CARLOS LAGO: If you're looking for an inexpensive and compact SUV for yourself and the family, odds are you're looking at one of these. Currently we rank the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 highest and recommend them to most shoppers.
ELANA SCHERR: We don't rank the Toyota RAV4 quite as high. But it remains wildly popular with buyers, as does the Nissan Rogue, which was just redesigned-- I mean, so recently, seconds ago-- brand new.
CARLOS LAGO: That's not true.
ELANA SCHERR: We're gonna explain what each of these vehicles do well, what they don't, and which one's right for you.
CARLOS LAGO: Make sure you click the links below to find out more information about each of the vehicles here. And also visit Edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer on your car. Each one of the vehicles here has gone through our rigorous and exhaustive ranking process. That includes a standardized road loop, performance and static measurements, and evaluations from professionals who do this for a living.
ELANA SCHERR: Each starts at around $25,000 and tops out around $35,000, or maybe $38,000. There are a few exceptions. But we'll address those as it's relevant.
CARLOS LAGO: Yes, we know each of the vehicles here don't necessarily lineup apples to apples. But we have logged thousands of miles in various versions of most of the vehicles here. So think of them as ambassadors from their respective model lines.
ELANA SCHERR: Representatives.
CARLOS LAGO: Representatives.
The Honda CR-V has been a longtime favorite of our team. We've ranked it number one among small SUVs for the past few years now. We validated that decision by buying one and running it in our long-term test fleet for 40,000 miles. As far as fuel economy, you can expect around 30 MPG for most models, though the hybrid gets up to 38 MPG. And like all the SUVs here, the CR-V is available with all-wheel-drive.
ELANA SCHERR: We've had a Mazda CX-5 in our long-term test fleet. And we liked it. In our rankings, it came in just below the CR-V. While that SUV got high marks for interior space and usability, the CX-5 focuses more on driver experience and material quality and overall style.
While the CX-5 is not available in a hybrid, it does offer a 250-horsepower, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine, which is more powerful than any of the rest of these. The trade off, of course, is fuel economy. In its most efficient offering, you're only gonna get 28 MPG combined from the Mazda. And if you get that turbo engine, 24. Personally I think it's worth it.
CARLOS LAGO: The 2021 Nissan Rogue is the newest vehicle in this group. Now, historically the Rogue's been a favorite-- not through the attributes of the vehicle itself, but due to the pricing. That's all changed for this year.
The pricing hasn't. But the interior is much nicer and newer and has more modern features. What hasn't changed though is the engine and transmission, or at least they haven't changed much. They're still behind the rest of the field when it comes to power and fuel economy.
ELANA SCHERR: The Toyota RAV4 comes in a ton of varieties, including a hybrid, a pricey and powerful plug-in hybrid, and even one that's all dressed up for off-roading. Fuel economy and price ranges vary accordingly. But the regular version hovers around 30 MPG. And the hybrids are around 40.
We've evaluated most versions of the RAV4. In fact, the Edmunds team once drove a RAV4 nonstop through all the lower 48 states, which was very fun and meant that we spent a lot of time with it. Through all that, we found most parts of the RAV4 agreeable.
It's a solid choice that has received continuous improvements. It's just that some of its competitors put together a package that we like better overall.
CARLOS LAGO: When we're looking at the cargo areas of these vehicles, we're considering the actual cargo space, how easy it is to load, how functional that area is; is it easy or difficult to lower the second row; are there power ports back there; and things along those lines.
ELANA SCHERR: Tailgate party!
CARLOS LAGO: Yeah. When it comes to cargo space, this is really the CRV's biggest bragging right. It has the most space here, and some clever features to go along with it too. What really makes the space usable though is this low lift-over height. On the other side of that, you actually have a height adjusting floor that buys you additional space.
But I think most of the time, you would just drive around in this position anyway. Why would you have it higher up? And then the second row folds down really easily. If you can reach these levers, that's one way to do it. But if you can't, there's also levers on the side that flip them down just like that. The only thing that's missing back here is a power port. But otherwise, this is a really nice cargo area.
