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The Best Compact SUVs Available in Canada

The Best Compact SUVs Available in Canada

Compact SUVs have exploded in popularity over the last decade, quickly becoming one of the hottest vehicle segments. As families and individuals look for the perfect blend of utility, efficiency and flexibility from their daily driver, automakers have responded by flooding the market with great compact SUV options.


In this post, we’ll explore the 10 top-rated compact SUVs for 2024, looking at expert opinions and test data on the very best models you can buy new today. We’ll highlight what makes these small SUVs stand out, from cargo space and fuel economy to safety tech and driving enjoyment.


First, let’s briefly outline what buyers should look for in a great compact SUV:

 

  • Practical interior space for passengers and cargo
  • Good fuel economy
  • Latest tech and safety features
  • All-weather capability with available AWD
  • Smooth and comfortable ride quality

 

Keep these key factors in mind as we countdown the 10 highest rated options in the competitive compact SUV segment for 2024.



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#1 – 2024 Mazda CX-5

Earning top honors as the best compact SUV for 2024 is the Mazda CX-5. This popular crossover receives high marks across the board for its dynamic driving capabilities, upscale interior quality, impressive reliability and overall value. When it comes to compact SUVs, the CX-5 sets the benchmark.

The CX-5 truly shines when it comes to handling and performance. This is one agile and nimble compact SUV that feels sharp and responsive around turns. At the same time, the CX-5 maintains a very composed and comfortable ride quality. Under the hood, there are two efficient yet powerful engine options including a 187 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.5-liter making 250 horsepower when premium fuel is used. Fuel economy is excellent with up to 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

Not only does the CX-5 boast athletic driving dynamics, but it also features one of the nicest interiors in its class. The cabin uses upscale materials and every surface has a premium look and feel. The user-friendly infotainment system is easy to navigate and includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Technologies like traffic sign recognition and driver attention alert also come standard.

In terms of safety, Mazda equips every CX-5 with advanced driver aids including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. These features earned the 2024 CX-5 a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

 

#2 – 2024 Honda CR-V

The 2024 Honda CR-V is a top choice for a compact SUV thanks to its winning blend of practicality, efficiency, comfort and value. This popular crossover enters its sixth generation with enhancements that make it even more family-friendly.

Inside, the CR-V offers outstanding passenger and cargo space for the compact segment. There’s ample legroom even in the second row, while the rear seats fold completely flat to maximize loading room. With 39.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubes with the second row folded, the CR-V can easily accommodate luggage, outdoor gear and home improvement supplies.

New for 2024 is a hybrid model that joins the turbocharged gas engine option. The hybrid CR-V pairs a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors, providing a robust total system output of 204 horsepower. Fuel economy reaches an EPA-estimated 40 mpg in city driving. The turbo engine still provides pleasing punch, while the continuously variable transmission helps optimize efficiency.

On the road, the CR-V delivers a comfortable, compliant ride quality that soaks up bumps and imperfections. The steering provides secure handling and inspires confidence when changing direction. Available all-wheel drive enhances traction in wet or snowy conditions.

With its smart packaging, fuel-sipping powertrains, family-friendly comfort and Honda’s reputation for quality, the 2024 CR-V has all the right ingredients for a top compact SUV choice.

 

#3 – 2024 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is a perennial favorite in the compact SUV segment, consistently earning high praise for its reputation for reliability, durability, and strong resale value. The 2024 RAV4 carries on this tradition with the typical Toyota virtues of quality and dependability.

Under the hood, the RAV4 offers two capable engine choices. The standard powertrain is a 203-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. For even better fuel efficiency, Toyota also offers the RAV4 Hybrid which uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with electric motors to deliver an outstanding 40 mpg combined. This makes the RAV4 Hybrid one of the most fuel-efficient options in the compact SUV class.

Toyota prioritizes safety and all 2024 RAV4 models come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense package. This includes advanced driver assistance features like pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and radar cruise control. By equipping these high-tech safety systems as standard, Toyota aims to provide peace of mind to RAV4 owners.

