Loaded small crossovers that don’t break the bank
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Although the average vehicle transaction price these days is well above $30,000, there’s a silver lining for those who don’t want to pay a lot but still want a well-equipped crossover. This list features well-equipped automatic-transmission crossovers priced under $25,000. Keep reading to learn about these crossovers’ cool standard and optional features (plus accessories), crash safety scores, and cargo space capacities. Before you head to the dealership and crack open your wallet, check out the crossovers below to see what you can get for under $25,000, before factoring in regional incentives.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek Premium 2.0i AWD: $24,854
With Subaru’s raised-hatchback-like crossover, opt for the mid-level Premium trim to get 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, roof rails, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with orange stitching, automatic headlights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. All-wheel drive is standard, but the Premium trim also comes with an off-road mode and hill-descent control for light off-road excursions. Even with all that, there’s still room left in the budget for optional accessories: a rubber rear seatback protector, a rear bumper cover, and all-weather floor and cargo mats. Additionally, the Crosstrek delivers 27/33 mpg city/highway, can carry up to 55.3 cubic feet of cargo, and has a five-star NHTSA overall crash rating, the highest rating available.
You’ll Like: Lots of cargo room, impressive off-road capability, good crash safety scores, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard
You Won’t Like: The EyeSight driver-assist package and a proximity key with push-start ignition can’t be optioned at this price point
Motor Trend’s Take: We commended the Crosstrek for its comfortable ride and impressive handling skills during a First Test review. The raised hatchback also offers lots of interior room, good value, and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Although we wish the Subaru had more power and a better-performing lane keep assist system. We concluded our review by saying, “The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited is capable and dependable, ready to go wherever you want to go, to enable you to do whatever you want to do—your BFF on wheels. It’s an endearing little crossover that’s just a few lb-ft away from greatness.”
2018 Honda HR-V EX AWD: $24,915
Honda’s smallest crossover can be purchased for under $25,000 in the mid-level EX trim with all-wheel drive. The EX trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a proximity key with push-start ignition, LaneWatch (a rear-facing camera mounted on the passenger side-view mirror), a 7.0-inch touchscreen, and Pandora compatibility. Honda’s versatile second-row Magic Seats come standard on the EX, but roof rails don’t. The EX trim doesn’t offer any packages, and optional accessories will break the price cap. The HR-V AWD comes with a 27/31 mpg EPA rating (28/34 mpg with front-wheel drive), a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA, and it offers 55.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo room.
You’ll Like: Loads of cargo room, versatile second-row Magic Seats, good crash safety scores, heated seats and moonroof are standard on the EX
You Won’t Like: The 2018 model doesn’t offer automatic emergency braking, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto, roof rails available only on the EX-L Navi trim
Motor Trend’s Take: The HR-V’s interior offers lots of versatility thanks to the Magic Seat feature and plenty of cargo room considering its small footprint. However, in a First Test review, we didn’t like the subcompact’s acceleration, engine sound, and the location of the USB and 12-volt ports. “For those who put a priority on packaging and reliability over performance, the Honda HR-V is a compelling entrant in the growing subcompact crossover segment,” we concluded.
2018 Nissan Kicks SR FWD: $24,630
Nissan’s new subcompact crossover is packed with value thanks to its low starting price, but all-wheel drive is not available. Staying below the $25,000 price cap, the Kicks can be ordered in the top SR trim that comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, roof rails, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster display, a proximity key with push-start ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are also standard, and not usually found at this price.
Load up the 2018 Kicks SR with the Premium package, which includes heated front seats, faux-leather seating with orange stitching, and an eight-speaker Bose Personal Plus audio system. Most buyers would be happy with all those features, but you can keep it under $25,000 and still add various packages including Exterior (crossbars and rear bumper protector), Exterior Electronics (puddle lighting and rear parking sensors), Interior Electronics (ambient lighting with 20 available colors and auto-dimming rearview mirror), and Wi-Fi and Apps. For kicks (pun intended), throw in the illuminated door sill plates and carpeted floor and cargo mats, as well. The lightweight Kicks comes with a 31/36 mpg rating and can haul 32.3 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded (though Nissan says there’s an extra 21.8 cubic feet of space in the rear cargo area).
