Top-Rated 2016 Small SUVs in Performance and Design

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 28, 2016

On an annual basis, J.D. Power measures satisfaction among new-vehicle owners, collecting data about vehicle performance, design, content, and layout after they have owned their vehicle for 90 days. This information is published in the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM and from the data the company generates Power Circle Ratings that are designed to summarize the findings in a simple way to help make shopping for a new vehicle easier for consumers.

This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2016 small SUVs from the 2016 U.S. APEAL Study. Each model receives a Power Circle Rating of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 for overall appeal.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium photo

2016 Ford Escape

Though it is an older design, the Ford Escape performs highly in the 2016 U.S. APEAL Study. Few changes are made to the 2016 Escape, aside from replacement of its old MyFord Touch infotainment system in favor of a new, more modern Sync 3 setup. The Escape comes in S, SE, and Titanium trim levels, with a choice between three engines powering the front or all four wheels.

The 2016 Ford Escape receives an overall appeal Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2016 Hyundai Tucson photo

2016 Hyundai Tucson

Redesigned for 2016, the new Tucson is a hit with small SUV buyers. Larger than ever, with improved driving dynamics and fuel efficiency as well as the latest infotainment, driver assistance, and safety technologies, the 2016 Tucson is offered in SE, Eco, Sport, and Limited trim levels, most of which include a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is optional.

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson receives an overall appeal Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and is the award recipient in the Small SUV segment.

2016 Kia Soul photo

2016 Kia Soul

Though it is technically a multi-purpose vehicle and not an SUV because it is unavailable with all-wheel drive, the Kia Soul is a credible alternative for people who do not require the extra traction and ground clearance. Three trim levels are available, and the Soul can be optioned to an unexpectedly opulent level of equipment. An electric version is also available.

The 2016 Kia Soul receives an overall appeal Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and is the award recipient in the Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle segment.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek photo

2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Dropping the “XV” from its “XV Crosstrek” name, the 2016 Crosstrek is based on the Impreza 5-Door hatchback. More rugged styling and a raised suspension complement the standard all-wheel-drive system. Most Crosstreks have a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, but Subaru does offer a hybrid model that delivers an incremental increase in efficiency.

The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek receives an overall appeal Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2016 Toyota RAV4 SE photo

2016 Toyota RAV4

One of the original crossover SUVs when it debuted 20 years ago, the Toyota RAV4 is now one of the largest models in its class. A refresh for 2016 adds a sporty SE trim level and a new gas-electric hybrid option to the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. The LE, XLE, and Limited trim levels continue, and all-wheel drive is available.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 receives an overall appeal Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and is the award recipient in the Compact SUV segment.

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