• Small SUVs continue to get more powerful, more fuel efficient
  • Enticing mix of versatility, efficiency and comfort 
  • More cargo area, better visibility than sedans
  • Compact SUVs make up more than 2.7 million vehicles sold each year 


All-New Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester Take on the Honda CR-V

There are clear reasons why compact SUVs are so popular. A small SUV’s versatile interior makes it easy to transport larger gear, five passengers, or any combination therein. They have a larger cargo-carrying capacity behind the second row than midsize sedans do. A slightly higher ride height offers better visibility. Available all-wheel drive offers all-season confidence. Ride quality, comfort and fuel economy, and even sportiness compare favorably to that of sedans. And with every new generation of a familiar SUV, or the introduction of an all-new model, that mix of versatility and fuel economy improves, making the compact SUV segment highly competitive, and giving buyers an excellent array of vehicles from which to choose.

The KBB editorial team brought in a trio of key players for the 2019 model year. There's the highly popular Toyota RAV4, which is all-new this year. Not only is it the best-selling Toyota and best-selling compact SUV, but the RAV4 is fourth the hottest seller in America, trailing only pickup trucks. The Forester is also all-new for 2019, riding on a new platform and expanding on what people already like about this Subaru. Rounding out the comparison is our four-time Best Buy Compact SUV winner, the Honda CR-V.

We took all three of these on an lengthy drive that included a mix of city traffic, freeway driving and twisty roads, and because all of this was in Southern California, we had plenty of time in stop-and-go traffic, too. Stepping out of the driver's seat of each SUV, we also noted rear-seat room and cargo-area versatility.

Which SUV came out on top? Our comparisons are more about what we learned while evaluating each one than picking a winner. One of the most interesting aspects of these small SUVs is that each one appeals to SUV shoppers in a different way. Here is what we learned during our testing and evaluations.

In alphabetical order:

2019 Honda CR-V

Well-rounded, practical and refined, the CR-V benefited from a recent redesign, and continues to be a Kelley Blue Book Best Buy favorite. Read more

2019 Subaru Forester

With a roomy new interior and new engine, the Forester improves on Subaru’s already appealing all-weather equation. Read more

2019 Toyota RAV4

All-new from the ground up, the best-seller gets a new attitude and best-in-class fuel economy. Read more

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