Consumer Reports Ranked These 2 Small SUVs the Easiest to Drive

When buying a vehicle, people base their decision on several criteria, such as the vehicle’s predicted reliability, cost of ownership, and presence of preferred features. During the test drive, we often focus on weird noises, how the transmission shifts, and the always popular speaker distortion at maximum stereo volume. But we should add another consideration to our checklist; How easy is it to drive? Let’s look at two small SUVs and what makes them easy to drive.

What makes these small SUVs the easiest to drive? 

Consumer Reports (CR) ranked the “easiest to drive” small SUVs by “how effortless they are to use in your everyday life.” These small SUVs performed well on CR criteria such as:

  • Reliability: Repairing your SUV does not bring joy to anyone.
  • Accessibility: Access through wide door openings onto “hip-height” seats makes for easy entry and exit for drivers and passengers.
  • Comfort: Seats with “supportive padding, multiple adjustments, and adequate legroom” reduce stress while driving.
  • Ergonomics: Proper seating and ergonomically placed hand and foot controls reduce fatigue on long drives. 
  • Simple Gauges: The ability to quickly read and understand the information displayed on the speedometer, fuel gauge, and other displays reduces the time a driver must divert their eyes from the road.
  • Simple Controls: Physical buttons and dials are more accessible to adjust without looking at them than digital menus. 
  • Visibility: Large windows with unobstructed sightlines reduce blindspots making for a safer driving experience. 
  • Quiet Interior: Soundproof interiors and automatic noise cancellation reduce perceived wind and road noise inside the vehicle leading to “greater tranquility.”
  • Smooth Ride: Rough roads are a fact of life, but a quality suspension system helps to provide a smooth ride in most conditions. 

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime is easy to drive and reliable

A red Toyota RAV4 Prime Small SUV parked
Toyota RAV4 Prime Small SUV | Toyota

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime is the plug-in hybrid version of this small SUV. The Prime’s 72 MPGe overall, along with its high rankings for CR’s road test, predicted reliability, and predicted owner satisfaction makes its $40,000-plus price range more palatable. The RAV4 Prime provides a smoother ride than either the gasoline-only or the electric-only versions. In addition, the RAV4 Prime provides a quiet electric-only mode with a 42-mile range or an electric assist mode that works to keep the gas engine revs low. 

Inside the RAV4 Prime, the upgraded interior offers “more soft-surface touches” and “ample legroom and an upright seating position that aids outward visibility.” In addition, the Prime’s user interface uses large knobs and buttons for easy use without looking while driving.

The 2022 Subaru Forester is an easy-to-drive small SUV


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The gasoline-only 2022 Subaru Forester starts at $26,000 and climbs to $36,000 in Premium trim. Unlike the RAV4 Prime, the Forester’s interior leans toward utility. Although, overall, it offers a “roomy interior, a smooth ride, and good fuel economy” with up to 38 mpg on the highway. While the Forester performed well in CR’s road test, it received average predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores. 

The Forester features large door openings and enhanced driver visibility thanks to its “upright driving position and tall windows. Adding the “All-Weather package” provides heated front seats for enhanced driving comfort and heated side mirrors to reduce icing in winter weather. Audio and climate controls feature large buttons and knobs for easy access. In addition, Subaru provides advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist on all Forester trims.

Which small SUV is best?

If you’re planning to use your small SUV as an adventure vehicle, the more affordable 2022 Subaru Forester gets the nod from Consumer Reports. That’s because it performs better off the beaten path. However, for a family vehicle responsible for everything from dropping the kids at soccer practice, hauling groceries, and weekend road trips, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Prime, with its upscale interior, far superior fuel economy, and legendary predicted reliability, is the better choice.