When it comes to performance, the subcompact crossover class doesn’t offer much in the way of options. While there are some more luxurious, sporty models such as the BMW X1 and Audi A1, most subcompact crossover emphasize fuel economy and price savings over pickup speed.
30 mpg in mixed driving at a price in the low 20s are more targeted benchmarks. But a few thousand dollars more can make a big difference on the performance side. In this article, we’ll compare four of the fastest SUVs under $25,000: the Mini Cooper Clubman, Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X, and Nissan Juke.
Mini Cooper Clubman
The Cooper Clubman is the largest version of the ubiquitous Mini Cooper. In base form, it comes with a 134-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. Even in base form, the interior is snazzy and handling is crisp. Two words of caution with the Mini: 1). it comes standard with a manual transmission, a six-speed automatic is optional; and 2). Mini’s aren’t know for their reliability.
The Clubman is built using the same architecture as the BMW X1. The Mini Cooper Paceman model we featured in our fastest SUVs under $30,000 article has been discontinued.
The CX-3 is more of a mainstream model but it offers more zoom-zoom than competitors such as Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax. The CX-3 went for more sport than function as its cargo room is smaller than the diminutive Mini, but not Juke. It features a sport tuned suspension with taut handling, a high quality interior, and visual appeal.
The CX-3 is highly efficient with creative weight saving measures and a 2.0-liter 146 horsepower SkyActiv technology engine. Its fuel economy though is somewhat disappointing at 27-mpg city and 32-mpg highway with all-wheel drive. It’s also the slowpoke in this group with a 0-60 time of 8 seconds.
The 500X, which shares its platform with the Jeep Renegade and new Jeep Compass, is offered in base form with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine outputting 160 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are both optional features. The 500X offers three different drive mode settings. Expect a 0-60 time of a hair shy of 8 seconds.
The Juke is a subcompact crossover veteran having debuted in 2011. The Juke’s funky lines make a statement and its bold curves stand out. What it lacks in cargo room with a paltry 10.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up, it makes up for in performance with sub seven second 0-60 times. The Juke is powered by a 1.6-liter 188 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine in base form.
Sadly for those seeking performance, spirited driving is somewhat blunted by a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is optional on the Juke and steering is highly responsive. If you can do without much cargo room and don’t mind the CVT, the Juke may be the best value among fastest SUV under $25,000.
With the exception of the CX-3, all of the above models offer optional engine choices, which can really add to acceleration. Of course, prices and features also get a boost and can top $30,000 in models such as the S Clubman and Juke NISMO. The S Clubman sports a 2.0-liter 189 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. For top performance in a subcompact crossover, consider the John Cooper Works Clubman ALL4.