Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2024 Chevy Equinox is shown parked on a driveway after visiting a Chevy Equinox for sale.

Your Guide To 7 Of The Top Compact SUVs

Compact SUVs are part of a popular vehicle segment because their easy-to-drive and easy-to-park dimensions give them an edge over space-ship-like large SUVs. They also have a fuel economy that rivals that of sedans. Then, they get the increased riding height associated with SUVs.

Within the market of compact SUVs, there is still plenty of variety. Most of the top automotive manufacturers offer a compact SUV. However, in order to stand out, these brands have given their models distinct personalities and benefits to appeal to a specific demographic. So, if you’re shopping for a Nissan Rogue or another competitor like the Chevy Equinox for sale, and aren’t sure which one is right for your habits and preferences, here’s an overview of the features and perks of some of the top compact SUVs available.

Chevy Equinox

The Chevy Equinox is an affordable and fun-to-drive model with a modest starting MSRP of $26,600. It’s packed with excellent standard features and gets great fuel economy. In fact, the Equinox is a terrific choice for young adults entering the job force for the first time, looking for a budget-friendly model that will help them save on gas for long commutes to work.

The Equinox is good for young drivers all around, thanks to its award-winning suite of safety features. The Equinox gets the standard driver-assist features that can help drivers be more aware and make better decisions on the road. These include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, a following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and IntelliBeam high beams.

The feature that clearly makes this a great model for young drivers is the Teen Driver system. It’s a standout feature among several Chevy models and lets parents set speed and volume limits for their teen driver. The Equinox is youthful, affordable, and packed with good standard features.

Nissan Rogue

The Nissan Rogue exudes style and is ideal for anyone looking for a vehicle with cosmopolitan looks, ready for meetings with corporate clients or high-profile events in the city. For the 2024 model year, the Rogue received a refresh and has some brand-new features that drivers will enjoy.

The 2024 Rogue delivers elegance and power at a solid price point. Its standout features are found throughout its cabin. Step inside it, and you’ll instantly notice how well-designed every inch is. It has massive and sleek tablet-esque touch screens and an available 12.3-inch one to boot. Plus, available enhanced voice control lets you make calls, change the song, and more without taking your hands off the wheel.

The Rogue has built-in Google, meaning you can use Google Maps, Google Assist, Google Play, and all the other products you already know and love from this search engine right inside your vehicle. As for materials, the cabin is stunning, with available Chestnut leather-appointed seating with accent stitching.

A red 2024 Ford Escape is shown parked near several buildings.

Ford Escape

The 2024 Ford Escape is a powerful, highly capable compact SUV that is known for its reliability, power, and rugged handling. It offers a starting MSRP of $29,345. This is your road trip-ready vehicle. It has the cabin features you need to keep everyone comfortable and content on long trips, like an available heated steering wheel, tons of legroom, and an available B&O sound system so you can enjoy music, podcasts, and more as you travel.

As I said, this is your adventure vehicle, which is also why it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. So, if you need to tow a small camper, boat, ATV, or similar item to your campground, you can do so with the Escape. Also, on the power front, there are four available engines; the most powerful of them boasts 250 horsepower. I can’t talk about the perks of the 2024 model without mentioning that it is available as both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Toyota RAV4

While the Ford Escape is road trip-ready, the Toyota RAV4 is adventure-ready. It is a level up in the rugged/ready-for-anything department from the Escape. The Escape is good for city and camping life. The Toyota RAV4 is unapologetically made for adventure. I say this because of its dedicated TRD off-road trim, which has some serious features. It has a specially tuned off-road suspension with enhanced rebound control, so you can travel down bumpy roads without feeling like you’re riding a roller coaster in the cabin. This trim also has a skid plate to protect the undercarriage.

The 2024 RAV4 also gets standard multi-terrain select on all-wheel drive gas models. This system gives you four modes: mud/sand, rock/dirt, snow, and normal. Each of these works to give you the traction you need on a variety of surfaces.

With a starting MSRP of $28,475, the RAV4 packs a lot of fun while remaining in the under-$30K pricepoint (on select trims).

A red 2024 Honda CR-V is shown driving on a bridge.

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is an excellent choice for families who need a spacious, comfortable cabin to keep everyone content. It is known for its generous cargo room. In fact, with the rear seats down, it offers 76.5 cubic feet of cargo—one of the most competitive cargo spaces in this vehicle class. So, if you need the freedom to alternate between tremendous passenger space and trunk space, this is the model for you. It even gets a low and wide trunk opening for easy loading.

The Honda CR-V is incredibly comfortable, too. Rearseat passengers get plenty of legroom. The cabin actually boasts a total of 106 cubic feet of passenger volume. The driver can feel right at home, too, with an available 10-way power driver seat with two-way lumbar support.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsibushi has a reputation for delivering performance-forward vehicles at a remarkable price point, and the Eclipse Cross lives up to that legacy. With a starting MSRP of $26,345, it is competitively priced for its vehicle class.

You’ll instantly notice the coupe-like styling of the Eclipse Cross. It has sharp body lines and simply looks fast. On the performance front, it’s known for excellent acceleration, responsive steering, and terrific all-wheel drive capabilities. A turbocharged engine comes standard for power you can feel. A standout feature of the 2024 model is the Active Yaw Control. This system analyzes your driving style, adjusting braking and driving forces accordingly to help you take advantage of the four-wheel drive.

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a favorite among wilderness lovers, and for good reason. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance makes it ready to tackle uneven, rough roads without concern of scratching up the bottom of the vehicle. Plus, it can tow up to 3,000 pounds, making it perfect for taking a small camper out to a remote site to enjoy a night under the stars.

The 2024 Forester only comes with all-wheel drive, speaking to its genuine rugged nature. When you are traveling down long, lonely highways to reach your destination, the distraction mitigation system is another feature you’ll be glad to have. It uses a camera to monitor the driver’s eye and head movements, alerting you if it senses you take your eyes off the road. With a starting MSRP of $27,095, the Forest is well-priced for what it offers.