1. Research Center
  2. /
  3. Car Buying Research Articles
  4. /
  5. Best Crossover SUVs for 2021
The 2021 Toyota Rav4 SUV is a great Crossover vehicle to take the whole family camping

Ten Tempting Compact Crossovers

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have taken the place of the family sedan as the favorite purchase by American consumers from coast to coast. Nowadays we have all sorts of SUVs including the Mini SUV, Crossover SUV, Mid-Sized, Full-Sized and even the posh Escalade. But did you know that the full-sized luxurious SUV of today got its humble beginnings with the 1935 Chevy Suburban Carryall? It was based on a Chevy half-ton pickup truck chassis and motor with an all-metal wagon body plopped on top that could carry eight passengers.

    The category of Compact SUVs has become tremendously popular in the last few years, and for good reason. These are great cars that do a little bit of everything, known to be both affordable and practical. Crossovers offer a sporty look and feel, surprisingly spacious interiors with many of the same features found in larger SUVs. There are plenty of Crossover models to choose from and prices run the gamut from $20K to $40K. Because of their popularity, there are literally dozens of Crossovers to choose from today. But one size doesn't fit all, so Lithia.com proudly brings you our pick of the Best Crossovers for 2021 to help you narrow the field.

    Keep in mind that this is not a Top Ten list counting down from ten to one, one being best. Rather, this list is ranked by the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the base models, from most to least expensive. Actually, all of these Crossovers offer great value for the money, good interior space, high fuel efficiency and extensive features, all for under $30k. Most offer all-wheel-drive as well as a wide range of Driver Assist technology and even Hybrid models. We're sure this guide will whet your appetite for the perfect Crossover for you.

10 Best 2021 Crossover SUVs

2021 Jeep Cherokee

Shop for a new 2021 Jeep Cherokee Crossover SUV at Lithia

The Jeep Cherokee is known as the father of SUVs and now Jeep offers a number of Crossovers including the compact Compass and the Cherokee. While the smaller Compass actually gives you more cargo and interior space, the Cherokee has a nicer interior as well as offering both six-cylinder and turbocharged four-cylinder versions. New for 2021, the Cherokee has newly standard safety and security features such as Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Path Detection and Forward Collision warning with Active Braking.

Base Price: $26,535

Shop Jeep Crossover SUV's

2021 Honda CR-V

Shop for a new 2021 Honda CR-V Crossover SUV at Lithia

Honda's CR-V now comes standard with its turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. This represents Honda's perfect package of drivability, comfort and cargo space. There is also a Hybrid version of this Crossover offering better fuel efficiency and all-wheel drive. While it is not particularly quick and can't tow as much as many rivals, the CR-V offers plenty of the latest tech and the Hybrid version is becoming very popular.

Base Price: $26,500
Shop Honda Crossover SUV's

2021 Mazda CX-5

Shop for a new 2021 Mazda CX-5 Crossover SUV at Lithia

Mazda's CX-5 has been praised for its full-range of safety features as standard equipment and its classy interior. Of the cars listed here, the CX-5 is in a class all its own as far as luxury is concerned. But this Crossover also brings you excellent steering, handling and responsive driving at a great price point. Also available with a 2.5 Turbo engine that delivers 250 horsepower and 320 foot pounds of torque paired with i-Activ All Wheel Drive.

Base Price: $26,370
Shop Mazda Crossover SUV's

2021 Toyota Rav4

Shop for a new 2021 Toyota Rav4 Crossover SUV at Lithia

Toyota's RAV4 keeps getting better with improved interior and refined driver dynamics. It's also one of the few Crossovers that offer a Hybrid version for better fuel economy. There is also an Electric model called the RAV4 Prime that gives you instant acceleration. Android Auto is a standard feature along with Apple CarPlay. The RAV4 models are among Toyota's best sellers every year.

