Hardly a day goes by without some type of electric-vehicle-related announcement. There’s such a firehose of news that it can be hard to keep up. But while EVs might be parked in driveways in the future, it’s traditional gasoline-powered compact SUVs that many car buyers are driving home today — so much so that many familiar nameplates are the sales leaders of their respective brands.
It’s a class that continues to evolve, too, with a mix of all-new, redesigned and significantly refreshed models in the last year alone. That made it time to bring some of the most popular models together again to see which one is the top of the class.
For this comparison, we tested six compact SUVs: the refreshed 2023 Ford Escape, the redesigned 2023 Honda CR-V, the 2022 Hyundai Tucson, the redesigned 2023 Kia Sportage, the all-new Mazda CX-50 and the 2023 Nissan Rogue. Though Hyundai was unable to provide a 2023 Tucson in time for our comparison, the 2022 Limited version tested here is largely representative of 2023s now on dealer lots. We also invited Toyota to participate, but the automaker didn’t have a RAV4 to send us that would meet our test requirements: top gas-powered trim levels with all-wheel drive.
Judges for this comparison were Senior Research Editor Damon Bell, Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman and Road Test Editor Brian Normile. The six SUVs were put through a battery of tests: The judges drove each of them on the same evaluation loop, took them on a 300-plus-mile fuel economy test to determine real-world road-trip fuel economy, measured each one’s cargo area, checked child-safety seat fitment, assessed safety and driver-assist features, and rated their value for the money. Here’s how they finished:
1. 2023 Nissan Rogue Platinum
2. 2023 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige
3. 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited
4. 2023 Honda CR-V EX-L
5. 2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
6. 2023 Ford Escape ST-Line Elite
The below chart shows how the SUVs performed in each category; for more details on where each SUV excelled — and where it came up short — check out the vehicle-specific sections in the rest of this article. All of the categories were worth 30 points, except for driver-assist tech and as-tested value, which were worth 15 and 60 points, respectively.