SUVs that are quick and affordable aren’t abundant in the marketplace. While most luxury SUVs have powerful engines in excess of 240 horsepower, the under $30,000 price category is laden with fuel-efficient, four-cylinder models. But if you have a need for performance, there are several fast SUVs for the 2015 model year to choose from with a starting price under $30,000.
Subaru Forester XT
In 2014, the redesigned Forester was the Motor Trend SUV of the Year. The XT trim really takes the performance to another level with a 2.0-liter 250 horsepower turbocharged engine, an 80 horsepower boost over the regular Forester.
The Forester XT has a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds, making it the fastest SUV under $30,000. Its also the largest in size of our fastest SUVs under $30,000. The XT is nearly as fast as the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, which has a starting price in excess of $116,000.
Despite all its power, the XT still returns commendable fuel economy and is rated at 23-mpg city and 28-mpg highway. It has an excellent resale value, with a 60% IntelliChoice 5-Year Retained Value score. For 2015, the XT adds a standard All-Weather Package. With price, quality, functionality and performance, the Forester XT is a winning combination.
Nissan Juke Nismo
The Juke is a spirited subcompact crossover. The Nismo and Nismo RS models add more fun to the Juke boosting horsepower to up to 215 from its 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. The high-performance Juke Nismo RS goes 0-60 in 6.8 seconds, half a seconds faster than the 188 horsepower base Juke.
Mini Cooper S Countryman & Paceman
The Countryman, the original subcompact crossover continues in the S trim with its 1.6-liter four-cylinder 181 horsepower engine. The Cooper S Countryman has a 0-60 time of about 7 seconds. The Cooper S Countryman is essentially the two-door version of the Countryman with similar performance.
The John Cooper Works edition steps up the power to 208 horsepower but it also boosts the model’s cost to over $36,000.
Kia Sportage SX
The Sportage SX trim has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder 260 horsepower engine. Despite being more powerful than the Forester XT and with the same displacement, the Sportage SX comes in a second slower with a 7.3 second 0-60 time. The Sportage does have the edge in towing capacity over the Forester. It’s rated at 2,000 pounds compared to 1,500 for the Forester.
The Ford Escape with the 2.0-liter 240 horsepower EcoBoost engine just missed the cut with a starting price of about $32,000. If your budget can approach $40,000, the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and Chevy Equinox V6 all have good performance. If your budget can go up to $50,000, the BMW X3, Dodge Durango R/T, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Autobiography Dynamic, and Ford Explorer Sport are quick and powerful models.
The 0-60 times provided in this article are sourced from Motor Trend testing.