It’s one of the hottest auto market segments and consumers have lots to choose from in smaller-sized crossover SUVs. For 2016, small size doesn’t mean any less versatility. Indeed, looking at these five entries, besides looking great and providing good to excellent fuel economy, what’s not to like?
2016 Honda HR-V – At long last, Honda has a pint-sized utility vehicle to complement its popular compact CR-V and full-size, three-row Pilot SUV. With the debut of the 2016 Honda HR-V, consumers looking for an attractively styled, yet very versatile smaller crossover SUV may just have found what they want. An all-new vehicle for Honda and in an all-new segment for the Japanese automaker, the HR-V appears to borrow a bit of styling from larger sibling, CR-V, particularly in the area of the grille and headlamps. Elsewhere, it’s all unique to itself – and the styling is at once likeable and playful.
Inside, the HR-V is nicer than the, from which it spun off. That’s because the details are a bit finer, there’s more noise insulation, and on upper trim levels, offers an available bigger touchscreen interface for infotainment and safety information.
Power, however, is moderate – and that’s OK. The HR-V is powered by a 141-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine matched with either a continuously variable transmission or a six-speed manual (which is only available on front-wheel drive versions). Combined fuel economy for front-drive, CVT versions is 31 mpg. Available in three trim levels, LX, EX and EX-L, the 2016 Honda HR-V is priced from $19,995.
2016 Mazda CX-3 – Another in a long line of fun-to-drive vehicles from Mazda is the 2016 CX-3. Slotting below the compact CX-5 in the Mazda lineup, the CX-3 is the smallest crossover ever for the Japanese automaker. The design is a looker from any angle and the interior is smartly rendered as well. While there are still some hard plastics, there’s also plenty of upmarket materials and details, such as contrast stitching, piping on the seats, wrapped pieces on the dashboard, and a solid, substantial feel to controls.
A single powertrain is available, the 146-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. Combined fuel economy ratings are 31 mpg for front-drive models and 29 mpg for all-wheel drive versions. These are at or close to the top of the class.
The CX-3, besides being a hoot to drive, is also very quiet and comfortable. Even with a starting price around $20,000, the small crossover has a lot of standard equipment and many available options, including high-technology safety features.
2016 Chevrolet Trax – Here’s another vehicle that marks the smallest entry for an automaker, in this case, the 2016 Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover. It’s platform-mate is the Buick Encore, and both are based on the Chevrolet Sonic. But where Encore is more upscale, the Chevy Trax is more practical. This does not, however, mean boring. In fact, the Trax offers most of the features of its larger sibling, the Chevy Equinox, even all-wheel drive availability.
It may be small, but the list of standard safety features is impressive: 10 airbags, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, and a rearview camera. The Trax is available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, with a starting price right around $21,000.
All Chevy Trax models are powered by a 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined fuel economy for front-wheel drive models is 29 mpg, dropping to 27 mpg with all-wheel drive.
2016 Fiat 500X – Joining the new class of subcompact crossovers this year is the 2016 Fiat 500X, the first crossover from the brand. It’s no off-road vehicle, to be sure, although there is an all-wheel drive option, but it is a perfectly capable urban runabout. Great road manners, excellent fuel economy and advanced safety technology are other attributes of the 500X, and prices start at just above $20,000.
Fiat makes two powertrains available to U.S. consumers: a 160-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission – only available on the base Pop version, and the 180-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Standard safety features include seven airbags, stability control and hill-start assist. A rearview camera is optional or standard, depending on trim level. Optional safety features include forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-path detection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2016 Fiat 500X with Top Safety Pick+ designation.
2016 Jeep Renegade – Consumers looking to buy a real Jeep off-road vehicle in a smaller size and priced in the mid-$20,000 range have a good choice in the 2016 Jeep Renegade. Again, this is the smallest vehicle from an automaker – Chrysler’s Jeep brand. The Renegade is a tall utility with some exterior details deliberately oversized to emphasize its Jeep heritage. On the inside, the details are robust, although not sophisticated. The Renegade is quiet on most roads, suitable for commuters and the occasional venture off road.
Two engines are available, the base 160-hp turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed manual transmission, and optional 180-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission (the only nine-speed in a subcompact vehicle).
Seven airbags, stability control and rearview camera are standard, except there’s no standard rearview camera on the base model. Four trims are available: Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.