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The Race for the Best Small SUV of 2019


The race for the best small SUV is hotly contested. As more drivers are looking for small, yet functional SUVs, auto manufacturers are pushing out smaller SUVs left and right. There have never been more small SUV options on the market making it far more complex for consumers to navigate the category. To bring the best small SUV to light, we’ve listed the top 3 small SUVs in the U.S. to give you a side by side comparison. Which small SUV rules the road?

Subaru Forester

The brand-new 2019 Subaru Forester is one small SUV we truly love. We know that Subaru SUVs offer more than high safety ratings and, spoiler alert, the Forester is no different. If you’re looking for flexibility, durability, and safety, the Subaru Forester offers you everything you expect out of an SUV in a compact body style. Let’s see at how the Forester stacks up against the competition.

2019 Subaru Forester
2019 Subaru Forester on netcarshow.com

Subaru Forester 2.5i Specs

  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drivetrain: AWD
  • MPG: 26 City | 33 Highway
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.6 gal
  • Passenger Capacity: 5
  • Engine: 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 182 @ 5800
  • Torque: 176 @ 4400
  • Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs

Subaru Driving & Handling

Compared to other SUVs, the Forester’s limited lean while turning gives it a leg up on other compact SUVs. With higher clearance and prime seat positioning, you’ll hardly notice any feedback while driving down the highway. All-wheel drive is standard on the Forester, which makes it the perfect small SUV for those living in rocky or snowy climates. After getting behind the wheel of this car, you’ll feel the noticeably smooth ride it delivers with every turn.

2019 Subaru Forester
2019 Subaru Forester on netcarshow.com

Subaru Price & Accessories

The 2019 base model Subaru Forester starts at $24,295. All models come with all-wheel drive, power windows, brake assist, lane keeping assist, and lane departure warning. There are five trim models to choose from starting with the 2.5i up to the 2.5i Touring. For a higher price tag, you can have all the amenities including climate control, WiFi hotspot, blind-spot monitor, and a sunroof or moonroof.

MSRP & Trim Models:

Trim Model MSRP
2.5i $24,295
2.5i Premium $26,695
2.5i Sport $28,795
2.5i Limited $30,795
2.5i Touring $34,295

2019 Subaru Forester Rating: 4.2 Stars Out of 5

Best Qualities:

  • Quiet while driving on the highway
  • Smooth ride and handling
  • AWD is the standard
  • Less leaning when turning corners compared to other SUVs
  • A decent amount of driver assistance technologies

Worst Qualities:

  • Small storage areas such as the glove box and console
  • Very little tech inside, unless purchasing top-level trim
  • The engine isn’t as responsive as our other two top small SUVs

Toyota RAV4

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is another compact SUV to rave about. The RAV4 and C-RV are designed relatively the same to provide enough space for several passengers, the luxuries of an SUV, and the flexibility to change from city driver to adventure vehicle. Let’s get behind the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 and see what we think.

2019 Toyota RAV4
2019 Toyota RAV4 on netcarshow.com

Toyota LE FWD RAV4 Specs:

  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drivetrain: FWD
  • MPG: 26 City | 35 Highway
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gal
  • Passenger Capacity: 5
  • Engine: 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 203 @ 6600
  • Torque: 184 @ 5000
  • Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs

Toyota RAV4 Driving & Handling:

Built somewhat like the Honda C-RV, the Toyota RAV4 was designed to deliver a comfortable ride for a handful of passengers. Though the ride is comfortable, the car isn’t as easily handled as its competitors.

2019 Toyota RAV4
2019 Toyota RAV4 on netcarshow.com

Toyota RAV4 Price & Accessories:

With 4 trim levels and two drivetrains, you have a lot of options when it comes time to purchasing a RAV4. To start, you have the choice between all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. You can then choose from the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, or Limited trim levels. The base model, a LE front-wheel drive RAV4, starts at $25,650 and goes all the way up to $35,050 for the Limited AWD RAV4. If you decide you want a RAV4 hybrid, ask your local dealer what options are available to you.

The RAV4 offers several accessories and amenities, all of which are dependent on the trim level you choose to buy. Here are a few that you may see on RAV4s near you.

