The Best Compact SUVs in 2024

Published on March 25, 2024 in News by The Car Guide

Who doesn’t want a compact SUV? These practical and family-friendly vehicles are seemingly everywhere now and there are many reasons to like them. But which ones stand out as the best buys in the segment for Canadian drivers?

The team at The Car Guide has analyzed all the various models available and identified the top three below.

1. Toyota RAV4 

Photo: Toyota

By far the best-selling compact SUV in Canada, the RAV4 is once again the best buy you can make. Keep in mind that this is the final year of the current generation, with very few changes in store and a brand new model coming for 2025.

While it may look a bit old, the RAV4 continues to deliver what most consumers look for in this type of vehicle, starting with generous space for passengers and cargo. In some models, trunk capacity exceeds 1,000 litres.

The standard gasoline engine proves relatively noisy under acceleration, but the RAV4 remains pleasant to drive and comfortable even on poorly maintained roads. The RAV4 Hybrid cranks things up with more power and torque in addition to stellar fuel economy.

Photo: Toyota

Of course, the star in the lineup is the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid model that offers up to 68 km of pure electric range plus 302 horsepower for spirited acceleration even with a few people and gear on-board. The biggest problem is the excessively long waiting list and delivery times.

And you know who else loves the RAV4? Car thieves. If you buy one, make sure to protect it as much as you can… and prepare to pay a hefty insurance premium.

2. Honda CR-V

Photo: Dominic Boucher

Redesigned a year ago and now available in Canada with a hybrid powertrain, the CR-V is back among the top three contenders in the compact SUV segment. Offering precise steering and pleasant handling in corners, it also impresses with a spacious and versatile interior. Occupants are pampered quite nicely and the infotainment system proves intuitive to use.

While less fuel-efficient than the RAV4 Hybrid, the CR-V Hybrid still proves more frugal than other gas-powered competitors. Once reserved for the top-line Touring model, the technology can be had with the more affordable EX-L model.

Ultimately, the lack of a plug-in hybrid variant and higher prices than the RAV4 keep the CR-V out of first place in the segment.

3. Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage

Photo: Hyundai

Similar to last year, we believe the Tucson and Sportage together represent the third-best option for compact SUV buyers in 2024. Both offer plenty of selection including gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

The Tucson PHEV and Sportage PHEV enable up to 53 km and 55 km of zero-emission driving, respectively. While not on par with the RAV4 Prime, it’s still decent range for most daily commutes—and enough to qualify for the federal incentive of $2,500.

We’ve found in our test drives that the Tucson is a little more dynamic than the Sportage. Both SUVs are spacious and practical, but ergonomics are slightly better in the Sportage thanks to more physical buttons. The last item we must insist on is the 5-year/100,000km warranty that comes with either one—definitely a plus if you plan to keep the vehicle a long time.

Photo: Antoine Joubert
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