2023 Mazda CX-5
Boasting a premium cabin and exceptional driving experience in its price bracket, the Mazda CX-5 is a top contender in the compact crossover SUV market with room for five passengers. Its popularity is evident, as it’s the best-selling model in Mazda’s range. However, the automaker has introduced the CX-50, targeting a more adventurous demographic, while the CX-5 caters to city dwellers and suburbanites. Slotting between the CX-30 and the forthcoming CX-70 and CX-90, the CX-50’s arrival poses a dilemma regarding the CX-5’s place in the lineup. Nevertheless, the CX-5 remains a top choice among compact SUVs, offering a deluxe interior, agile handling, and competitive pricing. While it slightly lags in rear passenger space, cargo volume, and fuel efficiency, it’s undoubtedly a class-leading vehicle overall.
2023 Hyundai Tucson
The compact SUV market is fiercely competitive, with automakers vying for your attention, reminiscent of the busiest Black Friday frenzy. Among the contenders is the 2023 Hyundai Tucson, sitting comfortably between Hyundai’s Kona and Santa Fe, and challenging top rivals like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Nissan Rogue. Standout features are its exceptional comfort, an attractive warranty, and unbeatable value. Plus, the Tucson is available as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid for fuel savings. Hyundai revamped the Tucson a year ago, introducing eye-catching design, a stylish cabin, and cutting-edge tech. This year, they’ve fine-tuned its offerings, introducing the XRT trim, boasting a rugged outdoorsy aesthetic. While the 2023 Tucson has a few shortcomings, its appeal in the segment is undeniable. Browse our Expert Rating categories below as you ponder whether the Tucson is the perfect compact SUV for you. The Hyundai Tucson packs a punch in terms of value, delivering a plush ride and user-friendly gadgets. We also appreciate its premium cabin feel and spacious cargo area. Regrettably, its underwhelming engine may struggle with rapid acceleration, but the Tucson remains a smart compact SUV choice.
2023 Honda CR-V
Since its debut in 1997, the Honda CR-V has remained a steadfast contender in the compact crossover arena, consistently impressing with its roominess, enjoyable driving experience, user-friendly design, and economical fuel consumption. In 2023, the CR-V undergoes a comprehensive renovation encompassing its exterior and interior, while retaining the core qualities that make it a standout choice. Encapsulating the importance of size in compact SUVs, Honda has increased the wheelbase by 1.6 inches, bestowing the latest CR-V with even more rear legroom. Cargo capacity remains largely unaltered, and both the hybrid and standard models now boast an ample 39.3 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats or 76.5 cubic feet when the seats are folded down. Widely recognized as the quintessential small SUV for families, the latest CR-V iteration continues to deliver with a comfortable ride, advanced technology, and generous storage space. Nevertheless, as rivals have substantially upped their game, the CR-V, although a solid option, no longer dominates the segment.
2023 Ford Bronco Sport
Car enthusiasts eagerly anticipated the return of Ford’s iconic Bronco SUV for decades, and they were rewarded with two distinct models when they made their debut in 2021: the brawny, truck-like Bronco and its more compact sibling, the Bronco Sport. The former stays true to the adventurous lineage dating back to the 1960s, while the latter offers a taste of that legacy in a smaller, crossover form. Based on the Ford Escape, the Bronco Sport may not have the formidable off-roading prowess of its larger kin, but it’s perfectly suited for those seeking a daily compact SUV with a dash of trailblazing spirit. Features like standard all-wheel drive, generous ground clearance, and optimized traction settings facilitate your outdoor escapades, while a spacious cabin and a large, easy-to-clean cargo space enhance its practical appeal. The Ford Bronco Sport not only delivers on its promise of off-road capability but also looks the part. It scores high in technology and interior space but falls short in aspects such as ride comfort, rear passenger room, and confident steering and braking, where its competitors excel.
2023 Mazda CX-50
Introducing the 2023 Mazda CX-50: a fresh compact SUV that sits alongside its sibling, the CX-5. Though an unusual situation, these two have their unique characteristics, easily distinguishing them. The CX-50 dons a more rugged visage, with bolder fenders and a sleeker grille. It’s not just for looks, either – this new model boasts superior off-road and towing capabilities compared to the CX-5 and numerous competitors. The CX-50’s adventurous side emerges from its intelligent off-road mode, skillfully blending steering and traction control to stay true to course. Depending on the chosen trim, ground clearance ranges from 8.3 to 8.6 inches, comparable to the adventurous Subaru Forester (8.7 inches). The CX-50 Meridian Edition even packs all-terrain tires. The Mazda CX-50 impresses with its comfortable, luxurious cabin, placing it a notch above the rest. Swift and enjoyable to drive, expect heavier steering and a slightly stiffer ride, yet rewarding handling. Priced moderately higher, the CX-50 is hard to top for those seeking a compact utility vehicle.
