The subcompact SUV category is nearly a brand-new car segment. More than half of the entries have been on sale for less than a year. We discovered while testing this group that it’s really a collection of compromises. While they offer more space than subcompact cars and better fuel economy than compact SUVs, there are other tradeoffs as well, as you’ll read below. Still, all of these automakers have high hopes for this segment, and several of them have the sales to back up those hopes.
- 2016 Chevrolet Trax (new for 2015)
- 2016 Fiat 500X (all-new)
- 2016 Honda HR-V (all-new)
- 2015 Jeep Renegade (all-new)
- 2016 Mazda CX-3 (all-new)
- 2015 Nissan Juke
- 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek
To compete, the automakers needed to provide us with an SUV that has all-wheel drive as an option (whether they wanted the competitor to have that was up to them); it could not be more than $27,000, including the destination fee. The automakers provided all the SUVs except for the CX-3; Mazda did not have one available, so we secured one through a broker.
We put the SUVs through a week’s worth of testing in and around Boulder, Colo.:
- We drove them on a 204-mile real-world mileage course that started in Boulder, headed into the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park, Colo., and down through Loveland, before driving south to Denver and then returning to Boulder.
- We had our judges drive them back-to-back-to-back on the same pavement to evaluate ride, handling, comfort, acceleration and more.
- We brought in an in-market couple to test the SUVs for their utility, ride and more.
- Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief for Cars.com
- Joe Bruzek, road test editor for Cars.com
- Jennifer Geiger, assistant managing editor for Cars.com
- Brian Robinson, producer for PBS’ “MotorWeek”
- Chris Woodyard, auto writer for USA Today
- Joel and Christine Kruppa, our in-market shoppers. Joel, 31, is a mechanic and his wife, Christine, 30, is looking to replace her Honda Civic with one of these subcompact SUVs. She’s an office manager, and they live in Lakewood, Colo.
- 75 percent from the judges’ scoring
- 15 percent from our family shoppers
- 10 percent from the mileage drive