The Best Subcompact SUVs in 2024

Published on March 4, 2024 in News by The Car Guide

Subcompact SUVs are some of the most popular vehicles in Canada, and demand keeps growing. Competition is fierce with so many contenders on the market, but none has been able to unseat our No. 1 pick.

What are the best buys in the segment? The team at The Car Guide has analyzed all the various models available and identified the top three for 2024.

1. Subaru Crosstrek

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Once again, the Subaru Crosstrek stands tall above the rest. Completely redesigned for 2024 and blessed with an improved chassis, it’s a perfect example of a manufacturer building on a winning recipe.

Why do we love it so much? Primarily because this small SUV is ideally suited to road and weather conditions in Canada, with Subaru’s excellent symmetrical all-wheel drive technology as standard and generous ground clearance on top of that. Snow, ice, storms and more never seem to be a problem for the Crosstrek.

While the base 2.0-litre engine is decent at best with 152 horsepower, the available 2.5-litre mill delivers ample power and torque resulting in pleasant acceleration. The plug-in hybrid variant is gone, which doesn’t really matter considering its extremely short EV range and high price, but the star in the lineup is the new-for-2024 Crosstrek Wilderness.

This model can take you farther off-road thanks to all-terrain tires and a raised suspension with longer travel, not to mention extra body cladding. If you live out of town and regularly spend time in the mountain, it’s fantastic—except for reduced fuel economy, of course.

2. Toyota Corolla Cross

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Admittedly, the Corolla Cross just missed being ranked as our best buy for 2024. Unlike the Crosstrek, Toyota’s subcompact SUV is available in hybrid configuration. It can also prove cheaper in select trim levels.

In terms of fuel economy, the Corolla Cross Hybrid easily trumps its gas-powered rivals. Meanwhile, the additional torque generated by the electric motor positively improves acceleration.

Granted, this is not the most dynamic or agile performer you can find, but for drivers who just need to go from A to B with their kids and some cargo, the Corolla Cross is more than up to the task. A proven powertrain and high dependability should further ease buyers’ minds while ensuring great residual value. 

3. Mazda CX-30

Photo: Dominic Boucher

With the Mazda CX-30 in third place for 2024, our top 3 finishers are unchanged from last year.

Quite the opposite from the Corolla Cross, the CX-30 offers sharp steering and fun handling. Mazda has eliminated the base 2.0-litre engine, leaving only the 2.5-litre unit in naturally aspirated (191 horsepower) and turbocharged (up to 250 horsepower) variants. The latter makes for outstanding performance, if that’s what you’re looking for. What’s more, reliability is convincingly above average, which is something to think about for a long-term purchase.

Mazda’s small crossover does come with a fair share of compromises. Visibility, rear-seat space and cargo capacity aren’t great, and that can be an issue for families. Another irritant, maybe the biggest one, is the outdated and frustrating infotainment system.

By the way, if you don’t need all-wheel drive, you might want to check out the Kia Soul, which is the best urban crossover on the market for 2024, ahead of the Chevrolet Trax and Nissan Kicks. All three come at a cheaper price than the models listed above, but they also suffer from limited capability and safety in winter conditions.

For more details, go to our Best Buys section.

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