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2019 Compact SUVs Compete! Forester, RAV4 and More Try to Topple Tiguan

01-2019-compact-suv-challenge-group-shot-es.jpg 2019 Best Compact SUV Challenge competitors | Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

Our last segment-spanning comparison of compact SUVs was in September 2017. Given how popular compact SUVs — and SUVs in general — are these days, it seemed fitting not to wait any longer to pit seven of the most popular ones on the market against each other. New entrants for this year’s contest include the redesigned 2019 Toyota RAV4, refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson, redesigned 2019 Subaru Forester and refreshed 2019 Jeep Cherokee. They face off against the returning Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Related: What’s the Best Compact SUV for 2017?

You’ll have to wait until March 27 to find out the results, so be sure to check back in with us then. In the meantime, here’s the rundown on everything we tested.

2019 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

Honda’s 2019 CR-V is one of the elder statesmen of our comparison test after a full redesign all the way back in … 2017. Our tester here was a top-trim all-wheel-drive Touring model powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and good for 190 horsepower, paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The CR-V came to us painted in Obsidian Blue with a gray leather interior.

Honda, like Subaru and Hyundai, loads up its top trims with tons of standard equipment, leaving very little in the way of options. Our tester didn’t have any — aside from dealer-installed accessories, the only real option for an AWD Touring is a set of 19-inch wheels instead of the standard 18-inch set — so its price topped out at $35,145, including a $995 destination fee. Standard features at this trim level include the Honda Sensing suite of safety tech, a moonroof, and an infotainment system with navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

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2019 Hyundai Tucson Ultimate AWD

The Hyundai Tucson received a mild refresh for 2019, with a slight change to its looks but larger changes to its available powertrains and technology. We tested a Tucson Ultimate AWD in Coliseum Gray with a black interior. The Tucson was powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 181 hp and 175 pounds-feet of torque, and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

At the Ultimate trim level, there aren’t many options one can add to the Tucson, but ours did come with carpeted floormats for an extra $135. Standard features included forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert. An 8-inch multimedia system is standard at this level and also came standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our Tucson Ultimate also included a panoramic moonroof. The total price for our tester was $34,130, including the floormats and a $1,045 destination charge, the lowest priced in the test.

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2019 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4×4

The Jeep Cherokee received a mild refresh for the 2019 model year, and we decided to pit it against the rest of this field instead of the Compass we tested in our previous comparison — we felt the Cherokee was a more comparable size than the Compass, and the Compass didn’t exactly light up the competition last time. The Cherokee Limited 4×4 we tested was a higher trim level, though not a top one, painted in Billet Silver Metallic with a black and Ski Grey interior. Unique among the competition, the Cherokee Limited featured a 3.2-liter V-6 engine instead of the four-cylinders powering the rest of the field.

The Cherokee Limited 4×4 also featured a host of options, including the Technology Group ($995) that added a host of safety features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane departure warning. The Luxury Group ($1,195) added ventilated front seats, adjustable backseats and a hands-free power liftgate. A moonroof added another $1,295, the nine-speaker audio system cost $695, and the Uconnect 4 system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and navigation was another $795. Add in Jeep’s highest-in-competition $1,445 destination fee and our Cherokee Limited 4×4’s starting price rose from $33,620 to $40,040 — second-highest in this comparison.

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2019 Nissan Rogue SL AWD

The Rogue, Nissan’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S., received a mild refresh in 2017 but hasn’t had a full redesign since the 2014 model year. Nissan has been incrementally updating its features in between then, usually in the form of half model years (i.e. 2017.5), but for this test, we got a whole-numbered 2019 Rogue SL — the highest trim level available, although hybrid versions are slightly more expensive. Standard features on the Rogue included a suite of safety equipment bundling automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a 360-degree camera system and blind spot warning, as well as Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto came with the Rogue’s infotainment system, which also included navigation.

The Rogue SL with all-wheel drive starts at $32,740. Our tester featured three options, including the Premium Package ($1,820) that added a panoramic moonroof and LED headlights; the Platinum Reserve interior ($250) that added tan leather seats with quilted leather inserts; and a set of carpeted floormats, a cargo area protector and a first aid kit for $280. Add in the $995 destination fee and our tester topped out at $36,085.

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2019 Subaru Forester Touring

Subaru’s Forester was also redesigned for 2019, and in Touring guise came to us like the Honda CR-V: with no options added. Our Forester was powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a CVT instead of a traditional stepped-gear automatic. Despite the CVT, the Forester still included paddle shifters to at least provide the illusion of shifting gears.

Standard features included Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety features and an 8-inch multimedia system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Painted in Horizon Blue Pearl with a Saddle Brown interior, the Forester was on the more affordable side of the contest at a price of $35,270 with $975 destination included.

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

The Toyota RAV4 got a complete redesign for the 2019 model year, and we tested a Limited AWD model for this comparison. We were interested to see how the popular model would perform, especially because a RAV4 was not part of our previous comparison of this class — primarily because it had gone so long without an update. While the Limited trim is the highest currently available overall, the model we tested was not a hybrid, which would’ve added to the price.

Notably, a top-trim RAV4 is still available with options unlike others in the comparison. Our particular tester came with the Limited Grade Weather Package, which added a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear outboard seats, and rain-sensing wipers for $1,015. The Limited Grade Advanced Technology Package ($1,025) added an overhead 360-degree camera system, foot-activated hands-free power liftgate, wireless device charging and keyless access to all doors and the liftgate. Stand-alone options included an Entune 3.0 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto) for $580, panoramic sunroof for $200, and carpeted floormats and cargo mats for $269. The options take the 2019 RAV4 Limited AWD from a starting price of $34,900 to $39,034, including a $1,045 destination fee, making it the third most-expensive of our seven competitors.

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2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line With 4Motion

Last alphabetically but also the returning champion, the Volkswagen Tiguan comes into our comparison in the second model year of its redesign. The SEL Premium R-Line model we tested had a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. As a top trim level, there wasn’t much in the way of options to add to this particular Tiguan, but the one extra it did have made it unique in our field of seven: an optional third row of seats, which cost $595.

Standard features on the Tiguan — $1,700 more expensive than a non-R-Line SEL Premium with 4Motion — included R-Line-specific 20-inch wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit configurable digital gauge cluster. Painted in Platinum Gray Metallic with a Saffrano and black two-tone leather interior, the Tiguan was the most expensive vehicle in our test at a price of $40,485, including a $995 destination charge.

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