Extra-small crossover SUVs make up the fastest-growing class in the automotive industry over the past five years, according to Edmunds data. The segment surpassed the 1 million mark in number of vehicles sold for the first time in 2019.
Consumers are increasingly attracted to these models because they’re less expensive than popular small crossover SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 but still offer drivers more cargo storage space and a higher seating height than a typical sedan.
Buying an extra-small crossover SUV is not without drawbacks. They typically cost a few thousand dollars more than similarly sized sedans and get lower fuel economy on average. They also sometimes lack features found on bigger crossover SUVs, such as all-wheel drive or power rear liftgates. Still, if you’re going the SUV route, these smaller models can be an appealing choice.
These are five worthy picks for an extra-small crossover SUV, as selected by the experts at Edmunds. All prices below include the destination charge.
2020 HYUNDAI KONA
Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $21,420
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 37-30 mpg combined
The best extra-small crossover SUVs take the sharper driving characteristics of a sedan and add utility. Hyundai Kona is a prime example of this formula done right. Fitted with its optional turbocharged engine, the Kona is surprisingly quick to accelerate. It’s also nimble when going around turns.
Every Kona comes with features that aren’t always standard for this class, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The Kona doesn’t have as much rear legroom or cargo room as some of its rivals, but on the whole it’s a great choice.
2020 BUICK ENCORE
Starting MSRP: $24,195
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 26-31 mpg combined
The Buick Encore is a slightly altered version of the Chevrolet Trax. The two vehicles share their engine and most of their underpinnings. The Encore has several key features that set it apart, though, and only commands a small price premium. That upscale yet affordable feel is enough to earn a recommendation from our experts.
The biggest difference is the enhanced interior. The Encore uses higher-quality cabin materials and more sound-deadening techniques to block out wind and road noise. You’ll have to accept sluggish acceleration and limited cargo space, but otherwise the Encore is a smart small SUV choice.
2020 HONDA HR-V
Starting MSRP: $21,940
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 28-30 mpg combined
If you’re finding that other extra-small crossover SUVs don’t provide enough room for passengers and cargo, the Honda HR-V could be the way to go. Its back seat is roomier than the norm, and we’ve found that adults can be fairly comfortable when seated there. It also has special folding seats that allow you to carry long or oddly shaped items that wouldn’t fit in one of its rival crossovers.
Downsides include a somewhat loud and underpowered engine and a touchscreen infotainment system that can be overly distracting to use while driving. But overall the HR-V is priced right, and it’s practical and strong in all the areas a pint-sized crossover should be.
2020 SUBARU CROSSTREK
Starting MSRP: $23,155
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25-30 mpg combined
Most extra-small crossover SUVs aren’t designed for recreational use. One notable exception is the Subaru Crosstrek. It has standard all-wheel drive to provide extra traction on loose surfaces as well as higher-than-average ground clearance to clear ruts and rocks when out on a trail. The Crosstrek also comes standard with raised roof rails that make it easy to install racks to haul your favorite gear.
The Crosstrek is still a solid pick even if you’re not planning on off-road adventure. It has a smooth ride quality, a roomy back seat and easy-to-use controls. Nearly all Crosstreks sold also come standard with advanced driver safety aids such as forward collision mitigation. Slow acceleration is the main drawback to going with this Subaru.
2020 AUDI Q3
Starting MSRP: $35,695
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22 mpg combined
Luxury brands are also playing the extra-small SUV game. Audi’s entry is the Q3. It’s Audi’s least expensive vehicle, yet it has many of the traits the brand is known for, such as a high-quality interior, a smooth ride and features such as advanced driver safety features that can help mitigate accidents and reduce driver distraction.
The Q3 isn’t the sportiest model in its class, and its fuel economy is below par. But on the whole, this little Audi shows you don’t need to spend stacks of cash to get a stylish and practical luxury crossover SUV.
EDMUNDS SAYS: A new breed of crossover SUVs is here. Extra-small crossovers provide close to the same utility as small crossovers but cost less and get better fuel economy.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Ryan ZumMallen is a staff writer at Edmunds. Twitter: @zoomy575m; Instagram: zoomy575m.