If you are keen to get on board the crossover hype train, then there are some great options to be found here, like the Chevrolet Trailblazer. And, fuel economy is a key aspect of each, meaning that the cost of running them is about as low as the cost of ownership. However, you do make trade-offs for the money you’re saving. Luckily, these don’t often affect key areas like passenger or cargo space. Instead, you will have to live without the most advanced infotainment suits or safety systems that know how to drive your car and park it for you.
But, considering how much you’re spending, you get a great deal when it comes to these compact high-riders. Practicality has never been more affordable, and you’d surprised how safe and dependable a cheap crossover can be. Some examples of top-rated small cars from this category include the:
- Kia Seltos
- Hyundai Venue
- Honda HR-V
- Nissan Kicks
- Mazda CX-3
- Buick Encore GX
The cheapest of the cheap
If your top priority is keeping your ledger in the black, then you’ll want to keep your spending below $20k with these high-value options.
1. Kia Soul
Most probably the most affordable compact crossover for sale in the USA right now, assuming you aren’t buying used, the Soul has a lot going for it. This may or may not include its styling, depending on your sense of aesthetics, but the engine is a bit more cut and dry. The standard four-cylinder, developing 147 horsepower is definitely enough to move the small Kia around; however, the optional 201-hp four-pot, reserved for the top tier Turbo, is definitely worth the extra investment. It combines extremely well with the refined handling dynamic of the ungraceful looking car. You can expect to get around 30 miles per gallon combined with the standard powertrain.
Inside, the Soul manages to wow again. Thanks to the overall dimensions, the cabin is rather commodious, easily seating a total of five occupants as well as 24.2 cubic feet worth of cargo behind the rear seats. Unfortunately, it is bare to the bones in terms of tech and comfort features, requiring you to upgrade quite a bit to get the desirables.
2. Hyundai Venue
Owned by the same parent company, the Venue is another competitor for the top spot. A little shy of the $20k mark, it comes outfitted with everything you need to enjoy life in the city. This includes forward collision mitigation technology and lane keeping assist, as well as a truly easy-to-use infotainment suite. Just a single step up the trim ladder, assuming you can afford the $2,200, sees both aspects considerably enhanced, and the air-con gets automatic control.
The powertrain is rather lackluster, though, developing a mere 121-hp for the front wheels, and there is no longer the option of a manual transmission. Combined with a fair amount of road and wind noise, it can be a bit tedious to get up to speed and unpleasant once you finally get there. However, around town, there is little to complain about. The steering is light and responsive, and overall mileage returns are quite good.
For those with a little extra
If you can afford to go over the $20k mark, you don’t have to spend all that much extra to get a whole load more value. Each of these models can be picked up for under $25,000.
3. Mazda CX-30
Slightly more expensive than the smallest model in the range, the CX-30 is also a bit larger, which results in a rather significant boost to its practicality and comfort. This means that those in the back seat are quite well accommodated, but you still wouldn’t wanna stick large adults back there for an extended stint. As for the trunk, it presents buyers with a modest 20.2 cubic feet, neither wowing nor disappointing.
A respectable 186-horsepower four-pot does duty under the hood, powering your choice of the front or all four wheels. There is a far more enjoyable turbo-four available, but since it is restricted to the top-tier trim, you’d have to be willing to put down another ten grand. In terms of tech, you get a pretty comprehensive offering, including full smartphone integration and HD Radio, operated via the 8.8-inch touchscreen, while lane keep assist and lane departure warning keep you steady on the highway.
4. Buick Encore GX
You may be surprised to find a luxury brand on a list of affordable SUVs, but Buick has a habit of cutting corners to keep its prices down. However, the Encore GX does a pretty good job of delivering value for your money. This is especially true of its interior, where higher quality materials are used and a fair amount of space is on offer. The 23.5-cubic-foot trunk should be more than sufficient for most daily needs, and the rear seats can be folded down to free up a total of 50.2 cubic feet.
It also includes a lot of tech features as standard, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot, forward collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, and an eight-inch touchscreen that is a pleasure to interact with. Unlike most cars from the American luxury brands, the Encore doesn’t make sacrifices to the interior to keep the price down. Instead, it outfits the somewhat ponderous crossover with a rather boring powertrain – namely a 1.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a mere 137 hp on offer. Still, this seems to be adequate for town driving. There is a slightly more potent variant on offer, though, if you simply need more speed.
Right under your nose
It should be clear that a little savvy shopping can see you finding your way to a host of capable, and oftentimes even fun, compact crossovers. Many are customizable, allowing you to add-on choice features without the need to completely upgrade and deal with a steep price hike. Of course, looking at one of the newly available electric vehicles, or EVs, could save you a lot of money, too. Yes, you may have to spend a little more upfront, but that extra month or two of waiting will see you saving years worth of gas bills in the coming months.