If you want a small car with a small price tag, several automakers have rolled out an affordable new breed of vehicle they're marketing to millennials. Prices for the subcompact SUVs start at around $20,000. Consumer Reports has checked out four of them.
The Jeep Renegade sets itself apart with boxy styling and is the only subcompact SUV that Consumer Reports found to be competent off-road. Unfortunately, the Renegade's ride proved to be choppy, and its acceleration is slow. The Chevrolet Trax delivers decent fuel economy at 25 miles per gallon, but it's also slow and noisy with a bouncy ride.
Those subcompact SUVs are built on the same platform as cheap, small hatchbacks. That's great for keeping the price down, but it also can hurt performance. And once you start adding popular features such as all-wheel drive and a backup camera, prices for the Renegade and Trax jump to around $26,000.
For that kind of money, Consumer Reports says that you're probably better off getting a top-rated Subaru Forester or a Toyota RAV4. They have more room, they have more power, and similarly equipped, they cost around $27,000.
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How about the Honda HR-V? You can get a well-equipped version for around $22,000. And it fared better in Consumer Reports' tests, though it still lacks refinement and has an uncomfortable ride.
But keep your eyes open for the Mazda CX-3, which will be hitting showrooms soon.
On an initial drive in a borrowed prototype, Consumer Reports’ engineers were very impressed with how fun it is to drive. The Mazda CX-3 will cost about $23,000 for midlevel trim and $26,000 fully loaded. Consumer Reports' ratings will be available later this year.
Complete ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.