10 Best Compact SUVs Under $20K: Ranked

10 Best Compact SUVs Under $20K: Ranked: Hero | CarMax

Capable, compact, and budget-friendly.

With more cargo space than sedans and a smaller body made for narrow streets, compact SUVs offer space, practicality, and convenience if you’re seeking a car with some flexibility. Compact SUVs are easy to maneuver through tight spaces and can face challenging conditions head-on. Whether you're looking for a practical commuter or something to take to the ski slopes or beach, you'll be happy driving a compact SUV.

To help you on your search, we've compiled an updated list of the 10 best compact SUVs under $20,000 for 2022 shoppers, based on CarMax pricing and sales data from June 1, 2021, through November 30, 2021.1 Please be aware that certain model years and upper trim configurations may bring the prices of some of these vehicles over $20,000.


Ford Escape SE


Nissan Rogue S


Ford Escape S


Jeep Compass Sport


Jeep Patriot Sport


Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES


Jeep Cherokee Sport


Jeep Patriot Latitude


Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE


Jeep Compass High Altitude

Key Compact SUV Features


If you're looking for a utility vehicle with great gas mileage, a compact SUV is a natural choice. Due to their smaller dimensions, lighter weight, and fuel-sipping powertrains, you'll get more miles to the gallon. Start your search with the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES. 2017–2020 models with the 2.0L four-cylinder and 2WD return an EPA-estimated 27 mpg.2 The 2020 Ford Escape S and SE trims also impress. With the turbocharged 1.5L three-cylinder and FWD, this compact SUV achieves 30 mpg combined.2


Compact SUVs are not shy when it comes to embracing challenging conditions. The 2017 Jeep Cherokee Sport and the 2017 Jeep Patriot Sport and Latitude trims come equipped with 4WD systems (when paired with a 2.4L four-cylinder), to maintain stability and balanced torque on slick surfaces. The 2017–2020 Compass Sport takes it one step further with a Jeep Active Drive full-time 4x4 system with a disconnecting rear axle, which automatically switches between FWD and AWD at any speed to provide the right amount of grip. Learn
more about these models at our Jeep research page.

Cargo Space

Cargo-carrying versatility is a serious advantage of owning a compact SUV. If you need roomy capacity, check out the 2017–2020 Nissan Rogue, which provides 39.3 cu-ft of volume behind the second row and 70 cubes when folded. The 2017–2019 Ford Escape is another spacious model, delivering 68 cu-ft of capacity with the second row folded or 34 cubes with the rear seats in place. Whether you carry luggage, a stroller, or sporting equipment, a compact SUV is a spacious option.


If you prioritize technology, the Jeep Compass High Altitude has what you need. 2020 models include a Uconnect® 4C NAV infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and a nine-speaker Alpine® premium audio system with a subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier. The 2018–2020 Nissan Rogue S will also impress with its standard driving aids. This base trim includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and rear-cross traffic alert for extra peace of mind. 2019–2020 Rogue S models also provide seamless smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto capabilities.

Used compact SUVs are great all-around vehicles for drivers seeking pleasing performance, capability, versatility, and high-tech features on a budget. Ideal for commuting, running errands, or road trips a small SUV is a great choice no matter your lifestyle.

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1Average estimates are based on prices on from June 1, 2021, through November 30, 2021. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features, and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees.
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle 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
* Price excludes taxes, title, registration, and fees. Applicable transfer fees are due in advance of vehicle delivery and are separate from sales transactions.

We hope you found this information helpful. This content is intended to inform and is not meant to indicate that a particular vehicle is currently available or recommended for you.​

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