Small to mid-size SUVs have fast become one of the best-selling lines of vehicles for many auto manufacturers for a number of reasons, including fuel economy and just plain good looks. However, this popularity creates another type of problem - finding the best small SUV for you can be a challenge with so many to pick from. You can start your journey toward finding your new SUV right here as below are listed ten of the best-rated small SUVs on the market. Whether it's for family use, recreation, hauling material, or all of the above, there's a small SUV available for your needs.
1. Nissan Murano
The Nissan Murano is a crossover SUV that offers all the convenient room of a larger model but in smaller, sportier package. This trendsetting vehicle is a recipient of the award for Best Premium Mid-Sized SUV by AutoPacific and it was nominated in 2003 for the North American truck of the Year Award. The Nissan Murano receives the highest possible ratings in the front-, side- and rear-impact evaluations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as well as a five-star rating (the highest possible) for side-impact safety from the NHTSA, making it one of the safest small SUVs on the market.
The Nissan Murano seats five comfortably and features a 3.5L V6 engine that gets approximately 18 mpg/city and 23 mpg/highway. The Murano earns 100% ratings in all categories, including Comfort, Appearance, Performance and Safety.
2. Toyota RAV4
Winner of the Autobytel 2006 Editors' Choice Award for Best New Small SUV and the Consumers' Most Wanted for 2007 at Edmund's, the RAV4 earns the number two spot on LTK's small SUV list. With exceptional gas mileage for a V-6 engine, the optional third-row seat, a base price of $25,000, and Toyota's longstanding reputation for quality, the RAV4 is a fabulous choice for families who don't want an especially large vehicle.
Toyota's RAV4 comes in with a score of 100% for appearance and scores of 90% for Comfort, Safety and Performance. Overall score for the RAV4 is 92.5%.
3. Audi Q5
Audi's Q5 is a luxury crossover that features opulent interiors boasting decorative wood inlays and high quality leather seating and accents. This upscale SUV gets an impressive 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway (based on the 2.0L I4 211HP engine), making it one of the most fuel-efficient models available. A more powerful 3.2L engine is also available for those who crave more power. Of course, if you're looking for something to take deep into the forests, this small SUV might be a little too-pricey, but for about town, it's a tough one to beat.
The Audi Q5 earns ratings of 90% in the categories of Comfort, Appearance and Safety and a rating of 70% in performance for a total rating of 85%.
4. GMC Terrain
In 2010, the GMC Terrain replaced the Pontiac Torrent as GM's primary mid-sized crossover SUV. This SUV is available in four different models with each of them offering an abundance of room in the back seat. Fun and easy to drive, the GMC Terrain has been attacked by some critics for its lack of sportiness, however; the six-way adjustment option for the driver's seat and its telescoping steering column certainly make it one of the most comfortable.
The base model Terrain seats five and comes with a 2.4L I4 182HO engine that gets a remarkable 22 mpg/city and 32 mpg/highway. The GMC Terrain earns ratings of 90% in the categories of Comfort, Appearance and Safety and a rating of 80% in Performance, for a total rating of 87.5%.
5. Ford Escape
Getting roughly 36 mpg in city driving, the Escape is Ford's first hybrid model. Earning IntelliChoice's Best Overall Value of the Year award, it's a great option for the environmentally-conscious family. Available with four-wheel drive, the Escape seats five and starts at a mid-$20,000 price point.
The Ford Escape receives a 100% rating for Safety, a 90% rating for Appearance, a 70% rating for Comfort and a 60% rating for Performance for an overall scorecard of 80%.
6. Jeep Patriot
Of all the best small SUVs, the Jeep Patriot not only comes in with the lowest price tag, but it also boasts the highest MPG with a whopping 29 mpg when driven on the highway. The engine in the base model is a 2.0L I4 158HP wonder that's as durable as the legend of Jeep demands, although most models feature the more common (and more powerful) 2.4L, 172HP engine. The Patriot is available in two trim levels, the less expensive Sport and the more luxury-minded Limited.
The Jeep Patriot receives a rating of 80% in every category.
7. Volkswagen Tiguan
If you're looking for a sporty and fun compact SUV, then the Volkswagen Tiguan might be the one for you. This sexy little SUV is available in two body styles and three different packages - Trend & Fun, Sport & Style and Track & Field. So, no matter what scene you're into, there's a Tiguan built just for you. This smooth operator comes with a quiet 2.0L I4 200HP engine and a six-speed manual transmission. It gets 18 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway.
The Volkswagen Tiguan receives 80% ratings in both Appearance and Safety and 70% in both Comfort and Performance for an overall score of 75%.
8. Acura RDX
The Acura RDX debuted in 2006 and it has consistently been one of the luxury manufacturer's more popular models ever since. Similar to the Honda CR-V, the Acura RDX is built upon a specially-developed platform made to handle the vehicle's all-wheel drive system. Unlike some of the other luxury small SUVs, the Acura RDX comes standard with leather seating, a moonroof, seven-speaker premium sound system and many other upscale amenities.The RDX features a 2.3L I4 240HP engine that gets 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
The Acura RDX receives a rating of 90% across the board for Comfort, Appearance, Performance and Safety.
9. Kia Sportage
The Kia Sportage rides like a high-end SUV, but without the staggering price tag. Starting at $18,295, the Kia Sportage might be one of the most affordable small SUVs on the market, but it comes loaded with features. Aluminum-cast 16-inch wheels, six-speaker premium audio system, CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, Bluetooth, full-power accessories and more are just some of the highlights of this easy-to-drive SUV. The Sportage has also been awarded the highest rating for frontal and side impact by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has been awarded the Top Safety Pick by the same organization.
The Kia Sportage earns a 100% rating for Appearance, 90% ratings for Comfort and Performance and 80% for Safety. It's overall score is 90%.