ELANA SCHERR: All right, if you are planning on starting a moving company, the CX-5 is not the way to go. It has considerably less cargo space than the other three SUVs in this test. And the load floor is high, with a lip that you have to lift things over. It's just not super-convenient. Plus it doesn't have very many of those cool cubbies like the other guys do.
Well, that's not totally true. It does have these little winglets in the corner. I don't even know why they're hidden. It doesn't make sense to me. But I will say that it has very convenient handles for putting the seats down. And it's the only one that lets you put the middle down. Which means-- say you're taking two kids and the family skiing, put the skis in the middle, hit the bunny slopes.
CARLOS LAGO: The Nissan Rogue may not have the most space here, but it does have a really neat party trick. And that's the Divide-N-Hide system. The load floor is split into two pieces. So you can raise and lower one section at a time. And you can also flip this one up like that to have a space set up like that for groceries on either side. It's pretty nice.
One thing I will call out though, because I am sensitive to having a clean car, is there are a lot of crevices up here that dirt and Cheerios and little Goldfish crackers will inevitably populate. Folding the second row is really easy as well, because you have releases that drop it just like that. And there's also a 12-volt power port right here.
ELANA SCHERR: The Toyota RAV4 hybrid can brag that it has the same amount of cargo space as the non-hybrid, which means it beats the CR-V in that metric because the CR-V hybrid has less cargo space than the non-hybrid. One thing about the RAV4 is there are no easy, convenient handles for lowering the rear seat, which means if you're short like me it's really annoying. Also the seats don't fold all the way flat, which is also annoying. It's fine. It's just not gonna win cargo hold of the year.
CARLOS LAGO: Interior space and functionality is massively important for these kinds of SUVs because the people and the families that own and operate these vehicles have diverse needs for them. We're not just looking at the overall interior space here either, but how functional that space is. As far as the interior goes, in terms of functionality, the CR-V is our favorite.
Getting in and out is really easy thanks to large door openings and a low step-in height. And it's really helpful from the back, when you're getting kids in and out. As far as interior measurements go, the CR-V is generally above average in all measurements. And that makes for an overall large-feeling, roomy interior. You can easily sit four adults back here.
As for storage options, you have a ton. The door cubbies are massive. You can fit a big water bottle and a bunch of other stuff all at the same time. And the center console remains one of our favorites. Not just because of the space, but because of the adjustability.
You can have it in this configuration, which leaves a ton different room. You can also slide this guy down and out if you want to secure stuff underneath. Now, this is slightly less functional than previous versions of this generation. But it's still among the best.
Really, the downside of the CR-V is the feel of the materials. This is the top level trim of the CR-V. And it doesn't have the richness that you'll find in other vehicles here, like the Mazda and the Nissan.
ELANA SCHERR: The interior in the CX-5 is like a little black dress. It's simple. It's clean. It's classy. I like it. Everything about it is very driver-focused, from the way that all of the controls are slightly angled over towards the driver, as they should be. The seats are comfortable, a little bit firm. But again, that's that whole driver thing. You want to stay in place.
One of the things I really like is the shifter in the Mazda. It's kind of old school. It has a manual transmission feel, with the leather surround. Headroom is good for tall people-- I mean, I assume. And seating position is highly adjustable for tall and short folks.
One place where the CX-5 is kind of weak sauce is in small-item storage. There just isn't very much of it. There's an angled pocket up here for a phone. But it's kind of hard to reach. And there's a fairly large pocket here on the side. I mean, it will fit my regulation size capybara succulent planter.
But the console, oh, not so much. I mean, you really need to be able to carry these sort of things with you when you've got a car like this. The backseat has plenty of room though. You could fit several of these back there. Overall, I'm gonna give the interior of the Mazda high marks, just for being easy.
