One of the most competitive aspects of the automotive marketplace is the compact crossover segment. With more than 20 new crossovers under $25,000 on offer, you’re facing an embarrassment of riches if you’re shopping in this category. Regardless of your preferences, or your intended usage, you’ll find more than a few models here suitable for your routine. The real beauty of compact crossovers is their ability provide carlike ride and handling traits combined with the utility and high seating position of sport utility vehicles—all typically married to admirable fuel economy. Of course, their sporty styling plays a significant role too. For these reasons, compact crossovers have become the workhorses for many people with active lifestyles.
The compact Buick Encore might well startle you with its diminution the first time you see one. Regardless of its size though, you’ll find all the characteristics you expect from a Buick. We’re talking a quiet and comfortable ride, a nice assortment of contemporary comfort, convenience, and safety features, as well as a heaping helping of style. Power comes from a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 148 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds power to the front wheels – or all four if you opt for all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $24,065.
Closely related to the Encore, but dressed in a more mainstream wardrobe, the new for 2015 Chevrolet Trax is a remarkably competitive model in the compact crossover category. Perfect for city life, Trax is economical, fun to drive, and loaded with modern tech. Like Encore, Trax uses a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 148 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic feeds power to the front wheels, or all four if you opt for all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $20,120. If you need more size and want to stay in the Chevrolet family, consider Chevy's Equinox with pricing starting at $22,120
Based on the venerable Town & Country minivan, Journey offers seating for up to seven people with three rows of seats, a V6 option, and available built in booster seats for younger children. Power comes from a choice of two engines; a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four with 166 ft-lbs of torque, and a 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 with 260 ft-lbs of torque. Front-drive and a four-speed automatic come with the four-cylinder. All-wheel drive is a V6 option but a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Pricing starts at $20,295.
Ford’s Escape brings invigorating driving characteristics, a well-designed and inviting interior treatment, plus handsome styling. Designed off of the same platform as Ford’s sporty Focus model, Escape shares the energetic nature of the delightful little car. You’ll also find cutting edge tech like self-parking, voice controlled secondary functions, and an iPod interface. Power comes from a choice of three engines ranging in output from 168 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque to 240 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs. All use a six-speed automatic and front-drive, while all-wheel drive is offered as well. Pricing starts at $22,960.
Photo by Benjamin Hunting
The ruggedly handsome GMC compact crossover offers features such as WiFi, exceptional quiet on the highway, up to 3500 pounds of towing capacity, and a powerful V6. A choice of two powerplants is offered; a 182-horsepwer 2.4-liter inline four with 172 ft-lbs of torque, and a 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 with 272 ft-lbs of torque. Both engines get a six-speed automatic transmission to feed the front wheels. All-wheel drive is optional. Largely unchanged since its launch back in 2010, Terrain is one of the older vehicles on this list, but it also offers the most powerful engine. Pricing starts at $24,070.
An early entry for the 2016 model year, Honda’s HR-V slots into the company’s lineup below Pilot and CR-V. Based on the Honda Fit, HR-V is remarkably spacious for its size, incorporating the Fit’s clever interior flexibility with fold-flat seatbacks and rear seat cushions capable of folding up from the floor. Power comes from a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter inline four with 127 ft-lbs of torque. A continuously variable transmission is employed to route power to the front wheels. Honda also offers a six-speed manual and all-wheel drive with the HR-V. Pricing starts at $19,115. Also starting under $25k is Honda’s venerable CR-V.
Photo by Benjamin Hunting
A great value anytime, there’s an all-new Tucson just over the horizon, so you’re bound to find some great deals on the 2015 models. The crisply styled Hyundai crossover is nicely sized for the city while delivering a smooth ride and comfortable seating. Engine choices include a 164-horsepower 2.0-liter four with 151 ft-lbs of torque, and a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four with 177 ft-lbs of torque. Front-drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Pricing starts at $21,650. Hyundai’s Santa Fe also squeaks in under $25k, starting at $24,950.
Taking the phrase “cute ute” to new heights, the eye-catching all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade is quite possibly the coolest-looking compact crossover currently on offer. Easily Jeep’s best effort at a compact crossover to date, the Renegade has the advantage of strong off-road capability (when properly equipped). Renegade’s engine choices are a 160-horsepower, turbocharged 2.4-liter with 184 ft-lbs of torque; and a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter four with 177 ft-lbs. A six-speed manual transmission and front drive are standard. A nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are optional. Pricing starts at $17,995. Other Jeep crossovers starting under $25,000 include Compass, Patriot, and Cherokee.
Another potential beauty pageant winner, the tasteful Kia Sportage has the goods to back up its looks. You’ll find it fun to drive with powerful engines, sporty handling, and a strong roster of standard features – making it also a good value. But it’s a Kia, that part’s expected – right? Engines include a 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four with 177 ft-lbs of torque, and a 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 269 ft-lbs of torque. Both come with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Pricing starts at $21,900. Kia’s Sorento also squeaks in under $25k, with a starting price of $24,900.
Mazda’s CX-5 is one of the most fun to drive of the best new crossovers under $25,000. The spacious CX-5 also delivers comfortable seating, outstanding crash test scores, and it’s pretty easy on the eyes too. An all-new 2016 is just offshore, so you’re bound to find great deals on the 2015s soon. The CX-5’s 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four makes 150 ft-lbs of torque and is usually paired with front-wheel drive. The 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic. A six-speed manual is standard with the 2.0-liter. Pricing starts at $21,545. Mazda’s Mazda5 also starts under $25k, at $21,240.