With Toyota’s sterling reputation, the 2024 RAV4 offers consumers a proven compact SUV choice emphasizing reliability, efficiency, value, and safety.

 

#4 – 2024 Hyundai Tucson

One of the most eye-catching compact SUVs for 2024 is the all-new Hyundai Tucson. Its dramatic new exterior styling turns heads with aggressive angles, striking LED lighting elements, and an imposing front grille. The Tucson ditches the rounded, conservative look of its predecessor for a bolder, more futuristic design. This makes it stand out in a crowded compact SUV segment where many models feature similar traditional silhouettes.

Beyond the radical new sheetmetal, the 2024 Tucson also impresses with its upscale interior that punches above its price class. Soft-touch surfaces abound throughout the cabin, complementing the flowing dashboard design. Available features like a 10.3-inch touchscreen, digital gauge cluster, multi-color ambient lighting, and panoramic sunroof further enhance the premium vibe. Generous passenger space and cargo flexibility add to the functionality.

The Tucson offers customers a choice of gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The gas model is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 187 horsepower, while the hybrid pairs a 1.6-liter turbo engine and electric motor for 226 total system horsepower. Opting for the Tucson Plug-In nets you 261 hp and an estimated all-electric range of 32 miles. All-wheel drive is optional across the lineup for enhanced foul weather traction.

With head-turning looks, upscale features, and multiple efficient powertrains, the 2024 Hyundai Tucson checks a lot of boxes for shoppers in the popular compact SUV segment.

 

#5 – 2024 Subaru Forester

The 2024 Subaru Forester is a top choice for a compact SUV thanks to its standard all-wheel drive system, spacious cargo area, and comfortable ride quality. Subaru’s renowned Symmetrical AWD comes standard on all Forester models, providing excellent traction and control in inclement weather and slippery conditions. This makes the Forester a great choice for buyers needing foul weather capability.

Inside, the Forester provides a roomy rear cargo area, with up to 35.4 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down, and cargo capacity expands to a maximum of 76.1 cubic feet, which is ample room for most buyers’ needs. The Forester also delivers a compliant ride quality and comfortable seating, making it a pleasant compact SUV for daily commuting and road trips.

For 2024, Subaru has updated the Forester with new driver assist and safety technologies. Additions like lane centering assist, reverse automatic braking, and a wider-angle front view camera improve the Forester’s safety credentials. Continuing refinements keep the Forester competitive within the compact SUV segment for shoppers wanting AWD capability, cargo versatility, and ride comfort.

 

What Makes a Great Compact SUV

When evaluating compact SUV models, there are a few key factors that make for an excellent overall vehicle.

First and foremost is practical interior space. Compact SUVs may be smaller than larger SUVs, but they still need to provide ample room for both passengers and cargo. This includes generous legroom and headroom in both the front and rear seats. The rear cargo area should offer versatility, allowing you to fold down the rear seats to accommodate larger items when needed.

Another top consideration is fuel economy. While compact SUVs typically offer better efficiency than their midsize and full-size counterparts, there can still be a wide range between models. Opting for optional smaller turbocharged engines or hybrid powertrains are great ways to maximize MPG if efficiency is a priority.

You’ll also want the latest high-tech infotainment features and advanced driver assistance safety systems. Large touchscreens, smartphone integration, parking sensors and automated emergency braking are just some of the options to look for. The more tech and safety gear the better.

Available all-wheel drive capability is highly desirable as well. AWD allows stable handling and traction in inclement weather and light off-roading. Compact SUVs with available AWD provide peace of mind and all-weather security.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a smooth and comfortable ride. You’ll likely spend a lot of time commuting and running errands with your compact SUV, so choosing a model with compliant suspension, minimal noise and supportive seats makes everyday driving more pleasant.

 

Factors When Choosing a Compact SUV

With so many great compact SUV options available, it’s important to consider your specific needs and priorities before making a purchase. Here are some of the key factors to think about:

 

Intended Use

Do you plan to use your compact SUV primarily for city commuting and running errands? Or is your priority adventure travel and exploring off-road trails? Models like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 offer great around-town maneuverability and fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, the Jeep Wrangler and Subaru Forester are better suited for off-road escapades.