2023 Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue has not only become Nissan’s flagship model, but also a leading contender in the compact SUV arena. No wonder it’s rapidly disappearing from dealership showrooms. Revamped just two years back, the fresh(ish) Rogue outshines its rather bland forerunner. Boasting a snazzier exterior design and an attractive interior that rivals high-end tech gadgets, it features a fully digital dashboard, wireless Apple CarPlay, and an advanced ProPilot Assist package. Building on last year’s enhancements, which primarily included replacing its 2021 model’s naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine with a turbocharged triple, the 2023 Rogue receives subtle tweaks. A Midnight Edition pack adorns the Rogue SV with black-finished wheels and accents, while the SL and Platinum now offer Amazon Alexa integration. There are no other changes to the Rogue. The latest iteration is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the Rogue lineage—practical, fuel-efficient, and rich in standard attributes and driver assistance systems. Although it excels as an all-rounder, the Rogue falls short in cabin noise insulation, ride refinement, and its infotainment system, which seems outdated compared to rival compact SUVs.
2023 Subaru Forester
As one of the pioneering compact crossover SUVs in the late 90s, the Subaru Forester has truly made a name for itself as a cornerstone in Subaru’s lineup. As a popular choice for cold-weather dwellers, the Forester’s standard all-wheel-drive system and ample ground clearance provide exceptional off-road capabilities. Within Subaru’s SUV portfolio, it sits alongside the petite Crosstrek, versatile Outback, and spacious three-row Ascent. Though the 2023 Forester sees minimal changes since its significant 2022 update, there are notable safety system enhancements and an enlarged forward camera view. Additionally, the Wilderness trim now boasts an even bigger infotainment touchscreen. While the Forester’s acceleration could be zestier, its rugged charm, cozy interior, and impressive value for money make it an attractive option in the crossover SUV market.
2023 Ford Bronco
Gone are the days when crossovers were all about style over substance; today’s models boast rugged, off-road capabilities – or at least, they appear to. For those who crave genuine off-road prowess, look no further than the 2023 Ford Bronco. This truck-based SUV, now in its third production year, is purpose-built for off-roading adventures, with four-wheel drive, ample ground clearance, and an array of optional hardware enhancements to tackle even the toughest terrains. Its removable roof and doors add that extra dash of fun and freedom, whether on asphalt or off the beaten path. The Bronco excels in off-road handling while maintaining a comfortable and enjoyable on-road driving experience. While fuel economy, wind noise, braking distance, and some budget interior materials may be shortcomings, the Bronco outshines its rivals in overall value for most buyers, thanks to its blend of design, capabilities, and off-road package availability.
2023 Kia Sportage
Although perception may not be everything, it undoubtedly holds significance. Kia has often been viewed as a budget-friendly brand, but this can sometimes imply a lack of quality. With the aim to alter this belief, Kia offers striking design, cutting-edge technology, and intelligent packaging at competitive prices. The Sportage, Kia’s compact crossover SUV, rivals the market’s top-selling models such as the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4. Given that almost every car manufacturer boasts a compact SUV in their repertoire, it’s no surprise that the Sportage can be overlooked by many potential buyers. However, the Kia Sportage grabs attention with its smooth driving experience, roomy seating, and expansive rear cargo space, not to mention its attractive technology features and advanced driver aids. Its most notable drawbacks are the lackluster acceleration and disappointing fuel efficiency.
2023 Toyota RAV4
Consistently ranking as a top-seller in the SUV segment, the Toyota RAV4 owes much of its success to the brand’s well-established reliability. This compact SUV is acclaimed for its spacious cabin, user-friendly technology, and comfortable ride. A diverse range of trim levels caters to various budgets and preferences, with the RAV4 TRD Off-Road model boasting exclusive off-roading features such as all-terrain tires and specialized suspension modifications. Visually unchanged for 2023, the RAV4 introduces noteworthy interior upgrades like an enhanced infotainment system, boasting state-of-the-art graphics, user-friendly navigation, and over-the-air software updates. The screens, both standard and upgraded, have also been enlarged for added convenience. Additional enhancements include wireless phone integration and a modern digital instrument panel. Providing a smooth ride, ample interior space, and practical utility, the RAV4 impresses on many fronts. However, its unremarkable engine performance and lackluster steering prevent it from being the ultimate compact SUV choice.
