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Top 14 New Compact SUVs For 2014

by Ryan ZumMallen on

Without a doubt, the compact SUV – aka crossover – market is the hottest in the entire automotive industry right now. Buyers simply cannot keep their hands off these vehicles that provide a combination of sportiness and cargo space, and are able to offer impressive luxury in a smaller, more affordable package.

Because of that, competition in the segment is very tight. There are more choices today than ever before, with plenty of newcomers on the way. To help you sort out all the best options, we’ve compiled this list of the fourteen best compact SUVs for the 2014 model year. Let us know which one you would pick, which one doesn't deserve its spot and which ones we overlooked. Get used to the crossover, because it isn’t going anywhere.


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Acura RDX: Armed with the renowned Honda 3.5L V6 engine, the 2014 Acura RDX continues to top the crossover segment with an excellent combination of handling, power, efficiency and luxury that has inspired other automakers to catch up or fall behind. It’s also one of the first to have figured out how to present the Compact SUV in an attractive package, with the sharp angles that have defined Acura design making the RDX look more aggressive that its competitors. It has a soft side, too, with up to 20/28 MPG and a starting price at $34,520 MSRP. The same V6 with 273 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft of torque is stuffed into every trim, and the AWD version is adept on any road. Any list of attractive crossovers must have the 2014 RDX.
   

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BMW X3: If you’re looking for performance out of your crossover, this is the way to go. Yes, the 2014 BMW X3 offers luxury and versatility, too, but its razor handling and responsive engines are the distinguishing attributes. All-wheel drive is standard on the 2014 X3, and both the four-cylinder and six-cylinder engine are eager and ready to go. The 2.0L four debuted just last year, with 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft of torque, but its impressive 21/28 MPG will likely pull in more buyers than anything else. That model will start from $38,850 MSRP, while the 3.0L six-cylinder boasting 306 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft of torque clocks in at $43,950 MSRP. An eight-speed transmission handles the power in both models, bringing crisp shifts to this uber-crossover that makes BMW a permanent player in the Compact SUV segment.
   

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Buick Encore: This burgeoning market could be a quick way for domestic brands to get a jump on sales, and GM has taken notice with a home-run offering. The 2014 Encore packs great fuel efficiency and eye-popping luxury for the price into a friendly-faced design. Buick continues its renovation, based on quality interiors and classy materials, with the 2014 Encore. With that in mind, the $24,160 starting price is very attractive, and that’s before we even talk about the performance. With a 1.4L four-cylinder engine making 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft of torque across all trim levels, the 2014 Encore is built for nimble handling and savings at the pump above all else. That won’t win drag races, but it does help the crossover zip across town without trouble. For active families, there are few better choices.
   

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Ford Escape: If it’s driving fun you’re looking for, the 2014 Ford Escape is a great place to start. One of the best looking crossovers in the segment, the Escape backs up that aggressive face with muscle and athleticism to take on all comers. Equipped with the 1.6L EcoBoost four-cylinder, the Escape makes 173 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft of torque. The 2.5L four has 168 hp and 170 lb.-ft, but its strong 22/31 MPG rating is also bested by 23/32 in the EcoBoost. So then why even bother with the base engine? Because it starts at just $23,100 MSRP, while the EcoBoost is available from $25,550 but can run all the way to $30,850. Either way, the 2014 Escape comes standard with a rearview camera and impressive technology for the price. This is a crossover that nails car-like performance, and looks good enough to make you wonder why you even considered anything else.
   

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GMC Terrain: The heyday of the SUV may be dead and gone, but the things that made them so popular are alive and well in the 2014 GMC Terrain. A high seating position, mountainous styling and cavernous interior space are reminiscent of the ghosts of gas-guzzling past, and yet the 2014 Terrain reaches up to 22/32 MPG in some trims. Has GM figured out how to appeal to the big car crowd without the requisite sacrifices? Available in front or all-wheel drive with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine making 182 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft of torque, the 2014 Terrain isn’t going to wow anyone on the track, but its smooth ride and luxurious interior will whisk those worries away. Also available is a 3.6L V6 engine, but fuel economy suffers to pre-recession levels. Pricing starts from $26,465 and there are many trims to choose from. Crossovers don’t all have to be about canyon carving, and the 2014 Terrain is one that chooses comfort first, and does it well.
   

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Honda CR-V: A jack of all trades may be a master of none, but the 2014 Honda CR-V has no problem with that, and neither do its owners. The iconic crossover is simply good in every aspect, from performance and handling to features and pricing, and customers have responded in kind with massive sales. Nothing changes for the 2014 model year, but that’s fine. Space abounds in the back seat and cargo storage, and the CR-V lives off its 2.4L four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive models can reach 23/31 MPG, and pricing runs from $22,945 to $30,445 MSRP. Nowadays, that money will net you a rearview camera and Bluetooth capability across the board. Not bad, not bad at all – which is exactly what anyone who’s been behind the wheel would say.
   

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Infiniti QX50: How good do you have to be to fail at one of your most important jobs and still come out on top? Very good, and the 2014 Infiniti QX50 somehow pulls it off. Despite limited cargo space and poor outward visibility, its seven-speed transmission and new 3.7L V6 engine with 325 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft of torque make the 2014 QX50 an on-road revelation. Fuel economy isn’t tops, either, with 17/24 MPG for both rear and all-wheel drive models. Both exterior and interior styling are unique and well-executed, though, and rearview camera and power seats are thrown into the mix. Be prepared to shell out $36,900 MSRP for the base model, but when you hit that back road to grandma’s house with a grin, you’ll be glad you did.
   

