2015 Compact SUV Buyer's Guide

Jeep Patriot

Small SUVs continue to see strong demand, as it represents the fastest growing segment of new vehicle sales in the past three years. The popularity of compact SUVs reflects larger industry trends: the SUV market as a whole continues to enjoy strong sales in North America; total sales increased by 12 percent in 2014 to over 5.5 million units.

In 2015, small models such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Chevrolet Equinox are among a few brands that are dominating the market. In contrast, Kia, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, and Buick haven't done nearly as well. Part of the demand for compact SUVs come from millennials who are raising families as well as aging Baby Boomers.

Lowering gas prices seems to have eased consumer worries about the longer-term costs of SUV ownership. Between 2014 and early 2015, average fuel prices plunged by more than $1.50 per gallon, and that aided consumers' perception that SUVs aren't as costly to drive.

Low interest rates and credit availability are also helping to boost demand. For a variety of reasons, U.S. consumers prefer to buy compact SUVs - -perhaps in an effort to balance considerations such as interior space and ability to adjust to road conditions. Americans generally like a small SUV's adaptability for various types of family and recreational uses.



2015 Jeep Patriot

Jeep Patriot

The 2015 Jeep Patriot is one of the most affordable compact SUVs on the market at about $16,000 for a base model. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine comes with 158 hp for the front-wheel drive model. The all-wheel drive (AWD) version includes a 172 hp, 2.4-liter version.

In terms of fuel economy, the Patriot has an EPA rating of 23/30 mpg in city/highway, which is a good score for small SUVs. The Sport version includes features like fog lamps, tilt steering, cruise control, and roof side rails.

The Patriot has room for five passengers and is a practical option for millennials, unmarried adults, and people who enjoy recreational driving. If you live in northern states, you can opt for no standard air conditioning, which can get you a base price below $17,000. Jeep sells about 7,500 to 12,000 units per month.

Jeep Patriot for sale



2015 Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V, is the best-selling small-size SUV in America -- between 20,000 and 25,000 units are sold each month. Some experts think car-based crossover SUVs like the CR-V will continue to shape the industry for years, because they seem to cover most of a buyer's auto-related uses -- dropping the kids off at school, buying groceries and making quick trips to the neighborhood convenience store.

Honda avoided making drastic changes to a highly successful formula, but they did add a few visual touches to the 2015 model. These include upgraded materials, projector-beam headlights and interior electronics. The CR-V has a 185 hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with front- or all-wheel drive. Some test drivers observe that the 2015 version seems to be more responsive on the road than older models.

It comes with an EPA rating of 23/31 mpg city/highway, a relatively good score for small SUVs. Depending on options, the CR-V retails for $23,000 to $30,000. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the CR-V five-star results overall.

Honda CR-V for sale



2015 Porsche Macan

2015 Porsche Macan

The 2015 Porsche Macan features a 340-hp, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automated manual transmission. It retails for $50,000 to $73,000 with a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty.

Standard features include an 11-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, heated seats, a 7-inch touch-screen display and USB port. Drivers also enjoy heated side mirrors and dual-zone automatic climate control. You can add more options like navigation and a rearview camera.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the Macan gets an EPA rating of 17/23 mpg in city/highway, which is much lower than non-luxury, entry-level compact SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 (24/31 mpg). This small SUV handles more like a powerful sports car.

Because Americans like small SUVs so much, the sector has become very competitive, with lots of choices at many price points. And that's great news for anyone shopping for one in 2015.

Porsche Macan for sale



Jeep Patriot photo courtesy of order_242 used under CC license.

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