Winner: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Runner-Up: Subaru Forester

The challenge of being successful in this tricky category is that an automaker has to make a vehicle that is everything to everyone, an impossible task. We love that the Forester has finally grown into an SUV-size vehicle, but it doesn't have unstoppable off-road ability. What edged the Forester out of the top spot for us is a vehicle that represents possibly the best compromise here: the Toyota FJ Cruiser. We understand that most people who shop for a compact aren't going to take it off-road, but the FJ Cruiser gives you the option. It has plenty of power (239 horses), plus its available off-road package with Bilstein shocks, 265/75R16 tires, and rear diff lock means it can tackle tough trails with ease, plus it won't beat you up on the freeway. However, it isn't a perfect vehicle, and if its blind spots are too much to deal with on a daily basis (and you aren't going trail-hopping), the Subaru Forester provides most of what you'll need for the daily commute.


Compact SUV, AWD/4WD (UNDER 106-in WB)
Vehicle Acura RDX AWD Ford Escape AWD Honda CR-V AWD
Base price $34,655 $24,120 $23,115
Wheelbase 104.3 in 103.1 in 103.1 in
Engine 2.3L DOHC T I-4 2.5L DOHC I-4 2.4L DOHC I-4
Opt engines ------ 3.0L V-6 $2820,
2.5L hyb $8000
------
Power, SAE 240 hp 171 hp (240, 177) 166 hp
Torque, SAE 260 lb-ft 171 lb-ft (223, 136) 161 lb-ft
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/drum, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 235/55R18 235/70R16 225/65R17
Fuel cap 18.0 gal 16.5 gal 15.3 gal
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 17/22 mpg 19/24 mpg (17/22, 29/27) 20/26 mpg
Seating cap 5 5 5
Curb weight 3933 lb 4680 lb 3501 lb
GVWR 4800 lb 4200 lb 4560 lb
Payload 900 lb 1080 lb 1059 lb
Cargo cap 60.6 cu ft 66.3 cu ft 72.9 cu ft
Max towing cap 1500 lb 3500 lb 1500 lb
Vehicle Hyundai Tucson AWD Jeep Liberty 4WD Jeep Wrangler 4WD
Base price $24,195 $25,070 $21,210
Wheelbase 103.5 in 106.1 in 95.4 in
Engine 2.7L DOHC V-6 3.7L OHV V-6 3.8L OHV V-6
Opt engines ------ ------ ------
Power, SAE 173 hp 210 hp 202 hp
Torque, SAE 178 lb-ft 235 lb-ft 237 lb-ft
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, side Front
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 235/60R16 225/75R16 225/75R16
Fuel cap 17.2 gal 19.5 gal 18.6 gal
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 18/23 mpg 15/21 mpg 15/19 mpg
Seating cap 5 5 4
Curb weight 3266 lb 4076 lb 3760 lb
GVWR 4200 lb 5400 lb 5200 lb
Payload 1000 lb 1150 lb 1000 lb
Cargo cap 65.5 cu ft 64.2 cu ft 61.2 cu ft
Max towing cap 2000 lb 5000 lb 2000 lb
Vehicle Kia Sportage AWD Land Rover LR2 AWD Mazda Tribute AWD
Base price $20,870 $36,225 $24,215
Wheelbase 103.5 in 104.7 in 103.1 in
Engine 2.0L DOHC I-4 3.2L DOHC I-6 2.5L DOHC I-4
Opt engines 2.7L V-6 $1870 ------ 3.0L V-6 $1260,
2.5L hyb $6380
Power, SAE 140 hp (173) 230 hp 171 hp (240, 177)
Torque, SAE 136 lb-ft (178) 234 lb-ft 171 lb-ft (223, 136)
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side, knee Fr, f/r cur, side
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 215/65R16 235/55R19 235/70R16
Fuel cap 15.3 gal 18.5 gal 16.5 gal
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 19/24 mpg (18/23) 15/22 mpg 19/24 mpg (17/25, 29/27)
Seating cap 5 5 5
Curb weight 3411 lb 4255 lb 3505 lb
GVWR 4674 lb 5520 lb 4600 lb
Payload 1263 lb 1265 lb 1095 lb
Cargo cap 66.6 cu ft 58.9 cu ft 66.3 cu ft
Max towing cap 2000 lb 3500 lb 3500 lb
Vehicle Mercury Mariner AWD Mitsubishi Outlander AWD Nissan Rogue AWD
Base price $25,125 $23,415 $22,200
Wheelbase 103.1 in 105.1 in 105.9 in
Engine 2.5L DOHC I-4 2.4L DOHC I-4 2.5L DOHC I-4
Opt engines 3.0L V-6 $1010,
2.5L hyb $7440
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Power, SAE 171 hp (240, 177) 168 hp (220) 170 hp
Torque, SAE 171 lb-ft (223, 136) 167 lb-ft (204) 175 lb-ft
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side
Brakes, f/r Disc/drum, ABS Disc/drum, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 235/70R16 215/70R16 215/70HR16
Fuel cap 16.5 gal 15.8 gal 15.9 gal
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 19/25 mpg (17/24, 29/27) 20/25 mpg (17/23) 21/26 mpg
Seating cap 5 7 5
Curb weight 3493 lb 3538 lb 3435 lb
GVWR 4540 lb 4586 lb 4504 lb
Payload 1047 lb 1048 lb 1069 lb
Cargo cap 66.3 cu ft 72.6 cu ft 57.9 cu ft
Max towing cap 3500 lb 3500 lb 1500 lb
Vehicle Subaru Forester AWD Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD Toyota FJ Cruiser 4WD
Base price $20,690 $21,099 $25,245
Wheelbase 103.0 in 103.9 in 105.9 in
Engine 2.5L SOHC F-4 2.4L DOHC V-6 4.0L DOHC V-6
Opt engines 2.5L turbo
F-4 $6200
3.2L V-6 $4400 ------
Power, SAE 170 hp (224) 166 hp (230) 239 hp
Torque, SAE 170 lb-ft (226) 162 lb-ft (213) 278 lb-ft
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/drum, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 215/50R16 225/70R16 265/70R17
Fuel cap 15.9 gal 17.4 gal 19.0 gal
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 20/26 mpg (19/24) 19/25 mpg (17/23) 15/18 mpg
Seating cap 5 5 5
Curb weight 3250 lb 3611 lb 4290 lb
GVWR 4000 lb 4630 lb 5567 lb
Payload 900 lb 1019 lb 1277 lb
Cargo cap 68.3 cu ft 68.9 cu ft 66.8 cu ft
Max towing cap 2400 lb 3000 lb 5000 lb
Vehicle Toyota RAV4 AWD Volkswagen Tiguan AWD  
Base price $23,645 $29,625  
Wheelbase 104.7 in 102.5 in  
Engine 2.5L DOHC I-4 2.0L turbo I-4  
Opt engines 3.5L V-6 $2035 ------  
Power, SAE 179 hp (269) 200 hp  
Torque, SAE 172 lb-ft (246) 206 lb-ft  
Airbags Fr, f/r cur, side Fr, f/r cur, side  
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS  
Tires 215/70R16 235/55R17  
Fuel cap 15.9 gal 16.8 gal  
EPA fuel econ, city/hwy 24/27 mpg (19/26) 18/24 mpg  
Seating cap 7 5  
Curb weight 3494 lb 3397 lb  
GVWR 4535 lb 4740 lb  
Payload 1041 lb 1343 lb  
Cargo cap 73.0 cu ft 56.1 cu ft  
Max towing cap 3500 lb 2200 lb