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Compact Luxury SUV Buyer's Guide

Practicality with Presence

The luxury compact SUV category continues to be one of the country's fastest-growing vehicle segments. For a few thousand dollars more than the compact luxury sedans on which most are based, these five-passenger crossover SUVs offer far more cargo utility, a loftier look at the road ahead and greater parking-lot presence.

And compared to larger crossover SUVs, this group is more nimble and more fuel-efficient.

In fact, choosing to buy a small luxury sport/utility vehicle is an easier decision than settling on one of the segment's many good choices. Whether you're more interested in performance or comfort, power or fuel economy, or a just-right mix of everything, one of the 13 models below, listed in order of popularity according to this year's sales -- has your name on it.

2017 Lexus RX

Starting Price: $43,995

The recently redesigned Lexus RX has an edgy new look, but at its core, Lexus' best-selling model continues to focus more on ride comfort and refinement. Read More

2017 Cadillac XT5

Starting Price: $39,990

The Cadillac XT5, the all-new replacement for the SRX, offers impressive handling and eye-catching angular styling, and is roomier, quieter, more powerful and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. Read More

2017 Acura RDX

Starting Price: $36,645

The RDX brings together the sharp styling, high-tech features and high-quality practicality that Acura is known for, in a small, easily maneuverable package. Read More

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC

Starting Price: $40,075

The sporty, refined GLC slots between the smaller GLA-Class and the redesigned (and renamed) GLE. Read More

2017 Audi Q5

Starting Price: $41,850

Audi's Q5 brings together modern design, one of the best-looking interiors in the segment, endless comfort and no shortage of performance. Read More

2017 BMW X3

Starting Price: $39,945

With the BMW X3, owners get to enjoy the driving dynamics of BMW's sports sedans, with the added functionality of a SUV. Read More

2017 Lincoln MKX

Starting Price: $39,185

The Lincoln MKX may be the best value in the compact luxury SUV segment. Read More

2017 Volvo XC60

Starting Price: $41,945

Volvo's XC60 is a nice place to spend a few hours, with an airy cabin and a pleasant demeanor. Read More

2017 Porsche Macan

Starting Price: $48,550

The Macan is the second SUV in the Porsche lineup, and it places a much higher priority on sports-car-like performance than its big brother, the Cayenne. Read More

2017 Infiniti QX50

Starting Price: $35,445

Infiniti put its unique spin on the compact luxury SUV segment with the QX50 (previously known as the EX). Read More

2017 Range Rover Evoque

Starting Price: $42,795

Arguably the most stylish compact luxury SUV on the road, the Range Rover Evoque also holds the distinction of being the only SUV in the class available in a 2-door configuration, now also offered in convertible form. Read More

2017 Buick Envision

Starting Price: $34,990

The new Envision brings together Buick's trademark comfort and quiet with impressive tech and contemporary style. Read More


2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Starting Price: $41,985

Jaguar's first-ever SUV has the performance, luxury and good looks to take on the establishment. Read More

Actual Price

Most luxury compact SUVs start in the mid-to-upper $30,000 range, but the average transaction price in the category is in the low $40,000 range.

The lowest starting sticker price belongs to the 2016 Infiniti QX50, with a base MSRP of less than $36,000. The Porsche Macan sits at the other end of the spectrum, topping out well into the six-figure range when you add necessities like $8,100 ceramic brakes and a 16-speaker Burmester audio system.

What's New/Next

Lincoln's MKX was totally redesigned for 2016. Cadillac replaced its popular SRX with the all-new 2017 XT5 and Mercedes-Benz replaced its GLK with the all-new GLC. Jaguar has entered the SUV market with its sporty F-Pace. The F-Pace joined the ranks of many new-for-2017 models set to go on sale within the next year, a list that also includes a convertible version of the Range Rover Evoque.

Some of the Best

You'll find a few of these SUVs highlighted on our most recent lists of 10 Best Luxury SUVs10 Most Fun SUVs and 10 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs.

Hybrid Options

For buyers who'd prefer to take the electric avenue to greater efficiency, Lexus and Audi dealerships are the appropriate destinations. The Lexus RX 450h returns 30 mpg combined, while the Audi Q5 hybrid delivers 26 mpg combined.

All-Weather Drive

Every luxury compact SUV is available with the added traction of all-wheel drive, but more are offering the option of rear-drive only in the interest of increased fuel economy and decreased price. Unless you live where it snows or drive there regularly, two-wheel drive is likely all you need.

Performance Plus

Many of these models can be surprisingly fun to drive when pushed, but standouts include the Porsche Macan and the sport variant of the Audi Q5, the SQ5. The Macan Turbo offers 400 horsepower and will scream to 60 mph in as few as 4.4 seconds, while many editors have called the Audi SQ5 the best SUV they've ever driven.

One Size Smaller

If you're willing to go with something smaller, your options are multiplying like rabbits. There's the BMW X1, in its second generation for 2016, and the Buick Encore. You can also take a look at the Audi Q3, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The newest model in this segment is the 2017 Infiniti QX30.

Other Alternatives

The list of SUV-like options keeps growing, too. The BMW X4 is the X3's sleeker and sportier sibling, the BMW 3 Series wagon still has a devoted following, and the 3 Series Gran Turismo splits the difference between those two. You can also check out the cult-classic Audi Allroad, and Volvo offers the V60 wagon and XC70 tall wagon, both of which start within $500 of its XC60 luxury compact SUV sibling.


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