People just can’t get enough compact crossovers, and neither can we, as small utes have quickly become the family runabout of choice. So, we’re back at it once again with our friends at, rifling through 7 popular compacts to find the best utility value. Here’s how things shook out!

The suburbs of Chicago are certainly not the warmest of places to be in February and March. But, it is the real world after all! So, if there are cars to be tested, we’ll bundle up and be there.

And that’s where our seven compact utilities were awaiting us, preparing for battle.  The usual suspects here…

…the always competent Honda CR-V…

…the high-value Hyundai Tucson…

…the trail rated Jeep Cherokee…

…the spacious and stylish Nissan Rogue…

…the more capable than ever Subaru Forester…

…the Toyota RAV4, fresh off a rugged makeover…

…and the winner of our last Compact SUV Challenge, the Volkswagen Tiguan…

No price cap this time around, which means a wide range from mid-30s to low 40s. All contestants are 2019 models, featuring all-wheel-drive and automatic transmissions. Where things differ, is in the engine bays, with a mix of turbo and non-turbo 4-cylinders, and even a V6. 

The Rogue, Cherokee, and RAV4 all have plenty to offer; but in this challenge, where scores were tighter than ever, they just missed the cut.

So, our top quartet starts with the Honda CR-V in 4th spot. The CR-V makes do with a tiny 1.5-liter turbo-4, working hard to put out a more than adequate 190-horsepower, as it shares the group’s best Combined Fuel Economy rating of 29 miles-per-gallon. And somewhat surprisingly, the CR-V’s price of $35,145 was actually second lowest in our test.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The CR-V has been a leader in this segment for a long time. And that continues to be the case especially when it comes to room inside and ride quality, but the rest of the segment has certainly caught up to it.”

JOE WIESENFELDER: “The CR-V has a really big, roomy back seat, and the seat doesn’t slide forward and back; and that usually means, if you have a big back seat, you’re not going to have much cargo room, but somehow the CR-V manages to have both, with is really impressive.”

JOHN DAVIS: The Hyundai Tucson was third, with a 181—horsepower naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I4. It was not the peppiest, nor did its interior materials win over many judge’s hearts. But it was feature packed, has one of the best multimedia systems out there, and as expected, came in with the lowest price here at $34,130.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The Tucson suffers from a lot of interior hard plastics and a general uninviting nature to the interior, but having said that, you just can’t beat it when it comes to features for the money.”

FRED MEIER: “The Tucson was the best value here for a loaded SUV; it had competitive features, competitive capabilities, and it came in a thousand to $7,000 less than anybody else in the field.

JOHN DAVIS: With a recent re-design, the Subaru Forester was primed to do well, and indeed it did, finishing in second spot. Powered by a 182–horsepower 2.5-liter boxer-4, the Forester continues to deliver a lot of space, a high quality interior, and of course Hi-Def levels of visibility all around.  All for just a couple bucks more than the CR-V, at $35,270.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The Forester continues to deliver exactly what most people are looking for in this segment, which is great comfort, lots of space and that feeling that you can easily drive through whatever weather comes your way.”

JOE WIESENFELDER: “You can’t mention Subaru, or the Forester, without talking about visibility; you can see out of it so well… …I like the fact that there’s so much seat travel, it’s not the biggest SUV, but I was able to get real far away from the pedals; much more comfortable than some of these vehicles.”

JOHN DAVIS: Now our winner, again the Volkswagen Tiguan, it came with the top price tag too, at $40,485. That does include its unmatched 6-year/72,000-mile whole vehicle warranty. It also brought a torquey 184-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 with optional R-Line trim, which means lots of sporty accents you don’t necessarily need. But they did make it the coolest looking ride of the bunch, while delivering sport-sedan levels of driving enjoyment. Also, the Tiguan is your only option if you need in a 3rd row. 

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The Tiguan has been a big success mostly by giving people more space for less money. That continues here, although it also has a very substantial ride to it and a great tech interface.”

MIKE HANLEY: “I really liked driving the VW Tiguan; it’s sporty, it handles well, it was really operating at a higher level than the other models in this test… …the Tiguan’s 2nd row seat is really comfortable, it has good leg room, good headroom, and a nice seating position.”

JOHN DAVIS: Ultimately, all seven of our compact utilities are all a lot more alike than they are different, and equally proficient at getting family chores done. But, in a segment that continues to grow, it’s still the Volkswagen Tiguan that rides to the top for now.

See the full test results here.


  • 2019 Honda CR-V:
  • 2019 Hyundai Tucson:
  • 2019 Jeep Cherokee:
  • 2019 Nissan Rogue:
  • 2019 Subaru Forester:
  • 2019 Toyota RAV4:
  • 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan: