Spurred by lower gas prices and an expanding preference for high-riding, capable, flexible SUVs, the compact SUV segment has become one of the best-selling vehicle categories in the country, and it's only getting bigger.  

But while sales continue to climb, the 2016 model year happened to be a relatively quiet one for compact SUVs as far as new and redesigned products are concerned (not so for the exploding subcompact SUV segment). The Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain each received mild updates, but only the Hyundai Tucson was completely redesigned. The 2017 model year has kicked off early, however, bringing with it a totally redesigned Kia Sportage and a revamped Ford Escape.

For our annual state-of-the-segment compact SUV comparison test we rounded up five of these SUVs -- plus the benchmark Honda CR-V -- and set off on a two-day, 450-mile drive that took us on a roundabout route from coastal-adjacent Kelley Blue Book headquarters in Irvine, California, to our local mountains and Big Bear Lake. In addition to plenty of driving, our comparison tests include a comprehensive parking lot component during which we poke and prod each entry while comparing notes, and a back-in-the-office element in which we compare key numbers like predicted resale values and fuel economy (EPA estimates and our own observations).

While we indeed score vehicles in several categories during our comparison tests, we don't pick overall winners and losers. Our mission is not to name the best car according to our own predetermined set of criteria, but to help each shopper discover the best vehicle for his or her specific wants, needs and preferences. To that end, they're listed here in alphabetical order to encourage exploration on your own terms. 


2017 Ford Escape

Starting Price: $24,495

Updated with revised styling, new technology and more, the Ford Escape boasts a more grown-up look and feel for 2017. Read more

2016 Honda CR-V

Starting Price: $24,645

A perennial award winner and our Compact SUV Best Buy of 2016, the CR-V is starting to show its age a bit as we head into the 2017 model year. Read more

2016 Hyundai Tucson

Starting Price: $23,595

The all-new Tucson is more refined, more appealing, and a better value than ever. Read more

2017 Kia Sportage

Starting Price: $23,885

Totally redesigned for 2017, the well-rounded new Sportage mixes a dash of its predecessor's bold styling with a heavy helping of newfound refinement. Read more

2016 Mazda CX-5

Starting Price: $24,495 (with automatic transmission)

Gorgeous, fun to drive and just about as smart and practical as any of the others. Read more

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Starting Price: $21,690 (with automatic transmission)

The lowest starting price and a great warranty count for something. Read more

More Compact SUVs

For our annual comparison tests we focus primarily on the most recently redesigned or updated models, but every year we drive nearly every mainstream vehicle. Our Compact SUV Buyer's Guide includes a deeper look at each of the SUVs below, plus a segment overview highlighting what's new and what's next.

New Car Spotlight


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