CARLOS LAGO: The interior in this top-trim Nissan Rogue is impressive for a lot of different reasons. But first we'll talk about getting in and out. What's nice is that the second-row doors in this open to basically 90 degrees. So that's gonna be really helpful if you're loading bulky items or kids or car seats. It gives you a lot of space to do so. Also the privacy shades in the second row are a really nice feature to have.
When it comes to overall space, the Rogue gives an impression of being a much larger SUV than it actually is. There's an impression of roominess that's really nice to have. In terms of interior measurements, they generally fall on the larger side. So this is an interior that feels spacious.
Now, this is again a fully-loaded Rogue. And you really sense that in the type of materials used throughout the interior. This, you could say, over-delivers on design and style. And that's really the strength. You sense that your money is going further in this to get these materials than it is in some other examples in this segment.
When it comes to interior functionality, that's where things are not as great as some other vehicles in this segment. Specifically, the door pockets aren't as big as the CR-V, for example. It's something you can live with. But just be aware.
The center console also follows a different strategy, where you have this floating top layer where your cup-holders is. And your storage is underneath the arm rest right there. On the bottom though, you have this open pad that has a rubberized and texturized floor that's gonna prevent things from sliding around. But it isn't big enough to accommodate even a medium-size handbag, as I found out with my wife. Overall though, the appearance and feel and spaciousness of this Rogue is really the highlight.
ELANA SCHERR: I'm gonna start talking about the RAV4 interior with what I don't like. Because there isn't very much I don't like, so we'll be done with it quickly. Basically it has to do with the seats. They're comfortable. They're nice and soft. But they don't have very much adjustability.
In fact, this is as low as the seat will go. And it kind of feels like driving while sitting on a barstool. If I were a tall person, I think this would bother me. The only other negative, and that's really depending on how much you like to caress your interior, is that most of these materials are kind of rubbery and plastic.
On the plus side, it makes them very easy to clean. Overall I really like the RAV4 interior. I think it's so unique. It has all of these cool details like rubber knobs and patterning in all the shelves and cup-holders. And you can see by my t-shirt matching the seats that I'm kind of down with the fashion they've got going on here.
When it comes to small-item storage, the RAV4 has little shelves, very clever. And it has a nice big console that absolutely fits my regulation capybara plant and planter. It doesn't even squish the leaves.
Unfortunately these side pockets-- oh, that's like half a capybara. So, all right, not as good there on the side. But he's nice and comfortable right in here. Your friends and children will be comfortable in the backseat as well, because there's lots of room there too.
CARLOS LAGO: Speaking of backseat space, each of these SUVs are generally roomy and easy to access. The CR-V and the RAV4 boast the largest interior measurements, while the CX-5 and the Rogue garnered small complaints from taller test drivers.
Whether you call it an infotainment screen or a center touchscreen, this area of a vehicle is becoming rapidly more popular and more important for our evaluation process. Because outside of driving, this is the part of the vehicle that you're going to interact with the most. Now, all the SUVs here have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. And that takes away all of the frustrations you may have with the systems that automakers generally have in these vehicles.
But what happens when you don't have cell phone service? And what happens if you just don't like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay? How do these systems work? When it comes to higher trim levels of the CR-V, you do get additional connectivity. There's two USB ports in the back, two up front.
There are no USB-C ports. There are just the older style. But they do have the amps of each port written right above them. And that's nice if you have a phone that's really sensitive to that kind of thing when it comes to charging.
You also have a wireless charging pad that you can turn on and off for reasons. The entertainment center touchscreen itself is where the CR-V begins to show its age relative to the other vehicles here. It's slightly small. The resolution is low. And the graphics just look dated.
Functionality is a touch cumbersome too, especially when it comes to the voice commands. And the long-term CR-V we had in our fleet and put 40,000 miles on it had a number of glitches that were pretty frustrating. Overall this is a system that you just want to ignore. Plug in your phone and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Also when it comes to cameras on the exterior-- you have this backup camera, which has a wide-angle view, but also looks fairly dated relative to other vehicles here.