 

Passenger and Cargo Capacity

Make sure to assess how much passenger and cargo space you require. Compact SUVs seat 5 passengers comfortably in most cases. Cargo room ranges from around 25 cubic feet for smaller models to over 70 cubic feet with rear seats folded down in more spacious options. Take measurements to determine how much capacity you realistically need.

 

Safety Ratings and Driver Aids

Safety is always a top priority. Review safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA crash tests for each model you’re considering. Also research what advanced driver assistance features come standard. Most compact SUVs today offer high-tech aids like automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

 

Fuel Efficiency

With gas prices fluctuating, fuel efficiency matters. Compact SUVs deliver better mpg than larger SUVs. Consider powertrain options too – some models offer 4-cylinder, hybrid or plug-in hybrid options to maximize efficiency. Front-wheel drive versions typically use less fuel than AWD models as well.

 

Available AWD Systems

If you live in a snowy climate or plan to go off-road, available all-wheel drive can be beneficial. Not all AWD systems perform the same however. Do research to determine if a model offers a basic on-demand system or a more advanced dynamic setup. Test drive AWD models to assess their capabilities.

 

Alternative Compact SUV Options

While the top 5 compact SUVs provide an excellent combination of features, value and reliability, there are several other models worth considering if you’re shopping in this popular segment.

The Kia Sportage underwent a full redesign for 2023, resulting in a sleek new exterior and modern interior. Available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, the Sportage offers up to 39 mpg combined fuel economy. Active safety tech and driver assists are standard, while features like a 12.3-inch touchscreen and panoramic sunroof are available. The Sportage provides strong value in a stylish package.

The Ford Bronco Sport brings rugged capability to the compact SUV class. Inspired by the iconic Bronco, this small SUV features standard AWD, ample ground clearance and short overhangs for off-road prowess. The Bronco Sport also gets high marks for interior space and cargo versatility. For those seeking adventure, the Bronco Sport is tough to beat.

With European styling and driving dynamics, the Volkswagen Tiguan offers a more premium compact SUV option. The refined cabin features soft-touch materials and VW’s user-friendly tech interface. Turbocharged engine choices provide solid acceleration and fuel efficiency. Available driver assistance features and crash test results showcase the Tiguan’s safety. Overall, it balances practicality with driving enjoyment.

While the top 5 provide the best all-around packages, the Kia Sportage, Ford Bronco Sport and Volkswagen Tiguan stand out as compelling alternatives worth test driving.

 

Comparing Compact SUV Models

When evaluating compact SUVs, it’s important to compare key factors like size, performance, capability, and cost. Here’s an overview of how some top models stack up:

 

Dimensions

Compact SUVs typically range from 170 to 190 inches long. Shorter models like the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks maximize maneuverability, while larger options like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester offer more passenger and cargo space. Wheelbases run between 100 to 110 inches for most compacts.

 

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel economy can vary widely depending on engine and drivetrain configurations. Base models with 4-cylinder engines and front-wheel drive tend to be the most efficient, achieving 30+ mpg combined. Adding AWD or choosing a less efficient engine drops mpg down into the high 20s. Hybrid models like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid can achieve 40+ mpg.

 

Pricing

Base model compact SUVs start around $25,000 and range up to $35,000. Higher trims with extra features can reach $40,000 and beyond. Additional costs come from AWD, larger engines, and technology packages. Value-oriented models like the Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 offer generous standard equipment.

 

Performance

Most compact SUVs utilize 4-cylinder engines making between 170 to 250 horsepower. Performance-oriented options like the Mazda CX-5 Turbo and VW Tiguan R-Line have boosted engines putting out over 250 hp. Suspension tuning skews towards comfort over sporty handling for most models.

 

Capability

Compact SUVs offer decent capability for light off-roading and winter weather driving when equipped with AWD. Higher ground clearance around 8 inches is typical. The Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and Subaru Forester XT have more robust off-road credentials. Towing capacity ranges from 1,500 to 4,500 lbs for the segment.