2023 Ford Escape
For 2023, the Ford Escape has cemented its position as a top contender in the compact crossover SUV segment, rivaling fan favorites like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. This highly popular vehicle from Ford, slotted below the roomier Edge, now comes with a fresh facelift, updated Sync 4 infotainment system, and revamped lineup offering various powertrain options – gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. Its new, bolder front-end design lends it a stronger road presence, while larger in-car screens enhance the modern interior ambiance. Boasting a spacious cabin, user-friendly tech, and cozy seating, the Escape ticks every box for a small SUV. Its storage capacity may not be groundbreaking, but it’s more than adequate. The only minor downsides are its somewhat unpolished transmission shifts and a slight lack of handling precision.
2023 Volkswagen Tiguan
The Tiguan, a compact crossover, boasts a comfortable and spacious interior, distinctive styling reminiscent of the larger Volkswagen Atlas, and even hints of premium Audis. The top-trim model features genuine leather seats, contrasting stitching, and an impressive digital dashboard. The Tiguan also offers a smooth, controlled driving experience and ample passenger and cargo space, making it a rare compact SUV with an optional third-row seating. However, the truth remains that numerous two-row competitors in the segment share these qualities. Rivals like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are faster, while the Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Forester are more affordable. Read on to discover what our experts have to say about the Tiguan’s features and versatility, which combine to create a sleek small SUV with a comfortable ride, great visibility, and an optional third row which, despite its limited utility and some confusing controls, remains an appealing option.
2023 Jeep Cherokee
Set for a possible revamp in 2023, the Jeep Cherokee, a compact two-row crossover SUV, still carries its 2014 design but with a few modern updates and additional trims. Its refreshed appearance and enhanced features last year keep it in competition as one of the most versatile small crossovers on the market. Although Jeep has yet to confirm, a full redesign might be in store, potentially incorporating hybrid or even plug-in hybrid drivetrains. Standing its ground alongside rivals like the spacious Honda CR-V, the classy Mazda CX-5, and the revamped Nissan Rogue, whilst not forgetting the iconic Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester, the Cherokee shines through with its impressive off-road trail prowess. Sporting a refined look resembling a scaled-down Grand Cherokee, it offers a choice between a classic V6 engine and a fiery turbocharged 2.0-liter powerhouse, ensuring the Jeep Cherokee maintains its position as a top contender among compact SUVs. Compare how the Cherokee measures up with Edmunds’ Expert Rating to satisfy your curiosity.
2023 Mitsubishi Outlander
Behold, the crowning jewel of Mitsubishi’s offerings in the United States – the 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander. A three-row compact crossover SUV that exudes panache, embraces modern technology, and boasts a competitive edge in power. Granted, these accolades may seem like the Outlander just about manages to keep up with others in its class; but in contrast to Mitsubishi’s remaining U.S. range, it’s nothing short of a revelation. It’s no coincidence that the 2023 Outlander shares its DNA with the Nissan Rogue in terms of platform and components; nevertheless, the Outlander sets itself apart with a distinctive appearance, a coveted third-row seat, and a fine-tuned driving experience. The Outlander’s secret weapon is its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, leaving the Rogue’s turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder counterpart in the dust. Plus, the Mitsubishi’s warranty is the cherry on top. With this Outlander, a significant leap from its former iteration, the newfound Nissan Rogue alliance hails triumphant – showcasing a stunning touchscreen interface, premium interior materials, enhanced ride, and seating comfort. The lackluster powertrain and the occasional tech hiccup are but minor drawbacks in an otherwise outstanding package.
2023 Chevrolet Equinox
The compact SUV market is brimming with enticing options, and the 2023 Chevrolet Equinox is vying for attention among stalwarts like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Its eye-catching design is accentuated by sleek lines, a timeless front-end appearance, and standard LED headlights. For those craving a bolder look, the new Midnight and Sport packages offer gloss black wheels and blacked-out exterior accents, all at a lower price than the existing RS trim that provides extra features and options. The 2023 Equinox gains an extra edge under the hood as well, unlocking an additional 5 horsepower from its four-cylinder engine. While we’re not overly impressed with the turbo engine’s liveliness, we hope this extra boost will inject some pep into the Equinox. We’ll update you after we put it through its paces. Although the Equinox may be a comfortable ride, it’s important to explore all your options. Browse our SUV rankings to discover the perfect crossover to suit your preferences and requirements.