ELANA SCHERR: When it comes to tech in the Mazda CX-5, if you're the kind of person who wants everything to be the most cutting edge and every single technological advance that is available, that's not this car. It's pretty simple. It's pretty basic. Most of that I find actually a plus on the CX-5 because it's really easy to figure out how to use.
But there are just some things where it's sort of lagging behind some of its competitors. For example, the backup cameras-- they do have multiple different views, which is very helpful. But the quality of those views is kind of fuzzy. So if you were planning to use this to record your student film, it's going to be pretty low quality.
Now, this is a touchscreen, but only when you're parked or you're at a stop. So right now, while we're parked, I can touch it. But if I was driving, it would no longer work when I touch it. Although it won't tell you that it won't work. It just won't work. And you actually have to know that from the owner's manual.
And then you can use the controls down here to scroll through and pick things. But I don't understand why this down here is any safer than just reaching across and touching it. So if someone at Mazda wants to call me and explain that, I would really appreciate it. I think control should work the same all the time. Otherwise it's confusing. And when I get confused, I get angry and it just ruins my day.
A lot of the in-car things, like Nav aren't really that important anymore because everybody's using their phones. And you have both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Mazda. And there are a lot of places to charge that phone up. There's no wireless charging. And there's no wireless Apple CarPlay.
One minor complaint about the charging is that the ports are all here in the console, which means you got to do that whole "all the way over with the cord" thing. And it takes a while to get your phone to read to the screen. 1, 2, 3. There we go, 3, that's not too bad.
Anyway those are pretty minor things. And like I said, overall, it's simple. It's clean. It's responsive. And if you're not the kind of person who wants the latest, you're going to be perfectly satisfied.
CARLOS LAGO: Infotainment and connectivity in this fully-loaded Nissan Rogue is fairly strong. For USB ports, you have four-- two in the front, two in the back. One on each side is USB-C. So if you have a phone that takes advantage of it, that's a really helpful thing too.
Another thing is you get not only wireless charging, but wireless Apple CarPlay is available. And that's something you don't get in any other SUV in this group. The screen itself is the larger 9" screen that's available on higher-end Nissan Rogues.
And from the perspective of graphics and resolution, it looks good. It's fairly modern and crisp. It's not as responsive as some other screens that you can get among small SUVs. But it generally works well if you need to use it.
The only thing we'll call out is the voice commands. They require you to use specific prompts in order to get stuff done. And in 2020, we expect a bit more-- a lot of other SUVs do that. But because this is the newest one on the block, we would prefer more natural language. But again, that's something you can do with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The screen is nice and attractive until you put on polarized sunglasses. And then it gets really weird and splotchy. And that's kind of unfortunate. But you can live with it. I'll also point out too, the exterior camera system is really strong.
Not only does it give you a view of everything that's happening around you, but the individual cameras the Rogue uses are really crisp. And when somebody moves, or something moves next to you, it actually highlights and beeps at you and highlights that portion of the screen. Really nice stuff, I think the best of the vehicles here.
ELANA SCHERR: All right, what does Toyota offer us for tech in the RAV4? Well, we've got a touchscreen. It works all the time, unlike the Mazda. And it also has all the buttons that run alongside of it. They're tiny little buttons. But they're there. And buttons are great.
In general, the controls in the RAV4 are easy. I mean, everything is separated. So it's like, oh, this is climate control. It's got its own little island. That's great. And, oh, their modes are here for changing things. This button says "push normal." But I pushed it, and I'm still weird. So I think it's broken.
We've got Apple CarPlay. We've got Android Auto. We have a wireless charging port, which is cool. And you can turn it on and off. And it has a sort of no-slip surface, although it's still a little slippy. USB port right here next to the phone resting pad, conveniently placed. And you've got a 12-volt as well.
I would say the Toyota system looks a little behind the times. I mean, just the layout looks old school-- and not in the cool way. And the backup camera is [BEEPING NOISE] warning me that the sound guy is there, but also not a great picture. But it all works. And it's all easy to understand.
