The Canadian market for SUVs and crossovers continues to grow, with automakers adding new models – large and small – to meet the needs and budgets of more buyers.
We know it can be difficult to sift through all the options to find the best SUV or crossover to buy, but our team of automotive experts is here to help. As part of our AutoTrader awards, they’ve looked at all the available models and picked out the best of them, narrowing the field down to give you a better starting point.
If the goal of the AutoHebdo Awards was to nominate the best SUV/crossover model in each category, the longer list of the following finalists shows the depth of today’s utility vehicle market. Here’s a look at these 33 vehicles, which earned the highest marks when the judging panel of more than 20 Canadian automotive industry experts voted for the best options. These SUVs and crossovers represent their preferred picks and “best buys” in each segment, vehicles that they have no hesitation in recommending
For nearly 20 years now, the Mazda brand has been a favorite of Canadian drivers for its combination of fun to drive, superior craftsmanship and value for money. The Mazda CX-30 is also a prime example of Mazda’s recent trend of offering high-level trims that challenge the luxury amenities offered by high-end brands.
This year’s best subcompact SUV, the 2022 Mazda CX-30, starts in GX trim at $26,100, but the 250-hp GT Turbo livery at $38,000 offers performance and features on par with some crossovers luxury subcompacts at a more affordable price. The CX-30’s cabin is more comfortable than spacious, and its naturally aspirated 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines (155 hp and 186 hp, respectively) offer more modest performance at the car’s lower prices, but the ride feel and build quality remains hard to beat.
The Subaru Crosstrek has gotten better over time, thanks in large part to the work of designers who have flattened the silhouette of this subcompact crossover that has been in service for ten years already. Although closely related to the Impreza compact car, the Crosstrek has greater ground clearance and benefits from structural improvements that allow owners to take advantage of its ride height for light off-road driving.
Subaru hasn’t made any changes to the Crosstrek since we named it an AutoTrader Awards finalist last year, but why change what already works great? The highlight of the range is the robust and well-equipped Outdoor livery, which comes with a 2.5-liter 182-hp engine, a nice improvement over the 152-hp 2.0-liter of the efficient, but unexciting base model. . There’s a reason the 2.0-liter Crosstrek is one of the few small crossovers you can get with a manual transmission, if you still like to shift gears yourself.
Kia unveiled the Seltos last year, and it made enough of an impression for us to name it Best Subcompact SUV in the 2021 AutoHebdo Awards. Although it didn’t win this year, it is still considered one of the best vehicles in its segment for being so well balanced.
Even in its entry-level 146-horsepower LX trim, which gets a few useful driver aids and a well-matched powertrain for a sub-$24,000 price tag. And the top SX Turbo trim, with its 175 horsepower engine and dual-clutch gearbox, is plenty of fun for just over $33,000 – a price that includes a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control and a highway driving assistance system.
When the Hyundai Kona arrived in 2018, it was obvious there was an appetite for an affordable subcompact crossover with out-of-the-ordinary styling, as the Korean company could barely build enough of them to keep up with demand. This year, Hyundai has toned down the styling of the Kona, but also added some edge with a fast N version featuring a 276-hp 2.0-liter turbo engine and a chassis tuned to the Nürburgring racetrack. in Germany.
But the Kona’s entry-level 146-hp engine does just fine in daily driving with its continuously variable transmission (CVT), and you can get a taste of speed in N Line trims equipped with a 195 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine and a dual-clutch transmission.
The Kona is a quintessentially Korean safe bet, with a base price of around $22,000. N Line versions start at under $30,000, while the track-ready Kona N is $42,000. Note that while you find the Kona a bit cramped inside, the mechanically similar Seltos cabin is roomier, thanks to a longer wheelbase.
The Volkswagen Taos is the only newcomer to AutoHebdo’s subcompact SUV finalists, a new model for 2022 that has the dubious honor of replacing the Golf as Volkswagen’s lowest-priced compact model with a hatchback.
We’re surprised the Taos didn’t receive more votes, given the usual ease with which VW produces practical and fun-to-drive vehicles. The Taos’ ranking is most likely a result of its price, which is at the high end of its class, with a starting price of almost $27,000 in the Trendline version, while the $32,400 price of the midrange Comfortline 4Motion livery almost matches that of the most expensive Seltos, en route to the Highline’s $36,700.
Still, the Taos received praise from our contributors for its styling, driving feel, fuel economy and practicality – all things we’ve come to expect from modern Volkswagen models.
To say that Subaru is a big player in today’s crossover market is an understatement. In fact, you could say that the original Outback of the mid-1990s started the crossover rush that now dominates the auto industry, a legacy that led AutoHebdo to name the Outback as the best two-row crossover in this year’s awards.
The Outback’s straightforward styling is a holdover from when Subaru still offered its Legacy wagon in…wagon form; no other midsize crossover is as honest about its automotive origins as this one.
In the Outback’s $30,695 base model, a 182-hp flat-4 engine provides modest performance, but you can get a more engaging ride by opting for a 260-hp turbocharged engine. If you want to maximize the Outback’s ability to reach remote places, choose the Wilderness trim for its extra ground clearance and more advanced all-wheel drive. Whichever trim you choose, you’ll enjoy a smooth ride in a spacious, well-appointed interior that you can optionally equip with an 11.6-inch touchscreen. Another selling point is Subaru’s well-designed EyeSight safety aid suite.