When we were searching for a crossover SUV for our family, we spent hours at dealerships, talking and testing and negotiating. It was a painful process to say the least, but we wanted to make sure we had the right vehicle for our family’s needs. Oh, and it had to be in our budget. Is that asking too much? It seemed almost impossible.
Of course, it would’ve helped to have some go-to guidance and professional tips. I’m certainly not an automotive expert, and my husband, while perhaps a car enthusiast, is no vehicle virtuoso himself.
CarMax, however, is in the business of evaluating cars, rating picks, and sharing knowledge. So when they recently released their choices for the top 10 compact SUVs, I took note. Where was that list when I needed it?! As the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, they know the ins and outs on all the latest and greatest models.
We’re sharing our five favorites from their picks, but you can see the whole list of compact SUVs, here. They've also shared a list of the top 20 SUVs with an optional third row; and this is another great resource for parents... and ski moms (because that gear isn't going to get itself to the mountain!)
Top Compact SUVs
The Experts at CarMax Say: This mid-range option from Hyundai offers room for five — it’s smaller than the true Santa Fe SUV, but larger than Hyundai's small SUV offering, the Tucson. The Santa Fe Sport offers a roomy and comfortable ride, whether you're taking the family on errands around town or carving through mountain passes. Momtrends Says: My parents have this car, and it's much more spacious than expected. It's versatile and sleek, and a practical pick for growing families; and the ample cargo space is awesome!
The Experts Says: If you're looking for a crossover SUV that’s on the smaller side, you'll love the GMC Terrain. Despite its small size, the Terrain gives you a roomy interior and many desirable features, even with the baseline trim. You'll enjoy a rearview camera, touchscreen interface, and satellite radio, for instance.
The Experts Say: If you're more interested in toting passengers than equipment or luggage, you'll love the Chevrolet Equinox, which delivers an impressive amount of rear-seat legroom. The Equinox has less storage space than other comparable smaller SUVs, even though it's got a larger body. If you're looking for an SUV that lets you take everything on the road with you, this may not be your best fit. Momtrends Says: We recently took the Equinox for a spin and loved the connectivity and extra features.
The Experts Say: If you're looking to tow a small boat, RV, or other similar loads, the Ford Escape is one of your better bets. The Escape has some cool features, too, like the infotainment system and the auto parking assist, which help make family travel a bit easier. Momtrends Says: I love the aesthetic of this car, and enjoy the smooth and quiet (well, at least without the kids!) ride.
The Experts Say: The Nissan Rogue has one clear advantage in the best small SUV market: fuel efficiency. In terms of passenger and cabin comfort, the Rogue is nicely situated for its class. Momtrends Says: A third row in a smaller SUV is almost unheard of; this is a hugely useful feature for families!
One more option is the Audi Q7. Check out our review here and here's a video of the third row.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.