeep Compass
  3. Audi Q5
  4. GMC Terrain
  5. Jeep Wrangler
  6. Jeep Cherokee
  7. Toyota RAV4
  8. Honda CR-V
  9. Ford Escape
  10. Nissan Rogue

10

Jeep Patriot

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Patriot | CarMax

Even though the Jeep Patriot finished production in 2017, they are still one of the most popular small SUVs on our lots. Its iconic Jeep shape and interior roominess are winning points if you're looking for an urban family vehicle. You can find the 2017 Jeep Patriot in Sport, Sport SE, Latitude, and High Altitude trims. Some of the standard features on the 2017 Jeep Patriot include:

  • Steering-wheel mounted cruise control and audio controls
  • Five-speed manual transmission
  • Satellite radio with Bluetooth® connectivity
  • 60/40-split-folding rear seats
  • A CD player with MP3 capability

There are two engines and three different transmissions available on the 2017 Jeep Patriot but a 2.0L four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission come standard. Available upgrades include a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, leather seating, and an advanced off-road features package.


09

Jeep Compass

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Compass | CarMax

Completely redesigned from the ground up for 2018, the Jeep Compass is the smallest SUV in the Jeep family. If you're looking for Jeep off-road capability, styling, and heritage in a compact package, the 2018 Jeep Compass may be for you. If you want to get your wheels dirty, the 2018 Jeep Compass Trailhawk features a full suite of off-road controls. The 2018 Jeep Compass is also available in Sport, Latitude, and Limited trims. Standard features on the 2018 Jeep Compass include:

  • Front-wheel drive
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • Manual air conditioning with a cabin air filter
  • Five-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity
  • Heated exterior mirrors

When upgrading to the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited, available features include leather seating, a Beats by Dre™ audio system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and a power liftgate.


08

Audi Q5

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Audi Q5 | CarMax

If you're looking for a more luxurious compact SUV and the leading edge in modern technology, look no further than the Audi Q5. 2017 and later Q5s are available in three engine trims: the 2.0T, 3.0T, and SQ5. A supercharged 3.0L V6 engine powers 2017 and later Audi SQ5s, topping out at 354 horsepower. Each engine trim is available in Premium Plus and Prestige feature packages. The base-model 2017 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium features:

  • Three-zone automatic climate control
  • 10-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connectivity
  • 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Power tailgate

Upgrades to 2017 and later Audi Q5s are numerous. Depending on the trim and package, options include a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, ventilated front seats, Nappa-leather seating, a surround-view camera, and adaptive cruise control.


07

GMC Terrain

Best Small and Compact SUVs: GMC Terrain | CarMax

The GMC Terrain has been in production since 2010 and entered its second generation during the 2018 model year. The 2018 GMC Terrain is a refined and capable SUV that should have the space you need for family trips, plus an available all-weather traction system for when driving conditions are less than ideal. The 2018 GMC Terrain has four available trims: SL, SLE, SLT, and Denali, and three engine options, including a diesel on the SLT and SLE trims. Standard features include:

  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-seat reminder for occupants left in the passenger seats
  • 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • Power accessories
  • Teen-driver technology

The 2018 GMC Terrain also has 29.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. With the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 2018 GMC Terrain can tow an estimated 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.1


06

Jeep Wrangler

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Wrangler | CarMax

If off-road capability and styling are important to you, the Jeep Wrangler should be a good fit. Redesigned for 2018, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is available in either a two- or four-door format. Each is available in four different trims, Sport, Sport S, Sahara, and Rubicon, and with one engine option. Standard 2018 Jeep Wrangler features include:

  • Halogen headlights and fog lights
  • Fuel tank and transfer case skid plates
  • A soft folding top with sunroof feature
  • An eight-speaker audio system
  • A USB charge port

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is more than just looks. The doors and soft roof can be entirely removed to give you the ultimate summer cruising experience. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon trim is perfect for the trail-seeker in you, with additional skid plates, low-ratio crawl gearing, and a wash-out interior with drain plugs.


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05

Jeep Cherokee

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Cherokee | CarMax

If you're looking for a combination of capability, off-roading, and a dash of Jeep looks, the comfortable Jeep Cherokee is a smart choice. Across all model years, there are a pair of engines to choose from, each mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. In addition, with five different trims to choose from (2017 and onward), you should be able to get the feature list you're looking for. Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Overland trims are all available with front- or four-wheel drive whereas the Trailhawk is only available with four-wheel drive. Features standard on 2017 and later Jeep Cherokees include:

  • Power folding mirrors
  • 3.5-inch touchscreen monitor
  • Cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • 60/40-split-folding rear seat
  • 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity

If you're looking for serious off-roading capability, the 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk adds front and rear tow hooks, hill-descent speed control, an off-road-tuned suspension, and full-body skid plates.


04

Toyota RAV4

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Toyota RAV4 | CarMax

If you're interested in a practical SUV with car-like driving manners, consider the Toyota RAV4. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is newly designed, adding rugged looks to its useful features. The new design improves interior space, giving the 2019 Toyota RAV4 69.8 cubic feet of total cargo space. Look for the 2019 Toyota RAV4 in six trims: LE, XLE, XSE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited. Base-model features on 2019 and later Toyota RAV4s include:

  • LED headlights and tail lights
  • A 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity
  • A 203-horsepower 2.5L four-cylinder engine
  • Pre-collision alert with pedestrian detection
  • A USB charge port

The 2019 RAV4 is one of the few compact SUVs that boast a hybrid platform. The LE, XLE, XSE, and Limited trims are available with a hybrid system, getting an impressive EPA-estimated 40 mpg combined.2 All hybrid models come with all-wheel drive.


03

Honda CR-V

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

The 2017 Honda CR-V is the fifth generation of this attractive and spirited SUV. Its angular styling and unique taillights make this popular SUV stand out in the crowd. All-wheel drive is standard on all trims but the base-model LX. 2017 and later Honda CR-Vs also feature a full suite of driving aids standard on EX and higher trims, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and a collision-avoidance system. Even 2017 and newer Honda CR-V base model LXs feature:

  • LED Daytime running lights
  • Multi-angle rearview camera
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Electronic parking brake with automatic hold
  • 184-horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder engine and CVT

You can find the 2017 Honda CR-V in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trims.


02

Ford Escape

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Ford Escape | CarMax

Attractive styling and a selection of available turbocharged engines have made the Ford Escape a popular choice. You'll enjoy the feeling of driving a small car and the decent amount of usable space in the interior (34 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats). 2017 and later Ford Escapes offer a good selection of standard features, putting it in the runner-up spot for the second year in a row. These features include:

  • 4.2-inch touchscreen with voice activation
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity

There are three different engines to choose from for 2017 and later Ford Escapes. All-wheel-drive is optional on all trims for extra control in less-than-ideal road conditions.


01

Nissan Rogue

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Patriot | CarMax

Returning to our top spot once again, the Nissan Rogue combines an attractive exterior design with functional features, a useful interior layout, and a desirable list of standard features. The 2017-and-later Nissan Rogue is the only SUV on this list with an optional third row, carrying up to seven passengers on the SV trim. One engine option and CVT is available on all 2017 and later Nissan Rogues, though a hybrid platform is also available. Some standard features on the 2019 Nissan Rogue include:

  • LED taillights and daytime running lights
  • Satellite radio with Bluetooth connectivity
  • Five-passenger seating
  • Cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Blind-spot monitoring

Even with three rows, there are 9.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. As a five-passenger SUV, the 2017-2019 Nissan Rogue boasts 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold all the seats down for an impressive 70 cubic feet when hauling a bigger load.


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1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
2Fuel 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.
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.