With rising living costs led by higher fuel prices, many Canadian new vehicle buyers may be reconsidering if they can afford a new large SUV. But automakers have recently been shoring up their small SUV lineups, with plenty of new models that offer room for five on board, the practicality of four doors and a rear hatch, available all-wheel drive, and compact car-like fuel economy.
If you are in the market for such a vehicle, here are the 10 most affordable sub-compact SUVs with available traction at four wheels on sale in Canada for 2022. Just a reminder that if you’re looking for more details or ready to buy, click on the model name link to find the relevant Kelley Blue Book Value.
10th-place: Mazda CX-30 GX– Starting MSRP $26,350
The 2022 CX-30 is a small-ish SUV that fits beneath Mazda’s compact CX-5. That makes it a bearable size for most adults while remaining easy to park and manageable in the city. The CX-30 has the looks, refinement, quality and ability to compete with entry-level luxury rivals. All-wheel drive (AWD) and a 6-speed automatic is standard gear. Yet its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price in Canadian dollars starts in the same area as mainstream competitors. The CX-30’s base 2.5-litre 4-cylinder gas engine makes 186 horsepower and gets an 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres city and highway combined fuel economy estimate.
9th-place: Mitsubishi RVR ES AWC– Starting MSRP $26,328
Two things are in the 2022 RVR’s favour: affordable pricing and an outstanding 5-year/100,000-km factory warranty. The base engine in the RVR remains a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 148 hp and an 9.2 L/100 km estimate for the AWD versions (FWD is available), mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with simulated ratio changes, or “shift” points. Even the base ES trim gets forward-collision mitigation system, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights as standard gear.
8th-place: Nissan Qashqai S AWD CVT – Starting MSRP $26,298
Smaller than the compact Rogue yet a bit bigger than Nissan’s Kicks sub-compact SUV, the Qashqai delivers some exciting features for its affordable price. Every 2022 Qashqai is propelled by a 141-hp 2.0L 4-cylinder engine delivering a competitive 8.3 L/100 km estimate. A CVT sends this subtle energy to a standard FWD setup or to an optional AWD system. Its Easy Fill Tire Alert removes worry by activating an alert once the proper pressure is achieved when adding air to your tires.
7th-place: Toyota Corolla Cross L AWD – Starting MSRP $26,290
As the name implies, the Corolla Cross uses the same platform and powertrain found in Toyota's Corolla compact sedan. A couple of significant differences include the addition of available AWD, and the Cross is only offered with what serves as the Corolla's optional 4-cylinder engine. This 2.0L unit delivers 169 hp and an economical 7.8 L/100 km estimate. Maybe most important of all, the Corolla Cross has the extra ride height and added passenger and cargo capacity that SUV shoppers love.
6th-place: Chevrolet Trailblazer LS AWD – Starting MSRP $26,198
The 2022 Trailblazer is pretty roomy for a sub-compact SUV, making it a good choice if you want true SUV versatility in a small and affordable package. Some SUVs in this class have cramped back seats, but the Trailblazer has an adult-friendly second row of seats. A pair of turbocharged 3-cylinder engines are on tap. A 137-hp 1.2L unit for FWD trims is matched to a CVT, while AWD versions get a 155-hp 1.3L engine hooked up to a 9-speed automatic that is slightly more efficient at 8.4 L/100 km.
5th-place: Ford EcoSport S – Starting MSRP $25,599
The smallest SUV in Ford’s lineup has a few things going for it, like standard AWD, a quirky swing-out tailgate, excellent maneuverability on city streets, and easy parking manners, thanks to its small footprint. The sole engine option powering the EcoSport is a naturally aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder. Rated at 166 hp, this engine is pretty strong for this class, but some rivals have more powerful turbocharged options, and fuel economy is lacklustre at 9.3 L/100 km. If you’re interested, act fast, as Ford has confirmed that 2022 will be the final model year for the EcoSport in Canada.
4th-place: Kia Seltos LX AWD – Starting MSRP $25,595
The 2022 Seltos is a stylish, well-rounded SUV that gives you the style and tech features you want with the practicality you need. The interior has a higher level of refinement than you might expect at this price while also being roomy enough to use as a small family vehicle. The base LX’s engine is a 2.0L inline-4 linked to a CVT rated at 146 hp. Front-drive is standard, with Kia’s Dynamax torque-vectoring AWD system available. The frugal (8.2L/100 km) base engine will be sufficient for most drivers in the market for a small SUV like this.
3rd-place: Hyundai Kona Essential AWD – Starting MSRP $24,099
The popular Kona gets a few updates for 2022. Base trims are still powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder that sends 147 hp to the front wheels (or all four, rated at 7.9 L/100 km) via a CVT. While the engine is primarily the same as before, the 2022 Kona gets attractive new styling with a thoroughly revamped interior and more safety and technology. It’s longer than the previous model, with most of that length created by the new nose. The wheelbase is the same as before, but Hyundai somehow has managed to find extra rear legroom, making the Kona backseat a bit less confining.
2nd-place: Chevrolet Trax LS AWD – Starting MSRP $24,098
The 2022 Trax is a reasonably priced sub-compact SUV with good outward vision. If this sounds like faint praise, it is. The Trax blazed a novel trail for a small SUV in its day. But that day was in 2015 when the vehicle launched. For 2022, a turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder engine motivates the Trax with 155 hp. That’s on the low side for this class. But with a 9.1 L/100 km estimate, it’s relatively gentle with gasoline, running on a diet of regular. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, sending drive to the front wheels in standard form. Alternatively, AWD is on the options list of the base LS trim.
1st-place: Subaru Crosstrek Convenience – Starting MSRP $23,995
Appealing to outdoorsy and no-nonsense types, the 2022 Crosstrek also enjoys many usual Subaru attributes. It holds its value well and has excellent safety scores. It might feel like it has all the oomph of a food blender, but the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine in the base Convenience trim 2022 develops 152 hp and a 6-speed manual transmission. The unit’s configuration is a flat-4 and gives Subaru greater flexibility in how it mounts such an engine. It can be low, contributing to a pleasantly near-to-the-road center of gravity. Or higher, optimizing ground clearance — a handy attribute in a small SUV. Fuel economy is rated at 9.4 L/100 km with the manual. And, yes, AWD is standard. A CVT is optional.
*Based on prices as of May 1, 2022.