Base Price: $26,050
Shop Toyota Crossover SUV's

2021 Nissan Rogue

Shop for a new 2021 Nissan Rogue Crossover SUV at Lithia

The Nissan Rogue was all-new in 2020 and really improved on the Crossover it replaced. There's better seating, a more luxurious interior and standard features that you'd normally find on a bigger SUV. The four-cylinder, 2.5 liter, 181-horsepower motor is an improvement too, offering quicker performance and better highway fuel economy on this all-wheel-drive car. Safety Shield 360 (four camera) Driver Assist comes as standard as well as 360 radar to avoid running into stuff.

Base Price: $25,650
Shop Nissan Crossover SUV's

2021 Volkswagen Tiguan

Shop for a new 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan Crossover SUV at Lithia

The Volkswagen Tiguan is actually big enough to include a third row of seating. The engine is a 184-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder that is both smooth and efficient. While this is not a particularly sporty Crossover, it is certainly comfortable, with the kind of minimalist interior that VW is known for. There's Wi-Fi provided by the Car-Net system and optional phone charging as well.

Base Price: $25,245
Shop Volkswagen Crossover SUV's

2021 Ford Escape

Shop for a new 2021 Ford Escape Crossover SUV at Lithia

The redesigned Ford Escape is a compact Crossover with a wide range of capabilities and versions. Available with two gas engines, a gas-electric, and a plug-in Electric version. The base 181-horsepower, 1.5-liter motor brings you decent performance, but the 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter version is quite fast. This new Escape has refined ride quality and offers a spacious cabin that seats five. For 2021, all models include Ford's Co-Pilot 360 suite of driver-assist goodies.

Base Price: $24,885
Shop Ford Crossover SUV's

2021 Subaru Forester

Shop for a new 2021 Subaru Forester Crossover SUV at Lithia

The Subaru Forester offers standard all-wheel-drive, a roomy interior and cargo space, and brings you many active-safety features as standard such as automatic emergency braking, lane centering, and more. The 182-horsepower, four-cylinder engine offers smooth and reasonably quick acceleration but is far from the fastest  CUV in this line-up. EyeSight Driver Assist comes as standard.

Base Price: $24,795
Shop Subaru Crossover SUV's

2021 Kia Sportage

Shop for a new 2021 Kia Sportage Crossover SUV at Lithia

The Kia Sportage gives you a long list of standard features and tasteful interiors for the price. You'll also find that the Sportage exceeds expectations in the driving department with excellent brakes and very good handling. There are two choices of engines; the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter version that give this Crossover more pep. It comes with Android Auto as standard and a Smart Power Tailgate that lifts automatically (when holding your smart key).

Base Price: $23,990
Shop Kia Crossover SUV's

2021 Chevrolet Equinox

Shop for a new 2021 Chevrolet Equinox Crossover SUV at Lithia

Chevrolet's Equinox is a good all-around CUV, with a selection of engines consisting of turbocharged 1.5- and 2.0-liter, four-cylinder power plants. You'll find solid ride quality and decent handling, and for 2021, the Equinox has been refreshed and improved upon. MPG is in the 26/31 range, it seats five and is available with All-wheel drive. Plus, it comes with Chevy Safety Assist as standard. Not bad for under 24k.

Base Price: $23,800
Shop Chevrolet Crossover SUV's

    The 1984 Jeep Cherokee was actually the first conveyance to call itself a Sport Utility Vehicle but there was very little "sport" in early SUVs. In fact, the Cherokee was, and is, a quite boxy, utilitarian affair with little in the way of sports appeal. Yet for fans of this father of the SUV, nothing else will do.

    Then the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUVs) appeared in 1996 with the Toyota RAV4 (which stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-Wheel Drive). The modern Crossover utilizes a unibody passenger car frame on a spacious body and come in Compact-Size such as the RAV4 and Ford Escape, Mid-Size like the BMW X5 or Toyota Highlander, and Full-Size such as the Kia Telluride and Ford Flex. But just to focus on the main difference between the SUV and the CUV, an SUV is basically a truck with a Utility Vehicle body plopped on it, and a CUV is a car with a smaller Utility Vehicle body plopped on it. It is that simple.