If you’ve noticed that there are fewer gas-eating large SUVs on the road these days, you’re on to a best-kept secret: Consumers are searching out the best compact crossovers. Why not get the best of both worlds? With compact crossovers, you get the utility and flexibility of a sport ‘ute and the comfort and driving dynamics of a car.

Good thing that there are a number of really good compact utility vehicles (CUVs) out there. Here are several top picks for Best Compact Crossovers:

  • Ford EscapeSmooth ride, powerful engines and fuel economy in the top half of its class are hallmarks of the 2010 Ford Escape. Some reviewers find the styling a bit dated, especially in a field of many competitors. Kelley Blue Book says: “If you’re looking for traditional SUV features, such as high ground clearance and a high seating position, but you want it in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package, the 2010 Ford Escape makes a good choice.
  • Honda CR-VReviewers say the Honda CR-V provides one of the best combinations of affordability, safety and utility in the compact crossover SUV class. About.com comments: “This is an excellent vehicle and a great value – possibly the best compact SUV on the market today.”
  • Chevrolet EquinoxRedesigned for 2010, the Chevrolet Equinox now boasts more power, revamped interior, highest in the class highway fuel economy at 32 mpg (along with stable mate, the GMC Terrain), and good versatility with sliding rear seats. Jalopnik says, “With the Equinox, GM figures it’s providing more interior room, more standard equipment, higher fuel economy and better design at competitive pricing. After this first look, we’re inclined to agree.”
  • Hyundai TucsonRedesigned for 2010, the Hyundai Tucson gets more power, better fuel economy, and smooth highway ride – and is roomy for four passengers. Autoblog remarks: “While not our first choice in performance machines, the 2010 Hyundai Tucson might in fact be our first choice if we needed a small crossover.”
  • Mazda CX-7Another redesigned 2010 entry, the Mazda CX-7 offers distinctive exterior styling, sporty driving experience, and excellent crash test scores. It’s a great family vehicle – for young families just starting out. Car and Driver opines: “The CX-7 has been a Car and Driver crossover favorite since its debut in 2006 – lots of style, respectable power and road manners worthy of the ‘Zoom-Zoom’ tagline.”
  • Toyota RAV4Now in its third generation, the Toyota RAV4 continues to woo consumers looking for an affordable base price, excellent fuel economy, and optional third-row seating (rare in this class). Note that Toyota has resumed selling RAV4 models on a case-by-case basis following the automaker’s recall woes. Truck Trend remarks: “The RAV4 is among the most versatile compact crossover-type SUVs.”
  • Volkswagen TiguanWith a starting MSRP at $23,200, the Volkswagen Tiguan offers style, performance, sporty handling, and powerful optional turbocharged engine, high-quality cabin with flexible rear seats, but low fuel economy for its class. Edmunds says: “The 2010 Volkswagen Tiguan trades some practicality for a top-notch cabin and European driving manners. It’s a different flavor in a vanilla class.”

Compact luxury crossovers are hot today as well. Consumers looking for upscale compact crossovers should take a look at the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Infiniti EX35, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, and Volvo XC60.

Which Best Compact Crossovers strike your fancy? Take a test drive of several and find the one that fits your driving needs and style.

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