The best thing about the RAV4's infotainment system and technology is that it has a lot of buttons. And they're very clearly marked. You don't have to figure out what any symbols mean. It just straight up tells you-- "Audio," "Menu," "Home." So if this is the sort of thing that bothers you-- if you don't like getting in a car and being confused or having to open the owner's manual to figure out how to use stuff, Toyota RAV4-- that's the infotainment system for you.
CARLOS LAGO: Now, when it comes to talking about how these vehicles drive, we know they aren't supposed to handle and feel like sports cars. What we're most interested in is if any of these vehicles do anything particularly good or bad when it comes to on-road refinement and comfort.
When we talk about driving impressions, yes we aren't expecting the sports car-like behavior from small SUVs. But what we feel is important is how they blend ride and handling, steering field, and how their drivetrains react to the needs of normal day to day driving. Do they do anything particularly good or bad?
Where the Honda CR-V excels in my mind is how it marries ride comfort, handling, and steering. They make this thing pretty pleasurable to drive around town. Yeah, you're not going to get a lot of fun out of the driving experience. But the steering goes where you point it and feels good doing so in the process.
When you take this thing around a freeway off-ramp or a highway interchange, you don't have to search on the wheel to find your ideal line. You just can intuit it pretty easily. Ride comfort is another area where the CR-V feels really strong. It's not super-plush. But it isn't overly brittle either. It relays appropriately the texture of the road and impacts you drive over.
The engine is a turbo 1.5 liter, 4-cylinder. And it's married to a continuously variable transmission. Power is adequate. Where you may sense some slowness or delay in acceleration is mostly attributable to that continuously variable transmission. It doesn't have traditional gears. So you don't get traditional feeling gear-changes. It just blends from one ratio to the next.
Now, in theory that should make for smooth shifts. But when you step on the gas pedal, it can make for a sensation of acceleration that's a little bit slurred and less than ideal. Overall though, you have enough power in this car to maneuver around traffic, get away from a stop sign or a stoplight, and make a pass on a two-lane road.
This CR-V is equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and so on and so forth, also frontal collision warning. Our experience with our long-term CR-V that we had for 40,000 miles-- we learned to really dislike the frontal collision warning system. We actually turned it off because it was overly sensitive. The adaptive cruise control worked generally as you'd expect. So just keep that in mind when you're considering the safety features of the CR-V.
Overall when it comes to driving the CR-V, this does an appropriate job at everything you might expect on the road. Its real strengths are its steering and its ride.
ELANA SCHERR: Out of the four SUVs that we're testing, the CX-5 is the one that I would choose to drive just for the fun of driving. So not to get anywhere, not to listen to the radio, not to haul stuff-- just because I enjoy being in it and driving. When car reviewers talk about driving enjoyment, handling, steering, sometimes it ends up sounding sort of snobby.
And if you're just looking for a daily driver, you might be, like, why do I even care about that? But even if you don't want to be a racecar driver, the things that the Mazda does well, like changing lanes-- see, it's just so smooth. And accelerating, at least with the optional turbo-charged engine-- hecks yeah.
That's the kind of stuff that's going to make passing on the freeway easier. It's going to make on-ramps and off-ramps or curvy driveways up mountain roads just feel better. You may not want to drive the car like a racecar driver. But you're going to feel more confident no matter how you're driving.
I think visibility has gotten better in crossovers in the last few years. This front pillar tends to be more narrow now. So you can see around it when you're turning. And they don't lock in the back quite as much as they used to in the designs. But all of that almost doesn't even matter because there are so many driver aids that can help you with backup cameras and blind spot monitoring.
So even if you didn't have any windows, you could probably almost drive this car. Oh, God, that would be so depressing. Automakers, do not do that. That would be sad.
All of the things that I like about the CX-5-- the steering, the braking, the way it goes around corners, that applies no matter which engine you get. But I do recommend the upgrade to the turbo-charged one, even though you'll take a hit in fuel economy. Because it is just so much more satisfying.