  • Keyless entry
  • Hands-free communication system
  • Cross-traffic alerts
  • Automatic Transmission with Manual Mode
  • Sun or moon roof
  • WiFi hotspot
  • Heated front seats
  • Lane Keeping and Departure Warnings
The Best Minivans for Families

MSRP & Trim Models:

Trim Model MSRP
LE (AWD or FWD) $25,650 – $27,050
XLE (AWD or FWD) $27,450 – $28,850
XLE Premium (AWD or FWD) $29,650 – $31,050
Adventure (AWD only) $33,050
Limited (AWD or FWD) $33,650 – $35,050

Toyota RAV4 Rating: 4.5 Stars Out of 5

Best Qualities:

  • Variety of trim levels and accessories make the RAV4 highly customizable
  • Offers a long list of standard technology starting from the base model up
  • Enormous cargo space
  • Fuel efficient
  • The exterior looks like the SUV version of the well-loved Toyota Tacoma (one good lookin’ truck).

Worst Qualities:

  • Noisy, unrefined engine
  • Not as sporty as its competitors
  • You won’t find a thrilling ride here, but at least it’s comfortable

Honda C-RV

Honda’s C-RV is one of the most popular small SUVs of 2019 for good reason. The handling, quality, and gas mileage make this vehicle one that any driver will be happy to have. The 2019 C-RV is a great value SUV that provides plenty of space inside, a modern interior, and several technological amenities like Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. Let’s take a better look at what the Honda C-RV offers to determine what it has to offer.

2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V on netcarshow.com

Honda LX 2WD C-RV Specs:

  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drivetrain: FWD
  • MPG: 26 City | 32 Highway
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 14 gal
  • Passenger Capacity: 5
  • Engine: 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 184 @ 6400
  • Torque: 180 @ 3900
  • Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs

Honda C-RV Driving & Handling

The C-RV is known for its great handling and drive. With a responsive turbocharged engine, you can expect the C-RV to get up to speed quickly and efficiently alongside the fuel-efficient drivetrains. C-RVs are manufactured as front-wheel drive unless you specify otherwise. You can easily add all-wheel drive to the vehicle if you live in harsh climates. Honda gives an estimated $1,300 add-on cost for AWD to the C-RV EX, which isn’t too bad for an important upgrade for drivers who experience unrelenting winters.

2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V on netcarshow.com

Honda C-RV Price & Accessories

The 2019 Honda C-RV base model (LX) sells for $24,350 new off the lot. Different trim styles and extra amenities raise the price of the vehicle, but for many, the EX model is the best of value at $28,295. Some of the accessories you may see on new C-RVs include:

  • EcoAssist: Technology that helps you drive the most efficiently based on the current outside conditions.
  • Honda Sensing: Technologies used to keep you safe on the road like brake mitigation assist and road departure mitigation.
  • Heated front seats
  • One-touch Moonroof
  • CVT Sport Mode
  • Leather-trimmed interior
  • Hands-free Power tailgate
  • Automatic Dimming Rearview Mirror

MSRP & Trim Models:

Trim Model MSRP
LX (2WD or AWD) $24,350 – $25,750
EX (2WD or AWD) $27,250 – $28,650
EX-L (2WD or AWD) $29,750 – $31,150
Touring (2WD or AWD) $32,750 – $34,150

Honda C-RV Rating: 4.8 Stars Out of 5

Best Qualities:

  • A responsive engine makes it easy to get up to speed
  • Plenty of room for passengers and storage
  • Heavy on technology, even inside the base models
  • Comfortable and quiet ride
  • Base and high-level trim models are cheaper than its competitors: Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4
  • Fuel efficient

Worst Qualities:

  • Front-wheel drive is standard
  • Looks more like a mom car than its competitors

The Best Small SUV Is…

The winner is the Honda C-RV! If you’ve been researching compact SUVs, you’ve probably seen the C-RV take the trophy time and time again. Whether you love an adventure or want a daily driver that fits your family, drivers everywhere love the C-RV. It offers the best bang for your buck while giving you all the essentials, as well as some luxuries, too. For the best small SUV look to the Honda C-RV for the ultimate ride for both family life and adventure time.

2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Honda CR-V on netcarshow.com

What compact SUV do you think should make the cut for the best small SUV in 2019? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

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Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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