If you want a vehicle with plenty of tech, and features to suit your active lifestyle, a small SUV may be just what you are looking for. Compact SUVs are designed to deliver the same driver confidence and passenger conveniences as their larger counterparts. Whether you’re driving with family and friends or solo on the open road, a small SUV can get you to your destination in comfort and style.

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best small and compact SUVs for 2021 shoppers, based on CarMax vehicle and sales data from September 1, 2020, through February 28, 2021.

  1. Toyota RAV4

  2. Jeep Cherokee

  3. Ford Escape

  4. Jeep Compass

  5. Nissan Rogue

05 Toyota RAV4

Step into a Toyota RAV4 for a cool and capable compact SUV that drives with finesse in a variety of conditions. All 2017-2019 RAV4 models feature a 2.5L four-cylinder engine paired with a six- or eight-speed automatic transmission. Many drivers love the RAV4’s smart exterior paint options, trim level features, and generously equipped technology and comfort packages, making it a strong contender for best small SUV.

The RAV4 was refreshed for 2019, which marked the beginning of its fifth generation. All 2017-2019 RAV4s have these standard features:

  • Lane departure warning system

  • Rearview camera

  • Bucket front seats

  • 38.4 cu ft of cargo space behind the rear seats

  • 17-inch wheels

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04 Jeep Cherokee

The 2017-2019 Jeep Cherokee is a stylish off-road vehicle. If your daily commute includes rugged landscapes or challenging environments, you should see what this compact SUV can do. The standard drivetrain for 2017-2019 Cherokee models is a 2.4L four-cylinder engine, or you can opt for a model with a 3.2L V6 powertrain or a 2.0L turbocharged engine.

The 2018-2019 Cherokee is available in five main trims: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Trailhawk, and Overland. If you regularly drive in tricky weather conditions, you may appreciate the winter-readiness of the Limited and Trailhawk trims. Standard features of the 2018-2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude include:

  • 24.6 cu ft of standard cargo storage space

  • Rearview camera

  • Xenon headlights

  • 60/40 split slide and recline rear seats

  • Six-speaker audio system

03 Ford Escape

The third-generation Ford Escape (2013-present) has a refreshing can-do attitude and an understated elegance that drivers and their passengers find pleasing. With 68 cu ft of storage behind the front row, this five-seat compact SUV has plenty of cargo space for running errands, hitting the golf course, or taking a trip. Plus, there’s an available hands-free power liftgate for added convenience.

With the standard 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine or an optional 2.0L turbo (SE trim and above), the 2017-2019 Ford Escape can be particularly responsive in downtown traffic. Passenger comforts include seatback pockets and an upright angle for easy seat entry and exit. The 2017-2019 Ford Escape SE includes these features as standard:

  • Rearview camera

  • 17-inch alloy wheels

  • Power-adjustable driver seat

  • Dual-zone automatic climate control

  • Rear privacy glass

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02 Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass is a compact SUV that was refreshed and upgraded for its second generation in late 2017. All second-generation trims (2017-2021) feature a 2.4L four-cylinder engine delivering 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, with upper trims paired to a six- or nine-speed automatic transmission (depending on your choice of standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive).

The five-seat Jeep Compass features four main trim levels; for pure off-road capability, consider the range-topping Trailhawk. All late 2017-2020 Jeep Compass models with the 2.4L engine and optional all-wheel drive have an estimated towing capability of 2,000 lbs, when properly equipped.1 Notable standard features of the late 2017-2020 base trim Compass Sport include:

  • 27.2 cu ft of fixed rear cargo storage

  • 60/40 split rear bench seating

  • Stability and traction control

  • Bluetooth connectivity

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (from 2019)

01 Nissan Rogue

The five-seat Nissan Rogue is an athletic compact SUV that can check all your boxes: impressive cargo space, two responsive powertrain options, and plenty of driver tech. The Rogue boasts three trims: S, SV, and SL. It’s not surprising to see it listed as a best compact SUV.

Powering the standard 2017-2019 Nissan Rogue is a 2.5L four-cylinder engine producing 170 hp, paired with a continuously variable transmission. The 2017-2019 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder gas engine and onboard electric motor delivering an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined, with the standard front-wheel drive.2 All 2017-2019 Rogue S models feature:

  • 32 cu ft of fixed cargo space

  • Slide and recline rear seating with a 40/20/40 split

  • Cargo management system

  • Seven-inch touchscreen display (from 2018)

  • Rear cross-traffic alert (from 2018)

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