Consumer Reports Only Recommends 5 2021 Subcompact SUVs

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has proven to be a favorite amongst critics and consumers this year. It’s also of the only subcompact SUVs to earn a CR Recommended label, awarded for consistent reliability and overall quality. Which subcompact SUVs made the Consumer Reports Recommended list for 2021?

Consumer Reports recommends the Subaru Crosstrek

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek got the highest road test score out of any other vehicle in its class. Both available engines provide sufficient power for daily driving, though the base four-cylinder struggles under heavy throttle. A speedier Crosstrek Hybrid is also available, but Consumer Reports warns that the battery eats up valuable cargo space.

CR also appreciated the Crosstrek’s standard AWD capability. It can get up to 29 mpg combined city/highway, which is better than some FWD rivals. The top trims are equipped with X-Mode, a terrain management system capable of some light off-roading.

The raised driver’s seat provides good visibility, though CR felt that the seats themselves need better lower-back support. All the physical controls work as intended and the infotainment system has nice graphics.

The Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona is the cheapest subcompact on Consumer Reports’ recommended list, but it still delivers a lot of value. CR testers said that it’s more enjoyable to drive than most of its rivals, with snappy handling and effortless braking. Unfortunately, acceleration is not its strong suit and the suspension is very stiff. Road noise is also always present, no matter what speed you’re driving.

The Hyundai Kona’s interior materials are predictably cheap-feeling, but the silver seat trim gives the interior a stylish flair. Every seat offers long-term support, but taller riders might want to avoid the second row. CR testers were especially pleased with the user-friendly manual audio and climate controls.

The Mazda CX-30

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The Mazda CX-30 is quick off the starting line, but Consumer Reports didn’t find it as engaging to drive as its siblings. Engine noise is also pronounced inside the CX-30, but testers did appreciate its minimal body lean. Despite its firm ride, testers also found that hard bumps don’t intrude on anyone’s comfort. The CX-30 gets great fuel economy on the highway – up to 37 mpg.

The interior feels on par with a luxury subcompact, but it’s hard to fully enjoy because it’s so cramped. Taller riders will feel very confined in the backseat. CR also felt that the small windows impede the driver’s visibility from all angles, minus the rear.

The Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3’s powertrain is definitely zestier compared to the CX-30. It’s exceptionally quick throughout the drive, corners with ease, and the suspension is surprisingly smooth. The brakes are easy to modulate but require long stopping distances. The CX-3’s cabin is especially prone to loud road and engine noise. 

Like the CX-30, some drivers might find the CX-3’s interior too restrictive. The seats also aren’t very supportive and interior quality isn’t quite on the same level as other Mazda models. Still, Consumer Reports was pleased with all the standard tech on board, especially the safety features.

The Honda HR-V rounds out this Consumer Reports list

CR describes the Honda HR-V as the most practical pick but one that you should avoid if performance matters. It’s good at controlling body lean, but the steering wheel offers no feedback and acceleration is a challenge. The ride is also uncomfortable, which isn’t helped by the unsupportive seats.

The available leather seats are slightly more accommodating, but even these don’t come with adjustability options. Despite this, the Honda HR-V has more generous dimensions than most of its rivals, with a truly adult-friendly second row. Cargo space is also plentiful, up to nearly 59 cubic feet.

All in all, these are all tremendous options for drivers seeking a subcompact SUV.