2023 Jeep Compass
The revamped 2023 Jeep Compass slots neatly between the petite Renegade and the more sizable Cherokee as a compact crossover SUV within Jeep’s range. Following last year’s enhancements, the 2023 model benefits from an all-new turbocharged engine, which boasts a respectable 200 horsepower and improved fuel efficiency. The punchier powerplant should deliver a sprightlier acceleration, while achieving an EPA-rated 27 mpg for combined city/highway driving – a 2 mpg improvement from the previous year, albeit slightly behind some rival compact SUVs. Additional upgrades feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox, standard four-wheel drive across all variants, and the introduction of a drowsy driver alert and rear-seat reminder system. Although well-equipped for off-road escapades, the 2023 Jeep Compass may fall short for those preferring a conventional SUV — unless a hybrid version expands its allure in the future.
2023 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler undoubtedly deserves its iconic status, although it caters to a specific niche. Craving some off-roading adventures from the Pacific Coast Highway to the Appalachians? This vehicle is your go-to choice. Surprisingly, its formidable off-road prowess has also gained popularity in suburban regions where navigating a drive-thru lane might seem challenging. The 2023 Wrangler model boasts an impressive customization range, offering two or four-door options and six diverse engines, from a four-cylinder to a commanding V8. Plus, you can still opt for a manual transmission. Essentially, the Wrangler caters to a wide audience and remains one of the few cars that can traverse the most secluded spots straight from the dealership. Oozing character, the Wrangler presents a thrilling, visceral driving experience and remains unbeatable off-road. However, its off-road focus compromises the steering, handling, and ride comfort. Nevertheless, the Wrangler strikes the perfect balance between tradition and modernity.
2023 GMC Terrain
We understand — the demand for vehicles is massive, and prices for both new and used cars are through the roof. Consequently, you might find yourself considering models from brands that wouldn’t have been your first choice otherwise. If you’re struggling to find the perfect Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the 2023 GMC Terrain may catch your attention as a potential alternative. Hold your horses, though. Despite some tech upgrades and minor styling tweaks last year, the Terrain’s many shortcomings prevent it from being a leading or even intermediate player in the compact SUV market. The sole engine option lacks power, and both seat and ride comfort are disappointingly below class benchmarks. While the GMC Terrain offers a cozy interior and user-friendly technology features, its feeble base engine, sluggish transmission, and bumpy ride, combined with a hefty price tag, prevent it from shining in the fiercely competitive compact SUV segment.
2023 Dodge Hornet
Feast your eyes on the latest Dodge creation, marking the brand’s first foray into the new generation after over a decade with the Charger and Durango. The 2023 Dodge Hornet appears to defy Dodge conventions; it’s a compact crossover that stylistically and conceptually strays from the aggressive, V8-powered Charger, Challenger, and Durango. However, glance at its range of engines and you’ll see it retains some of its siblings’ spirit, albeit updated for modern times. While most subcompact crossovers, like the Honda HR-V (158 horsepower) and Toyota Corolla Cross (169 hp), prioritize efficiency, Dodge ensures the performance-focused DNA remains with the Hornet. In the entry-level GT trim, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine pumps out an impressive 268 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, rivaling performance hatches like the Volkswagen GTI. Dodge has thus created the most potent compact SUV available, although whether it will capture the market’s attention is yet to be determined.
2023 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Positioned between its siblings in Mitsubishi’s SUV range, the Eclipse Cross stands larger than the Outlander Sport yet smaller than the three-row Outlander. This middle ground allows it to compete with both smaller SUVs, such as the Volkswagen Taos and Kia Seltos, and larger contenders like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. The 2022 refresh brought new exterior aesthetics, an upgraded infotainment system, and a refined suspension. However, changes for the 2023 model were minimal, with the most notable being the inclusion of standard all-wheel drive across all trim levels, as well as LED headlights and fog lights. The SE and SEL Special Edition trims were discontinued, and their features were absorbed by their respective standard trims. While Mitsubishi has taken steps to enhance its design, the 2023 Eclipse Cross still struggles to outshine its rivals in most areas. We’ll delve deeper once we can conduct comprehensive testing, but for now, there’s a range of extra-small SUVs that should pique your interest before this one.