What to drive when your crossover is compact

CASEY WILLIAMS  |  Auto Reviewer
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Not all of us can be endowed with a large … ummm … crossover. I mean, that’s wonderful for you and your spouse if you are so blessed, but it’s also fine if you only need space to pitch a small tent. One of these shiny new little crossovers — perhaps the hottest segment in the auto field this year — may be exactly what you need to get the job done (and all but one list at under $34K).            


Rogue Sport

Subaru Crosstrek. If packing off for a wilderness fling sounds enchanting, read on. Completely redesigned with edgier styling and more interior space, the Crosstrek rides like a baby Audi. The cabin fills with available Harman Kardon speakers, navigation, and EyeSight crash avoidance system. A 152 horsepower “Boxer” 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine works hard to accelerate, but 8.7-in. of ground clearance and X-Mode hill descent control enable extreme maneuvers.

Base price: $21,795.

Nissan Rogue Sport. A case study of smaller being better: Compared to the Rogue, styling is more aggressive with a lower stance.  Rear seat space is a bit tighter but still adequate for club hops. Load it with heated leather seats/steering wheel, automatic climate control, moonroof and navigation. Step out with a 141 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 24/30-MPG. Tight handling is more Juke than Rogue — especially with available all-wheel-drive.

Base price: $21,420.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Named for Italy’s challenging Stelvio pass, this baby Alfa is sufficiently roomy and imminently sexy. Built in Italy, Stelvio is based on the all-new Giulia sedan and is offered with a 2.0-liter turbo-four that reaches 144 mph or, in Quadrifoglio trim, a 505 horsepower engine that romps 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Torque-vectoring AWD, adjustable chassis and Italian craftsmanship enhance the drive.

Base price: $41,995.

Honda HR-V. Its name sounds like something requiring a vaccine, but this Fit-based crossover is benign. It’s a little frumpy, but 17-in. alloys butch it up. Flip and fold rear seats allow cross-loading of gear while available rearview camera, heated front seats, navigation and Honda LaneWatch camera add convenience. Stitched dash coverings and glassy controls elevate top editions. Step into the 141 horsepower 4-cylinder engine to see 28/34-MPG city/highway.

Base price: $19,570.

Toyota C-HR. Bulging Avant garde bodywork complements an interior dressed with a dash top audio display, satin-plated shift knob, heated seats and futuristic curves. C-HR conjures a 144 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 31-MPG highway and suspension toned on Germany’s famed Nurburgring. Safety is enhanced by pedestrian detection, automatic braking and radar cruise.

Base price: $22,500.

Chevy Equinox. Around 400 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the Equinox flaunts a body more chiseled and smooth — like a Malibu with room for junk in its trunk. An upscale interior spoils passengers with available heated seats and steering wheel, 4G Wi-Fi, around-view camera and crash avoidance systems. Under the suave hood beats a choice of 170 horsepower turbo-4, 252 horsepower turbo-4 or 40-MPG diesel engines.

Base price: $23,580.

VW Tiguan. I’m still not sure what in hell a Tiguan is, but it’s back for a second sexier generation. Stretched with an available third-row seat, it’s roomier for all you haul and do. Streamlined bodywork channels Audi, looking great at the valet stand. Getting you there is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 184 horsepower and 22/27-MPG — a bit less with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Slip into the left lane and have at it!

Base price: $25,345.


Subaru’s Crosstrek

Jeep Compass. No matter your destination, Jeep can help you find the way. The all-new Compass flaunts muscular fenders, upturned rear window line, dual-pane sunroof and LED taillamps. A Trailhawk edition is fortified with skid plates, red tow hooks and a seriously-capable 4×4 system. A 2.4-liter 180 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, connected to a 9-speed automatic or 6- speed manual transmission moves it.

Base price: $20,995.

Volvo XC40. If Swedish style and luxury are your preferences, you’ll have a great choice early next year. A slightly smaller and more youthful expression of Volvo, the crossover is distinguished by an optional color-contrasting roof, LED mood lighting, vertical swipescreen, panoramic sunroof and large wheels. Safety is fortified by standard pedestrian, cyclist, vehicle and large animal detection with autobrake. A 250 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine will be standard at first with hybrids and EVs to follow.

Base price: $33,200.