5 of the Best Compact Luxury SUVs According to MotorTrend

Compact luxury SUVs are in high demand, dominating as the most popular vehicle on the market today. Consumers are taking notice of comfortable cruisers like the Lincoln Corsair and Acura RDX. And setting the bar high in this competitive class is the 2021 Volvo XC60.

These family-friendly models provide great value with easy maneuverability, an affordable price, comfortable interiors, and distinguished style.

Most major luxury automakers offer a model in this crowded segment, with BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz traditionally leading the luxury SUV class. For the 2021 model year, a few contenders are starting to shake things up.

Comparing the top models, MotorTrend designated the following vehicles as this year’s top five compact luxury SUVs.

2021 Lexus NX

The 2021 Lexus NX sits in fifth place on the list. MotorTrend calls it “as quiet, refined, and comfy as you’d expect a Lexus to be.” The unique exterior styling, with its pointy yet elegant appearance, helps this small SUV stand out.

Despite the Lexus NX‘s superior build quality, it isn’t a sporty model. The standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine doesn’t allow for the same powerful performance found in others in its class.

Standard active safety features abound, and the available hybrid version is a more fuel-efficient alternative.

MotorTrend found the back seat tight for passengers but appreciated the reasonable price range of $38,635 to $47,635.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

The base-model 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class starts at $44,250. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine puts out a strong 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Several powertrain options are available, with the 4.0-liter turbo V8 harnessing an astonishing 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. 

The luxurious cabin and upscale design add to the appeal, but the “boxy, wagon-like body” detracts from the overall aesthetic, MotorTrend mentions. The tech features, though abundant, are somewhat complicated to use. However, the refined comfort makes up for the minor drawbacks.

2021 Acura RDX

Securing the number-three spot is the 2021 Acura RDX, starting at a reasonable $39,925. MotorTrend says that “the original RDX that preceded the version this new model replaces was a wild turbocharged, torque-vectoring anomaly, but it’s much better executed this time around.”

The standard turbocharged four-cylinder puts out a “spunky” 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The improved infotainment system lends to the comfortable interior, but the touchpad instead of a touchscreen feels strangely outdated.

However, active safety features are plentiful, although poor rear visibility could pose a problem.

2021 Lincoln Corsair

Ford’s luxury brand makes a surprise appearance at number two on MotorTrend’s list. The 2021 Lincoln Corsair packs a 2.0-liter turbo engine and offers an optional 2.3-liter inline-four producing 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Despite the strong engine performance, the transmission seems to hesitate when pushed to the limit. The luxurious interior allows for a “cushy ride” that all passengers will undoubtedly adore. With a base-price range of $37,100 to $48,745, the Lincoln Corsair justifies its ranking as one of the best compact luxury SUVs.

2021 Volvo XC60


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Top-spot honors go to the 2021 Volvo XC60. MotorTrend calls it the “best-rounded” compact luxury SUV that “does just enough uniquely to stand out without skewing weird.”

With a distinctive design inside and out, the XC60 has a varied starting price range, from $42,795 to a whopping $71,290. It offers several powertrains, including an electric supercharged inline-four that puts out a combined 400 to 415 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. The estimated fuel economy for the electrified Volvo XC60 is a class-leading 57 MPGe.

You’ll also find 63 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row and 18 cubic feet behind the second row. Plus, an abundance of luxury features and complimentary maintenance help make the Volvo XC60 the best compact luxury SUV for 2021.