The Best Compact SUVs for 2018 Are Big on Features and Value


Compact SUVs are for buyers who need seating for four (or five in a pinch) and the stuff to go with them. But the best compact SUV models have more than just space. They are loaded with safety tech and other features. Some are even fun to drive.

But despite the small name, these compact SUVs are hardly small. They aren’t the tiny tin cans the compact name implies. They’re small in stature, but big on features, capability, fuel economy and value. It’s a crowded segment, but here are 10 of the best compact SUV models for 2018.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen introduced the all-new second-generation Tiguan in late 2017. It’s a much bigger vehicle than the last one. So much bigger that it’s now an SUV with three rows of seating.

While the seats are too snug for most adults, they’re fine for kids. The bigger VW Tiguan gets more cargo space as well. If you don’t want the optional third row, you get even more space in the back. The new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers less power than last year, but has increased fuel economy.

2018 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape offers up lots of variety. There are three engines to pick from, including a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder and a pair of turbocharged engines in 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter form. The latter offers 245 horsepower making the Ford Escape one of the quickest SUVs in its class.

The 34.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row makes it one of the biggest in the class too. You also get Ford’s Sync3 connectivity system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto on a big touchscreen.

2018 GMC Terrain

The new 2018 GMC Terrain offers lots of choice. It can be had with one of three engines, including a 2.0-liter turbo-four that is one of the most powerful in the class. There’s also a 1.6-liter diesel that is one of the most efficient.


A new electronic shifter means that there is more room for the driver and front passenger as well as their stuff. The rugged looks surround a capable interior that can even fold the front passenger seat flat to hold extra-long items inside. For drivers wanting more luxury, the Terrain is available in high-end Denali trim.

2018 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is the “go-to” compact SUV in this segment. When Honda introduced it in 1997 it was one of the first in the class and it remains one of the best.

The CR-V was all new last year. It remains nearly the same size as before, but packaging has gotten even better. It has lots of room for five, class-leading 39 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats, and a fuel-efficient turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

2018 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep Cherokee is the obvious choice if you plan to take the family anywhere off the pavement. It’s available with two engines, including a 271 horsepower V6. The nine-speed automatic helps to boost fuel economy, and three all-wheel-drive choices make sure it can handle off-road duties.

The top off-road mode even includes a locking center differential and crawl mode for maximum grip in poor conditions. The Cherokee rides and handles like a real Jeep, so it won’t win for ride comfort but it does feel ruggedly secure on the road.

2018 Mazda CX-5

The latest redesign of the Mazda CX-5 made this choice even better. The CX-5 is now one of the quieter choices in the class, with an interior that feels equally above average.

The CX-5 is the most car-like drive of the mainstream compact SUVs, and while it’s no MX-5 it definitely feels related. The CX-5’s interior can feel a little narrow for larger drivers and passengers, especially drivers who sit with their knees splayed. Easily one of the best compact SUV models on the road.

2018 Nissan Rogue

Nissan gave the Rogue a refresh midway through 2017. It added forward collision warning with emergency braking to the list of safety features.

The Rogue doesn’t have any tricks up its sleeve in the handling department, but it does ride comfortably. It has seating for seven and a unique cargo area with a system of movable partitions that lets you stack items on multiple levels. It’s also the only one that offers Star Wars special editions.

2018 Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester gets updated with LED headlights, automatic braking in reverse and Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, which adds pre-collision braking, lane-keeping assist and radar cruise control.


The Forester is still a rally car at heart, in keeping with the brand’s off-road history. That doesn’t mean it rides poorly on-road. Just the opposite, the long-travel suspension helps the Forester to ride more smoothly on the roughest roads.

2018 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 has long battled out with the CR-V for best compact SUV, and that clash continues today. Toyota also offers the only hybrid in this segment, and it has best-in-class fuel economy.

Toyota goes big on safety, and Safety Sense P is standard on all trims. That means automatic high beams, radar cruise control, lane keep assist and automatic braking. Even on the base model. It’s the only vehicle in the segment to offer that.

2018 Volvo XC60

The Volvo XC60 offers one of the sleekest and most stylish designs, inside and out. Not words you’d expect to associate with the Swedish brand, but it really has undergone an evolution recently.

As one of the best compact SUV models, it offers a big, airy cabin with plenty of room for rear-seat passengers. It’s available with a range of 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines that offer turbocharging and supercharging. There is also a plug-in hybrid available that gives an estimated 20-mile electric range plus exceptional fuel economy.