It doesn't always make sense to drive 700 roundtrip miles to see a baseball game that counts for nothing, but when your mission is to discern and dissect the relative strengths and weaknesses of six compact crossover SUVs there's simply no substitute for time and miles.

For the second year in a row our annual small SUV comparison test took us from Southern California to the greater Phoenix area for some Cactus League spring training baseball. Two-plus hours of hot dogs and nachos sandwiched between 16 hours of driving, photography and comparing notes.

This year's caravan included three models that made the same trip last year: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Jeep Cherokee. Joining the fun this go around were the Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Six editors logged more than 100 miles in each, and our collective findings and insights are captured here.

In order of year-to-date sales:

Honda CR-V

We already named it our Small SUV Best Buy for 2015, so the CR-V's stellar showing in this year's comparison test surprised none of us.

See more CR-V
2015 Honda CR-V

Toyota RAV4

Another segment staple, the RAV4 impressed again with its cavernous interior, comfortable ride and easy-to-use infotainment.

See more RAV4
2015 Toyota RAV4

Jeep Cherokee

The newest face in the small SUV segment, the Cherokee sometimes feels half a class above the competition, sometimes half a class below.

See more Cherokee
2015 Jeep Cherokee

Mazda CX-5

Already an editors' favorite, a meaningful refresh for the 2016 model year makes the CX-5 even more compelling.

See more CX-5
2016 Mazda CX-5

Kia Sportage

More than a sporty little SUV with an outstanding warranty, the Sportage offers a long list of attractive features including one of the best-sorted infotainment systems.

See more Sportage
2015 Kia Sportage Small Crossover SUV

Mitsubishi Outlander
Sport

The Outlander Sport has its strong points, just not as many as the others.

See Outlander Sport
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

 

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