You’ll Like: The lengthy standard features list, automatic emergency braking is standard, high fuel economy rating, optional Wi-Fi capability
You Won’t Like: All-wheel drive is not available
Motor Trend’s Take: The Kicks offers lots of standard features at a low starting price, including automatic emergency braking and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. We were very impressed by the optional Bose audio system and appreciated that even the midlevel SV trim has blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. All-wheel drive is not available, but acceleration feels adequate and the crossover is “pleasant to drive” around the city. We concluded our First Drive review by saying, “The Kicks is surprisingly well equipped with features you actually want, and it boasts killer fuel economy. If all-wheel drive isn’t a must-have, it’s hard to come up with another compelling reason to keep the Kicks off your shopping list.”
2018 Mazda CX-3 Touring AWD: $24,820
The CX-3 is Mazda’s smallest crossover—get the mid-level Touring trim with all-wheel drive and a couple of accessories to avoid going over $25,000. The Touring trim features 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated front seats, leatherette-trimmed seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, keyless quick-entry with push-start ignition, low-speed automatic emergency braking (up to 18 mph), and a 7.0-inch touchscreen display. If you choose AWD, all-weather mats and roof rails can be added (and are included in our price above). If not, you’ll have enough money for the Preferred Equipment package that includes a sunroof, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a cargo cover. The CX-3 is rated at 29/34 with front-wheel drive (27/32 with AWD), comes with a five-star overall NHTSA rating, and can hold between 42.3 and 44.5 cubic feet of cargo (depending on whether the CX-3 has the Bose audio system).
You’ll Like: Low-speed automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert are standard, good crash safety scores
You Won’t Like: No Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio and a cargo cover are extra, cargo area could be more spacious, AWD model has a smaller fuel tank
Motor Trend’s Take: Mazda’s CX-3 is fun to drive, has a nice interior, good ride comfort, and good acceleration considering the segment. As with many subcompacts, cargo space is tight and the front armrest covers the cupholders. We ended our First Test review by noting that “the 2016 Mazda CX-3‘s combo of just-enough power and class-leading handling, tech, and interior quality should propel it to [success in the subcompact CUV segment].”
2018 Hyundai Kona SEL AWD: $24,930
Select the SEL trim with AWD on Hyundai’s new subcompact crossover to keep the price tag below $25,000. Standard features on the SEL include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, a proximity key with push-start ignition, heated front seats, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
That leaves enough room for the only offered package on the trim level, the Tech package: a sunroof, eight-way power driver seat, foglights, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and a driver attention system. If you don’t need AWD, the budget allows for a few accessories such as carpeted floor mats, an all-weather cargo mat, and mudguards. The Kona delivers 27/33 mpg (25/30 with AWD) and offers 45.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded down. Upgrade beyond our price cap to the Limited or Ultimate trims to replace the Kona’s 147-hp 2.0-liter I-4 with a 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four.
You’ll Like: Can be equipped with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, and a driver attention system (an uncommon driver-assist feature at this price); heated seats and roof rails are standard on the SEL
You Won’t Like: The Limited trim must be purchased in order to get LED taillights, automatic climate control, and foglights; conservative interior design
Motor Trend’s Take: Although the suspension is on the firm side, “it takes a sizable bump or pothole to unsettle the car and bounce you around.” The trade-off is agile handling on winding roads. The optional 1.6-liter turbo-four has plenty of power, and the twin-clutch transmission shifts well. Cargo space is not impressive, but the multimedia system is easy to use and responsive. “If hauling people and gear is your main mission, the Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek will serve you better. The Kona puts style and an entertaining driving experience first, especially with the independent rear suspension on all-wheel-drive models,” we said in our First Drive review.
2018 Kia Soul Plus FWD: $24,515
With the front-drive Kia Soul under $25,000, you can get lots of tech or the more powerful 201-hp turbocharged engine (the most powerful one on this list) but not both. If you opt for the midlevel Plus trim, there’s enough in the budget for the Audio package that adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a Harman Kardon audio system, speaker lights, a proximity key with push-start ignition, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. That still leaves plenty in the budget for accessories including crossbars, interior ambient lighting, a rear spoiler, remote start, and exterior puddle lighting.
