Sometimes compact is just right, especially when consumers are looking for the best luxury small SUVs. Automakers are keen to capitalize on the wants and needs of the marketplace, and luxury brands are fiercely competitive in this segment. Each has its own particular appeal, of course, and consumers need to do their homework to get the most for the money.

Here are five 2010 contenders for the moniker of Best Luxury Small SUVs that are certainly worth a look:

  • Audi Q5With the number of compact crossover SUVs continuing to increase, the Audi Q5 is at the top of the heap, according to numerous reviewers. Although it’s a crossover, it deserves to be on the list of best luxury small SUVs due to the fact that it does everything so well. Handling is better than competitors, and it doesn’t beat you up. With a wheelbase identical to the A4 sport sedan, and standard Audi Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD), Q5 is one of the segment’s most entertaining vehicles. Luxurious interior, roominess, firm and supple ride, excellent crash test scores and ample cargo space are plusses, while tight rear seat and some ergonomic control annoyances are negatives. Edmunds remarks: “The 2010 Audi Q5 is one of the best bets for consumers in search of a fun-to-drive yet practical compact luxury crossover.”
  • Cadillac SRXFor 2010, Cadillac SRX is all-new – and downsized to boot. Previously a midsize SUV, now SRX sits on a new 5-passenger platform that utilizes front-wheel drive or AWD, an Escalade-like front end and distinctive taillights. No more third-row seat, now that it’s a compact luxury crossover SUV, but the interior is plush, SRX base price ($33,830) is the least expensive in the class, and fuel economy is excellent. Autoweek says, “From the sleek sheetmetal with edgy lines, the in-your-face grille and the eye-catching headlights, this Cadillac is poised to stand out in a conformist sort of way. Most luxo-crossovers don’t have this kind of panache, but the SRX is meant to fit in better.”
  • Mercedes-Benz GLK-ClassThe all-new GLK-Class is the first compact luxury SUV from Mercedes-Benz. As such, it boasts excellent driving dynamics and to-be-expected upscale style. Add to this the powerful V6 engine and 7-speed transmission and an enticing $34,600 starting base price and there’s no question of GLK-Class appeal. Based on the Mercedes C-Class sedan chassis, the SUV is only available in one trim, GLK350, with optional 4Matic AWD. Motor Trend remarks: “Compared with the X3, the Benz brings more power and torque, an additional cog in the transmission, superior interior room and…a more solid and ‘SUV-like’ character.”
  • Volvo XC60With a base starting price of $32,395, the 2010 Volvo XC60 is the least expensive in the compact luxury SUV class. But inexpensive does not mean Spartan: Volvo XC60 features luxurious, comfortable interior, lots of high-tech safety options, such as standard low-speed accident-avoidance system, and generous cargo space. It’s a 2010 Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and Road & Travel magazine’s 2010 International Truck of the Year. Road & Track says, “From Volvo’s characteristic, wafer-thin center stack to the contrasting materials throughout, this is the Swedish company’s best interior design yet.”
  • Infiniti EX35Sporty rear-wheel drive handling, powerful engine and high-tech interior set the 2010 Infiniti EX compact luxury SUV apart in its class. EX also includes a number of innovative advanced safety options such as lane departure warning system – highly desirable in best luxury small SUVs. Consumer Guide comments: “With its smooth, powerful engine and well-appointed cabin, EX35 is a sportier, more luxurious alternative to Acura’s RDX. Like G37’s comfortable, posh interior, sporty performance, and available AWD but need more cargo utility? This Recommended premium-compact SUV has you covered.”

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