What’s the Best Subcompact Crossover?

Mega comparison between 7 mini CUVs


What makes a subcompact crossover?

That’s a question with many different answers, depending on who is asked. But for us, it means high-riding hatchbacks with optional all-wheel drive, measuring less than 170 inches in overall length. Sorry Kia Soul, Subaru Crosstrek and Hyundai Tucson, you don’t quite cut it.

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But this year there has been a huge influx of subcompact crossovers. Four new entries have joined the trio of existing models, making the field a lucky seven. First, there are the veterans, the Nissan Juke, the refreshed Mitsubishi Outlander and the somewhat new to us Chevrolet Trax. Taking them on in hopes of being king of the baby crossovers are the new comers, the Honda HR-V, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3.

After a week of evaluating, deliberating and contemplating, the scores were added up and a winner emerged. Some of the results may be surprising.

7th Place: Nissan Juke

Measuring about the same size as the original CR-V, the new HR-V is Honda’s latest entry into the brand’s growing crossover family. Earlier this year, it already won a comparison against the Mazda CX-3 due to its blend of practicality, efficiency and value, so coming first place here shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

From a value perspective, the HR-V is the cheapest in the comparison, costing just $26,720 as tested. But, it still comes with useful options like navigation, leather seats, smart key entry and dual zone climate control. It’s missing some premium options though like a power seat, panoramic sunroof and rain sensing wipers, but, it’s the only vehicle here with Honda’s lane watch camera.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Honda HR-V Review

On the practicality standpoint, the rear seat offers the most legroom, but headroom is tighter than in the Trax or Renegade. Rear cargo room was rated best in test and sight lines all around are great. Front seat comfort is average and the interior is modern, if not a bit boring. Of course, we can’t review a Honda product without mentioning our dislike for HondaLink. Please change it soon.

The HR-V may be the easiest vehicle to drive in a comparison full of simple to operate motoring appliances. All the primary controls are laid out in a logical, easy to understand fashion and the vehicle’s responses are predictable and smooth.

It’s not the best to drive as handling is average and power feels weak. With the smallest, non-turbocharged engine, the 1.8-liter engine in the HR-V makes just 141 hp. It requires a lot of rpms to get the most out of it at which point the engine can get loud. Fuel economy was up there with the CX-3 and Juke for best in test though, just don’t routinely put four adults and a hatch full of cargo in the HR-V.

For the most part, small crossovers are about practicality, value and ease of use. With that in mind the Honda HR-V is the clear winner. With a ton of usable space, low entry price and predictable controls, the HR-V is the best all-around choice in the world of subcompact crossovers.


  • Price
  • Practicality
  • Ease of use
  • Fuel economy

  • Engine power
  • Boring to drive