2. Chevrolet Equinox LT:
Equinox straddles the line between compact- and midsize-class crossovers. Even with its base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, its 182 horsepower is more than you get in most compacts. And, rated 26 mpg city-highway combined, it’s fuel efficient for a crossover this size. Among its midsize-class credentials is an available V-6 with a lively 301 horsepower, though that $1,500 option takes it above our $30,000 barrier.
Like every ’16 Equinox, it’s updated a new front-end appearance and revised dashboard controls and graphics, plus a new storage shelf. Handling is capable but unexciting, ride quality a notch above that of most compacts. The interior has more room than you get in most compacts, too, but less than in the typical midsizer, and the rear seats slide fore and aft, allowing you to maximize rear legroom or cargo space.
1. Buick Encore Convenience:
This small SUV has been surprisingly popular since its model-year 2013 launch and is without question the most luxurious subcompact crossover for the money. With a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder its sole engine, acceleration is just OK, but handling is very and the ride pleasingly smooth. Encore stands out from the growing crowd of subcompact crossovers with an interior that’s well-finished and, thanks to the tall roofline and upright seating, unexpectedly roomy. It’s trimmed in top-quality materials and features an easy-to-operate touchscreen media control panel.
What’s more, the passenger compartment is by far the quietest in this class – better even than some larger and far costlier SUVs – thanks to a sophisticated electronic noise cancellation system and assorted sound absorbing materials that minimize road and wind noise.