With a starting price around $20,000, combined city/highway fuel economy of 27-31 mpg, flexible cargo space and a high driving position with good outward visibility, affordable subcompact SUVs offer a lot to shoppers at a reasonable price. If you’re looking to buy in this relatively new automotive segment, you have plenty of options as the 2016 Honda HR-V, 2016 Fiat 500X, 2015 Jeep Renegade and 2015 Chevrolet Trax have all debuted on dealer lots this year. The all-new 2016 Mazda CX-3 will further crowd the field when it hits the market later this year.
Subcompact SUVs are similar in length to small cars, but their SUV body style increases usable space significantly. In fact, with both rows of seating in use, the average affordable subcompact SUV offers 18.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is about 3 more cubic feet than the average trunk in a midsize sedan. For reference, a typical golf bag takes up roughly 4 cubic feet. If the rear seats are folded down, the average subcompact SUV has 48.1 cubic feet of space, which is about 14 cubic feet less than the average compact SUV. While subcompact SUVs have less space, they return on average 4 mpg more in combined city/highway driving than compact SUVs, based on EPA estimates.
The 2016 Honda HR-V surpasses some compact SUVs in terms of cargo capacity, as its 58.8 cubic feet of space behind the first row is the best in the subcompact segment. Reviewers report that occupants have plenty of room in the HR-V’s rear seats, and that the ride is comfortable over rough pavement.
If you want a subcompact SUV that can handle the trails as well as the pavement, the 2015 Jeep Renegade is a good choice, as test drivers are impressed with its off-road ability and athletic on-road handling. They also report that the cabin has upscale materials and the rear seats have plenty of space for adults.
Reviewers also praise the 2015 Chevrolet Trax for its ample seating space, but they wish the cabin had nicer materials. On the road, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers merely adequate power, test drivers say, but they like the Trax’s nimble handling.
The 2016 Fiat 500X also has agile handling, critics report, but they note that the available 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is noisy, and both the standard six-speed manual transmission and available nine-speed automatic lack precision when shifting. Inside, however, reviewers like the 500X’s high-quality materials and easy-to-use infotainment system.
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