Compact Sport Utility Vehicles

A sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a vehicle similar to a station wagon or estate car, usually equipped with four-wheel drive for on- or off-road ability. Some SUVs include the towing capacity of a pickup truck with the passenger-carrying space of a minivan or large sedan.

Since SUVs are considered light trucks in North America, and often share the same platform with pick-up trucks, at one time, they were regulated less strictly than passenger cars under the two laws in the United States, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for fuel economy, and the Clean Air Act for emissions. Starting in 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began to hold sport utility vehicles to the same tailpipe emissions standards as cars.

Don't underestimate small sport utility-vehicles because of their size. They may be compact—with seating, generally, for only four or five people. But all have a high seating position that today's drivers seem to crave, distinctly uncar-like looks and available all- or four-wheel drive, and many are suitable for off-road terrain.

What do you do if you need cargo space, people space, and utility but dislike the size and fuel economy of traditional large SUVs? Compact SUVs are a great answer. Their blend of SUV attributes, combined with the operating costs of a small car, can satisfy the needs of many, with few sacrifices.

The smallest of the SUV crowd, though some have three rows of seats and ample cargo room. Popular models include the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and BMW X3.

Owner's Manuals, Service and Repair Manuals, User Guides and other information about most common compact sport utility vehicles:

Sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) are generally classified into three groups — compact, midsize and full-size — though the range of vehicles within each group varies widely. You will often hear the term "crossover" used, but this is really just a marketing term to describe a utility vehicle based on a car platform rather than one based on a truck platform. As you move up in size you also move up in engine power, towing ability, passenger room and price. There are luxury models in each of the groups.

Check the availability of features like antilock brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and stability control. Features like rearview cameras, parking sensors and knee airbags are becoming increasingly available on non-luxury SUVs, while premium brands are utilizing high-tech electronics to warn drivers of blind-spot intrusion and impending collisions. Even so, keep in mind that SUVs are often both large and heavy, so they are not as agile or maneuverable as a car. Be aware of crash test scores, but note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently adopted more strenuous testing procedures, so the ratings of recently tested models aren't directly comparable with those tested in the past.

A Compact SUV is the smallest of the Sport Utility Vehicles, or SUVs. SUV is an American term that is used to describe what we used to call a four-wheel drive (or 4-Wheel Drive, or four-wheel drive). Other terms include AWD (All-Wheel Drive) or four-by-four (4x4). However, increasingly, many SUVs are two-wheel drive (2WD), be it front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD). The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) adopted the US term SUV to categorise all the vehicles it used to classify as 4WD.

When we set out to put together this small SUV comparison we had trouble whittling down the list of contenders, given that there are so many strong entries into this particular segment of the market.  Finally, we decided to take three pairs of rivals and pit them head-to-head to see how they stood up to each other based on their individual merits.  Almost every one the sport-utility vehicles listed below has its own loyal following, but it's those 'tweeners' - buyers who could be convinced to go either way when selecting a new small SUV - that each company is trying to woo.

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