Car Buying Tips

Best Compact SUVs to Consider in 2024

Small SUVs are a massively popular segment for Canadian car shoppers. With roomy interiors for passengers and their gear and the availability of all-wheel drive for extra confidence in all four Canadian seasons, these do-it-all vehicles can play the role of daily commuter, weekend warrior, and vacation transportation – all at an affordable price. The compact SUV segment’s popularity means there’s a wide variety to choose from, from practical to rugged to luxurious, and plenty of different powertrain options for people who want gas power, hybrid efficiency, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or a full electric vehicle (EV).

After considering every single vehicle available for Canadians to buy in this segment, AutoTrader’s jury of more than 20 automotive experts has voted for these offerings as the best vehicles in their class, representing well-rounded crossovers that raise the bar that they feel confident recommending to their own family and friends.

2024 Honda CR-V / Hybrid

One of Canada’s most popular new vehicles, the CR-V was completely redesigned last year, including the debut of a first-ever hybrid. Bigger than ever, the Honda’s added size sees our AutoTrader experts rave about the compact five-passenger Honda SUV’s comfortable and spacious interior. From behind the steering wheel, the CR-V is a quiet, refined SUV that excels in daily driving. The standard engine is a 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT only sends power to the front wheels in the base $35,125 LX-B trim. All-wheel drive (AWD) is a $2,800 option and standard on the remaining trim levels. The $46,795 CR-V EX-L Hybrid’s powertrain uses a larger 2.0L turbocharged four, helped by two electric motors for traction at all four wheels. Even with 204 hp, the Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient CR-V, with a combined city and highway estimate of 6.4 L/100 km, compared to 8.4 for the AWD non-hybrid and 7.8 for the FWD versions.

2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5

For Canadian buyers looking for a small SUV that uses electric power only, the Ioniq 5 electric vehicle chcks off a lot of boxes with our experts. Shaped more like a hatchback than an SUV, the stylish Hyundai EV’s roomy five-passenger cabin displays the same modern design language as the exterior. For 2024, the Ioniq 5 is powered by a 77.4-kWh battery, starting with the $54,999 rear-wheel drive (RWD) version that makes 225 hp and a generous 488-kilometre driving range. For an additional $2,000, an AWD version can be driven up 410 km. The Ioniq 5 is one of the most affordable new EVs with over 400 km of range, and it can use 800-volt charging stations. Hyundai says the battery can go from a 10 per cent charge up to 80 per cent in only 18 minutes using these chargers. It’s also compatible with 400-volt chargers, where the 10 to 80 per cent charge time is a still-quick 25 minutes.

2024 Mazda CX-50

The CX-50 was all-new for 2023, joining the Mazda lineup as a companion to the existing CX-5 compact SUV but for buyers looking for additional off-road capability and rugged exterior looks. Mazda does interiors well, and the new CX-50 is no exception. The overall five-passenger layout is driver-focused, with controls arranged symmetrically. All CX-50s get a six-speed automatic transmission and AWD standard. Prices start at $41,695 for the GS-L with the base 187-hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine. The optional turbo version of the same engine makes 256 hp (with 93 octane; 227 hp with 87) and is available on the GT trim for $49,145. Our experts found that whether on long road trips or urban errand running, the CX-50 offers smooth, consistent performance. Confident and engaging driving dynamics help set this Mazda apart from its competition.

2024 Subaru Outback

As you can tell from our list, our AutoTrader experts like variety. And for buyers looking for a wagon/SUV, the Outback offers a unique and proven alternative. In the Subaru lineup, the Outback sits between the smaller Forester and larger, three-row Ascent in size and price, with four-cylinder engines mated to a CVT and standard AWD. The wagon-ish body of the Outback creates a roomy five-passenger interior. The rear seats are spacious enough for adults, and there’s loads of cargo space. The base $33,995 Outback Convenience gets the 2.5L 182-horsepower engine and Subaru’s generous suite of safety and driver assistance features. The recently introduced $44,795 Wilderness trim is the entry point to the 260-hp turbocharged 2.4L unit, 20 millimetres of additional ground clearance over the regular 221 mm, a dedicated Enhanced X-Mode all-wheel drive system and suspension setup, plus all-terrain tires, and under-body protection for more adventurous drivers.

2024 Toyota RAV4 / Hybrid / Prime

The locally manufactured RAV4 is a popular pick with Canadian drivers, and our experts concur that the segment’s top-selling RAV4 is one of the best compact SUVs to consider in 2024. Spacious, safe, and fuel-efficient (the Hybrid and Prime plug-in hybrid are particularly relevant with rising gas prices), the 2024 RAV4 lineup enjoys a reputation for reliability and strong resale values. It starts with the base $33,150 RAV4 LE AWD trim and its 203-hp 2.5L four-cylinder engine. However, the $35,950 RAV4 Hybrid version could be the most Toyota-ish Toyota ever. It offers 219 horsepower from the 2.5L engine and two electric motors for surprisingly quick acceleration while scoring an excellent 6.0 L/100 km combined fuel economy. If you don’t mind plugging in, the $51,150 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid offers 64 km of electric driving. That’s just the beginning. With over 300 horsepower, the RAV4 Prime is one of Toyota’s faster and more powerful vehicles, but with a full battery and gas tank, its range is 911 km, and it has the same fuel economy as the Hybrid.