When you want more versatility and space than a passenger car affords, or just like the look and feel of a sport utility vehicle more, you still want to get the most for your money. Here are five of the best small SUVs of 2013. To make the list, each had to rate high in terms of styling, performance and handling, overall comfort, roominess, standard features, safety scores and more.

2013 Acura RDXIn luxury compact SUVs, the extensively redesigned 2013 Acura RDX offers buyers looking for affordable luxury a pleasing balance. Not only is the combination of V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission good for smooth power, the ride is also quite comfortable. As for the interior of the RDX, reviewers applaud the intuitive controls and the roomy front and rear seats. The cargo space is competitive in the class and the RDX has a flat floor that makes it easy to load cargo. A long list of features is standard, and although a blind spot monitoring system is not available, the RDX is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

2013 Ford EscapeCritics rate the redesigned 2013 Ford Escape compact crossover SUV high in a number of different areas. First is the dramatic new styling, making the Escape completely different than the model it replaces. Second is the engaging performance, particularly with the optional turbocharged EcoBoost engine. Third is good fuel economy, even with available all-wheel drive. There’s also the fun-to-drive aspect, quiet ride, roomy interior, available high-tech features, and strong safety scores (IIHS Top Safety Pick, NHTSA four-star overall safety rating) to consider.

2013 Honda CR-VLong at the top of the list as a sought-after compact SUV, the 2013 Honda CR-V continues to delight consumers looking for affordable versatility in a five-passenger small crossover SUV. The list of highlights includes agile handling and good fuel economy, a spacious interior, many desirable standard technology features (backup camera, USB port, Bluetooth, streaming audio and more), and excellent reliability and safety scores (IIHS Top Safety Pick, NHTSA five-star overall crash protection rating). Add to that comfort, refinement, passenger comfort and cargo capacity and the combination is even more attractive for would-be buyers.

2013 Mazda CX-5All-new for 2013, the sporty Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV (replacing the previous Mazda CX-7 and Tribute) combines the expected “zoom-zoom” handling of a Mazda with an almost flawless six-speed manual transmission and excellent EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway. This near-unbeatable combination gets even better when you take into account the well-made cabin, impressive cargo area for the class, and strong safety scores (another IIHS Top Safety Pick, NHTSA four-star overall crash protection rating). The Mazda CX-5 is also priced several thousand dollars less than the Ford Escape.

2014 Subaru ForesterSporting a complete redesign, the recently introduced 2014 Subaru Forester compact SUV boasts standard all-wheel drive, good fuel economy, a spacious and comfortable interior, and more cargo space than most affordable SUVs. Its rugged good looks will continue to appeal to Subaru loyalists as well as those who want the versatility of going off-road with the ease of smooth highway driving, extra ground clearance and the utility of a hatchback – at an outstanding price that starts at $21,995. The new Forester is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick


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