The US car market is flooded with spacious SUVs that offer a decent driving experience when the need arises. Let’s explore our top 5 picks.
The US has always had a fondness for SUVs, and this segment has experienced steady growth over the years, reaching new heights recently. Manufacturers from all corners of the industry have introduced their own interpretations of these family-oriented, high-riding vehicles, providing buyers with an unprecedented range of choices.
The SUVs listed below may fall slightly below average on the size chart, but they are incredibly popular, with some even representing the best-selling models for their respective brands. Customers in this segment expect generous interior space, premium-quality finishes, a commanding driving position, and the maneuverability of an average family car to navigate city streets and narrow lanes with ease. Here are our favorite picks:
Range Rover Evoque:
Land Rover has captured a significant share of the market with its second-generation Range Rover Evoque, dominating the most important segment. Built on a brand-new mixed-material platform, this car features mild hybrid engines and a longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor, optimizing interior space without excessive growth in external dimensions. The Evoque lineup has recently expanded to include the impressive Evoque P300e hybrid variant, which benefits from the UK’s 6% interest-in-kind auto tax.
The Evoque has made significant advancements in terms of mechanical performance, interior space, luxurious ambiance, and technological appeal. While it may not be the most practical car in its class, it holds its ground with ample room for adults in the second row, although the slightly high window line limits visibility to some extent. The D200 diesel engine is the preferred choice, delivering superior power and refinement compared to previous Land Rover four-cylinder diesel engines. The P300e hybrid variant is also highly impressive, featuring a remarkably compact hybrid powertrain, strong electric range, and attractive handling characteristics.
Originating from the Range Rover lineage, the Evoque now embodies a sense of luxury that is difficult to match in this class, justifying its relatively higher price tag for many buyers.
Volvo’s initial foray into the compact SUV segment with the XC40 has been a resounding success, aligning perfectly with the brand’s reputation for class-leading innovation. Even now, it continues to impress.
Boasting an attractive and captivating design, the XC40 entices younger families into Volvo showrooms. Its unconventional exterior is complemented by a cabin that exudes commendable style, comfort, user-friendliness, and top-notch quality. While it may not be the most practical car in the compact SUV segment, it certainly offers a luxurious ambiance reminiscent of high-end vehicles, not to mention an abundance of cutting-edge technology.
The engine range has recently undergone revision, with all diesel variants discontinued. Customers now have the choice of two plug-in hybrids, a pair of mild-petrol hybrids, a T2 and T3 petrol, and an all-electric Recharge P8 variant.
When it comes to ride and handling, the XC40 exemplifies Volvo’s finest craftsmanship, offering a relaxed and refined experience for small families with four-wheel drive. Instead of trying to outdo other premium brands in terms of sportiness, the XC40 focuses on providing an ergonomic, optimized, comfortable, and user-friendly option—an effective choice indeed. If the purpose of an SUV is to elevate the driver above the chaos of daily life and alleviate the stresses of commuting, few vehicles accomplish this as brilliantly as the XC40.
The Mazda CX-5 stands out as one of the most visually appealing SUVs on the market, boasting refined aesthetics that surpass its predecessor. It offers respectable fuel economy and an extraordinary level of handling in its class.
Inside, the CX-5 features a solid and elegantly understated interior, providing ample space for passengers and cargo. The 2022 facelift introduces Mazda’s latest infotainment system and a new 2.5-liter petrol engine previously seen in the Mazda 6 saloon. Despite being slightly older than some of its competitors on this list, the CX-5 retains all the strengths that have made it one of our favorite compact SUVs.
With a winning combination of fun, economy, and family-friendly space, the CX-5 is well worth serious consideration for buyers seeking a versatile vehicle that excels in multiple areas.
The fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson represents a significant milestone for the brand. Stylistically, it deviates drastically from its handsome but somewhat uninspiring predecessors, while the cabin achieves new heights in terms of visual appeal. Hyundai has long sought to position itself as an upscale contender in the European market, and the Tucson is its most convincing effort yet.
In terms of dynamics, the Tucson prioritizes safety, striking a balance that favors ease of use over aggressive handling, although it still manages to deliver an enjoyable experience on twisty roads. The hybrid powertrain offers powerful performance and impressive efficiency, complemented by Hyundai’s reputation for equipping its vehicles generously and providing solid warranties. Now more than ever, the Tucson stands as an exceptionally refined compact SUV that demands attention.
The Tiguan ranks as Volkswagen’s third best-selling model, following the Golf and Polo hatchbacks. It offers flexibility, spaciousness, structural solidity, comfort, and refinement. While it could benefit from more responsive handling, it still holds its own, albeit with a few minor shortcomings. The interior design may not be particularly eye-catching, but it compensates with remarkable build quality.
The range has been expanded to include hybrid plug-in variants and the performance-focused Tiguan R, among other powertrain modifications. The driving experience can vary depending on the specification: models equipped with better, more powerful engines and adaptive suspension exhibit exceptional handling and ride comfort, while base versions provide a more standard driving experience.
While not necessarily a groundbreaking option, the Tiguan outshines many competitors in the ever-growing compact SUV segment, offering an overall package that surpasses most cars in its class.