Popular Small SUVs to Avoid and What to Buy Instead

There's no need to settle for what's popular when you can buy a smart, reliable SUV that performs well in CR's tests

2022 Hyundai Tucson on the road
Hyundai Tucson
Photo: Hyundai

Compact SUVs are the fastest-growing type of vehicle. To help you buy one you’ll keep for the long haul—one that’s safe, reliable, fuel-efficient, and satisfying—we’ve compiled a list of winning models and models to stay away from.

All the vehicles we highlight below sell well, so there’s a variety of models on dealer lots to choose from. Some of them may also be discounted.

We focus on models that are popular in their category (though they may not be the top sellers). Then we present two alternatives.

  • A better choice: Another vehicle that sells well but has a higher Overall Score.
  • An “under-the-radar” alternative: A better-scoring model that doesn’t sell as well, in case you aren’t concerned with following the crowd.
More on SUVs

The better choices and under-the-radar alternatives are vehicles recommended by Consumer Reports, meaning they’ve scored well in our road tests, have good reliability, have key advanced safety equipment, and performed well in crash tests.

We note whether key active safety systems are standard or optional, including forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning (BSW), and rear cross traffic warning (RCTW).

If you’re a CR member, this article and list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access this list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Joining also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and appliances.

Sign up for CR’s Cars email newsletter to be notified when we post our latest road-test results. If you’re a used-car shopper, you can click through to the model pages for information on these vehicles from older model years.

Consumer Reports members also can search our Used Car Marketplace for vehicles for sale in their area, sorting by the factors that matter most. The listings include CR reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, and most vehicles include a free Carfax report.

Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.