Top Compact SUVs

Big things come in slightly smaller packages.

Eli Blueby Eli Blue

A look at the best little SUV's.


Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 is the quintessential compact SUV, a class leader in fuel economy (22/28 mpg), an optional V6, sedan-like handling, and the choice of three engines: a four cylinder 2WD, a four cylinder AWD, and a V6 model with 19/26 mpg for $1400 more.


Chevrolet Equinox – Large in comparison to the CR-V and the RAV4, it is tied for first in its class in fuel economy (22/32 mpg and leading interior space on par with some midsize SUVs. Plus, it is defined by tech, with a rear entertainment system, active noise cancellation, and standard three months of XM in its base trim. Safety is no slouch either, with a 2011 Top Safety Pick distinction from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its drawbacks are less cargo space (about a sixth less than the RAV4), no third row, below average reliability scores, and less than stellar cabin materials.


Honda CR-V – No Top 3 compact SUV list is complete without the CR-V. Its an agile perfumer available in three trims: LX, EX, and the luxury EX-L. Pros include its fuel economy (21/28 mpg), its powerful safety scores (five star government ratings in front and side crash tests) and a host of safety features including vehicle stability assist and brake assist, and great reliability scores. Its few cons include an underpowered four-cylinder engine, a lack of luxury features as standard and noticeable body roll. Still, the RAV4 and the CR-V have battled for spots 1 and 2 for consecutive years and the CR-V doesn't look to leave one of either spots.


GMC Terrain – A monstrous truck feel with sharp angles and a boxy look describes the GMC Terrain. Although a bit pricier than the first three (starting MSRP of $24,500), the Terrain matches the Equinox with identical fuel economy (22/32) and our personal favorite perk, optional items on other models as standard with a rearview camera, iPod interface, and XM radio.