There are now more than half a dozen new subcompact SUV models to choose from including the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru OV Crosstrek. There are also the more luxurious version such as the BMW X1.
So which models fail to hit the mark? We make our picks for the three worst subcompact SUVs.
The Juke was a pioneer in the subcompact class. On the market since the 2010 model year, it was designed more for sport than utility. It comes standard with a class leading 188 horsepower derived from a turbocharged 1.6-liter four cylinder engine.
The emphasis on style and sports shows up in the Juke’s interior as it has vibrant colors and its motorcycled influenced styling cramps interior space. Rear seat room is cramped, best left for children or shorter adults. Cargo room with the rear seats up, is only 10.5 cubic feet, which is less than a Ford Mustang convertible.
The Juke’s age is starting to show in safety ratings. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests, the Juke earned only three starts for front collisions and four-stars out of five for rollover. On Insurnace Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Juke received a ‘Poor’ rating for the small-overlap test. It did get a ‘Good’ score on side, roof strength, moderate-overlap, and head/seat restraint.
But if you are looking for performance out of a small crossover, the Juke is worth a look. It has the fastest acceleration and most passing power in its class.
The Trax is based off the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic hatchback, a lackluster vehicle so you shouldn’t expect much out of the Trax. The Trax does have offer a turbocharged 1.4-liter 138 horsepower engine. But fuel economy doesn’t deliver. The Trax is rated at only 24-mpg city, 31-mpg highway with all-wheel drive (AWD). The much larger Chevrolet Equinox with AWD is rated at 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway.
In Motor Trend testing, the Trax LT AWD came in a poor 10.1 second time in 0-60 mph acceleration testing. This was was near the bottom of the class.
On the positive side, the Trax offers nice leatherette/cloth seats with four cup holders and a quality instrument cluster. The rear seats sit up high and fold flat with a 60/40 split. The Trax also comes with standard Wi-Fi.
The Renegade’s style is polarizing. It’s bug eye front styling is similar to the design seen in the Fiat 500. While it may work on a small car, it misses the mark in a crossover. The Renegade offers a 180 horsepower four-cylinder engine but the nine-speed automatic transmission is faulty, lacking in smoothness and fuel economy.
The Renegade does have its share of good things going for it. It has a high roofline to accommodate taller drivers and passengers. It interior has higher quality plastics and cloth. And the Renegade is an improvement over the model it replaces – Jeep Patriot.
The cost of a 2016 Jeep Renegade Latitude 4×4 can exceed $30,000. While it’s a new model and a Jeep, the Renegade isn’t likely to fare too well on resale value.
The subcompact SUV class is already failing on value proposition. This new crossover category was originally though to be bring the characteristics of a crossover, higher ground clearance, available all-wheel drive capability, more cargo capacity with still great fuel economy to the sub $20,000 price point.
All of the above models for 2016 will likely have prices over $25,000 with all-wheel drive. Is the approximately 10% discount for subcompact models to compact crossovers worth it? When you consider, compact crossovers typically offer much more than 10% power, interior room, and cargo space than a subcompact, for many the value isn’t there.