 

The Rise of Compact SUVs

Compact SUVs have seen a surge in popularity over the past decade. According to industry statistics, sales of compact SUVs have increased by over 200% since 2010. There are several reasons behind the rising demand for these practical vehicles.

For many buyers, the higher seating position, available all-wheel drive, and cargo versatility of a compact SUV are more appealing than what a traditional sedan offers. The abundant interior space afforded by compact SUVs makes them practical family vehicles, while still being fuel efficient and easy to maneuver.

Whereas sedan sales have declined, compact SUVs now account for over 20% of all vehicles sold. This versatile segment continues to chip away at the market share held by sedans.

Beyond practicality, compact SUVs offer a stylish, adventurous image that resonates with buyers. Increased focus on technology, safety, performance and comfort by automakers has also boosted the popularity of compact SUVs compared to spartan earlier models. For consumers seeking utility, efficiency, value and peace of mind, compact SUVs deliver on all fronts.

 

Compact SUV Safety

Safety is a top priority for most compact SUV shoppers, and fortunately this class of vehicles continues to make great strides when it comes to protecting passengers.

Many of the top compact SUVs earn high marks in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For example, the 2024 Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Hyundai Tucson all achieve the IIHS’ highest rating of Top Safety Pick+.

These models come standard with advanced driver assistance technology like automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are also commonly included to aid with visibility.

Compact SUVs generally offer more safety credentials than their small sedan counterparts in the same price range. Their higher riding position provides better visibility, while available all-wheel drive enhances traction and control in slippery conditions.

Of course, larger midsize and full-size SUVs have an inherent safety advantage thanks to greater mass and size. But modern compact SUVs continue to bridge the gap with clever engineering, and provide ample protection for most buyers’ needs.

 

Compact SUV Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is a top priority for many compact SUV shoppers. With gas prices remaining high, buyers want vehicles that will save them money at the pump without sacrificing practicality and versatility.

Among compact SUVs with traditional gas engines, some of the most fuel efficient options include:

 

  • 2024 Mazda CX-5 – Up to 26 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
  • 2024 Honda CR-V – Up to 28 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 – Up to 27 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
  • 2024 Hyundai Tucson – Up to 23 mpg city / 28 mpg highway
  • 2024 Subaru Forester – Up to 25 mpg city / 28 mpg highway

 

For even better fuel economy, hybrid models offer significant savings. Some top options include:

 

  • 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – Up to 41 mpg city / 38 mpg highway
  • 2024 Honda CR-V Hybrid – Up to 38 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
  • 2024 Hyundai Tucson Hybrid – Up to 38 mpg city / 37 mpg highway

 

Automakers continue to find ways to improve fuel efficiency through optimized aerodynamics, reduced weight, improvements in engine and transmission efficiency and more. Advanced technologies like auto start/stop, cylinder deactivation and innovative hybrid systems are being implemented across compact SUV lineups.

While maintaining the versatility buyers want, automakers are committed to enhancing efficiency. More options than ever provide an ideal blend of utility and fuel economy.

 

Conclusion

In summary, the top 5 compact SUVs for 2024 are:

 

  1. Mazda CX-5 – With its sharp handling, upscale interior and excellent reliability, the CX-5 edges out the competition for the top spot.
  1. Honda CR-V – A perennial favorite thanks to its spacious interior, fuel efficiency and solid value.
  1. Toyota RAV4 – The RAV4 delivers proven Toyota dependability, good fuel economy and abundant safety tech.
  1. Hyundai Tucson – Dramatic new styling and an impressive amount of standard features make the Tucson a standout.
  1. Subaru Forester – Standard all-wheel drive gives the Forester all-weather traction, plus plenty of cargo space.

 

When evaluating your options, be sure to consider your needs for interior room, performance, fuel efficiency, safety ratings and available technology features. Test driving the vehicles yourself is highly recommended to get a feel for ride quality and handling.