For the top turbocharged Exclaim trim, any package will take the Soul over the limit, so a $25,000 budget means settling for the 7.0-inch touchscreen without the Harman Kardon audio system. The Soul is rated at 25/30 mpg with the Plus’ non-turbo engine and 26/31 mpg with the Exclaim’s turbocharged unit. The Soul isn’t available with all-wheel drive, but it can carry between 49.5 and 61.3 cubic feet of cargo depending on whether you’re using the cargo tray. The NHTSA gave the Soul its highest five-star crash rating.
You’ll Like: Having a choice at this price point between a powerful turbocharged engine or a package with plenty of technology, five-star NHTSA safety rating; loads of cargo space
You Won’t Like: Automatic emergency braking and heated seats can’t be purchased at this price point, AWD is not offered
Motor Trend’s Take: Inside, the Soul offers good interior fit and finish, an easy-to-use multimedia system, and a spacious interior. Even though the Soul has a tall body, body roll is well controlled and the hatchback is fun on back roads. The base engines don’t offer much power, but there’s a turbo-four option. After spending a year with a 2.0-liter Kia Soul (the engine option below the newer 201-hp turbo option), we said, “I grew to appreciate what the Soul was good at, realizing that it has more pros than cons. I never would have considered the Soul before my time in it, so it definitely proved me wrong.”
2018 Toyota C-HR XLE FWD: $24,778
The C-HR subcompact comes in two trims but doesn’t offer all-wheel drive. Because the top XLE Premium trim puts the C-HR above the $25,000 mark, stick with the base XLE trim that comes standard with 18-inch wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated rear camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The C-HR also comes standard with a package of driver-assist features that includes adaptive cruise control (the only vehicle on this price-sensitive list with that feature), automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with lane keep assist, and automatic headlights. There’s still some room left in the budget for several accessories: all-weather floor and cargo mats, door sill protectors, foglights, mudguards, a rear bumper protector, and crossbars. The C-HR is rated at 27/31 mpg, comes with a five-star overall NHTSA rating, and offers up to 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
You’ll Like: Having adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane keep assist, unmistakable styling
You Won’t Like: No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or heated seats at this price point, AWD is not offered, small cargo capacity
Motor Trend’s Take: In Motor Trend SUV of the Year testing, we said, “There were kind words for its unique styling, fun handling, and funky interior with embossed diamond motif. But the C-HR’s lack of capability, utility, and features is made all the more galling by the availability of all-wheel drive, a hybrid powertrain, and a modern infotainment system in global markets. A frustrating entry.”
2018 Ford EcoSport SE FWD: $24,605
Ford’s new subcompact crossover stays below $25,000 with the SE trim, front-wheel drive, and two packages. The SE trims comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, foglights, a sunroof, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Our $24,605 EcoSport SE build also includes the Cargo Management package (cargo net and organizer) and the Cold Weather package (all-season floor liners, heated side-view mirrors, heated steering wheel, and a windshield wiper de-icer). The EcoSport comes with a 27/29 mpg rating (23/29 with AWD) and can carry up to 50.0 cubic feet of cargo.
You’ll Like: Rear parking sensors, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio are standard on the SE
You Won’t Like: Lacks driver-assist safety features at this price, mediocre fuel economy, subpar handling dynamics and ride comfort
Motor Trend’s Take: Designed for overseas markets, the EcoSport does not perform well against rivals from the U.S. due to its poor handling, rough ride, small interior, and subpar interior fit and finish. We ended out First Drive review by saying, “If you don’t need AWD, a Kia Soul is better looking, way more fun to drive, and way cheaper; an HR-V brings legendary Honda resale value; and a $25,905 midgrade Subaru Crosstrek with the EyeSight option package gets world-class crash-prevention systems and adaptive cruise control…”
2018 Chevrolet Trax LT FWD: $24,840
Buyers can load up the Chevrolet Trax’s LT trim, but AWD will put the subcompact above the $25,000 mark (before considering regional incentives). The LT trim comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights, LED taillights, remote start, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. The LT Convenience package (a proximity key with push-start ignition, six-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and deluxe cloth seats with leatherette trim) and the Driver Confidence package (blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors) can be added. The front-drive Trax delivers 25/33 mpg (24/30 mpg with AWD), comes with a five-star NHTSA overall rating, and offers up to 48.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
You’ll Like: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM are standard, five-star overall NHTSA rating
You Won’t Like: No heated seats or sunroof on models with MSRPs under $25,000
Motor Trend’s Take: The Trax is an average crossover with a decent amount of standard tech. Ride quality is fine (unless you opt for the 18-inch wheels), cornering grip and acceleration are OK, and it lacks stand-out good looks.
