Winner: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Runner-Up: Ford Escape

For those who don't want a large SUV and don't need three rows, there are plenty of options. These value-packed SUVs and crossovers have wheelbases under 106 inches. Vehicles in this category are expected to do everything: carry gear, go off-road, tow a small trailer or a boat, and provide a comfortable ride during commutes. For the best combination, we chose the Toyota FJ Cruiser. It can tow 5000 pounds, provides plenty of power, has good fuel economy, seats five, and in regular form is great off-road -- and that gets even better with the Trail Teams edition. Still, its unique design means there are blind spots. Looking for a more traditional option? The Ford Escape gives you a choice of I-4, V-6, or hybrid powertrain (with up to 240 horsepower), 3500 pounds of towing capacity, comfortable seating for five, and some mild off-road capability.


Compact SUV, AWD/4WD (UNDER 106-in WB)
(Acura - Honda)
Vehicle Acura RDX Ford Escape Honda CR-V Honda Element
Base price $35,480 $24,975 $23,725 $22,855
Wheelbase 104.3 in 103.1 in 103.1 in 101.4 in
Engine 2.3L DOHC T I-4 2.5L DOHC I-4 2.4L DOHC I-4 2.4L DOHC I-4
Opt engines   3.0L V-6 $3085, 2.5L hyb $8830    
Power, SAE 240 hp 171 hp (240, 177) 180 hp 166 hp
Torque, SAE 260 lb-ft 171 lb-ft (223, 136) 161 lb-ft 161 lb-ft
Airbags Fr, f side, f/r curt Fr, f side, f/r curt Fr, f side, f/r curt Fr, f side, f/r curt
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS Disc/drum, ABS Disc/disc, ABS Disc/disc, ABS
Tires 235/55R18 235/70R16 225/65R17 215/70R16
Fuel cap 18.0 gal 17.5 gal (15.1 hyb) 15.3 gal 15.9 gal
Fuel econ, city/hwy 17/22 mpg 20/26 (18/23, 30/27) mpg 21/27 mpg 19-20/24-25 mpg
Seating cap 5 5 5 4
Curb weight 3950 lb 3450 lb 3500 lb 3650 lb
GVWR 4800 lb 4200 lb 4560 lb 4450 lb
Payload 850 lb 750 lb 1060 lb 800 lb
Cargo cap 60.6 cu ft 67.2 cu ft 72.9 cu ft 74.6 cu ft
Towing cap 1500 lb 3500 lb 1500 lb 1500 lb