The small SUV segment continues to grow, providing consumers with a host of good things in small packages. Finding the best small SUV for 2018 can be overwhelming. It’s sometimes difficult to differentiate between the features and models. Here’s a list of some of the best small SUVs for 2018, with some vehicles appearing more than once:
- 2018 Hyundai Kona
- 2018 Toyota CH-R
- 2018 Nissan Kicks
- 2018 Mazda CX-3
- 2018 Jeep Wrangler
- 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
- 2018 Honda HR-V
- 2018 Kia Niro Hybrid
- 2018 MINI Countryman PHEV
- 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
- 2018 Ford EcoSport
- 2018 Jeep Renegade
- 2018 Jeep Compass
- 2018 Buick Encore
- 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport
For head-turning exterior styling, it’s hard to beat the 2018 Hyundai Kona. The Kona sports a beefy, expressive front end, on-trend headlamps, and big, fat tires. The Kona is packed with standard features often optional on other models. Reliability and crash test scores are both excellent. However, fuel economy is in the middle for the segment at 28 city, 32 highway.
The C-HR offers very distinctive styling with two-tone paint, but the back doors can be awkward, so it’s a runner-up for big style.
The Kicks also offers two-tone paint and head-turning looks for a solid runner-up spot on the list.
For upscale interior styling, the small SUV 2018 Mazda CX-3 is tops. Mazda’s worked hard to move its products upmarket. The CX-3 benefits from that effort. It has athletic handling and good gas mileage. But the investment made in an upscale cabin interior means scaled back standard equipment. You’ll have to upgrade for some safety features standard on the Hyundai Kona for instance. But it’s one of the best interior-styled small SUVs for 2018.
The Jeep Wrangler was recently redesigned and received wide praise for its upscale but classic interior styling.
The Subaru Crosstrek’s interior is a balance of durable but quality materials fit for the outdoor lifestyle.
If fuel economy is a key concern, the Nissan Kicks has the best gas mileage in a non-hybrid or electric small SUV. The Kicks replaces the Nissan Juke for 2018. It has a 1.6-liter 125-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a CVT transmission. Fuel economy is 31 city, 36 highway for a combined 33, the best in the segment. You’ll sacrifice some pick-up and all-wheel-drive is not available. But the cost to own is excellent and the two-tone styling is sharp.
The Honda HR-V get a highly-rated 31-combined fuel economy but is more expensive than the base Kicks.
The Mazda CX-3 gets 31 combined fuel economy but is pricier than both the Kicks and the Honda HR-V.
For even better fuel economy, hybrid and electric small SUVs are becoming more popular. In 2018, the best small SUV for fuel economy overall is the Kia Niro. The Niro gets an eye-popping 52 city, 49 highway with its gas/electric 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. All-wheel-drive is not available, but it’s the only “con.” The pros include good predicted reliability and above average cargo capacity.
The 2018 MINI Countryman PHEV should be shopped, although fuel economy is not as good as the Kia Niro. But it is offered in AWD and has a lot of fun driving attitude, making it a solid runner-up.
The RAV4 hybrid is also a solid choice, offering AWD in a more spacious format. Again, fuel economy is not nearly as good, but it’s a comfortable, solid choice.
Crossovers can get pricy quickly. The small SUV with the best starting price is the 2018 Ford EcoSport. New for 2018, the EcoSport starts at $20,990 with an automatic transmission. Standard features include Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and automatic headlamps. There’s plenty of cargo room in a stylish package.
If off-roading AND price is most important, then the Jeep Renegade ($21,040) is your best small SUV for 2018.
2018 Mazda CX-3 – Lowest Starting Price Runner-Up
The Mazda CX-3 ($21,050) is nearly the same price but offers far less off-road capability. But the interior is nice and the styling more mainstream, making it a quality value for best small SUV for 2018.
2018 Jeep Wrangler – Off-Roading
If snow, sleet and muddy-off-roading is your thing, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler is easily the best off-road capable small SUV on the market. Fully redesigned for 2018, the Wrangler is more comfortable and even more capable. The popular 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed manual is still standard. An optional eight-speed automatic and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder are available.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek – Off-Roading Runner-Up
While no other small SUV is quite as off-road capable, the Subaru Crosstrek is a worthy contender for outdoor adventures.
For less hard core off-roading but still a confident, competent tool, the Jeep Compass is a fine combination of trail riding and road riding comfort.
The Encore benefits from Buick’s Quiet Tuning technology so has the quietest cabin and a very smooth ride. It offers AWD, very high reliability scores, a user-friendly upscale interior, and roomy seating. The Encore does a lot of things very well in a peaceful, cozy setting.
The 2018 MINI Countryman – Quietest Cabin
The MINI Countryman benefits from high-quality materials and a solid build, making it a good contender for a quiet, well-appointed interior.
The Nissan Rogue Sport scored well in consumer reviews for a quiet cabin, earning it a spot on the best small SUV for 2018 list.
Overall, it’s hard to beat the functionality, utility, and competitive pricing of any of these small SUVs. If you’re shopping for a small SUV, it’s hard to go wrong with many of the vehicles mentioned above. This feature-rich list of the best small SUV in 2018 should help you find the right ride for you.