For an all-around great compact SUV that excels in nearly every category, the Mazda CX-5 is our top recommendation. Its refined driving dynamics, upscale cabin materials and excellent reliability ratings help it rise above the very competitive pack of compact SUVs for 2024.

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Questions About Compact SUVs in Canada

The best compact SUV in Canada is the 2024 Mazda CX-5. It has a refined and luxurious interior, impressive safety and technology features, excellent fuel economy, and engaging driving dynamics. The CX-5 is praised for its upscale cabin materials, responsive handling, smooth ride, and reliable powertrains.



Some of the top-rated compact SUVs in Canada for 2024 include:

 

– Mazda CX-5

– Subaru Forester

– Honda CR-V

– Toyota RAV4

– Hyundai Tucson

– Kia Sportage

– Nissan Rogue

– Volkswagen Tiguan

 

These models score highly for reliability, safety, performance, interior space, and overall value. The Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V are also standouts for their reputation for durability in Canadian winters.

The Subaru Forester is considered to have the best AWD system for tackling Canadian winters out of all small SUVs. Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system actively transfers power to the wheels with the most traction. This allows the Forester to keep moving even in the deepest snow or iciest conditions.

The most affordable compact SUV in Canada is the 2024 Nissan Qashqai. With a starting MSRP of $25,498, the Qashqai beats competitors like the Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, and Toyota RAV4 on upfront cost while still offering great value.

The Subaru Forester offers the most maximum cargo room in its class, with 79.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down. This makes it easy to haul bulky items like camping gear, sports equipment, or home renovation materials.

The top-rated luxury compact SUV in Canada is the 2024 Audi Q5. It stands out for its well-crafted interior, rapid acceleration, composed handling, cutting-edge infotainment, and high predicted reliability rating.

The most fuel efficient hybrid compact SUV is the 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. It achieves an estimated 6.0 L/100 km in combined city/highway driving. This is much better than traditional gas-powered compact SUVs.

The 2024 Mazda CX-5 is the safest compact SUV for Canadian families. It earned top scores in all IIHS crash tests and comes standard with advanced safety technologies like automatic emergency braking. The CX-5 also offers available features like a 360-degree parking camera.

The Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Compass, and Nissan Rogue have some of the highest tow ratings among small SUVs sold in Canada, ranging from 1,588 to 2,041 pounds. These models offer an optional tow package to enhance hauling capability.

For off-road and adventure driving, the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is the top-rated compact SUV in Canada. It features upgraded suspension, all-terrain tires, underbody protection, a rear locking differential, and Selec-Terrain traction management to handle challenging trails.



The 2024 Hyundai Tucson offers the most high-tech features in its class like digital key access via smartphone, fingerprint authentication, and an augmented reality heads-up display. It also comes well-equipped with driver assists like highway driving assist and remote smart parking.

The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 consistently rank among the best used compact SUVs to buy in Canada thanks to their reputation for reliability, durability, and retaining value over time. Shoppers should look for newer, low-mileage examples of these models.



Insurance costs for compact SUVs average between $1,500 to $2,500 per year in Canada, depending on factors like driver age and location. The Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson tend to have some of the most affordable premiums.



The Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 have the highest resale value among compact SUVs in the Canadian market. After 5 years of ownership, these models are expected to retain around 50% of their original purchase price on average.



Compact SUVs have proven to be very reliable in Canada. Models like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Mazda CX-5 consistently earn high predicted reliability scores. These vehicles can easily reach 200,000 km or more with proper maintenance.

The 2024 Kia Sportage has the lowest projected maintenance costs among compact SUVs over 5 years of ownership at around $3,500 in Canada. Its long warranty coverage and shared parts with other Hyundai-Kia models help minimize repair bills down the road.



Some of the best cash rebates currently offered on compact SUVs in Canada include up to $2,000 on the 2024 Nissan Rogue and Qashqai, up to $1,500 on the 2024 Kia Sportage, and discounts up to $750 on the 2024 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

The Toyota RAV4 and Lexus NX compact SUVs sold in Canada are produced locally at Toyota’s manufacturing plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario. Supporting domestic automotive production helps create Canadian jobs.



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