If your transportation needs have graduated beyond the compact hatch or you are looking at downsizing from a larger vehicle, the compact SUV segment is a great place to shop. With plenty of room for five passengers, mid-size car-like fuel economy, plus the availability of all-wheel drive (AWD), compact SUVs possess an enticing alternative to the standard passenger car or truck. And as one of Canada's most popular automotive segments, the competition is fierce among automakers, resulting in a high-value quotient for consumers. If you are in the market for a new compact SUV, these are the 10 most popular models in Canada*.
10th place: 2021 Kia Sportage
The Kia Sportage has been a mainstay of the Kia lineup for years, evolving from budget runabout to almost-luxury conveyance. Yet with a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price starting at $25,795 CDN for the front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2021 Sportage LX base trim, the 5-passenger Kia SUV continues to attract buyers with its value-pricing, fantastic 5-year/100,000-kilometre comprehensive warranty, plus a generous amount of standard and optional equipment. Every 2021 Sportage has an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and every trim is eligible for AWD.
9th place: 2021 Subaru Forester
Unlike rivals that only offer part-time AWD systems, starting at $28,995 CDN, the 2021 Forester comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical Full-Time AWD. Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assistance technology—which monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you if you sway outside your lane—is also standard. While retaining a relatively small footprint, the 5-passenger Subaru still offers a useful amount of interior space. Out in the wild, dirt roads and rough weather cause no consternation for the Forester driver, thanks to plenty of ground clearance.
8th place: 2021 Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet Equinox has always been a popular compact SUV choice for Canadians. Starting at $27,198 CDN for the base 2021 Equinox LS FWD trim, the 5-passenger Chevy SUV offers a relatively low entry price. Standard Equinox equipment includes modern tech like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration and active safety systems like automatic emergency braking. A choice of two turbocharged engines provides either competent or eager acceleration, along with a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds (1,588 kilograms).
7th place: 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan
With all the compact SUVs from which to choose, the AWD 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan stands out with its marvellous German ride and handling only a VW can offer, as well as an ample dose of high-tech wizardry borrowed from the Audi division. The Tiguan is also one of the few compact SUVs to seat up to 7 passengers with its small but still usable 3rd-row seat. Prices for the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan start at $29,795 CDN.
6th place: 2021 Hyundai Tucson
Starting at $26,099 CDN for FWD trims (AWD is available), with its arguably handsome styling, generous standard equipment, strong safety scores, and 5-year/100,000-kilometre factory warranty, the 2021 Hyundai Tucson remains a popular choice among Canadian compact SUV buyers. There are no big surprises or troublesome learning curves with the 2021 Tucson. It’s comfortable and quiet, and the suspension has been tuned to take corners with confidence. Inside, the 5-passenger Tucson’s dashboard houses simple controls for the climate and audio systems.
5th place: 2021 Ford Escape
Completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, starting at $28,549 CDN, Ford’s compact SUV comes with either FWD or AWD, 3- or 4-cylinder turbocharged gas engines, a gas-electric Hybrid or a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The 5-passenger Escape is a comfortable and refined SUV with modern connectivity, a competitive safety suite, and pleasant driving manners. And with its roomy back seat and varying powertrains, there’s a 2021 Ford Escape for multiple buyers.
4th place: 2021 Mazda CX-5
If you need the practicality of a compact SUV, but still enjoy clipping apexes like you did when you had a Miata sports car, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 deserves your attention. Indeed, the 5-passenger 2021 Mazda CX-5 is one of the sportiest compact SUVs available, thanks in part to its responsive steering and top-notch ride and handling balance. Even with a starting price of $28,500 CDN for FWD trims (AWD is optional), the 2021 Mazda CX-5 feels like a premium model but is priced more like its mainstream competition.
3rd place: 2021 Nissan Rogue
All-new for 2021, the Rogue is Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in Canada. Pricing starts with the $28,498 CDN Rogue S in FWD form. Nissan says it spent much effort improving the 5-passenger Rogue’s interior. The front seats offer a good blend of comfort and support. In the back, there are small increases in knee and headspace. The new Rogue’s cargo area has a slightly broader and taller opening, and the cargo capacity behind the rear seat has grown from 906 to 1,033 litres.
2nd place: 2021 Honda CR-V
The CR-V remains popular with Canadians. One reason is the Honda’s roomy 2-row/5-passenger interior—an impressive feat, given that the previous generation was already among the most spacious in its class. Upfront is the CR-V’s familiar and enviable seating position that is comfortable and provides a good view out for passengers. Starting with the base $29,305 CDN 2021 Honda CR-V LX FWD trim (AWD is available), Honda’s Sensing suite of driver assists is standard. On the road, the CR-V delivers a comfortable ride and good fuel economy.
1st place: 2021 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is the most popular compact SUV sold in Canada, and deservedly so. It has a solid feel, excellent safety scores, generous standard equipment, plenty of interior space, and it rides and handles more like a car than a high-riding SUV. Starting at $28,590 CDN for FWD versions (AWD is optional), the RAV4 offers decent power and fuel economy, especially with its hybrid variants. This year's big news is the addition of the RAV4 Prime PHEV, with up to an estimated 68 kilometres of the range running solely on battery power.
*Vehicle sales based on manufacturer-supplied information between January 1 and December 31, 2020.