About a decade ago, the term “crossover vehicle” entered American language, and we’ve never looked back. At the time, the meaning was broad. Tall station wagons, curvy minivans, spacious sedans and compact SUVs — crossovers covered them all. 

But these days, crossover really means compact SUV. A ride that tows the line between utility and practicality, Americans can’t seem to get enough of the segment.

If you want to know which of the top compact SUVs you should go for, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s do some digging.


Honda CR-V

Exterior dimensions: 182.1-inch length, 73-inch width, 66.1-inch height, 104.7-inch wheelbase

Cargo capacity: 39.2 cubic feet with seats up, 79.8 cubic feet with seats down

Powertrain: 1.5-liter I4 (190 hp, 179 lb-feet of torque), 2.0-liter I4 hybrid with 2 electric motors (212 hp,180 lb-ft of torque) , CVT, front- or all-wheel drive

Fuel economy: 29-30 combined MPG

Towing capacity: 1500 lbs. max

What makes it special: The Honda CR-V is a spacious hauler with lots of nooks and crannies to keep your niceties secure. It’s affordable, and the Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies is above par. I should know that this is one of the top compact SUVs; I ride around in my mom’s CR-V whenever I’m home.

Nissan Rogue

Exterior dimensions: 182.8-inch length, 72.4-inch width, 65.9-inch height, 106.4-inch wheelbase

Cargo capacity: 36.5 cubic feet with seats up, 74.1 cubic feet with seats down

Powertrain: 2.5-liter I4 (181 hp, 181 lb-ft of torque), CVT, front-wheel-drive

Fuel economy: 28-30 combined MPG

Towing capacity: 1350 lbs. max

What makes it special: Safety comes standard. So does cargo space. The rear is roomy and the tech propels the Nissan Rogue into the future (a seven-inch touchscreen and smartphone integration is just the start). Talk about one of the top compact SUVs for a tech junkie!

Toyota RAV4

Exterior dimensions: 180.9-inch length, 73-inch width, 67-inch height,105.9-inch wheelbase

Cargo capacity: 37.6 cubic feet with seats up, 69.8 cubic feet with seats down

Powertrain: 2.5-liter I4 (203 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque), 8-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive

Fuel economy: 27-30 combined MPG

Towing capacity: 1500-3500 lbs. max

What makes it special: Quite frankly, the Toyota RAV4 looks as good as a full-size SUV. The interior feels luxurious and ergonomic. Find storage nooks galore and use the advanced camera system to your advantage.

Subaru Forester

Exterior dimensions: 182.1-inch length, 71.5-inch width, 67.5-inch height, 105.1-inch wheelbase

Cargo capacity: 35.4 cubic feet with seats up, 76.1 cubic feet with seats down

Powertrain: 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder (182 hp, 176 lb-ft of torque), CVT, all-wheel-drive

Fuel economy: 29 combined MPG

Towing capacity: 1500 lbs. max

What makes it special: The Subaru Forester feels like a Subaru. For me, that’s a good thing. Starlink entertainment system is straightforward and usable. There’s even a second infotainment screen. AWD is standard, and Subaru’s classic drivetrain is not to be messed with.

Ford Escape

Exterior dimensions: 180.5-inch length, 74.1-inch width, 66.1-inch height, 106.7-inch wheelbase

Cargo capacity: 33.5 cubic feet with seats up, 65.4 cubic feet with seats down

Powertrain: 1.5-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost (181 hp, 190 lb-ft of torque), 2.0-liter I4 EcoBoost (250 hp, 280 lb-ft of torque), 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I4 plug-in or hybrid (200 hp, 152 lb-ft of torque), CVT or 8-speed automatic, front- or all-wheel drive

Fuel economy: 26-30 combined MPG

Towing capacity: 2000 lbs. max

What makes it special: Woah, Ford+Alexa. Waze technology. Key by Amazon In-Car Delivery. It seems like Ford has made all the major partnerships with the Ford Escape. That engine lineup is pretty impressive, too, making it one of the top compact SUVs on the market.

One of these top compact SUVs will quench your thirst for a crossover vehicle

Whether you opt for a new or used vehicle is up to you, but the top compact SUVs are definitely out there. For someone seeking unpretentious-yet-appealing looks in a ride that gets the job done, this kind of crossover vehicle is it.

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    1. SUVs have always been really interesting to me with their size and how they look so powerful. Wonderful information about the different types.

    2. My boyfriend drives a Ford Escape which is very nice and roomy. It definitely has enough room for his mobile “bait shop”. The new Rav4 is also a great car. I was very surprised by the fuel milage, it practically matches the Camry.

    3. This article kind of made me question the difference between a “crossover” or compact SUV vs. a standard SUV. Especially since the older model Ford Escape felt very much so like a standard SUV. I have also seen even a rise in even smaller SUV looking things that truly look like just a larger hatchback with a bit of a crossover style. I wish I could think of an example of one, but I have no idea what category the fall into.

    4. I think I like the Ford or the CR-V partly because they have the most power. I think these SUVs are great, we are thinking about moving to an SUV for our next vehicle.

    5. The new Ford Escape equipped with all wheel drive in the SEL package is an excellent vehicle, and I feel that it costs less and offers more performance and features than the Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Subaru offerings. Subaru awd is no longer the only contender, and I ask why do they cost so much? Also, the flat Subaru engines do no really have an advantage in this type of vehicle configuration.

    6. Rather than looking purely at SUVs, I think it’d be interesting at looking why they’re so prevalent in this country, rather than in most of the world.

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