Hey! Get some. Yeah, that's a lot better. The base engine is kind of sluggish. And you'll really have to plan ahead if you want to overtake someone. Go for it. Get that horsepower. You deserve it.
Everything about this CX-5 design is really about the driver. Everything's just laid out in front of you, simple. You're in the car to experience the road. You don't need to have a whole bunch of distractions.
It's really no surprise that Mazda's SUV is a good handling machine. I mean, after all, have you ever heard of a little car called the Miata? Yeah, Mazda knows how to make a car that's fun to drive. I don't recommend getting the CX-5 in place of a sports car. But out of the crossovers on our list, it's definitely the sportiest one. And it's not just sporty by default. It's genuinely fun to drive.
CARLOS LAGO: Two things I need to call out with the Rogue immediately-- one doesn't matter. The other one does. The one that doesn't matter is the shifter. Instead of rocking back and forth when you shift a gear, the whole thing moves front and back. And that's just strange. It doesn't change anything, but you should know.
Also whoever thought it was a good idea to put heat conductive material on the window up and down switches should rethink that decision. It's not a good one. As for the way the Rogue drives, here's the thing. It does everything just fine. If you genuinely do not care about how a car drives, you can disregard everything I'm about to say.
If you do find enjoyment in the experience of driving, particularly with regard to steering, the Rogue is going to let you down. Not that there's anything bad per se. It's just that vehicles like the CR-V and the Mazda CX-5 have a nicer experience when it comes to steering.
And it's one of those things that's hard to put language again to describe why. But when we drove these vehicles back to back, each one of us got out of the Rogue asking, what's the deal with the steering? My particular complaint was with the way it returned and behaved on-center, when the steering wheel's straight. It's a little loose, a little vague. It behaves in a way that made me have to pay extra attention to the steering wheel in order to keep the wheel straight. Not ideal.
Let's talk about driveability. In the Rogue, you have a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder and, like the CR-V, a continuously variable transmission. The engine is slightly outgunned in this group when it comes to power. Although you don't really sense it on the road. It doesn't become that apparent. It's mostly apparent in the figures themselves that we got when we test these vehicles.
The continuously variable transmission, much like the Honda CR-V, can feel somewhat strange when you really step on that gas pedal hard. Like the CR-V, you don't have specific gear ratios to shift from one to the next. So you just have this surge of acceleration that doesn't really turn into anything that you might expect. It's just different.
Let's talk about safety equipment, because the Nissan Rogue comes fully featured, like many of these vehicles, with auto emergency braking; with front collision warning; adaptive cruise; and so on and so forth. The adaptive cruise in the Nissan works fairly well. It accelerates and slows down naturally, in a way that doesn't make you want to step on the gas pedal yourself or the brake pedal yourself. And the lane-centering generally works pretty well too.
The version that we're driving actually incorporates navigation instructions into that system. So it will, in theory, adjust speeds before approaching a corner if your navigation is programmed. Neat idea, but kind of wonder how often people will experience it.
Overall the Rogue, I say, is about average when it comes to the driving experience, particularly because of how that steering feels. There's really nothing extremely bad here. But you could find a better experience elsewhere.
ELANA SCHERR: All right, RAV4, it's so cute. And it's so disappointing to drive. The steering in the RAV4 is both falsely heavy and vague. You know when you're talking to your kids or a co-worker and you ask them to do something, and they're like "yeah, no, OK?" And you're, like, wait. Does that mean you're going to do it or you're not going to do it or when you're going to do it?
It's sort of the same in the RAV4. It's like sometimes the steering feels really like it's going to take a lot of effort. And then when you're at slow speeds, it feels super-light. It doesn't always come back to center exactly.
And it's, like, are you paying attention to me or not? Of course, it is. I mean, there's no problem driving this car. It just doesn't give you the feeling that it's going to do what you asked. Pay attention to me.
