The compact-crossover class is exploding in popularity because of the mix of utility and affordability these types of vehicles deliver. Introduced in 1995, the Toyota RAV4 was the first car-based compact crossover available in this country, according to MotorWeek. It was followed soon after by the 1995 Honda CR-V. Since then, we’ve seen a flood of new models — more than 20 nameplates at last count — and today nearly one in every 10 vehicles sold is a compact crossover, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
The competition is only beginning to heat up, with new models like the 2013 Ford Escape, 2012 Honda CR-V and 2013 Mazda CX-5 introduced in the past few months. A significantly reengineered Nissan Rogue will soon be added to the mix, too. So which one is the most affordable?
To find out, we considered several features: fuel economy, equipment and final cost. For this comparison, these small crossovers needed to have the features listed below:
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls
- Cruise control
- Remote keyless entry
- USB port and audio controls
- Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
- Automatic transmission
- Roof rails
Our criteria knocked out models like the Jeep Compass and Suzuki Grand Vitara, which don’t have a telescoping steering wheel. For the sake of clarity, we excluded models like the Mini Cooper Countryman, Nissan Juke and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport — we believe these boutique cars deserve their own category; we just haven’t agreed on a name for it yet.
Instead, we pitted the recently launched 2013 Ford Escape against the 2013 Mazda CX-5, 2012 Honda CR-V and 2012 Chevrolet Equinox.