The XC40 starts at ,695 including destination, and I actually like its lowest Momentum trim the best (the same spec as
The third-generation Acura RDX landed last year, offering a number of improvements over its already solid predecessor. More appealing styling, a new turbocharged engine and Acura’s excellent SH-AWD system work together to make the RDX really interesting. Things are nicer inside, too, with a great layout of controls, some of the most comfortable seats in the business and a healthy list of tech offerings. With a base price of ,825, including ,025 for destination, it’s not a bad value for a sporty, entry-luxury crossover.
2021 Kia Telluride
Subcompact luxury crossovers are oftentimes hit-or-miss affairs. Some skimp on luxury and style, while others are duds behind the wheel. Neither is true about Volvo’s XC40. If I were shopping for a small, premium SUV, it’s absolutely the one I’d buy.
Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system comes on an optional 10.25-inch touchscreen, and brings natural voice recognition to the table. Plus, I love the augmented reality overlay that’s available on the navigation. It displays navigation directions directly on top of the real-time video display from the front camera, ensuring you’ll never miss a turn.
Read our most recent Toyota RAV4 review .
Toyota’s RAV4 has been one of the world’s best-selling small SUVs for a reason. It’s simple, stout, well-built and priced appropriately. And it looks good, too.
The four-cylinder turbocharged engine puts out 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, which is more than adequate in the A220 sedan. A Sport mode can dial up the transmission and throttle response, while Comfort is great for daily driving. Power goes down to the front wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, although all-wheel drive is available for those in colder climates.
2021 Toyota Avalon
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— Emme Hall
The ride is on the leisurely side of comfortable, but it really is refined, lulling my passengers to sleep on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, the 3.8-liter V6 provides better-than-adequate power and the eight-speed transmission is responsive and unobtrusive, which is really all you can ask for in an automatic in a rig like this.
Yes, there are some extraordinary cars on sale today, but not everyone has six figures to spend. How about something under ,000? That’s a little more reasonable.
2021 Volvo XC40
The Q3’s starting price of ,695 including destination nets you some solid standard equipment, including a 10.25-inch gauge cluster display, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, two rows of USB ports and automatic emergency braking.
The A-Class is a great entry point into the Mercedes-Benz brand. This little sedan punches way above its weight with premium materials, a peppy turbocharged engine and plenty of technology.
— Tim Stevens
Pricing starts at ,830 (including destination) for a well-equipped base XLE, with top-shelf Limited models ringing up at just over K before options. At that end of the spectrum, you’re looking at an Avalon sufficiently luxurious enough to make you forget all about this car’s costlier Lexus ES twin. Oh, and if that’s not enough to keep you in the Toyota showroom, know this: The Avalon has an infinitely less annoying infotainment interface, plus you can fold the rear seats down.
A 3.5-liter gas V6 comes standard with 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, offering plenty of power. An optional hybrid model with an electrically augmented 2.5-liter four-cylinder is available for about ,000 more, but unless gas prices spike enough to make its mid-40s fuel efficiency act as a salve for its power deficit (176 horsepower, 163 pound-feet), I’d recommend sticking with the standard engine.
2021 Hyundai Kona Electric
The drivetrain options on the 2020 RAV4 may not be the most exciting in the world, but they are efficient and shouldn’t give you many problems going forward. Optional hybrid power in a compact SUV is a great selling point, too.
— Chris Paukert
I’m going with a somewhat unusual choice for this roundup, because I’ve recently spent a fair bit of time in Kia’s Telluride and I’ve been really, really impressed. It’s remarkably good. I think it looks remarkably good, too, though it has definitely split opinion.
— Jon Wong
A 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder powers the RDX, producing a respectable 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The latter is available from just 1,600 rpm on up to 4,500 rpm for peppy acceleration from stops and out of corners, and works with a well-calibrated 10-speed automatic. Spring for the optional adaptive dampers and you’ll have a small crossover that can be entertaining to toss around, or comfortable for normal driving at the push of a button.
2020 Acura RDX is a price-conscious luxury buyer’s delight
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2021 Acura RDX
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The 2021 Audi Q3 is on sale, packing some major improvements, and I believe that’ll give this diminutive German the edge over its competitors, many of which are very compelling.
— Kyle Hyatt
I tend to like small, sporty cars. The 2020 Toyota Avalon is neither of those things, so why am I recommending it? Because it’s a fabulously well-done large sedan that’s an epic long-distance cruiser. Its looks may not be for everyone, but there’s no denying its buttery-smooth powertrain and class-above cabin that are among its many strong points.
2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The XC40 impresses with its easygoing, comfortable driving dynamics, spacious interior and high-quality materials. It’s everything I love about Volvo’s larger, more expensive vehicles, all in a pint-sized package.
Acura’s True Touchpad Interface with a 10.2-inch center screen is in charge of infotainment, and it’s intuitive to use after a short get-to-know period. It’s offered with navigation, a 16-speaker ELS audio system, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. For safety, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist and a multiangle rearview camera come standard.
— Antuan Goodwin
Of course, the most important number is the Kona Electric’s 258-mile EPA-estimated range — that should quell most range anxiety concerns. At a DC Fast Charger, the EV can boost its battery to an 80% charge in about an hour. More common, 240-volt, Level 2 home and public stations can juice the battery with a 9.5-hour charge.
— Steven Ewing
You can get in a front-wheel-drive Kia Telluride for ,060 including destination, which is affordable given all it offers. Working within our ,000 cap, I’d step up to the feature-packed EX trim, which starts at ,460 and includes Kia’s comprehensive Highway Driving Assist system. Another ,000 gets you AWD, then you’re just slightly over the ,000 mark for a big, comfortable SUV that’s as sophisticated to drive as it is to look at.
2021 Toyota RAV4
The Kona’s electric motor sends 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque to its front wheels. That’s more get-up-and-go than the turbocharged gasoline Kona, but the heavier EV is a bit slower overall. Without gear changes or revs to build, however, the nearly silent electric SUV should feel more responsive off the line and around town.
— Andrew Krok
Overall, the A-Class is a truly premium car — far more so than the last-generation CLA250 ever was.
2021 Audi Q3
The RAV4, particularly in Adventure trim, is a handsome SUV that begins to look a little like its more off-road capable siblings without forcing those vehicles’ compromises on its owner. It’s a great crossover, and is more appealing than ever before.
Read more: Best truck for 2021
Having sampled the Q3 last year, I can attest to its prowess in the handling department. Wielding the same 228-hp turbo I4 as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it should also provide enough hustle to back up an on-road demeanor that begs you to have a little fun behind the wheel.
Earmarking K opens buyers to a new generation of entry-level EVs, and one of our favorites is Hyundai’s Kona Electric. The subcompact SUV combines generous safety and cabin tech with reasonable spaciousness, all wrapped into a city-friendly footprint and wallet-friendly budget. If you want to keep it under ,000, you’ll have to go with the SEL trim.
(Note: While all of the vehicles listed here have base MSRPs under ,000, some of them offer fully loaded trim levels that can exceed this price cap.)