Now, the hybrid is probably one of the better drivetrains you can get in the RAV4. But it's still not a horsepower monster. And if you get the base engine, it is really slow. It's also loud. I mean, they're all loud. Like-- [ENGINE ACCELERATING] I don't know. It doesn't really bother me. But you're definitely going to know it's there.
Visibility in the RAV4 is great because it has these little wing windows, which I love because they give you a little extra bit to look around between the mirror and the A-pillar. And I think that's a great idea. It's also got a big back window and big side windows. So even if it didn't have driver aids, which it does, you'd still be able to see out all around you.
And the visibility is probably one of the reasons why people like the RAV4 so much for camping and off-roading. Because when you can really see where you're going, you're not going to drive off a cliff or run over a bush. I find the gauge display disappointing in the RAV4, especially here in the hybrid. It's got this huge digital center screen. But there's really nothing very pretty happening on it.
And there's also nothing very interesting to put on it. And the actual gauges are off to the side. And they're little tiny things. And I don't know. It just doesn't really do anything for me emotionally.
There are a lot of easy to use controls on the steering wheel. But the controls in the console and screens over here are actually a little bit far away. I mean, I'm sitting pretty close up. And I can't really reach the tuning knob. And even the shifter is a little bit of a stretch. The overall complaint I have about driving the RAV4 is just that nothing seems very well-matched. The steering, I already talked about, feels heavy.
The throttle is a little laggy. And it just sort of feels like-- all right, you know when you're hungry and there's not really anything to make a good meal-- nothing that really goes together? So you end up eating Ritz crackers and some dried fruit and a half of a cold piece of pizza. And you're, like, OK. It was fine. But it wasn't really a well-matched meal. I'm not going to put that on Instagram. That's what driving the RAV4 is like.
It's not bad. It's just outgunned. The RAV4 does many things well. It's a simple, easy car to live with. And it deserves praise for that. It's also got a lot of personality, which might seem like a silly reason to buy a car. But it's actually really nice to feel like your vehicle represents what an interesting, outgoing, outdoorsy person you are-- even if you're just running errands.
The reason the RAV4 doesn't rank higher is because everything that it does-- haul stuff, offer driver aids, connect to your phone-- its competitors do just a little bit better, or with a little more style.
CARLOS LAGO: The Nissan Rogue makes for a very compelling vehicle, especially as we have it here in the fully-loaded trim. It over-delivers on features and qualities. I mean, just look at the quilted leather inside. It's really attractive.
OK, we were disappointed with a couple of things with regard to interior functionality and driveability, especially the steering. But if you really don't care about how a car drives-- I mean, if you really don't care-- the modern and plentiful features in this make it worth consideration over basically any other vehicle here.
ELANA SCHERR: Here's the problem with the CX-5. By most of the metrics we use to measure things, it falls short. It doesn't have the most cargo space. It doesn't have the best tech. It's not the most options for the money. So why do we rank it so highly? Well, at its core, at the true spiritual center of cardom-- that would be driving enjoyment-- the Mazda is in a different league than its competitors.
It drives well on curvy roads. It drives well on straight roads. It looks good standing still. It doesn't have very many gimmicky options, useful or otherwise. But it just drives great. I mean, it's fun to drive. And we'd be remiss as automotive enthusiasts if we didn't reward Mazda for taking that road, when most of the segment focuses on utility.
CARLOS LAGO: So where do we end up after all that? Well, we end up with the CR-V remaining our top pick of small SUVs. First the bad, and primarily it's with to do with age. The CR-V feels old, especially with regard to the infotainment system and the technology inside. And also, at this top trim level, you really don't see your money in the interior like you do in the Rogue and the CX-5.
But then there's everything else. And the CR-V does everything else really well. From the pleasant on-road experience, to that really nice pleasurable steering too, to the interior, which is massive but also highly functional and easy to use. Combine that all together and you end up with a vehicle that remains a really easy recommendation for most shoppers. Stay up to date with the latest SUV rankings by going to Edmunds.com/SUV.