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What is the Best Compact SUV?

February 18th, 2014

So, you’re looking for a compact SUV.  Well, before you drive all over your local area visiting dealerships and checking out all the various models, here is something to help you hone down your search.  At True Consumer Reviews, we invited over 100 compact SUV owners to our research facility to conduct a detailed, hands-on comparison of 16 compact SUVs, including the recently launched Jeep Cherokee and the redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Subaru Forester.  The SUV owners pored over each vehicle, rating them on over 100 attributes.  Then, we statistically summarized their ratings into a handy summary that gives you a quick, clear look at how each model measures up in all the major categories.

So, what did over 100 real owners – people like you – find to be the best compact SUV?  The results may surprise you.

Before we get to the winners, here are 2 top sellers that did not rate so well among SUV owners:

2014 Honda CR-V:  The CR-V rated only average overall.  Interior appearance and quality of materials rated below average, as did the look and feel of the steering wheel and gear shift.  Driver leg room, driver seat material and support, center armrest comfort, and rear seat head room also lagged behind the segment average.  On the plus side, center console storage, cargo space behind the rear seats, and fuel economy scored above average.  In the end, owners rated half of the vehicles in our study above the CR-V.

 2014 Ford Escape:  Overall interior appearance and quality, interior control execution, interior storage, and front and rear seat roominess and comfort all rated below the segment average.  Escape had few above average and many below average scores, scoring in the bottom quarter of 16 compact SUVs tested overall. 

OK, so which Compact SUVs rated highest with compact SUV owners?  The following 6 of 16 compact SUV’s tested rated highest, listed in order of overall vehicle rating:

2014 Nissan Rouge


2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport:  Top rated exterior, front seat room, front storage
2014 Kia Sorento:  Top rated front seat room, front storage, cargo area
2014 Nissan Rogue:  Top rated interior controls, fuel economy, value for money
2014 Hyundai Tucson:  Top rated interior controls, warranty
2014 Chevrolet Equinox:  Top rated front and rear seat comfort, interior quality
2014 GMC Terrain:  Top rated front and rear seat comfort, front storage, visibility

Want more details on these SUVs, or to find out other models on your shopping list, like the 2014 Toyota RAV4 tested?  Just click the true consumer reviews icon in the upper left of your screen, pick compact SUVs, and select the models you want to compare.  Then, click on the rating symbols to get the photos and explanations behind the ratings.  You’ll get something you cannot find anywhere else:  the compiled ratings of over a hundred compact SUV owners who compared all the major models in detail, hands-on.