2018 Jeep Renegade Latitude FWD: $24,920
Keeping the Renegade below $25,000 is not easy if you want anything higher than the base Sport trim. The Latitude trim features 17-inch alloy wheels (with the automatic transmission), dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, roof rails, foglights, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Front-drive is necessary because adding all-wheel drive (or additional packages) puts the price north of the limit. If you want all-wheel drive, opt for the Upland trim that sits below the Latitude and above the Sport trim. If you go that route, the 7.0-inch touchscreen is replaced by a 5.0-inch unit, and you lose Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With front-wheel drive, the Renegade is rated at 22/30 mpg, or 21/29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The subcompact received a four-star overall rating (out of five) from the NHTSA and comes with a maximum cargo capacity of 50.8 cubic feet.
You’ll Like: Lots of cargo space, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard in the Latitude trim
You Won’t Like: No heated seats, sunroof, or proximity key with push-start ignition on models with MSRPs under $25,000, four-star overall NHTSA rating, fuel-economy rating is low for the segment
Motor Trend’s Take: Jeep’s Renegade has a roomy, well-packaged interior and unique styling that stands out from the others on the list. The Trailhawk version provides good off-road capability, but other models with all-wheel drive don’t. Acceleration is average for the segment, but the automatic transmission can be sluggish when power is needed—something that we noted in a long-term update.
2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE 2.4 FWD: $24,825
Mitsubishi’s most affordable crossover is well equipped and can be purchased for under $25,000 if you opt for the second-highest SE trim without AWD. The SE trim includes 18-inch wheels, a proximity key with push-start ignition, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching, foglights, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. While still keeping the MSRP under $25,000, you can also order the all-weather floor and cargo mats, crossbars, and a cargo cover. The Outlander Sport is rated at 23/29 mpg with front-wheel drive (23/28 with AWD), comes with a four-star overall NHTSA rating, and holds up to 49.5 cubic feet of cargo.
You’ll Like: Decent cargo space, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
You Won’t Like: Lacks automatic emergency braking at this price, four-star overall NHTSA rating, mediocre fuel economy
Motor Trend’s Take: The Outlander Sport has not changed much since 2011, and the Mitsubishi shows its age with poor interior fit and finish, lots of engine and road noise, vague steering, and run-of-the-mill handling dynamics. We concluded our First Test review of a 2018 model by saying, “If you’re set on a Mitsubishi, consider the all-new and similarly sized Eclipse Cross. I have driven it, and it’s by far a superior vehicle.”
If the above vehicles are too small for your needs and you still want to stay around $25,000, consider base-model crossovers from the segment one size up. The Honda CR-V (75.8 cubic feet of total cargo space) is the 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year. For a $25,245 base front-drive LX trim, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, automatic climate control, a multi-view rearview camera, and a USB port. The LX is equipped with a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated I-4 and is spacious but lacks the more expensive EX trim’s 7.0-inch touchscreen, more powerful 1.5-liter turbo-four engine, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a proximity key with push-button start, and automatic emergency braking.
The Mazda CX-5, with 59.6 cubic feet of total cargo space, is another good choice. Like the Honda, the CX-5’s base front-drive Sport trim starts above the $25,000 mark at $25,145, and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. The midlevel Touring trim starts at $27,210 and adds 19-inch wheels, a proximity key with push-start ignition, rear air vents, leatherette seating, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist with lane departure warning.
It all comes down to your priorities. If passenger and cargo room are the most important, consider the larger CR-V LX, but if you want lots of options and features, it’s hard to beat the new Nissan Kicks. Need a capable and safe AWD option? Get the Subaru Crosstrek.
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