The Best Compact SUVs to Choose in 2023

The Best Compact SUVs to Choose in 2023

Written by July 12, 2023

SUVs used to be considered overly large, gas-guzzling behemoths that were too impractical for the average family to enjoy, but the evolution of the crossover sector helped turn the model into perhaps the most popular seen in years. Indeed, compact SUVs have since given mid-size and compact cars a serious run for their money, offering a level of versatility and cargo space that other vehicle types cannot provide.

Compact SUVs have quickly become the go-to choice for those with families, but their appeal extends to other buyer demographics as well. Whether you need a compact SUV for the daily commute, work-related tasks, ferrying the kids to soccer practice, or hitting the open road for your next adventure, these are the most sought-after models you can buy in Canada right now.



Jeeps are renowned for being able to tackle terrain that is well off the beaten path, making them a premiere choice for those who want to take advantage of Canada’s great outdoors on a regular basis. The Cherokee is competent enough to tow lighter cargo, thanks to its 4,000 pound towing rating on the 4-cylinder model alone. Those who opt for the V6 can tack on an extra 500 pounds, while enjoying a little more pep on the highway. Plus, there’s no beating the all-wheel drive system, which is perfect when dirt roads turn into slightly tumultuous pathways.



Chevy and GMC share identical DNA in their Equinox and Terrain (respectively) models, and no matter which one you choose, there’s a lot of bang for the buck. With adequate cargo space and solid performance, both models offer a lot of value, while still being contenders on the road. Buyers have a choice of either a turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder engine or a 2.0L, with AWD thrown in for good measure. While the towing capacity of 1,500 pounds may seem light, it is more than enough for towing a mid-sized ATV, a U-Haul trailer, or similar-size/weighted equipment.



Japanese automaker Nissan is renowned for creating high-quality vehicles that boast reliability as a main selling point, and the Rogue is no exception. This 2.5L 4-cylinder compact SUV includes a wide range of technological features sure to appeal to younger drivers, as well as a maximum cargo rating of over 2,000 litres. Fuel efficiency can be maximized by opting for the 1.5L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, making the Rogue a truly compact, and simultaneously practical SUV for the discerning driver.



The CX-5 blends groovy and stylish aesthetics with a surprisingly versatile design to create one very attractive compact SUV. Mazda hasn’t skimped on the details, be it the sleek exterior lines, the upscale interior, or the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine (turbocharged option available). The CX-5 also has bragging rights in the form of some of the best reliability ratings in the business, even after prolonged use and significant kilometers.



Subaru is no stranger to offering reliable cars that can go the distance, and handle the off-road with ease. The Forester is the latest to continue this tradition, with a wilderness-themed design motif, an excellent AWD system, and an engine that doesn’t thirst for gas at the earliest available opportunity. Plus, its engine placement creates a center of gravity that makes it easy to handle and navigate during harsh Canadian winter snowstorms, adding to its intrinsic value. Add in off-road tires, a lifted suspension and a returned rear differential, and the Forester becomes a compact SUV capable of handling anything that nature can throw at it.



The Escape has long since been a convenient and attractive alternative to Ford’s bulkier Explorer, with a similar level of comfort and versatility. The design of the car makes it attractive for a multitude of buyers across practically every demographic, and that goes double when one considers the sheer plethora of drivetrain options ranging from a 181 horsepower 1.5L turbocharged engine, all the way up to a 250 horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder. There’s even a 200 horsepower hybrid 2.5L option, or a plug-in variant for those trying to escape the gas pump. All this, plus a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, making it a serious heavyweight in the compact SUV department.



Honda’s CR-V has long since been a hit with those seeking a compact SUV with a lot to offer, for a competitive price point. It boasts a very large amount of cargo space, without sacrificing excellent fuel efficiency. It’s also available in a hybrid drivetrain for those who want to save on gas costs. For those who want more power, a 1.5L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is available, cranking out 190 horsepower. All this, plus the CR-V’s own stellar resale value, which is a big plus for those who wish to trade up for a newer model in the future.



Sibling companies Hyundai and Kia also share DNA in the form of the Tucson and Sportage, making them two of the most sought-after compact SUVs on the market. The Tucson boasts slightly higher storage capacity at 2,119 litres, as opposed to the Sportage at 2,098, but that’s largely quibbling. What truly matters is the choice between a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine at 181 horsepower, or a hybrid 1.6L turbocharged variant equalling 227 horsepower. There’s even a plug-in hybrid model that puts out 261 horsepower, with 50km available on straight electrical charge. That’s a lot of versatility for the discerning Canadian driver!



Known for its impressive value, incredible speed and luxurious amenities, the RAV4 continues to be one of Toyota’s best-known and most attractive cars. This compact SUV comes in an astonishing choice of 10 models, from a hybrid model netting 70 km on pure electricity, to a Trial version for weekend warriors and serious outdoor aficionados. It also tows 3,500 pounds, which means it’s no slouch, even for families with lots of gear and fancy toys to bring along to the campsite. Few compact SUVs in the segment offer this much choice mixed with top-tier technology upgrades and premium-level reliability. The RAV4 is definitely the one to beat, and there’s a model to suit any driver’s tastes and preferences.


Compact SUVs are great for doing it all, without breaking the bank in the process. Any of the models mentioned above is an excellent choice for you and your family, whether you want to get around in comfort and style, or hit the unbeaten path for some fun. If you’re still unsure which model is best for you, contact DriveAxis today, and we’ll help you narrow down your shortlist.

Remember, DriveAxis handles all financing in-house, which means we approve everyone, regardless of their credit history! We’ve helped thousands of Canadian customers net the car of their dreams, without being stonewalled, and we’re ready to do the same for you.

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