Crossover & Midsize

Don’t Let These Reliable Small SUVs Fool You

Large and midsize SUVs have become incredibly popular in recent years. Thanks to its size, a big SUV is perfect for families or anyone who frequently takes long road trips. However, there are also plenty of small SUVs that are so reliable that they shouldn’t be ignored.

A small SUV usually seats five passengers, so it’s still a good vehicle option for some families. Additionally, despite their smaller frames, these vehicles come with an ample amount of cargo space. If you’re looking for a new fun-sized SUV, take a look at CarFax’s favorites for 2020.

The Hyundai Kona SUV

The Kona is a newer edition to Hyundai’s lineup, and it has a lot to offer potential buyers. The standard model comes with a few useful safety features, plus Bluetooth, multiple USB ports, and smartphone integration. Sizing up to the SEL Plus trim nets you leather seating, a sunroof, extra safety functions, and wireless charging.

The cheapest Hyundai Kona comes equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can make up to 147 hp. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, but an all-wheel-drive option is also on the table. If you want extra passing power, you’re better off with the available turbocharged 175-hp engine. Both engines are nearly equal in terms of efficiency, so there’s really nothing to lose.

The Hyundai Kona has gotten mostly positive reception, but it has a few weak spots. It has a slightly lower cargo capacity than its rivals and some critics like Edmunds weren’t pleased with its interior. Still, it’s definitely an excellent value overall and one of the best cars to handle those tight city parking spaces.

The Buick Encore SUV

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If you choose a Buick Encore, you only have one powertrain option. It’s a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder capable of 138 hp, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. As you’d expect from a vehicle of its size, the Encore is very lithe, and its suspension absorbs most hard bumps. However, anything more strenuous than short city drives will result in a lot of engine noise.

Consumer Reports also mentioned that the interior feels narrow, which may be a problem for some adult passengers. Rear visibility is also compromised, which makes parking a bit of a challenge, even considering the Encore’s small size overall. The highest trim offers parking sensors, but you’ll have to pay upwards of $30,000 for that. 

However, the base model still comes with plenty of useful features, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and smartphone integration. A mid-cycle refresh in 2017 eliminated many of the confusing center stack buttons. The infotainment controls are now all easily accessible through a user-friendly touchscreen.

The Mini Cooper Countryman

The Countryman is one of the most expensive small SUVs on the market, with a starting price of $28,000. The interior definitely feels high-class, with synthetic leather seats, a standard panoramic sunroof, and many soft-touch surfaces. However, some drivers may feel cheated at the snug cabin dimensions and limited cargo capacity. 

The standard turbo three-cylinder engine also isn’t particularly lively, only capable of 134 hp. You can also upgrade to a turbo four-cylinder that can make either 189 or 301 hp, depending on the trim. Handling is athletic for the most part, but it suffers from finicky brakes and a stiff ride.

The Mini Cooper Countryman is available as a hybrid that can make 221 hp and has 18 miles of all-electric range. This makes it an excellent small SUV for city dwellers who don’t have to make long work commutes. Squeezing into a cramped parking space is also a breeze thanks to the Countryman’s standard rear parking sensors.