Luxury SUVs: Small/Compact Segment
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 models below has your name on it.
In alphabetical order:
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 2019 Buick Envision, with a base MSRP of less than $33,000. The Porsche Macan sits at the other end of the spectrum, topping out well into the six-figure range when you add necessities like $8,200 ceramic brakes and a 16-speaker Burmester audio system.
The 2018 model year was a big one for the segment. The Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 were completely redesigned, while Alfa Romeo joined the party with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Up next for 2019 are the all-new Cadillac XT4 and the significiantly updated Porsche Macan. For 2020, Land Rover has unveiled a new Range Rover Evoque.
Some of the Best
Hybrid and Diesel Options
For buyers who'd prefer to take the electric avenue to greater efficiency, the Lexus dealership is the appropriate destination. The Lexus NX 300h returns 31 mpg combined. If you want a diesel engine, consider the Jaguar F-Pace, which nets 29 combined mpg. In addition, the Volvo XC60 and Mercedes-Benz GLC are offered as plug-in hybrids.
Every luxury compact SUV is available with the added traction of all-wheel drive, but more are offering the option of two-wheel drive 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.
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 2018 Macan Turbo offers 400 horsepower and will scream to 60 mph in as few as 4.4 seconds, while many KBB.com editors have called the Audi SQ5 the best SUV they've ever driven.
One Size Smaller
If you're willing and able to go with something smaller, your options are multiplying like rabbits. In alphabetical order your choices consist of the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Buick Encore, Infiniti QX30, Jaguar E-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Sweden's latest, the all-new 2019 Volvo XC40.