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Mazda CX-5: For the Miata owner with kids and a dog, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 offers an outstanding driving package that doesn't sacrifice thrills for practicality. Razor sharp steering and handling, especially in the all-wheel drive version, match perfectly with the new 2.5L four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft of torque that debuted last Spring. If efficiency is more your thing, the 2.0L four is available with up to 26/35 MPG and starts at just $21,395 MSRP. Mazda has stepped up their interior game lately, and the CX-5 benefits with soft-touch materials and classy trim around the cabin. For athleticism on a budget, crossovers don’t come any more complete than this.
   

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Porsche Macan: Even before it hits dealerships next year, the all-new Porsche Macan easily makes it onto our list of desirable crossovers. Based on the Audi Q5 platform, the Macan offers two twin-turbo V6 engines, a 3.0L making 340 horsepower and a 3.6L with 400 horsepower. We’re still waiting on a test drive, but it’s reasonable to believe Porsche has once again worked its magic on a vehicle that has no business being as fun as it is. Couple that with a decadent interior and tons of available technology, and the Macan figures to offer more than any other competitor can match. Of course, it’s all at a premium price, with the 3.0L Macan S clocking $51,095 MSRP and the Macan Turbo an eye-popping $73,495. Call it a faster Q5 or a mini-Cayenne or an over-priced Tiguan, but however you prefer to think of the Macan, you have to think of it as a new contender for the title of best crossover on the market.
   

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Range Rover Evoque: Taking the crossover design game to another level, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque boasts fantastic looks that certainly draw attention. But look closely, and you’ll find a Compact SUV with Land Rover DNA, one that is fully capable of hauling a load or tackling a grade. The 2014 Evoque may be handsome, but it’s no pretty boy. The standard 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine sports 240 horsepower and an absurd 380 lb.-ft of torque, making this a luxury crawler with the utmost credentials. For city dwellers, beware of the 18/28 MPG, but there are plenty of other factors that should lead you toward the 2014 Evoque than away from it. After all, it brings Land Rover luxury to the masses without losing its own identity, and looks damn good doing it.
   

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Subaru Forester: Another brand in the midst of a resurgence, Subaru has set one sales record after another on the strength of excellent reliability and safety ratings, standard all-wheel drive and go-anywhere capability that appeals to the career outdoorsman and urban explorer alike. The 2014 Forester is no exception, and with a roomy interior and up to 32 MPG, represents one of the best bang-for-buck ratios on this list. Completely new for 2014, the Subaru Forester starts at just $21,995 MSRP, with an extra $1,000 tacked on for the automatic transmission. The base engine is a 2.5L H-4 making 170 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft of torque, but the real meat is the 2.0L turbo-four with 250 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque. Topping out at just $32,995, it’s easy to justify springing for the extra juice. No matter which trim you fancy, this is one crossover that doesn't shy away from dirt.
   

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Toyota RAV4: The O.C. (Original Crossover) of this entire segment, the RAV4 started a phenomenon by combining SUV space with wagon athleticism and efficiency. Today, it has fallen behind the group it once dominated, but retains a spot on this list for staying true to its up-for-anything DNA and family friendliness. Toyota is intent on proving they have spunk, and the 2014 RAV4 is certainly sportier than ever before. Steering and handling are both much improved, and front-wheel drive versions offer strong fuel efficiency at 24/31 MPG. The engine is a 2.5L four-cylinder in all trims, making 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft of torque, which won’t impress test drivers any more than the bland interior styling and materials. But the RAV4 shines when it comes to cargo space and reliability, and when combined with the aforementioned driving improvements, it might be one of the best road trip cars on this list. For the right buyer, a 2014 RAV4 could become part of the family.
   

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Volkswagen Tiguan: A good car in a field full of great ones, the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan often gets overlooked amongst its peers. While the turbocharged engine is strong and plays beautiful contrast to the luxurious interior, the Tiguan has trouble standing out against plenty of other well-handling crossovers. The 2.0L four-cylinder engine makes 200 horsepower with 207 lb.-ft of torque, which is peppy for the segment, though its 18/26 MPG rating holds it back. Still, this year there is a new Tiguan R-Line with dynamic styling on tap, and it may draw new eyes to the volume Volkswagen Compact SUV. Starting from $22,995 MSRP, the 2014 Tiguan badly needs a refresh and still manages to make our list, which speaks both to how good the Tiguan is and how good the crossover segment is.
   

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Volvo XC60: Often overlooked in the shadow of its massive European rivals, the 2014 Volvo XC60 is itself a fine, distinguished compact SUV that offers more than initially meets the eye. For starters, that legendary Volvo safety record is on full display with too many standard features to name and available options like cyclist detection. Second, the 3.2L six-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft of torque is more than competitive in the class, and the 3.0L turbo-six is full of pep from the first tap of your toe. But what really separates the XC60 apart from the rest is its character, with unique driving dynamics and classic Swedish interior design that emphasized wide open spaces and long, swooping lines. Pricing starts at $34,850 and can quickly reach the high-$40’s, but there’s something unique about the XC60 that doesn't drive you away. In a game where everyone is trying to catch up, Volvo is forever trying to branch out, and the 2014 XC60 is a perfect example.

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