Low gasoline prices have reignited America's love affair with the sports utility vehicle. SUV and truck sales powered U.S. auto sales higher in 2015, as consumers passed up compact, fuel efficient vehicles.
For consumers lured by the siren call of bigger, sturdier vehicles, the experts at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) have assembled a list of their picks for the top 10 SUVs under $25,000.
“The country is having a love affair with small SUVs right now, and Kelley Blue Book visitors are especially infatuated,” KBB's Jack Nerad, said in a release. “Balancing an SUV’s elevated driving position, superior cargo versatility and available all-wheel drive with the efficiency and affordability of a mainstream sedan, today’s small SUVs offer multifaceted appeal. It’s no wonder that it is one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry.”
Small SUVs have two advantages that often appeal to buyers. They cost less and get better fuel economy than their full-size cousins.
In assembling its list, KBB chose SUVs that had a starting price below $25,000 as of February. Number one on the list is the Honda CR-V.
“As our Small SUV Best Buy for 2016, one of our 16 Best Family Cars of 2016, and last year’s number one on this list, the CR-V was again an easy pick for this top spot,” the KBB experts wrote. “Honda’s small SUV is roomy, reliable, refined, efficient and just about everything else you might be seeking from a small SUV.”
Coming in at number two is the Mazda CX-5. It won style points and praise for being fun to drive.
Rookie of the year
The Hyundai Tucson placed third. That's quite an accomplishment since it didn't even make last year's list. The KBB experts say they were quite impressed with the model's complete redesign for 2016.
Another redesign, the Kia Sorento, makes the list at number four. It can be configured as a roomy two-row SUV or, if you’re willing to spend a little above the $25,000 threshold, a tidy 3-row SUV.
In fifth place is the Subaru Forester. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard on this SUV, which won points for its long-term reliability and excellent resale value.
Young couples and empty nesters
The bottom half of the list is no less impressive than the top. The all-new Honda HR-V claims sixth place, also proving roomy and practical enough to take home the only 2016 Best Family Car Award KBB awarded in the fast-growing subcompact SUV segment. KBB also calls it a solid choice for pre- and post-family shoppers seeking SUV flexibility in the neighborhood of $20,000.
The Toyota RAV4 drives off with the seventh spot. KBB gives it high marks for a roomy interior and a well-established reputation for reliability.
At eight is the Nissan Rogue. KBB describes it as a small SUV that feels like a much bigger vehicle.
The Jeep Renegade is ninth on the list. The KBB experts say the newest Jeep mixes the off-road spirit of a Jeep Wrangler with the added efficiency, refinement, and affordability of a smaller crossover SUV.
Jeep also rounds out the top 10 with the Wrangler. KBB admits the vehicle might not be the right choice for most consumers in the market for a small SUV, but says it definitely fills the bill for those with an adventurous spirit.